National drive to protect victims of child abuse
November 18, 2020
The Marie Collins Foundation has joined forces with the Home Office and other charities including the NSPCC, Barnardo’s and The Children’s Society in a new campaign to protect victims of child abuse.
As further pandemic restrictions take effect in England, the month-long campaign, ‘Something’s Not Right’, encourages young people to recognise different forms of abuse, report it and get help.
The campaign will see animated adverts aimed at secondary school pupils aged 13+ on social media and young people will be directed to a dedicated page on the NSPCC service Childline where they can access information and seek support.
The Home Office developed the campaign with children’s charities including the NSPCC, Children’s Society, Barnardo’s, Internet Watch Foundation and the Marie Collins Foundation.
The campaign complements work the MCF is doing in the Kirklees district of West Yorkshire with a project funded by the Safer Communities Fund through the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner in response to increased risk to young people during Covid-19. It ensures that pupils, parents and professionals know that help is available if something goes wrong online.
The Home Office campaign follows evidence suggesting that young people faced a greater risk of sexual abuse, criminal exploitation and domestic abuse due to the impact of coronavirus. The monthly average number of Childline counselling sessions about domestic abuse and abuse increased by 20% and 22% respectively in April-July 2020, compared to pre-lockdown levels.
The Internet Watch Foundation has revealed that there were almost nine million blocked attempts to access child sexual abuse material during the first month of restrictions alone. This trend has continued, with the charity revealing that in September they received a 45% increase in calls reporting child abuse material online.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Coronavirus has changed the way we all live, and many children and young people are seeing people they trust and those who care about them less. This has created additional risks and dangers for some.
“Since the start of the pandemic, we have invested millions to support vulnerable young people and our new campaign will help them identify abuse and get the support they need.”
Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford added: “Children must feel safe, whether they are at home, in the classroom or spending time online. This new campaign builds on the steps we have taken throughout the pandemic to support the most vulnerable children, including increasing the capacity of the NSPCC’s helpline and placing more social workers into schools to support teachers spot the signs of abuse and neglect.”
The campaign will help victims understand what may be happening to them and provide advice on how to report concerns to a trusted adult such as a teacher.
Alongside signposting young people to additional support, secondary school teachers will also receive lesson plans to guide classroom discussions around different forms of hidden abuse, but also receive extra reassurance on what to do if a pupil discloses abuse to them.
In addition to launching this national campaign, the Government is due to publish a comprehensive strategy for tackling child sexual abuse by the end of the year.