Children suffer sexual abuse and assaults in after-school clubs

Children suffer sexual abuse and assaults in after-school clubs

Children suffer sexual abuse, assaults and neglect in after-school clubs with more than 80 allegations made in last five years as only one in 10 are inspected by Ofsted

  • BBC investigation found there were 84 safeguarding referrals in past five years
  • One incident involved a boy cleaning his young sister who had soiled herself
  • That happened at Greenleaf After School Club in Walthamstow, north London  
  • Greenleaf Primary School apologised, saying it ‘should not have happened’ 
  • Other incidents included sexual abuse involving multiple children in Devon, and a child being dragged across the floor by a staff member in Southampton

Children have suffered sexual abuse, assaults and neglect during after-school clubs with more than 80 allegations made in the last five years, an investigation has revealed.

Only one in ten providers are investigated by Ofsted, meaning they could go almost a decade without an inspection, while some of the clubs are not regulated at all as they only need to register with Ofsted if they provide childcare for more than two hours.         

Responses to Freedom of Information requests sent by BBC News revealed there were 84 safeguarding referrals at after-school clubs in England and Wales over the past five years.

These included an incident in which an eight-year-old boy had to clean his younger sister after she soiled herself at a school in north London, sexual abuse involving multiple children at a club in Devon, and a child being dragged across the floor by a staff member in Southampton.

Other incidents included allegations of physical harm, unexplained bruising and neglect.

The mother of the boy who was forced to clean his five-year-old sister, said he had to do so in front of other pupils at Greenleaf After School Club in Walthamstow, north London, having previously cleaned her after she wet herself on two occasions before.

Greenleaf Primary School, which runs the club, apologised, saying the ‘incident should not have happened’.

Greenleaf Primary School, which runs Greenleaf After School Club in Walthamstow, north London, apologised after an eight-year-old was forced to clean his five-year-old sister after she soiled herself

Speaking to BBC News, the mother of the children said a staff member refused to clean her daughter, who has special educational needs, and told her brother to do it instead, in November 2020.

The mother claimed the five-year-old girl was left with excrement on her leg and had no tights or knickers when she was picked up in freezing conditions. 

She accused the school of ‘racism’, as both children are black, and also ‘adultification’ – a bias in which children of minority groups are considered older than they are. 

The mother said: ‘I don’t allow my child to see his sister’s genitals, how on earth do they think that is acceptable? They would never possibly ask a white child to do that.’

The incident was reviewed by an independent safeguarding consultant – who told the mother it was ‘unacceptable’ – and investigated by the local authority.

BBC News found another child was found with excrement on their hands having been left in a chair for an hour after soiling themselves at the same after-school club.

Greenleaf Primary School said: ‘We have apologised unreservedly to the parent of the children involved and more widely to all users of the Greenleaf After School Club.

‘This incident should not have happened, and we are determined to learn the lessons as we continue to provide our young people with the best start in life.

‘Greenleaf Primary is a school that prides itself on treating children from all backgrounds equally.’

Despite the school saying staff had been removed from dealing with the siblings, their mother said she saw one in direct contact with her son when she went to collect them having taken them back after the earlier incidents.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: ‘Every child should feel safe in education, including at after-school clubs.

‘That’s why local agencies can use a range of legislative powers – including safeguarding, health and safety, and premises regulations powers – to protect children from harm.’

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