Teachers Urged to Report Missing Pupils

Teachers across Scotland are being asked to be look out for any pupils who don’t return to school after the summer break for fear of being at risk of a forced marriage.

A new booklet with advice and practitioner guidelines are available to all teachers to provide them with practical help on how to deal with a pupil that may be under threat of forced marriage or at risk of physical or mental abuse associated with this.

With experts at the UK Forced Marriage Unit predicting over 350 young people across Britain will be forced into marriage when they go abroad over the summer, the Scottish Government has teamed up with support agencies in Scotland to develop the booklet which includes information on forced marriage and how to get help locally.

Of the estimated figures collated through support agencies in Scotland, it is believed that almost 20 per cent of the 59 people who contacted support agencies were under 18 and concern both boys and girls.

Teachers are key to the campaign to raise awareness of forced marriage and the protection offered by the legislation, so they can help those under threat of a forced marriage. School or college may often be the only place where the potential victim can speak freely.

To help teachers recognise potential forced marriage victims, the Scottish Government has identified a number of important warning signs to look out for. These include:

• a student being anxious about talking about school holidays
• surveillance of a student by cousins or siblings at school or being met by family at the end of the day
• a student is prevented from going on to further or higher education.

Other equally important signs to consider include: persistent absence; requests for extended leave; decline in behaviour, performance or punctuality; not being allowed to attend extra-curricular activities or sudden announcement of engagement to a stranger.

If you are concerned about forced marriage yourself or worried about someone in your care, help is available. For advice, support and protection, call 0800 027 1234 in complete confidence or visit yourrightscotland.org.

Practitioner guidelines are available to view or download on the Scottish Government’s Forced Marriage web pages which can be viewed on the Scottish Government website.