Experts combine forces to keep children safe online

  • Swansea University joins the fight against online child sexual exploitation after securing major funding for an innovative new project focused on online child sexual grooming
  • The two-year Project DRAGON-S (Developing Resistance Against Grooming Online – Spot and Shield) will see experts develop vital Linguistics and AI tools to help identify online grooming
  • This project is financially supported by the End Violence Fund, which has invested $44 million in 52 projects dedicated to preventing and ending online sexual abuse across the world
  • The project will also relay specialist knowledge through a learning portal and chatbot to strengthen child safeguarding professionals’ abilities to shield children from online grooming
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Doctors warn of ‘tsunami’ of pandemic eating disorders

  • Psychiatrists have warned of a “tsunami” of eating disorder patients amid data showing soaring numbers of people experiencing anorexia and bulimia in England during the pandemic
  • Dr Agnes Ayton, the Chair of the Eating Disorder Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the number of people experiencing problems had risen sharply with conditions such as anorexia thriving in the isolation of lockdown
  • She also noted where she works; the Oxford Inpatient/Day Patient Eating Disorder centre at Cotswold house, part of Oxford Health NHS, that about 20% of people admitted were usually urgent referrals but this proportion had shot up to 80%.
  • Separately, data released on Thursday shows huge rises in waiting times for young people and children, with a 128% increase in the number waiting for routine treatment compared with last year
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Youngest pupils in England worst affected by Covid learning loss

  • The youngest children at primary schools in England were the worst affected by learning loss after last year’s pandemic lockdown, with those aged six and seven most likely to fall behind in maths and writing, according to new evidence
  • Data taken from 6,000 primary schools and nearly 1.5 million pupils found a steep drop in the proportion who were reading, writing and doing maths to the level expected at the end of last summer
  • The report also found that younger children took longer to recover their lost learning after they returned to the classroom in September.
  • The report by Juniper Education concluded “despite the superhuman efforts of school leaders, teachers and families to keep children learning, many pupils are no longer performing as they should be for their age,” based on data collected from schools using its assessment software
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Woman who killed autistic son during lockdown detained in hospital indefinitely

  • A woman who suffocated her disabled 10-year-old son after suffering a mental breakdown during the first coronavirus lockdown has been handed an indefinite hospital order
  • Dylan Freeman was found suffocated, with pieces of sponge in his mouth, on 16 August at their house in Acton, west London after his mother turned herself in to the police
  • The child was found lying on his back covered by a duvet with toys placed beside him
  • Olga Freeman, 40, pleaded guilty via video link at the Old Bailey to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility
  • Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said it was a “rare and desperately sad” case and that Dylan should be recognised as an ‘indirect victim of lockdown’
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