Website creator that exposed Dulwich College ‘rape culture’ allegations warns of pornography dangers

By Rachael Burford, local democracy reporter

Parents need to be aware of the dangers of online pornography and must teach their children about consent early, the creator of a website which has published thousands of allegations of sexual assault from students said today.

Soma Sara, who set up Everyone’s Invited, said online pornography can have an “incredibly damaging impact on young minds” and adults cannot “pretend it doesn’t exist”.

She was speaking as the NSPCC today launched a helpline for victims and the Government announced an immediate review into sexual abuse in schools after the website received more than 12,500 testimonials outlining harrowing experiences of violence and abuse.

Many of the testimonials have described sexual harassment carried out against young women by young men or boys at their school or university – including Dulwich College private school in Southwark.

Miss Sara, 22, said: “A lot of parents feel the need to protect their children and this tends to lead to shying away from these topics and restricting them.

“Parents need to accept that we live in a social media, technological, fast-paced world and your children will be exposed to pornography. It’s an inevitability of life and they are often exposed before they have any kind of sex education.

“It is about having these conversations early on, speaking to them and letting them know porn is not reality. It can have incredibly damaging impacts on young minds and their understanding of sex and relationships.

“Consent is practically non-existent in porn. [Parents should] breach topics like that and talk about rape culture.”

She added that there has been “defensiveness” about allegations on the website from parents who want to protect their children but they cannot “pretend this doesn’t exist”.

The majority of statements on the website, which was set up in June, came from top private schools and London universities.

Last week, pupils at Highgate School walked out of classes in protest of what they called “rape culture”, following the publication of accounts.

Miss Sara said more testimonials were now coming from state institutions.

In the interview with Ayesha Hazarika, she added said: “It happens everywhere. In all schools, all universities and all of society.

“I went to a private school and a university in London so the people being immediately exposed to the account were people from those demographics so we were seeing an influx of people from those kinds of areas.

“But as the weeks have gone on, we have seen a very significant increase in testimonials from state schools and universities across the UK.

“It is not just young people either, we have even received testimonials from people in their eighties.

“This is a culture which has existed forever but it is something that has been exacerbated in my generation and taken to new extremes through things like social media and the accessibility of pornography.”

As the NSPCC helpline began receiving its first calls at 9am, the charity’s chief executive Peter Wanless said this was a “watershed moment” and young people “want to see something done”.

“A significant number of young people are now coming forward to share openly their anxieties and concerns about things which ar happening to them and are wrong,” he told Sky News.

The helpline will offer support and advice to children and adults who alleged sexual abuse at school and give out information about how to contact the police and report crimes.

A large number of testimonies have been submitted to the online platform Everyone’s Invited involving alleged incidents of harassment at Dulwich College.

Dulwich College’s headmaster, Dr Joe Spence, condemned the allegations as “distressing” and “entirely unacceptable”

He said: “Whilst I cannot comment on anonymous testimonies, any specific and evidenced allegations are being addressed, and we have involved external authorities to investigate where appropriate.

“We are meeting with victims to listen to their experiences and their concerns, and we will act on them.

“Our ethos is one of respect and support for others in all we do, and we are a school committed to the elimination of discrimination on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, disability or religious belief.

“Where we have fallen short in this regard, we will work hard to make amends.”

The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has described the allegations as “shocking” and said: “Sexual abuse in any form is abhorrent and it is vital that these allegations are dealt with properly.”

The Report Abuse in Education helpline can be reached on 0800 136 663, on Monday to Friday 8am-10pm, or 9am-6pm at weekends. It can also be contacted at help@nspcc.org.uk

 


Please support your local paper by making a donation

 

 

Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ


Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.

So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *