Alleyn’s parents heard an illuminating talk from Criminal Defence Solicitor at ABV Solicitors, Claire Anderson, and her colleague Barrister Colin Witcher in the first of a two-part parent pastoral event covering Consent and the Law on Tuesday, 8 June.
Since recent national events have brought gender equality issues into sharper focus, Alleyn’s has strengthened efforts to help pupils and their parents have a safe place to speak openly, share and learn more about these critical issues.
This pastoral event for parents is just one of many initiatives taking place this term, which has also seen the development of an Alleyn’s Gender Equality Charter, staff training from charity UK Feminista, a consent workshop for Year 13 students, age-appropriate PSCHE lessons on statutory requirements including consent, coercive behaviour, upskirting, sexting, contraception, STIs and puberty from RSE provider, It Happens, and much more.
Claire and Colin’s talk focussing on consent and the law gave parents an eye-opening insight into the law and the pitfalls children can fall into, especially considering changes brought about by social media and the digital age, to help parents feel equipped with the knowledge they need to support their children.
Claire began the talk by explaining her position as a parent “I remember the stress and strain of trying to manage my children’s phone and social media use, trying to understand who they were talking to online, and whether they were sending or receiving pictures. It was a minefield and incredibly difficult to navigate.”
And as a Criminal Defence Solicitor, she shared her experiences of dealing with young people who are being investigated and have been prosecuted for offences related to sharing indecent images and having sexual communications with someone underage all the way up to rape cases.
Claire said: “In many instances, I see good kids who have made ill-informed and poor decisions which lead them to be confronted by the law.” She and Colin went on to share anonymous cases they have both been involved in from those over the age of consent but under 18 unknowingly breaking the law by sharing a private photograph with their partner to young people hitting open on videos shared with them online and inadvertently committing an offence. They shared ways parents can open a dialogue with their children on some of these matters.
Deputy Head of Upper School Sarah Smiddy, who is leading on Gender Equality work at Alleyn's, thanked Claire and Colin for an eye-opening talk. She said: “Thank you so much for your frank and honest advice - some of which is quite hard to hear but which must absolutely be on our radar. I feel so strongly about this and I really feel like we are empowering our students with the tools to navigate these tricky times.”
The follow-up talk for parents will take place on 6 July and Alleyn’s staff will also be holding other related sessions, with staff and pupils, to share and discuss gender equality issues in an age and stage appropriate way.