What is Safeguarding?
- Protecting children from maltreatment
- Preventing impairment of children’s mental and physical health or development
- Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care, and
- Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.
Keeping Children Safe in Education (including Sep 2022 update)
Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Between Children (Sep 2021)
BTF Safeguarding & Child Protection Policy
Phil MacBeth - Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)
Our Federation's Safeguarding Team
Phil MacBeth, DSL
Stephen Hoult-Allen - Executive Headteacher, Deputy DSL
Manda Sides - Head of Operations, Deputy DSL
Gemma Luke - Safeguarding Governor
St Luke's School Safeguarding Team
Phil MacBeth, DSL
Stephen Hoult-Allen - Executive Head, Deputy DSL
Jamie Caple - Head of School, Deputy DSL
Paula Leonard - Head of Middle School, Deputy DSL
Julianne Bensissi - Teacher, Deputy DSL
Clara McDermott - Teacher, Deputy DSL
Amy Tallantire - Head of Upper School, Deputy DSL
The Collett School
Phil MacBeth DSL
Stephen Hoult-Allen - Deputy DSL
Jennie Witter - Head of School, Deputy DSL
Anu Gray - Head of Inclusion, Deputy DSL
Christina Self - Assist. Head of Upper School, Deputy DSL
Melanie Lulham - Teacher, Deputy DSL
Current 7 Safeguarding Issues Facing Schools in the UK 2023
Child Protection: Everyone's Responsibility
Every adult in school is responsible for child protection and is trained to look out for signs of neglect and abuse. Every visitor in our school is also responsible for reporting information they are concerned about with regard to safeguarding and child protection.
We are vigilant in looking for signs of:
- Emotional Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Physical Abuse
- Radicalised behaviours
If you suspect a child is in danger of being hurt or abused, call:
- The Police on 999
- Children’s Services – 0300 1234043 (Out of Hours Service-Children’s Services) – 0300 1234043
- Any member of staff in school
Senior staff in the schools work with the relevant local agencies, including the local Safeguarding Children Board. Pupils in our schools are supervised at all times by qualified and experienced staff. Named staff are qualified first aiders and there is a clear procedure to document and inform parents of any accident or injury sustained at the school. Through social skills development, each pupil learns to treat others with respect and any form of bullying is taken seriously.
Our Federation staff have in-depth training on a regular basis to remind everyone of the procedures for identifying and reporting issues of neglect/abuse that may likely constitute a child protection matter. Staff are also trained to identify and report children suspected of being 'radicalised' through a national programme called 'Prevent'. The schools' staff use the federation's usual reporting procedures and information is then shared through the 'Channel' duties and accountabilities with the Local Authority, as such, this ensures the correct pathways of information sharing and action taken.
PREVENT duty and accountabilities information
Keeping Your Child Safe Online
Keeping Your Child Safe Online
Online Safety is being aware of the nature of the possible threats that you could encounter whilst engaging in activity through the Internet, these could be security threats, protecting and managing your personal data, online reputation management, and avoiding harmful or illegal content. It isn’t about scaremongering, it isn’t about criticism and chaos, it’s about focusing on the positive and enriching side of digital life whilst recognising its challenges and how to best approach them.
It is important for children and teenagers to stay safe online. Parents, carers and our schools are particularly concerned about the safety of children online.
Please have a look at this webpage and the video that shows challenges people with SEND face online:
Children with SEND | TALK Checklist by Internet Watch Foundation (iwf.org.uk)
- advice for parents and carers on how to help children stay safe online - how to make use of parental controls, how to have conversations with your child about staying safe online, and how children can stay safe and healthy during a time when they may be spending more time on their devices than usual
- Childnet’s guidance for parents and carers – how to begin a conversation about online safety, as well as guidance on keeping under-fives safe online
- Internet Matters - expert age-specific advice to prepare and protect your child from a range of online issues, including: sexting, self harm, screen time, radicalisation, pornography, online reputation, online grooming, inappropriate content, identity theft, and cyberbullying
- more support on specific harms children may experience online during COVID-19 including guidance and support to prevent and address these harms
- online safety at home activity packs – CEOP’s simple 15 minute activities suitable for children aged 4-14+ can be done at home and focus on topics including image sharing, live streaming and watching videos on the web.
