The NSPCC has raised fears that lockdown has placed many children and teenagers at risk of harm and urged the government to put recovery measures in place for this group.
The charity’s helpline received an average of 1,066 contacts a month from April to July from adults with concerns that a child or young person was being physically abused - up 53% on the pre-lockdown average.
NSPCC CEO Peter Wanless said: “No one has been left unaffected by the uncertainty we are living through. For adolescents, already navigating perhaps the most challenging period of their lives, the impact is likely to be significant and, in some cases, lasting.”
WillisPalmer has been raising concerns abut the impact of lockdown on vulnerable children. As a result we launched our Children’s Charter last week, calling on the government to support all children as they return to school following a lengthy period out of education and hidden from professionals such as teachers and social workers.
The NSPCC report ‘How safe are our children? 2020’ highlights that, in comparison to younger children, available data from the UK nations shows rates of police-recorded offences against teenagers across the UK are:
- 4 times as high for physical abuse offences
- 9 times as high for online grooming offences
- 6 times as high for sexual abuse offences.
Furthermore, across the UK, teenagers are twice as likely to be in care, but are less likely to be the subject of a child protection plan or on a child protection register to support them compared to younger children.
Despite the extent of serious abuse against older children outlined in the crime statistics, studies have shown the ability of teenagers to look after themselves is often overestimated and there can be a tendency for professionals to focus on teenager’s behaviour rather than the causes behind it.
The children’s charity is calling on the government to move forward with recovery planning and ensure support and services are in place for all children who need them, following the huge impact coronavirus has had on young people.
Recovery measures should include:
- Government funding and support packages for schools to ensure they are ready to help all children and young people who need it as they return to the classroom – particularly those who may have suffered abuse, neglect or other traumatic experiences during the lockdown, which reiterates one of WillisPalmer’s demands in our charter.
- Support for teachers so they can confidently help children, including training on child development science and how behavioural problems or difficulties with their emotions can be a sign of trauma.
- Governments also need to back multi-agency partnerships between local authorities, NHS and police to work with schools to review support for vulnerable children.
Peter Wanless added “As part of their recovery and rebuilding planning, Government needs to make sure services are in place and ready to help so no child or young person who has suffered is left without support. Young people’s lives must not be derailed by the pandemic.”
How safe are our children 2020