Catholic agency alarmed at increase of violence against children

A recent survey of accident and emergency units in England and Wales by researchers at Cardiff University brings welcome news that overall levels of serious violence are falling.  It is, however, of serious concern that there is a rise in the number of children under 10 years old who are victims of violence.

Professor Shepherd, who directs the Cardiff University Violence and Society Research Group, suggested that one possible explanation for this could be a difficulty for local authorities to take children into care. This could lead to more young children staying in risk situations in their own homes.

Dr Rosemary Keenan, CEO of the Catholic Children’s Society (Westminster), commented:  “The possibility that vulnerable children under 10 are staying at home in situations which may place them at risk of physical violence is an alarming prospect. It highlights the need for greater input into the quick identification, assessment and referral of children who may show or express evidence of such abuse. It also illustrates the need for greater partnership working between health, education and social care

“The Catholic Children’s Society play therapists, school counsellors and child and adolescent psychotherapists help schools to identify where children may be at risk, either as a child in need, or at risk from significant harm. In all such situations, Society staff work with the schools to make referrals to statutory services.  In a very real sense we are involved in child safeguarding.”

The survey found a 7.5% increase in the number of victims of violence under 10 years of age. This compares to a fall on the previous year of 6% to those aged 11-17. This suggests that those who are least able to defend themselves are most in need of services to protect them. Dr Keenan added: “realising that primary aged children are more vulnerable to a range of risk factors has led the Society to develop its services, especially play therapy, for children in primary schools.”

The Catholic Children’s Society (Westminster) was established in 1859 and provides child care services to assist children and families in need, irrespective of race or faith, in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster. With over 150 years of experience of working with children and families the society recognise that families come in all shapes and sizes and from widely ranging cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds.

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