- if you or your child are being targeted online contact the police at: Child Expoitation and Online Protection
Staying Safe Online / e-safety
You might be struggling to keep up with the things your child is doing online; you might wonder whether what they are doing is safe; and you might also be thinking ‘How can I be as good a parent online as I am offline?’
We encourage you to visit the Think U Know website. It has tips and advice about how you can help your children grow up safely with the internet. Below are more links to get you started.
|Parent Zone, making the Internet work for families.|
Parent Info is a collaboration between CEOP and Parent Zone. It provides high quality information to parents and carers about their children’s wellbeing and resilience.
The NCA’s CEOP Command (formerly the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) works with child protection partners across the UK and overseas to identify the main threats to children and coordinates activity against these threats to bring offenders to account.
The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) is a group of more than 200 organisations drawn from across government, industry, law, academia and charity sectors that work in partnership to help keep children safe online.
Internet Matters - Information on how to keep your child safe online.
NSPCC: Keeping your child safe online
Protecting your child in school
The internet and especially the World Wide Web, are essential parts of modern life which can enrich lives and empower children and families when used in a safe and secure environment. There are ever more ways to access this world using computers, tablets, phones, games consoles, TVs, watches... the list gets longer each year. With this access comes an element of risk, and a responsibility for adults to protect and educate children to use the technology safely.
In our schools we use the Hertfordshire Internet and Connectivity Service (HICS) Filtered Web Service who provide us with a firewall to protect the children from harmful content.
Mobile Phones & SMART Watches
In our schools, we understand that the majority of children will at some point own a mobile phone, some children also have a Smartwatch that can access the Internet. Whilst we are more than happy for them to be used on the journey to and from school we have a policy of collecting devices as children arrive. They are then stored in a locked room until they are distributed at the end of the day. For more information about our mobile phone policy please see below.
We do however allow children to use mobile phones and Smartwatches when accessing Travel Training. Your child's class teacher will inform you when this forms part of the curriculum.
For more information on e-safety and how to protect your child online please click on the following links:
Online Safety Library: What Parents Need to Know about...
National Online Safety provides a huge amount of information, training and resources for school staff and parents in order to enable us to better ensure children and young people are safe online. Below are their "What Parents Need to Know about..." for a wealth of topics:
Technology - general information: What Parents Need to Know about...
Technology, the basics:
- Online Content: 10 Tips to Keep You Children Safe Online
- Age Ratings (BBFC & PEGI)
- Age Ratings
- Age-Inappropriate Content
- Home Devices
- Home Internet Controls
- The Ofcom 'Children and Parents Media Use and Attitudes' Report 2020-21
- The Ofcom 'Children and Parents Media Use and Attitudes' Report 2022
Further technology information:
- Cross-Platform Sharing of inappropriate Content
- The Deep Web & The Dark Web
- Email Scams
- Fake News
- Fitness Trackers
- Free Speech vs Hate Speech
- Location Tracking
- The Metaverse
- Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Sharing
- Phone Scams
- Protecting Personal Data
- Remote Access & Remote Data Deletion
- Screen Addiction
- Screengrabs (Screenshots)
- Search Engines
- Toddlers & Screen Time
- Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
- Virtual Reality
- Voice Activated Searching
Devices: What Parents Need to Know about...
Communication & Social Media: What Parents Need to Know about...
