A collection of news stories around safeguarding, domestic abuse, child abuse and prioritising children during future lockdowns.

With thanks to SafeCIC.

Keeping children safe in schools

New government guidance has been published around keeping children safe in schools. The document Keeping children safe in education came  into force 1 September 2020. Annex H contains a table of substantive changes from September 2019.

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IISCA) – Truth Project

IISCA has published more interim reports, prior to winding up their enquiry and publishing a final report in 2022. There is a helpful summary of these on the Safe CIC website, and you can also see the reports on the Truth Project website.

Putting Children First in Future Lockdowns – briefing

The Children’s Commissioner has published a briefing looking at the place of children, and the priority that need to be given to them, in future lockdowns, whether local or national.

Ten key principles

1.      Compared to adults, children play a smaller role in spreading Covid-19 and are less likely to get ill from it. This is especially true for younger children, and less so for older children and teenagers. 

2.      Children’s perspectives must be better reflected in scientific and public health advice. Any measures implemented must take into account children’s needs and circumstances where they differ from those of adults. 

3.      Education should be prioritised over other sectors: first to open, last to close. When only a limited amount of social interaction is feasible, the amount accounted for by education must be protected – at the expense of other sectors/activities. 

4.      Reducing Covid-19 transmission in the community is very important, but it should not be automatically assumed that this requires closing schools – except as a last resort. 

5.      In response to a local outbreak, rapid tracing must distinguish between the source and the location of infections. Schools could be more likely to be the latter than the former – i.e. infections detected within schools could reflect outbreaks that originated in local workplaces. 

6.      With rapid testing of pupils and teachers, any confirmed Covid-19 cases and their close contacts can be isolated without necessarily having to send entire classes or year groups home. 

7.      Full lockdowns must balance the epidemiological benefit to children against the social and health costs to children of closures to schools, leisure/youth centres, etc. 

8.      Any rights extended to adults must also be given to children in ways that work for them (e.g. the right to exercise, do sports or play outside). 

9.      Communication about the lockdown must make clear that risk of infection should not prevent children and families seeking help they need, such as urgent healthcare which is not related to the virus or refuge from domestic abuse. 

10.  All public bodies should begin planning for the possibility of a local lockdown now, to ensure that they can respond as quickly and effectively as possible if one were to occur. 

Child Sex Offences figures

New figures obtained by the NSPCC reveal that police recorded more than 200 child sex offences, on average, every day last year.

There were 73,518 recorded offences including rape, online grooming and sexual assault against children in the UK in 2019/20 – up 57% in the 5 years since 2014/152.

Women’s Aid releases report on COVID-19

The national domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid releases a new report: A Perfect Storm – The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic abuse survivors and the services supporting them. 

The report shows how domestic abuse has worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic. It examines the impact on survivors; how abusers use the pandemic as a tool of abuse; and how the services supporting survivors are affected. 

You can read the press release, and link to the report, on the Women’s Aid website.