Following the disruption of Covid-19, it was young children who had to experience the true defects of the socio-legal system after long periods of quarantine at home. This period of time had revealed how ‘help’ needed in the most desperate times of our century had not been accessible for arguably the weakest and most vulnerable members of society. The NSPCC reported that there had been a staggering increase of 32% in contact and in May the helpline received the highest figure of 8,287.
What is causing this?
The NSPCC’s report“Social Isolation and the risk of child maltreatment in lockdown and beyond”identified the following:
1. Increase in stressors to parents and caregivers
Quite simply, parents/caregivers have been unable to adapt to the changes due to corona, and have been inadvertently or advertently causing maltreatment towards children. Parents/caregivers may be facing a situation where their mental health is also being affected by staying indoors all day or they may be struggling to juggle working and responsibilities towards children.
2. Increase in vulnerabilities of children
In such a new era, children have departed from old routines of attending school, playing out doors and simple activities like going to the park. This has impacted the mental and psychological health of young people and exacerbated existing conditions.
3. Reduction in normal protective services
Typically, maltreatment is spotted by the people around, such as schools, neighbours, relatives and friends then it is reported to the social services. However, due to lack of interaction it is difficult to report abuses thus exacerbating bad treatment at home.
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What can help reform the socio-legal system?
The Children’s Society had developed a comprehensive plan which could assist young children in such desperate times:
1. There must be an end to No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF):
Since the virus the government has stopped giving access to public funds for groups such as Migrant families who are often front-line workers anyway, the government should not prevent them accessing NRPF to end child poverty. By ending child poverty this may better the situations at home providing a healthier environment.
2. Increase benefits by £10
There may be children struggling because their parents fail to provide for them especially as there is a heavy rate of redundancy, in such a drastic time an increase of public funds should be imminent.
3. More long-term funding for local welfare assistance
This could be in the form of vouchers and grants- once again helping children out of poverty.
4. Increase funding for council’s children services
Recently there have been cuts which has meant there is a setback on resources, thus social care for children, if the government set an increase then it could help many children in grave situations.
5. More access to mental health services, not just Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
The government’s funding and initiatives towards protection for children is key, once this occurs, we may have a safer country.