Communication & Social Media, the basics:
- Group Chats
- Echo Chambers
- Lifestyle Sites
- Live Streaming
- Online Challenges
- Online Grooming
- Online Hoaxes
- Persuasive Design
- Trolling & Online Abuse
- Friends & Followers
- Social Bots
- Social Media & Mental Health
- Social Media & Mental Health; The Positive and Negative Impacts
- Social Media Scams
- Social Pressures Linked to 'Appearance'
- Social Pressures Linked to 'Friends and Followers'
- Social Pressures Linked to 'Likes'
- Social Pressures Linked to 'Social Media influencers'
- Tech Related Communication
Communication & Social Media sites:
Gaming: What Parents Need to Know about...
Gaming, the basics:
- Games Consoles
- Gaming Disorder
- Gaming Streamers & Influencers
- Horror Games
- Loot Boxes & Skin Betting
- Loot Boxes
- Online Avatars
- Policing vs Parenting Get to Grips with Gaming
- Among Us
- Apex Legends
- Avakin Life
- Call of Duty Black Ops 4
- Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War
- Call of Duty Warzone
- Counter-Strike Global Offensive
- Cunch-Line Chronicles
- Cyberpunk 2077
- FIFA 20
- FIFA 21
- FIFA 23
- Fortnite Battle Royale
- Fortnite Chapter 2
- Fortnite Chapter 3
- Grand Theft Auto
- League of Legends
- Pokémon GO
- Rec Room
- Rocket League
- Squid Game
What your child is watching online: What Parents Need to Know about...
What your child is watching online, the basics:
- Music Steaming Apps & Sites
- Video Streaming Apps & Sites
- Managing What you Children Watch on TV
Different streaming and content sites:
Online spending: What Parents Need to Know about...
Online spending, the basics:
Popular spending sites:
Bereavement Support for Children
The Federation's Bereavement Policy. Review January 2025
Reading for Parents and Carers:
- How do children with SEND understand death?
- Do children grieve differently to adults?
- Telling a child someone has died
- Should children attend a funeral?
- What is grief? Easy to read information for young people with SEND
- Supporting children through grief
- Growing around grief
- 7 ways to support children and young people who are worried
Activities and resources to help children cope with bereavement:
DfE Advice to Parents on Keeping Children Safe from Abuse and Harm
Published 25 June 2020
- Protect children from domestic abuse
- Child sexual abuse and exploitation
- Crime, Criminal Exploitation and County Lines, violence and gangs
- Protect children from radicalisation
- Online child safety
- Mental health
- More information
Call the NSPCC helpline for support and advice if you have a concern for your own or another child’s safety on 0808 800 5000.
If you feel that your child is in immediate danger, call the police on 999. You can report concerns to the police on their non-emergency number, 101.
You can also contact the relevant social care team at your local council to report a concern about a child or adult.
This guidance brings together sources of information about the main risks children may be particularly vulnerable to during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and signposts you to help and support available.
The essential measures to control coronavirus can potentially increase risks to children and this can cause concern for parents and carers.
This guide also includes information on the support providers who can help you have effective conversations with a young person, especially if you are concerned for their safety.
Visit the See, Hear, Respond service or call on 0800 157 7015 for additional support, advice and information during this period (England only).
This includes online and face-to-face support for children and families, help for children at risk of harm outside the home, and support to help vulnerable children successfully return to school or college.
Protect Children from Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse can have devastating consequences for children, and can have lifelong impacts on their mental and physical health and behaviour into adulthood.
Domestic abuse occurs between those who are, or have been, in relationships. It can also occur between family members, such as between teenagers and parents (known as adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA)).
Find out how to recognise and spot the signs of domestic abuse.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse:
- see domestic abuse: how to get help which includes specific advice on how to get help for children and young people
- call the NSPCC helpline for advice and support if you have concerns about a child on 0808 800 5000, as well as the National Domestic Abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. If you are unable to talk on the phone, listen to the questions from the operator and respond by coughing or tapping the handset if you can. Follow the instructions depending on whether you are calling from a mobile or a landline.
