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As Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week continues, it is highly important to continue to spread the message #ITSNOTOK. During the coronavirus pandemic the rise of child abuse has been significant. The NSPCC have reported a 53% increase in calls from adults worried that a child was living with Domestic abuse averaging at 30 calls per day.

The charity has warned that this figure is likely to keep rising as the coronavirus lockdown continues and is calling for the Government to make extra provisions for child abuse victims in its Domestic Bill. The NSPCC is calling for an additional amendment that would legally oblige all local authorities to provide funding for community-based recovery services for child victims. NSPCC’s head of policy Anna Edmundson states “The risk of domestic abuse has been heightened in the last nine months with families living under increasing pressure and behind closed doors. To stop the pandemic having a lasting impact on children who suffer in this way it is vital they have access to support in the community to recover and move forward with their lives as not all victims can go to a refuge for support."

Children’s charity Barnardo’s has also raised concerned regarding the victims of child abuse living within family homes falling through the cracks and urge the House of Lords to consider this and to create a clear duty on public authorities to provide support for all victims, regardless of their age or where they live.

In addition to the above, a further issue as a result of the pandemic has been raised by social services, revealing that some children have become invisible during the series of lockdowns.

There has been a significant rise in issues such as domestic violence, parental mental health and alcohol and substance abuse, all factors that put children at a greater risk. However, a significant fall in referrals to council children’s services of 10% between the end of April and November has been reported by the Office for the Children’s Commissioner in England. This fall in referrals comes worryingly at the same time as an increase in serious incidents involving child death or serious harm, where abuse is known or suspected. There has been a rise of 27% of serious incidents since last year and a total of 285 serious incidents reported between April to September.

The figures suggest serious regional variation, raising the potential issue of black spots where abuse is being missed. The children’s commissioner is urgently calling for all areas to invest in identifying vulnerable children who are falling under the radar of services through the normal routes.

It is so important that local authorities and local safeguarding services work together to identify children that may be struggling at this unprecedented time. It should be ensured that the most vulnerable, including those who are not at school have regular contact with trusted professionals who can identify risks and help them obtain support.

If you or a family member have suffered any abuse, our experienced abuse team headed by Natalie Marrison are here to help. For a confidential discussion, please contact the Ramsdens Abuse team on 0113 887 1834 or email