Child Sexual Exploitation

Whilst Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) has been firmly embedded in the safeguarding remit for schools and academies through legislative and inspection frameworks, the allegation of abuse made by former England international football player Paul Stewart now casts the spotlight on other organisations working with and supporting children and young people. In a BBC interview yesterday, Mr Stewart described how abuse of young boys training to become footballers was not uncommon, alleging he himself had been a victim over a four year period by a club coach. He stated that “the sport could face allegations on the scale of the Jimmy Savile scandal”. Within 24 hours of this statement four more footballers have spoken out about historical child abuse connected with the sport. Ex-Crewe player Andy Woodward has described having experienced abuse by former coach and football scout Barry Bennell who, in 1998, was sentenced to nine years in prison after admitting to sexual offences involving six boys.

Power and control are the powerful grooming mediums CSE perpetrators skilfully use to manipulate and dominate children. It is easy to see how young boys dreaming of a football career in a competitive environment could be vulnerable to such perpetrators, adults they believe are key to making their dream a reality. Whilst these allegations place scrutiny on the world of football, it would be naïve to believe this is the only sport where children are vulnerable.

Current legislation to protect children and young people only places demands for comprehensive safeguarding arrangements on those working within education, health and social care. Safeguarding children within sport and leisure activities is at the discretion of the organisation or club, there are no inspection frameworks to measure quality or performance. Most clubs / organisations now carry out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) vetting checks however this is only a small part of the safeguarding agenda. Such checks will only prevent those legally prohibited or who have previous convictions from working with children. They provide no safeguarding measure against the perpetrator unknown to the police or state.

We need to widen the scope to protect children involved in sport and leisure activities at all levels. To do this effectively requires robust safeguarding policy and protocols, routinely audited to make sure they are transferred into everyday practice. All adults involved in the delivery and support of such services must have access to high quality, accredited training to enable a culture of collective responsibility. Only then will we foster the vigilance needed to protect and keep children safe.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out more about our Child Sexual Exploitation course click here

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here

Improved FGM training support for frontline professionals this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

This International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25th November 2016), I want to commend the tireless work our frontline professionals across education, healthcare and the voluntary sector are doing every single day to help protect Britain’s young girls from child abuse. To do this effectively though requires investment in individualised training readily available to all.

This year, we are focusing on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), an extreme form of violence against young girls’ way before womanhood is even on the horizon. Whilst to some it may appear to be an issue affecting distant parts of the world, the harsh reality is, that just last year 5,700 British girls as young as three years-old suffered this violation of human rights at the hands of ‘cultural beliefs’. It is every girl’s birth rite to grow up in a safe environment and enter womanhood free from abuse. Whilst our education, healthcare and voluntary sector workers strive to provide united protection, there is still much to be done to end FGM for Britons, let alone globally.

We believe that high quality e-learning provides the much needed investment injection to equip individual teachers, nurses, GPs, care workers and voluntary sector staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to identify and support young girls at risk. In addition, where prevention is too late, training can also ensure professionals are equipped to support FGM victims. A key point addressed in the Government’s ‘Ending Violence against Women and Girls Strategy 2016 – 2020’ is that in order to tackle violence against women and girls, it must be everybody’s business. From health providers to law enforcement, educationalists, employers, friends and family we all need to play our part.

The report also emphasises the action needed to allow women to disclose violence as part of their everyday interactions so that we can support earlier identification and intervention to stop violence and abuse from escalating to critical levels.

Significant new legislation such as the Home Office Affairs Committee this autumn is now in place and s pecific offences related to failing to protect from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), however, the training I see as a safeguarding specialist, particularly in schools, demonstrates a need for a serious shake-up. Currently, there’s no official guidance or advice on methods of training, simply that it must take place annually. Educators play such an important role in child protection, should we not be approaching it in the same way as CRB checks, or even the driving test? Shouldn’t every single teacher/support staff member be individually trained, assessed and certified?

To gather large groups of teaching staff together all on one day, once a year, to complete safeguarding training, usually conducted on an INSET day is no mean feat. People may be absent and like new staff members joining during the year, have to wait until the next planned session. Training in large groups makes it difficult to assess individual learning outcomes. In any group of people, there will be a varied range of prior knowledge, those more confident to participate and then there are those inhibited by informal hierarchies who are more comfortable sitting back and observing. How can we be sure in group training that every single person leaves the session competent and confident to deal with modern safeguarding issues? Whilst individual face-to-face training is unfeasible financially, e-learning is playing a key role in safeguarding training. Online learning anytime, anywhere is a mantra we advocate as educationalists, and this is making a huge impact in teacher training across many disciplines.

We’re already working with over 60,000 people to protect children and young people from abuse and in the next 12 months we aim to add thousands to this number so that by International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2017, thousands more girls are protected, enabling them to achieve their full potential unhindered by abuse.

 

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out more about our FGM course click here

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here

Children in London at risk because of “serious failings” by Met Police

Following recent criticism in the handling of child missing cases and aspects of the serial killer Stephen Port investigation, today has seen further pressure on police forces to improve their child protection arrangements following the damming findings of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary on the London Metropolitan police’s performance in dealing with child sexual abuse.

Inspectors findings revealed that in over 75% of cases reviewed, practice was judged to be inadequate or in need of improvement. Much of the report focused on failings in leadership and management together with a lack of information sharing (internally and externally) however, the most worrying aspect revealed by the report is that staff, including child sexual exploitation officers, had not received any CSE training.

In a statement responding to the findings, the Met reassured the public that officers were “dedicated to protecting vulnerable young people” but, whilst no one would challenge the Met’s commitment to protect vulnerable children, surely high quality CSE training is a key priority to enable best practice.

In response, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has stated the report findings are “simply unacceptable and things must change” and plans to improve the service with “a new independent group of child protection experts”. Whilst this response is welcomed and will no doubt inform improvement, it falls short from addressing the key issue, that of failure to invest in high quality CSE cpd training for Met officers.

As we have seen in education, health and social care settings, without this investment practice will simply not improve and children will remain at risk.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out more about our Child Sexual Exploitation course click here

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here