For help with parental conflict and relationship abuse:
- Co-Parent Hub - information for separated parents and advice to help you and your ex-partner to be good co-parents
Teenage relationship abuse
Teenagers can experience abuse in their own relationships, even if they aren’t living with the abuser:
- NSPCC’s ‘Coronavirus and keeping safe from abuse’ - common signs of teenage relationship abuse if you are concerned about a young person’s relationship
- Parent Info - advice, tips, and key signs to spot for parents on talking to teenagers about consent and spotting abuse in teenage relationships
- NSPCC - helpful information for parents and carers on how to talk to your child about sex and consent
- Childline - interactive activities for children and signposts to support available
Brook Traffic Light Sexual Behaviours Tool (age-related behaviours)
Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
Sexual abuse can happen anywhere – in person or online. It’s never a child’s fault they were sexually abused – it’s important to make sure children know this.
Call 999 and ask for the police if your child has been a victim of child sexual abuse – online or offline – and you believe they are in immediate danger.
When a child or young person is sexually abused, they are forced or tricked into sexual activities. They might not understand that what is happening is abuse or that it is wrong. They might be afraid to tell someone.
Sexual abuse can happen anywhere – and it can happen in person or online. It’s never a child’s fault they were sexually abused – it’s important to make sure children know this.
See the government’s definition of child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation.
These are resources that can help:
- Together, we can tackle child abuse – how to recognise child abuse, and how to report it
- report to the National Crime Agency-CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) if you are concerned that your child has been a victim, or is at risk of becoming a victim, of online sexual abuse, or you are worried about the way someone has been communicating with your child online
- contact the NSPCC helpline 0808 800 5000 for support and advice if you have any concerns about your own or another child’s safety
- Stop It Now! - information and advice on concerns about someone’s behaviour, including children who may be displaying concerning sexual behaviour
- Talk Pants Guide for Parents – how to have age-appropriate conversations to help protect children from sexual abuse using simple, child-friendly language and give children the confidence and knowledge to stay safe
- Coronavirus: support for parents and carers to keep children safe online - resources to help keep children safe from different risks online, including child sexual abuse and ‘sexting’, and where to go to receive support and advice
Sexual assault referral centres
Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) offer support services for children who have experienced sexual abuse or sexual violence, either recently or in the past.
Specially trained medical and support staff care for the child in a safe and comfortable environment and can arrange for ongoing support to help them recover physically and emotionally.
Steps are taken to ensure the child is protected from immediate harm and from any future harm. Partners, such as the police and social services, support the process and may be involved in arranging the initial referral to the SARC.
For additional advice and support, find your local sexual assault referral centre.
Actively Preventing Children Committing Crimes
Crime, Criminal Exploitation and County Lines, Violence and Gangs
Call the police on 999 if you feel that your child is in immediate danger. You can report concerns to the police on their non-emergency number, 101.
Children and young people involved with gangs, county lines and criminal exploitation need help and support. They might be involved in violence, be pressured into doing things like stealing, carrying drugs or weapons or be abused, exploited and put into dangerous situations.
- NSPCC’s ‘Criminal exploitation and gangs’ - if you have concerns that your child is being criminally exploited, involved in gangs or county lines, as well as more information on what these terms mean - phone 0808 800 500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Children’s Society resources on criminal exploitation and county lines - for parents who are concerned their child may be being criminally exploited or involved in county lines
- Parent Info - information for parents about knife crime and gang involvement
If your child is missing from home
Contact Missing People SafeCall service - or you have concerns about them being involved in gangs, drugs dealing or county lines exploitation.
SafeCall provides confidential and one-to-one support to children, but they also offer advice and guidance to parents and carers who are concerned and need support.
To speak to someone urgently, contact Missing People’s free, 24/7 confidential helpline.
