Since schools closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we have seen safeguarding referrals increase by 750%. Our CEO, Jaine Stannard, spoke with The Guardian and The Observer about this alarming statistic which is in direct contradiction to national figures.
Despite reports that safeguarding referrals have decreased during the UK lockdown, we know that many children are not safer at home. The reality is that many children are actually going completely unseen and unprotected.
Families are under increased pressure. Consider a child who’s parents struggle with poor mental health, or a child who is a young carer (it’s estimated that 70,000 young carers are not known by local authorities), or a child with SEND. These children may have slipped through the ‘vulnerability criteria’ net and have spent the past few months in an environment where professionals cannot pick up or act on safeguarding concerns.
We are proud that none of the families we support have experienced a drop in our services throughout the pandemic. But we also know there are many more families in need of help, with safeguarding issues that are going unprotected. Children need support now, and will still need that support when schools re-open. It’s charities like ours, with experts on hand, that are best placed to give this support and ensure access to education doesn’t become an even bigger challenge for pupils facing disadvantage.