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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The residential schools investigation report


A.5: Terminology

24. There have been some changes in the terminology of safeguarding in schools during the timeframe considered in this investigation, particularly since the government published Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education in 2006. Within the education sector, there is now a differentiation between the terms ‘child protection’ and ‘safeguarding’. Safeguarding refers to measures to keep all children safe, while child protection refers distinctly to children identified as being at risk of harm or having been harmed. This change is reflected in the changing title of specific staff roles in schools, with child protection officers becoming designated safeguarding leads. In this report, ‘safeguarding’ refers to policies, procedures, guidance and regulations which apply across an institution or sector.

25. Those who have made allegations of child sexual abuse, where those allegations have not been proven by way of criminal conviction, civil findings or findings in the context of disciplinary proceedings, will be referred to as complainants. Where such allegations have been proven, individuals will be referred to as victims and survivors.

26. The terms ‘harmful sexual behaviour’ and ‘peer-on-peer sexual abuse’ are used interchangeably in current UK government guidance to refer to sexual abuse between children. The Welsh Government guidance refers to harmful sexual behaviour. This report uses the term ‘harmful sexual behaviour’, which reflects that this behaviour may be harmful to others but also to the child responsible for that harm.

27. Throughout the period referred to in this report, the government department with responsibility for schools in England has changed its name several times, being known variously as the Department of Education and Science, the Department for Education and Employment, the Department for Education and Skills, and the Department for Children, Schools and Families, before becoming the Department for Education in 2010. When dealing with matters prior to 2010, the department is referred to by the name which was current at the relevant time.

28. Similarly, when referring to local authorities and their statutory responsibility for children including children in care, the term ‘children’s social care’ is used for consistency. Until 2006, this work was carried out by social services and then by children’s services.

29. Some convictions referred to in this report are for offences under the legislation in place prior to the current Sexual Offences Act 2003. Where such convictions are referred to, the terminology of the statute under which the conviction was made is used: for example, sexual assault was called ‘indecent assault’ and anal rape was called ‘buggery’.

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