UN Calls for Immediate Measures to Make the Internet Safer

  • The United Nations Internet Governance forum took place in December to discuss steps needed for an open, secure, and free digital space for all.
  • Since 2019 internet users have increased by 19%, with concerns raised about digital violence during the pandemic.
  • In Europe, 44% of children who had been cyberbullied prior to COVID-19 reported that the abuse had increased during lockdown.
  • Women and girls were 27 times more likely to be harassed online.
  • Calls were made for increased transparency, understandability, and accountability of technologies and policies that govern them.
  • Full story, here.

Top school principal calls for young people’s whistleblowing officer

  • Melvyn Roffe, head of George Watson’s College in Edinburgh, is calling for the appointment of a whistleblowing officer.
  • An independent national whistleblowing officer (INWO) would help protect those who come forward with information about children’s wellbeing.
  • Roffe claims that public bodies “close ranks and protect themselves” and that whistleblowers “face blatant intimidation” when neglect or abuse is reported.
  • He proposed extending whistleblower protection powers to the Children and Young People’s Commissioner.
  • Full story, here.

Child poverty rises linked to 10,000 more children going into care

  • Rises in child poverty fuelled by benefit cuts was associated with more than 10,000 more children being taken into care between 2015 and 2020.
  • Research conducted estimates that almost 22,000 additional children were placed on child protection plans.
  • Almost 52,000 had been identified as children in need.
  • The findings add to the “growing evidence of the contributory causal nature” between poverty and children’s social care involvement.
  • Between 2015 and 2020, a 1% increase in child poverty was associated with an additional five children entering care per 100,000 in England.
  • Full story, here.

Bolton mother who killed herself and two daughters was ‘fixated on suicide’

(The following story contains descriptions of distressing material)

  • A mother who was “fixated” on suicide for more than a decade fatally drugged her two young daughters before committing suicide.
  • Tiffany Stevens feared her 3-year-old and 18-month-old daughters would be placed in care after her death.
  • She had spent five years in care herself as a child and endured a “traumatic” upbringing after her father died of a drug overdose when she was five.
  • Both children were known to social services but there had “been no grounds for removal” of the children.
  • Stevens has been referred to mental health treatment on at least eight separate occasions between August 2011 and April 2017.
  • Full story, here.

No plan to close Northern Ireland schools despite Stormont recall

  • First Minister Paul Givan reports no plans to close schools despite growing concerns over the rise of COVID-19 infections and staff shortages.
  • The Assembly will be recalled on Monday to discuss the crisis in the education system.
  • MLAs have been served a letter calling for a plan that puts the safety of pupils and staff first.
  • The letter urges for the installation of air monitoring and air filtration devices in all classrooms and calls for additional teaching capacity.
  • Full story, here.