University of York report claims new approach to child protection needed

RESEARCH from the University of York has claimed older children are not sufficiently protected against abuse.

The report, called Safeguarding Young People, found the needs of 11 to 17-year-olds were not always met by child protection processes, which are more geared to protecting younger children.

The three-year project, carried out by the university, with The Children’s Society and the NSPCC, claimed a new approach to child protection for older children was urgently needed.

Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said older children needed as much support as younger children. The project looked at current literature, safeguarding policies and guidance, surveyed 160 professionals in Children’s Social Care Services and interviewed 24 young people and 56 professionals.

It also showed public and professional perception of 11 to 17-year-olds was that they were more resilient than younger children.

The report suggested young people struggled to disclose maltreatment, and had difficulty creating relationships with social workers, while younger children in similar circumstances may be prioritised.

Phillip Noyes, of the NSPCC, said children must be encouraged to speak out.

He said: “We know from this research and calls to ChildLine that many young people find it difficult to tell someone they are being abused. Children and young people must have access to safe confidential spaces so they can speak about abuse and get help.”

The research made a number of recommendations, including more service provision for young people, additional services in schools, and development of a guide on what to do if a friend is suffering abuse.