Reporting child abuse is everyone’s responsibility
A new campaign in Kingston is asking for everyone’s help to protect vulnerable children in their area during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nationally, referrals have fallen by as much as half since the lockdown began, according to the new president of the Association of the Directors of Children’s Services.
Children and young people are normally seen by various adults every day: teachers, coaches, instructors, relatives and friends. Due to COVID-19 measures, children will be seeing fewer adults who they may normally trust to open up to about abuse or feeling unsafe at home. This also means there will be fewer opportunities for people to spot signs of abuse and report it.
Residents are encouraged to come forward and highlight if they have any concerns about local children. Details of anyone flagging a concern are strictly confidential.
Anyone who is concerned about a child or young person should contact the local authority, so we can ensure that all children receive the support, information and advice they need and deserve.”
The campaign will be promoted widely across the borough, including through social media, in pharmacies and parks around the borough.
The striking graphics illustrate that children who may have confided in teachers, coaches and other adults now need neighbours and other members of the community to speak out should there be cause for concern.
Ian Thomas CBE, Chair of Kingston and Richmond Safeguarding Children Partnership (KRSCP), added:
The past few weeks have seen extraordinary community spirit sweep the nation, and we must extend this to recognising and reporting suspicions we have around child abuse. Sadly, being in isolation will be a very difficult time for some. If something you see or hear doesn’t sit right with you, please, don’t wait for someone else to flag it. We must all do our bit.
Dr Naz Jivani, GP Borough Lead for Kingston, said:
All health services in Kingston are committed to prioritising safeguarding children, and I would like to reassure you that NHS services continue to be available for children and young people; ranging from emergency departments and GP surgeries, health visiting and school nursing teams, mental health services, sexual health services and substance misuse teams.
During lockdown and with increased social distancing, children are not having the same level of contact with schools and social activities, or regular interaction with friends and the wider community. This could result in a child who is experiencing abuse (physical, emotional, sexual or neglect), not being able to tell someone they trust.
I would urge anyone who is concerned about a child or young person to report those concerns so that they can receive the help, support and protection they deserve and require.
If you are concerned about a child or young person, please call the borough’s safeguarding team on 020 8547 5008 from 8am to 5.15pm, Monday to Thursday, and 8am to 5pm on Friday. During out of hours, phone 020 8770 5000. Call 999 is you think a child or young person is in immediate danger.
Cllr Diane White, Portfolio Holder for Children's Services including Education, says:
It’s essential that we continue to protect and support children and young people who are at risk, particularly through this period of uncertainty in which children may not be able to rely on their usual support networks, such as friends and teachers.
We would like to encourage all Kingston residents to be aware of children and young people who may need support. It’s important we all work together as a community to help those that may be vulnerable. Whether they’re experiencing anxiety or possible abuse, local services are available to investigate any reports of children being at risk.
Anyone who is concerned about a child or young person should contact the local authority, so that together we can ensure that all children receive the support, information and advice they need and deserve.
Call 020 8547 5008 from 8am to 5.15pm, Monday to Thursday, and 8am to 5pm on Friday. During out of hours, phone 020 8770 5000. Call 999 if you think a child or young person is in immediate danger.