Phone or text: 116 000 Email: email@example.com
Radicalisation of Children
Children can be exposed to different views and receive information from various sources. Some of these views may be considered radical or extreme. Radicalisation is the process through which a person comes to support or be involved in extremist ideologies (including religion and extreme right wing politics). It can result in a person becoming drawn into terrorism and is in itself a form of harm.
Protecting Children from Radicalisation
Call the police on 101 or contact your local authority safeguarding team if you are worried that a loved one is being radicalised - you can get advice or share a concern so that they can get safeguarding support.
Although rare, increased online activity and feelings of stress and isolation may be exploited by online groomers to target vulnerable children and young people – including extremist influences seeking to radicalise vulnerable people.
Extremists may use the coronavirus outbreak to promote hateful views, for example through conspiracy theories blaming a particular group for the virus, or through spreading misinformation about these groups’ responses to it.
Online exploitation is often hard to recognise. Sometimes there are clear warning signs - in other cases the changes are less obvious. Although some of these traits may be quite common among teenagers, taken together they could indicate that your child may need help. The Let’s Talk About It lists some of these signs.
You know your child best and you will want to speak with them first. Check in with them and ask about what they are viewing, who they are speaking to and how they are feeling.
These are resources that can help:
- Digital safety during Covid-19 - advice produced by the Home Office
- Educate against hate parents’ hub - resources and government advice for parents and carers on keeping young people safe from extremism, including online
Let’s Talk About It - support for parents and carers to keep children safe from online radicalisation.
'Prevent' and 'Channel'
Prevent can help your child get support to move away from harmful influences. The support can include help with education or careers advice, dealing with mental or emotional health issues, or digital safety training for parents.
Call the police on 101 to get advice or share a concern so that they can get safeguarding support through Prevent, if you are worried that a loved one is being radicalised.
You can also contact your local authority safeguarding team for help. Receiving support through Prevent is voluntary, confidential and not any form of criminal sanction.
Report online material promoting terrorism or extremism
You can report terrorist content you find online. More information about what to report and what happens when you make a report can be found on the Action Counters Terrorism campaign.
Hertfordshire NHS Single Point of Access 24/7 Mental Health Helpline
Herts residents of all ages, including carers, GPs and other professionals can contact our 24/7 Single Point of Access (SPA) Mental Health Helpline team at any hour of the day or night, 365 days a year. The team can provide support for Herts residents who are experiencing a mental health crisis, need some mental health support or just want to talk on:
- Freephone 0800 6444 101 or
- NHS 111 and select option 2 for mental health services
- If they are seriously ill or injured, dial 999 for the emergency services.
If you are worried that someone you know is suicidal, including your child, Samaritans provides advice on how you can support others.
Call Young Minds’ free Parents Helpline on 0808 802 5544 for confidential, expert advice, if you have urgent concerns about your child’s mental health and wellbeing.
This may be a difficult time for children and young people. Some may be struggling now, while others may be affected later.
During this time, it’s important that you take care of your own and your family’s mental health – there are lots of things you can do, and support is available if you need it.
- Action for Children - helps parents to spot the signs of poor mental health in their child and explains what to do to help
- NSPCC - a range of advice on how to support your child if you are concerned that they may be struggling with their mental health or be anxious about coronavirus
- Public Health England advice - helps adults with caring responsibilities look after the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, including those with additional needs and disabilities
- Young Minds - tips, advice and where to get support for your child’s mental health - parents can also access activity ideas for use during isolation
- Every Mind Matters – simple and practical advice to support your mental health and wellbeing, including advice on looking after children and young people.
- NHS England has published advice for parents, guardians and carers on how to help and support a child or young person
Information about the Mental Health Support Team (MHST)
The Mental Health Support Team (MHST) in SEND schools in Herts and West Essex.
The MHST works closely with SEN Schools, an early intervention service working with mild to moderate mental health difficulties and challenging behaviours in educational settings. The MHST supports children, their families, and school staff, and is currently based in several SEN schools across Herts and West Essex. The service is ‘hosted’ by PALMS in Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, but is separate to the PALMS team.
