Lockdowns left thousands of children at risk of exploitation

  • Nearly 13,000 children identified as being at risk of criminal exploitation during lockdown could just be the “tip of the iceberg”.
  • Department for Education (DoE) figures show that 12,720 children assessed by children’s social services in England between April 2020 and March 2021 were at risk due to gang involvement.
  • Assessments of 16,830 children showed child sexual exploitation (CSE) as a factor and 2,710 young people were at risk of trafficking.
  • There was also a 31% drop in the number of school referrals to children’s social services between 2019/20 to 2020/21 due to lockdown.
  • Thousands of children who could be at risk of exploitation may not have been referred during school closures.
  • Former children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, claims that school closures benefitted those targeting young people.
  • Full story, here.


Mental health crisis will block school catch-up

  • A radical reform of mental health support in schools is needed in response to COVID-19 pandemic or catch-up efforts will be “blocked”.
  • The Coalition for Youth Mental Health in Schools call for action on mental health support and more funding to support pupils.
  • A report found that 62% of young people reported feeling anxious or worried and 18% reported having suicidal thoughts more frequently than pre-pandemic.
  • Their report recommends changes in counselling in school and in the delivery of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education.
  • Every staff member should receive appropriate mental health and wellbeing awareness training, as part of their annual safeguarding training.
  • They urge that the appointment of a designated mental health leader in every school should be accelerated and urge the government to make changes in the provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
  • Full story, here.


Guides criticised for sexuality tweets

  • Girlguiding has been criticised for promoting asexuality awareness, causing some parents to threaten to withdraw their daughters from the group.
  • The organisation provides activities and regular meetings for girls aged 5 to 18.
  • The tweet was posted in support of #AceWeek, an awareness event for asexuality, acknowledging all members and volunteers who identify as asexual.
  • The message was criticised on social media by parents and former volunteers, causing some parents to threat to withdraw their children from the organisation.
  • Girlguiding responded in a follow-up tweet, explaining the importance of inclusivity, referencing a diversity consultation it carried out last year.
  • The consultation conducted last year had shown that parents, carers, volunteers, and staff thought that the organisation needed to be more inclusive.
  • Girlguiding launched a Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan earlier this year to increase inclusivity and ensure “everyone feels welcomed, like they belong and free to be themselves”.
  • Full story, here.