Last Updated on 18th March 2022

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Welcome to Safeguarding Soundbites with me, Colin Stitt, Head of Safer Schools NI at Ineqe Safeguarding Group and your host for today’s episode of the pocket-sized podcast that brings you the latest in digital news and safeguarding expert views.

This week was Young Carers Action Day and this year’s theme centred around the isolation that many young carers face. Providing care for someone whilst also juggling school, homework and daily life can be incredibly overwhelming and leave a young person feeling lonely. They often end up missing school, struggling with schoolwork and having little time or energy for friendships and socialising. Many young carers don’t receive any support – in fact, 39% said that nobody in their school was even aware they were a carer.
To find out how to recognise and help young carers in your community, go to saferschoolsni.co.uk.

Also this week marked National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day, a day that highlights issues around child exploitation. This type of child sexual abuse happens when someone uses grooming behaviours alongside the promise of something in return, such as money, gifts, status or affection. Often times the child will know and have a pre-existing relationship with the perpetrator which can make detection and disclosure difficult. Learn more, including signs and tips in our article in our Online Safety Section.

In the news, seventeen children have died in care settings in Northern Ireland over the past five years. The new figures have raised concern about the lack of progress on mental health services for vulnerable young people and that those struggling to cope may be turning to drug use – often resulting in young people becoming entrapped in the justice system.

This week, the NSPCC released information about the backlog of child sexual abuse cases, which has risen by 70% during the pandemic. The NSPCC is urging the government to provide funding to tackle this backlog of cases and for guidance on pre-trial therapy for witnesses and victims to be published.

The latest version of the Online Safety Bill has been released to parliament this week, after five years of changes and additions, such as criminalising cyberflashing and new actions to tackle anonymous trolls as well as harmful and illegal content. This is the first step to getting the bill passed through parliament. There are hopes that the Online Safety Bill will make the UK the first country to regulate big tech companies and how they operate. If passed by parliament, it could come into effect later this year.

Thank you for listening and remember to share with colleagues, friends and family! If you’re sharing on socials, feel free to tag us. Tune in next week for more online safeguarding news and updates.

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