UN calls for measures to improve cyberspace safety

  • 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 in the policies that govern technology.
  • 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 population 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.

Mask refusals in England’s secondary schools causing concern

  • Some older pupils in England are refusing to take lateral flow tests and wear face coverings in classrooms.
  • Charities are concerned about the effects this could have on vulnerable pupils.
  • Pupils in England secondary schools have been advised to wear masks and test regularly, but this is not mandatory.
  • The Department for Education (DfE) stressed that pupils should not be “denied education” based on whether they wear a mask.
  • Full story, here.


Schools in England ‘teetering on the edge’ with staff Covid absences

  • More than a third (36%) of schools in England are struggling with staff absence rates in excess of 10%.
  • A survey showed that 4% of heads have had to send classes or year groups home for online learning and 7% have combined classes or year groups.
  • Half of school leaders are dependent on supply teachers to cover classes but 37% can’t source the supply staff they require.
  • Full story, here.