21 December 2020
The Government is asking Islanders to act as their ‘eyes and ears’ in the community, by looking out for signs that children are experiencing abuse or exploitation.
With schools breaking up for the Christmas holidays, and greater restrictions on gatherings, many children and young people are likely to be spending more time at home, where they are less visible and where vulnerable children are more at risk.
Abuse is the ongoing maltreatment of a child, whether physically harming a child, maltreating them, or neglecting them.
Children may be vulnerable to abuse for a range of reasons, and individuals can help protect them by looking out for common signs, including: violent shouting or screaming, regularly seeing a child home alone, or observing that the child is scared.
Anyone who is concerned about the safety or wellbeing of a child can contact the Children and Families Hub by phone on (01534) 519000 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Owers, Director of Safeguarding and Care, said: “When children are less visible to the general public, they’re more vulnerable. With the school term over, and many out-of-school clubs suspended, young people won’t necessarily have their same support network over the next few weeks.
“Islanders can help protect children from by keeping alert, by checking in where they can, and raising any concerns that they have through the Children and Families Hub.”
More time spent at home can mean that children spend more time online, where they may be at risk of exploitation. Exploitation includes Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), in which children are given gifts, money or affection in exchange for performing sexual activities.
CSE can take many forms, including sexting, exposure to age-inappropriate content (for example, pornography) or harmful content (including violent or suicidal content.)
Parents and guardians can help protect children by having regular conversations about how to stay safe online, and encouraging them to share any worrying content they find online.
Advice on how to talk to children about online safety is available from the NSPCC, the UK Government and Get Safe Online.
Chris Beechey, Chief Inspector, said: “All of us use our phones, tablets and computers to stay connected to family and friends, and young people are no different. And while there are lots of benefits of staying connected, there are risks involved.
“The best way for parents and carers to protect children and young people is to speak openly with them, and encourage them to speak with you about anything that has worried or upset them online.”
Members of the public who are concerned for the welfare of an individual should report their concerns to the following services: