Government introduces law to tackle sexual communications to children
Adults who communicate with children using sexual language could face up to two years in prison and be automatically placed on the sex offenders register, according to a new law announced today.
From 3 April, anyone aged 18 or older who sends a child aged under 16 emails, text messages, letters or other forms of on- or offline communication with sexual intent could be prosecuted.
Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said mobile phones and social media had made children more vulnerable to “those who prey on their innocence and exploit their trust”.
School funding changes
Children & Young People Now report that the Local Government Association has warned that a £600 million reduction in the education services grant (ESG) from central government means child protection arrangements and support for vulnerable pupils may be at risk as many councils will no longer have the money to fund them.
Source: Children & Young People Now Date: 15 March 2017
Further information: Vital school support services at risk following funding cut
Child poverty figures
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published statistics on the number and percentage of people living in low income households for financial years 1994/95 to 2015/16 for the UK. Figures show that: four million children in are in poverty; the percentage of children in relative low income increased by one percentage point from 2014/15, rising to levels last seen in 2009/10.
Source: DWP Date: 16 March 2017
Further information: Households below average income: an analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 to 2015/16 (PDF)
Preventing drug misuse
NICE has published a guideline aimed at preventing or delaying drug misuse by children, young people and adults who are most likely to start using drugs or who are already experimenting or using drugs occasionally. Recommendations include: skills training should be delivered to children and young people, as well as their carers or families; gyms, nightclubs and festivals should display posters and mount social media campaigns to highlight the risks of drug misuse.
Source: NICE Date: 22 February 2017
Further information: Drug misuse prevention: targeted interventions
Consent, sexting and pornography as part of SRE in schools
Plan International UK has published the results of a survey on public opinion of the inclusion of sexual consent, sexting and the impact of pornography as part of sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools in the UK. Findings from the survey of 2,007 adults include: 86% supported the inclusion of education on sexual consent; 82% supported inclusion of education about violence and abuse in relationships; 75% supported the inclusion of education about the impact of pornography; and 71% were in favour of education about ‘sexting’.
Source: Plan International UK Date: 24 February 2017
Independent inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse public hearings
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in England and Wales held its first full public hearing on 27 February 2017.
Source: IICSA Date: 27 February 2017
Further information: Timetable for public hearings in the Child Migration Programmes week 1
Internet safety strategy
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has announced that work has started on a new internet safety strategy for children and young people. Work will focus on four main priorities: how to help young people help themselves; helping parents face up the dangers and discuss them with children; industry’s responsibilities to society; and how technology can help provide solutions.
Source: Department for Culture, Media & Sport Date: 27 February 2017
Young men and self harm
YoungMinds reports on a survey looking at the self harm behaviours of young men. The survey, commissioned by The Mix, Self-Harm UK and Young Minds and carried out by YouGov, finds that: 24% of 16-24-year-old men in the UK have intentionally hurt themselves; and 22% have considered self harm as a way of coping with a difficult situation or emotion.
Source: Young Minds Date: 01 March 2017
Healthy relationships in the school curriculum
The Welsh Education Secretary has announced a new expert group for healthy relationships in the school curriculum. This will be chaired by Emma Renold, Professor of childhood studies at Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences, and will advise on areas including: improving understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues; violence against women; domestic abuse and sexual violence; respect and consent; and sexism and bullying.
Source: Welsh Government Date: 01 March 2017
Child Protection Improvement Programme
The Scottish Government has published a report setting out the key messages from the Child Protection Improvement Programme since it was set up in February 2016. This includes findings from the Child protection systems review. Broader messages which have emerged include: there is a need to focus more on child protection in the wider context of Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) and not lose sight of the broader agenda of protecting children beyond the specific requirements of the formal child protection system. A national child abuse prevention plan will be developed to consider the wider population of children in need who sit below the threshold of significant harm.
Source: Scottish Government Date: 02 March 2017
Further information: Child protection improvement programme (PDF)