School Abuse And Neglect Referrals See Dramatic Rise

Social Services Experiencing Higher Levels Of Referrals In Wake Of High-Profile Cases


Schools have been making a much higher number of referrals over concerns about the abuse and neglect of their pupils, new research has revealed.

Figures from 46 local authorities showed that 300,000 children had been referred to safeguarding services by their schools in 2013-14, a dramatic 48% increase since 2010-11. Referrals from other sources rose by just 19%.

At more than one in five councils the number of cases doubled, while in Wakefield the number of referrals more than quadrupled from 283 to 1,344.

The rise comes in the wake of a number of high-profile child abuse cases, including those in Rotherham and Oxfordshire. Teachers now face up to five years in prison if they fail to report concerns about child abuse, prompting a higher number of referrals.

Lisa Valla, headteacher of London Colney Primary and Nursery in Hertfordshire, told TES that referrals to children's social services had risen significantly at her school.

"As a headteacher, my job is about keeping children safe but it's also about teaching and learning. So we've started to look at whether we need to employ a family worker specifically to work on the increasing number of cases we have open – and we're a small school," she said.

Scott Tolliss, a specialist abuse legal expert at Irwin Mitchell, said: 
Expert Opinion
“These figures indicate a growing confidence among children who have suffered sexual abuse to come forward and make disclosures about the abuse they suffered. The rise in children being referred to help and support services does mean it is vital further funds are invested in this area to guarantee vulnerable people are able to access the services they require.

“The priority in sexual abuse cases should always be to ensure survivors have access to the help and support they need. It is important not only that support services are available, but that police forces are provided with the resources to pursue allegations and to conduct thorough investigations to provide survivors with the justice they are looking for and rightly deserve.”
Scott Tolliss, Other Legal Expert

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