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Our policy on what kinds of behaviours and cultures are unacceptable and what can be done if they are witnessed or experienced.

At Newham College, we take any form of abuse online and in person very seriously. Below you will find the Ofsted and Government guidance on what peer on peer and sexual harassment is and how to contact us if you are concerned you or someone you might know are facing any of the following definitions.

Peer on Peer Sexual Abuse

The Ofsted review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges (10 June 2021) used the terms below:

  • Sexual violence, such as rape, assault by penetration and sexual assault.
  • Sexual harassment, such as sexual comments, remarks, jokes and online sexual harassment, which may be stand-alone or part of a broader pattern of abuse
  • Upskirting, which typically involves taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks to obtain sexual gratification, or to cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm

  • ‘Youth produced sexual imagery/sexting’

Sexual Violence

Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, sexual violence is described as:

  • Rape: A person (A) commits an offence of rape if: he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis, B does not consent to the penetration and A does not reasonably believe that B consents
  • Assault by Penetration: A person (A) commits an offence if: s/he intentionally penetrates the vagina or anus of another person (B) with a part of her/his body or anything else, the penetration is sexual, B does not consent to the penetration and A does not reasonably believe that B consents
  • Sexual Assault: A person (A) commits an offence of sexual assault if: s/he intentionally touches another person (B), the touching is sexual, B does not consent to the touching and A does not reasonably believe that B consents. The act of kissing without consent and touching someone’s bottom, breasts/genitalia without consent, can still constitute sexual assault
  • Causing someone to engage in sexual activity without consent: A person (A) commits an offence if: s/he intentionally causes another person (B) to engage in an activity, the activity is sexual, B does not consent to engaging in the activity and, A does not reasonably believe that B consents. (This should include forcing someone to strip, touch themselves sexually, or engaging in sexual activity with a third party.)

Harassment and Sexual Harassment

This is any conduct which is unwanted by a learner, which affects the dignity of the learner or group of learners in the College.

Harassment may be repetitive or an isolated occurrence against one or more learners. Sexual harassment means ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature’ that can occur online and offline. When we reference sexual harassment, we do so in the context of child or young person sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is likely to: violate a child or young person’s dignity, and/or make them feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated and/or create a hostile, offensive or sexualised environment.

Whilst not intended to be an exhaustive list, sexual harassment can include:

  • Sexual comments, such as telling sexual stories, making lewd comments, making sexual remarks about clothes and appearance, and calling someone sexualised names.
  • Sexual ‘jokes’ or taunting.
  • Physical behaviour, such as: deliberately brushing against someone, interfering with someone’s clothes (schools and colleges should consider when any of this crosses a line into sexual violence – it is important to talk to and consider the experience of the victim) and displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature.
  • Online sexual harassment: This may be standalone, or part of a wider pattern of sexual harassment and/or sexual violence. It may include:
    • Non-consensual sharing of sexual images and videos. (UKCCIS sexting advice provides detailed advice for schools and colleges)
    • Sexualised online bullying
    • Unwanted sexual comments and messages, including on social media, and sexual exploitation, coercion and threats

Harmful sexual behaviour

Children and young people’s sexual behaviour exits on a wide continuum, from normal and developmentally expected to inappropriate, problematic, abusive and violent. Problematic and abusive and violent sexual behaviour is developmentally inappropriate and may cause developmental damage. A useful umbrella term is Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB). Harmful sexual behaviour can occur online and/or face to face can also occur simultaneously between the two.


Upskirting typically involves taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks to obtain sexual gratification or cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm.

Since April 2019, upskirting has been a criminal offence – under the Voyeurism Act, upskirting offenders can now be arrested, face up to 2 years in prison and have their name placed on the sex offenders register if caught upskirting. This includes instances where culprits say the images were taken just for a laugh.

Youth Produced Sexual Imagery (‘Sexting’)

Whilst professionals refer to the issue as ‘sexting’, there is no clear definition. Many professionals consider sexting to be sending or posting sexually suggestive images, including nude or semi-nude photographs, via mobiles or over the Internet but learners may be more likely to interpret sexting as writing and sharing explicit messages with people they know. Creating and sharing sexual photos and videos of under-18s, including selfies, is illegal. The Ofsted review into Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges (10 June 2021) refers to the behaviours below:

  • Receiving unsolicited explicit photographs or videos, for example, ‘dick pics’
  • Sending, or being pressured to send, nude and semi-nude photographs or videos (‘nudes’)
  • Being sent or shown solicited or unsolicited online explicit material, such as pornographic videos

Typical platforms for sharing material between peers tended to be WhatsApp, TikTok or Snapchat. It is illegal to possess, take, make, show or share any images or videos of a sexual nature to anyone under the age of 18.

Peer on peer abuse should be addressed as a learner concern when there is reasonable cause to suspect that a learner is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm. Youth Produced Imagery/Sexting involving those under the age of 18 must always be referred to the Designated Lead for Safeguarding.

Contact us

Your safety is very important to us. If you feel unsafe or at risk, whether inside or outside of the College, please contact a member of the safeguarding team using one of the following methods:

  • Press the confide button in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen of the college-issued device you are using
  • Email us at
  • Call the Safeguarding Team on 0208 257 4146
  • Visit us in person in the Student Services department in East Ham Campus (Ground floor behind the stairwell) or in D003 in Stratford Campus


For more information about our Peer on Peer Sexual Abuse policy, download the relevant document below:

Peer on Peer and Harmful Sexual Abuse Policy