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There's no place like home, there's no place like home...

Regrettably, the impact of the coronavirus can mean home is not the best place for some children.

During the lockdown period there were many families who found themselves spending a lot more time together. For some, the unexpected opportunity to spend extra quality time together was a silver lining during uncertain times, and for many children the welcome chance to spend more time playing and less time on school work. For others however, it meant no escape from the risk of harm or neglect. There have been many concerns raised about domestic violence between adults rising during lockdown. However, the consequential increase in harm suffered by children has not been quite so well reported. Harm suffered does not need to be directed towards the child. A child seeing or just hearing domestic abuse between their parents will often suffer emotional and psychological harm.

It is therefore no surprise to those involved with this field of work to hear that the NSPCC reported in July that their helpline between April and June received an increase of reports of concerns for the wellbeing of a child by almost a third (32%) on the monthly average for the three months prior to lockdown, with the main concerns relating to parental behaviour, physical and emotional abuse, and neglect. On 2 October, the NSPCC reported that since the introduction of national lockdown measures, the number of contacts received regarding domestic abuse has risen 49%.

At one end of the spectrum, many of these unfortunate children are likely to be known to children’s services already, suffering even more harm during lockdown. For other children however, the pressures of lockdown experienced by parents may have caused harm for the first time. Alarmingly there will be children subjected to harm during lockdown who the authorities do not know about. 

Children’s services and family lawyers have therefore been bracing themselves for an increase in reported cases, with children returning to school where teachers may notice worrying signs or even be told of the harm suffered, or reports generally with children now mixing more. 

Children’s services will be doing all they can and the Family Courts may soon see a rapid increase in applications from local authorities having to intervene to help such children. With cases of corona-virus rising again and local areas being subjected to tighter restrictions, including school classes or years having to self-isolate, there is sadly the potential for time at home to continue for some, and local authorities may be left with little option other than to intervene and take legal action in the interests of the child.

Regrettably, the impact of the coronavirus can mean home is not the best place for some children.

For anyone who has concerns about a child then they should not hesitate to contact the appropriate authorities. 

Our childcare team are on hand to help local authorities cope with any increase and hopefully the increase will not reflect the NSPCC helpline data.

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