From Primary school upwards educating children to keep safe in different environments and to be aware of the dangers should be delivered in a sensitive and engaging way. Links below contain free educational material ranging from road safety, internet safety, knife crime and gangs, abuse (from sexual to bullying), safeguarding and radicalisation.
For instance, we know nationally, girls worry more or feel more afraid to go to school than boys, although there is less difference between the proportion of boys and girls saying they have been bullied in the last twelve months. This, with the increasing trend of violence and knife crime, of an average secondary school, some 60+ students could be affiliated to a gang means that schools need to recognise and address both bullying, gang and knife crime within their own environments. Policies, education and training can help towards this but should not be so rigid that there can be no compassion shown to an individual who may have underlying poor mental health or other mitigating factors, which has impacted on their poor decision(s).
The research evidences strong links between children being abused through child sexual exploitation and other behaviours such as running away from home or care, self-harm, teenage pregnancy, truancy, substance misuse and bullying. We are also aware children with special needs, looked after children, children leaving care, migrant children, unaccompanied asylum seeking children, forced marriage, those involved in gangs, where there has been a history of abuse, those with parents who have any of the following; disabilities, mental health problems, drugs or alcohol misuse or domestic violence are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
Historically, in Cambridgeshire, Facebook is the most prevalent platform used by perpetrators. This is followed by WhatsApp, Snapchat, Skype, Kik, Instagram and Oovoo. Live streaming video, Oovoo and Skype has become more common in Cambridgeshire as this type of platform only saves for shorter periods of time making it difficult to gain evidence of any exploitation. Children do not appreciate the levels of risk, which is further supported that children targeted via online routes, often do not display evidence of previous vulnerabilities which makes identifying them more problematic.
In both CSE and domestic abuse, the development of inappropriate relationships is of particular concern and problematic due to there often being small age-gaps between the individuals which can also have presence of coercive or controlling behaviour. In the ‘Further resources and links section’ are links to the local safeguarding team and here is the NSPCC’s Speak out Stay safe programme which helps to give a generation of children the knowledge and understanding they need to stay safe from abuse and neglect.
The Department for Education (DfE) state that in an average class of 30 15-year-old pupils:
- three could have a mental disorder
- ten are likely to have witnessed their parents separate
- one could have experienced the death of a parent
- seven are likely to have been bullied
- six may be self-harming
The DfE acknowledge schools have a role to play in supporting their pupils to be resilient and mentally healthy and that schools have a duty to promote the wellbeing of students. This is further supported by Ofsted highlighting that children and young people themselves want to learn more about how to keep themselves emotionally healthy.
Becoming a ‘Compassionate School’ is pivotal to achieving a happy, resilient learning environment. You will then be well positioned to support children and young people overcome Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – stressful events occurring in childhood that either affect a child directly or affect the environment in which they grow up. To get more support in this area, please see the links below and/or contact us.