Helping parents to safeguard their children from sexual exploitation
The University of Bedfordshire’s International Centre and Parents against child sexual exploitation (Pace) have published an evaluation of the Parents as partners in safeguarding children and young people in Lancashire project, which was delivered from June 2014 – May 2017. This centred around the work of a Parent Liaison Officer (PLO), who provided flexible, one-to-one support to parents and families whose child was at risk, or a victim, of child sexual exploitation (CSE). Key findings include: the PLO helped parents to understand the dynamics of CSE and grooming and respond with more empathy to their child; parents were able to play a more active part in safeguarding their child; the PLO’s support was identified as a key contributor to maintaining a strong record of child/family attendance at court; parents described themselves as more emotionally resilient and able to cope with the impact of CSE because of the PLO’s support.
Source: The International Centre Blog Date: 13 June 2017
Further information: Empowering parents: evaluation of Parents as partners in safeguarding children and young people in Lancashire project 2014 – 2017 (PDF)
Protecting children on the move from violence, abuse and exploitation
UNICEF has published a report looking at how the lack of safe and legal pathways for refugee and migrant children feeds a market for human smuggling and puts them at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation. The report states that 170,000 unaccompanied and separated children applied for asylum in Europe in 2015 and 2016. UNICEF’s six-point agenda for action to keep refugee and migrants safe includes: increasing safe and legal channels for children to migrate and to seek refuge including: practical alternatives to detention for all children; policies to prevent children from being separated from their parents and other family members in transit; and faster procedures to reunite children with their families.
Source: UNICEF Date: 18 May 2017
Further information: A child is a child – protecting children on the move from violence, abuse and exploitation (PDF)
Internet related child sex offences
The NSPCC has released figures following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to police forces in England and Wales looking at internet-related sex offences. Figures from 39 police forces who responded to the FOI show that: 5,653 police-recorded child sexual offences in 2016/17 had an online element, an increase of 44% from 2015/16 figures; nearly 100 offences were committed against children aged 10 and under; 13 was the most common age of the victim (where recorded). The NSPCC is calling on the government to introduce strict online safety measures including: an independent regulator to hold social media companies to account; minimum standards that internet companies must meet to safeguard children; safer social media accounts for children with default privacy settings.
Source: NSPCC Date: 01 June 2017
Children and Social Work Act 2017
The Children and Social Work Bill received Royal Assent on 27th April 2017 hours before the previous Parliament came to a close. The Bill has had a difficult passage and not all proposals survived the process. In particular, the controversial plan to allow local authorities to opt out of certain child protection regulations was removed long before Royal Assent.
The majority of the new Act relates to social work and will setup a new independent regulator to be called ‘Social Work England’. Other sections of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 cover:
- promotion of the educational achievement of previously Looked After Children;
- the introduction of compulsory relationships education in primary schools;
- the introduction of relationships and sex education in secondary schools, which may take into account the ‘religious background’ of pupils
The content of the relationships and sex education programme is yet to be set, but will cover safety in forming and maintaining relationships, the characteristics of healthy relationships, and how relationships may affect physical and mental health and well-being.
Maintained schools and academies will need to ensure that there is a designated staff member for previously Looked After Children, which includes those who were cared for under a special guardianship order, and young people who have been adopted.
Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB) will be abolished under the regulations in the new Act, and ‘safeguarding partners’ will instead make local arrangements for safeguarding and promoting welfare of children. Safeguarding Partners are the local authority, health commissioning groups and the police; and although the local authority might also include ‘relevant agencies’, education is not specifically mentioned.
The Act creates a national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (CSPRP) to look into serious child safeguarding cases in England which raise issues that are complex or of national importance.
Consultation on Scotland’s strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls
The Scottish Government is consulting on the draft Delivery Plan for Equally Safe, Scotland’s strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls. The deadline for response is 30 June 2017.
Source: Scottish Government Date: 19 May 2017
Health and well being of children and young people
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has published a report following a review of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) – the proposals put together by the NHS and local councils to meet the health needs of the local population. The review of 44 STPs in England found that: the majority contain little mention of the health and wellbeing needs of children, except in relation to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS); and the majority do not demonstrate appreciation of the life-long impact of poor health in childhood.
Source: RCPCH Date: 16 May 2017
Further information: State of child health short report: sustainability & transformation partnerships (PDF)
Children affected by domestic abuse
Children & Young People Now reports that Buttle UK has released figures following analysis of grant-giving which shows that: it received 9,909 referrals about children affected by domestic abuse during 2016, an increase in referrals of 33% on the previous year; 3,384 of these referrals related to children aged four or under.
Source: Children & Young People Now Date: 15 May 2017
Further information: Buttle UK
Cafcass has published its monthly care application statistics for England. In April 2017 Cafcass received a total of 1,029 care applications. This figure represents a 16% decrease compared with those received in April 2016.
Source: Cafcass Date: 16 May 2017
Preventing child sexual abuse: the role of schools
The Children’s Commissioner for England has published a report looking into the current provision of education programmes related to the prevention of child sexual abuse in schools in England. Findings from 1,093 primary and secondary schools who responded to an online survey of head teachers show that: around half of primary schools reported that they teach topics related to sexual exploitation and abuse, compared to almost 90% of secondary schools; more than a third of primary schools and 15% of secondary schools do not hold specific sessions with pupils to allow them to raise concerns; 34% of primary schools and 16% of secondary schools do not have a confidential/secure place where pupils can disclose abuse; 20% of primary schools and 12% of secondary schools do not have a designated person that pupils can go to if they have a concern.
Source: Children’s Commissioner for England Date: 19 April 2017
Further information: Preventing child sexual abuse: the role of schools (PDF)
Survey reveals concerns over mental health
Teenage mental health charity stem4 has reported findings from a poll of 500 12-to-16 year olds looking at mental health problems. Findings include: 79% of young people surveyed have reported feelings associated with poor mental health since starting secondary school; exam worries (41%), work overload (31%) and friendship concerns (28%) were the top anxieties recorded. A survey of parents found that: 35 % fear that poor mental health will leave their children unable to enjoy their teenage years; and 28% felt their children were liable to suffer from poor mental health as adults if they do not benefit from suitable support sooner rather than later.
Source: stem4 Date: 27 March 2017
Further information: Guardian