Robert Halfon, who leads the committee which scrutinises the work of the Department for Education, told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday that an urgent inquiry is needed into the sexual assault allegations made on the website Everyone’s Invited, as well as an overhaul of existing safeguarding procedures, which he described as “not fit for purpose.”
In addition to an inquiry, the chair called on schools to do more. “The schools involved should immediately implement a system of providing counselling for students past and present as well… so they can get all the support they need.”
Halfon claimed there is a “Lord of the Flies culture” in some schools, which may be perpetuating the conditions for rape and sexual harassment by students. “It is pretty grim just reading through the Everyone’s Invited website, your heart goes out to all the people who have suffered the abuse, the sexual harassment, the threats, the abuse online,” he said.
The committee chair added that he’s concerned about the impact of social media on the mental health of many young women.
Haflon contended that there are deeper questions that also need to be answered in understanding why some young men “don’t treat female students with the dignity and respect and equality that they deserve.”
The MP’s comments come after the campaign website Everyone’s Invited, a platform for exposing rape culture, rose to prominence and received particular media attention in March after anonymous users highlighted sexual assault and harassment within UK schools. A number of the schools named are high profile private and public institutions.
On Monday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson condemned the alleged assaults as “shocking and abhorrent” and promised immediate action. More than 8,000 allegations have now been made on the website.
The police have said they will “investigate those allegations which are of a criminal nature.”
Several countries, including France, have suspended flights to and from Brazil due to fears over the more contagious coronavirus variant spreading there.