The MHST helps to support mental health at The Collett School and St Luke's Schools in several ways:
- Workshops with young people or parent/carers or staff.
- Group based work with young people or parent/carers.
- Guided 1:1 self-help sessions (6 – 8 weeks) with young people, parent/carers around proactive prevention and support for mild to moderate mental health difficulties and challenging behaviours
- A ‘whole school approach’ to understanding and improving mental health, which may include supporting the school’s mental health lead, supporting with the wellbeing curriculum, identifying mental health resources, creating posters and displays etc.
- Signposting staff and families to appropriate support.
The team is made up of Educational Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs), supervising clinicians, an Assistant Psychologist, and administrator support.
If you are interested in further information and/or support, please contact the team on the following email address firstname.lastname@example.org or email Admin@collett.herts.sch.uk
Staff in Our Schools and Selection Procedures
All our staff, supply staff, volunteers and those working with our children have Enhanced DBS checks against police systems to ascertain whether they are barred from working with children. All staff (permanent and temporary) are fully inducted by the school as part of our stringent Safeguarding and Child Protection procedures including Safer Staffing Recruitment
Before commencing employment all staff in our schools:
- Qualifications are checked, including contacting universities etc. for confirmation
- Are fully DBS checked
- Have two satisfactory references, seen and checked
- All gaps in employment history are identified and checked at interview
- Right to work in the UK is ascertained
- Certificate of Good Behaviour obtained
- List-99 checking
- Barred List check
- Occupational Health check
- Are interviewed by staff with Safer Staffing in-date accreditation
All offers of employment are made with the conditions at all these checks are complete and satisfactory.
All staff undertake statutory training on child protection, safeguarding, behaviour management, Prevent annually and with regular updates.
Information about vulnerable groups and volunteering.
Safeguarding and the Impact of Covid-19
The NSPCC have published comprehensive reports looking at the impact the first lock down has had on children in the UK. I have summarised several of these below. Links to the full NSPCC reports are embedded in the references listed at the end, along with other safeguarding related reading.
Isolation: pressures on families
The NSPCC notes three particular areas of strain are: increased stresses on parents, the impact of lockdown on children and young people’s mental health and the reduction in contact with protective services such as school, health professionals and the wider community.
Spending so much time together can have positive effects on relationships. However, the intensity and extended duration of time spent together we have all experienced over the lockdowns can also put relationships under strain. Additionally, families have had to spend more on electricity, gas, water and food bills. These and other added financial worries relating to jobs, furlough and redundancies has led to an 81% increase on demand for emergency food from food banks.
Many children and young people have been just as anxious about the global situation as we have been. This, combined with absence of daily and weekly routines and activities has increased children’s’ vulnerability to preoccupation with worries.
Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people who are, or have been, in a relationship.
When the stay-at-home guidance was first issued earlier this year, the NSPCC highlights that there was an average rise of 45 additional contacts being made with them per week; this average figure is specifically regarding concerns around children being exposed to or subject of domestic abuse. The report observes that this may be partly due to most adults being at home all day and so are more aware of the goings on of neighbouring residences.
The pressures mentioned in the first section are undoubtedly contributing to the rise in reports of Domestic Abuse. This is also unfortunately linked with children not having access to all of the support networks that they would usually.
Online abuse is any type of abuse that is facilitated by the internet. It can happen anywhere that allows online communication, including social networks, text messages and messaging apps, email and private messaging, online chats, comments on live streaming sites and voice or video chat in games. Perpetrators may also share abusive images, live streams and recordings with others online (this can happen whether the original abuse occurred online or offline).
One avenue many children will have used to fill their time is internet use, be it from mobiles, tablets, TVs, games consoles or computers. However, the ‘Stranger Danger’ message we were all given is applicable now more than ever in relation to internet use.
