Allegations of sexual assault and harassment by private students schools which have exploded online in the past few days could be the "tip of the iceberg," a senior police officer has warned.
Simon Bailey, the head of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) on Child Protection, also said he feared such abuse would be tolerated or covered up in some cases.
It comes after thousands of people posted allegations of sexual assault, harassment and rape on the Everyone Is Invited website. The NPCC, Home Office, and Department of Education (DfE) are working with the site's organizers to assist those who compile the reports.
"I think this is the tip of the iceberg considering the number of testimonials that are now being recorded on the site," said Bailey The daily telegraph. "This will be the next big scandal."
He said some schools may be covering up attacks by their students and telling BBC Radio 4 about them today Program: “I don't have any evidence of this at the moment, but I think it's a reasonable assumption.
"It is predictable and it is a reasonable assumption that in some cases, and hopefully only a few but in some cases, schools have made the decision to only deal with the allegations internally rather than reporting them when they do actually should have done. "
Mr Bailey, who is also the Norfolk Police Chief, said he was expecting reports of recent and historical sexual assaults from both private and state schools as well as universities.
He blamed pornography for a growing culture of mistreatment of women and for a worsening of "what children today see and see as healthy relationships, healthy sexual relationships, and what is permissible and what is acceptable".
Anonymous abuse claims at anyone's invitation have multiplied to nearly 8,000. Many named the schools where the abuse allegedly took place or where the attacker was. However, not all of them are related to school or university abuse. Some posts describe alleged incidents in families or on the street.
Soma Sara, its founder, wrote in The times that "rape culture is endemic". She added, “It is in all parts of society, including all universities and schools. It is disappointing to see this overdue discussion being restricted to private schools. "
City police said Friday they checked the "Everyone Invited" posts and found that "where schools are mentioned on this website, officials contact those schools and offer technical assistance to potential victims of sexual assault".
An investigation was opened last week into two allegations of recent sexual assault Dulwich College, a paid school, said it had passed some claims on to civil servants.
The NPCC and the Department of Education are setting up a hotline for victims of abuse, which is expected to go live this week. The National Police Department's Operation Hydrant will take remittances from the NSPCC charity and forward them to individual police forces.
On Sunday, Robert Halfon, Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, said a public inquiry should take place in "what exactly happened, why it was allowed to take place and what the schools did to stop it".
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and University Directors, said in a statement that both state and independent schools are following DfE guidelines for managing and preventing shelter problems.
He added, "This underscores the importance of making it clear that sexual violence and sexual harassment are unacceptable, will never be tolerated, and are not an inevitable part of growing up."