Children have access to Apps and sites such as: WhatsApp, Snapchat, TikTok, Telegram, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Crunchyroll, SoundCloud, Discord, Twitch and many, many more. But this also means that children are exposed to a far greater number of strangers than ever before. 12 to 15 year old were nearly twice as likely to report seeing something “worrying or nasty” online compared to 8 to 11 year olds.
Reports of online abuse (including sexual abuse) over the first lockdown rose significantly. The NSPCC helpline saw a 60% increase in contact being made with them over concerns of online sexual abuse to an average of 187 contacts per month. Childline reported an 11% increase in the number of counselling sessions they were delivering due to online sexual abuse.
Physical abuse is when someone deliberately hurts a child and causes physical harm. It can include injuries such as broken bones, bruises, burns, cuts and non-accidental head injuries in babies. It may involve hitting, kicking, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, scalding, drowning, or any other method of causing non-accidental harm to a child.
The stressful conditions created by the pandemic can lead to more conflict with families having to stay home and being unable to escape the physical abuse. Physical abuse can have long lasting psychological impact on children and young people. Statistics show that households that have experienced Domestic Abuse may also be at risk from physical abuse. The NSPCC report that children may also be manipulated or threatened into not disclosing physical abuse to adults.
Child sexual abuse is when a child is forced or persuaded into taking part in sexual activities. This may involve physical contact or non-contact activities, and can take place online or offline. Perpetrators may also groom children online in order to make contact with them and carry out offline sexual abuse.
Adults or children can carry out sexual abuse, individually or as a group. Children and young people may not always understand that they are being sexually abused, especially if they have been groomed and/or manipulated by their abuser.
The NSPCC explains that some children who are victims of sexual abuse have talked about abuse occurring more frequently over the lockdown. Children spending time alone without the distractions of daily life mean that some children are experiencing painful experiences of abuse resurfacing. Childline reports that sexual abuse is the most common form of abuse amongst the adolescents with which they are working. The NSPCC says that their data evidences that sex, relationships and puberty is an area that young people want more information about. This would reduce the amount of ‘self-research’ that some children and young people will be doing.
The risk of neglect and abuse has been intensified over the first lockdown and ongoing pandemic related restrictions to daily life. This is further complicated by the uncertainty brought about by national and local lockdowns. The increase in risks of abuse comes alongside a time when children are less likely to be on Child Protection plans through lack of the protective factors such as children not being seen face-to-face by professionals within schools and the wider community. The fully realised increase in the amount of online abuse is not yet known. But the recognised rise further emphasises the need for robust teaching of online safety and an Online Harms Bill is planned for release at the end of 2021.
Peter Wanless, the NSPCC’s Chief Executive, states that he feels children and young people can recover from the negativities that they have been experiencing most recently with appropriate support. He notes that schools, children’s social care, health professionals and the police will all be crucial in supporting children through the pandemic.
Bentley, H. et al. (2020) How safe are our children?: an overview of data on adolescent abuse. London: NSPCC
Eleni Romanou and Emma Belton. (2020) Isolated and struggling: social isolation and the risk of child maltreatment, in lockdown and beyond. London: NSPCC.
NSPCC (2020) The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: domestic abuse. Insight briefing. London: NSPCC.
NSPCC (2020) The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: online abuse. Insight briefing. London: NSPCC.
NSPCC (2020) The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: physical abuse. Insight briefing. London: NSPCC.
NSPCC (2020) The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: sexual abuse. Insight briefing. London: NSPCC.
Other related reading
UNICEF - Children in lockdown: What Coronavirus means for UK Children
Home Office - Online Harms White Paper
DfE - Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020
DfE - Amanda Spielman’s speech at the National Children and Adult Services Conference
For more information about keeping children safe:
If you or your child are being targeted online contact the police at:
Families First is Hertfordshire's programme of early help services for families: