News roundup: March 2021

01 March 2021, Thirtyone:eight

Here are our top safeguarding stories from March 2021. To access or view the full articles click on the link embedded in the title:

Thirtyone:eight in the news:

Check backgrounds rigorously before sending charity workers overseas, report says

Our international research report launch was covered in this Church Times article. The report, by Thirtyone:eight and the University of Chester, Sending and serving safely: Understanding the challenges of safeguarding children and young people in international Christian work, was published in February. The research team concluded that, while there was plenty of evidence of good safeguarding practice, there was also evidence of numerous challenges for individuals attempting to implement this in cultures outside of the United Kingdom.

Rape, sexting and spiritual abuse: Ravi Zacharias investigation produces damning findings

Justin Humphreys, CEO of Thirtyone:eight, spoke to Premier Radio about the revelations of the behaviour of Ravi Zacharias. In February, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) released the full and unedited report into Zacharias' history of sexual misconduct. The report revealed testimonies of sexual assault against a number of female spa workers and detailed a pattern of sexually explicit communication with multiple women across the world.

News headlines:

Government urged to ensure convicted sex offenders cannot work as tutors

The government has been urged to close a legal loophole to stop convicted sex offenders working with children as private tutors. The impact of closed schools during the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in demand for private tuition. Although most tutors working for agencies are required to have a DBS check, including those signed up for the government’s National Tutor Programme, private tutors are not legally required to have their background record checked before working with children. Read our blog on this story here.

Oxfam GB released from supervision by watchdog after Haiti scandal reforms

Oxfam will no longer be subject to strict supervision by the charity watchdog following “significant” reforms prompted by a 2019 report into conduct by its staff after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

The Charity Commission for England and Wales found allegations that staff working in disaster zones sexually abused children were not fully disclosed, with the watchdog also citing a “culture of poor behaviour” among Oxfam GB staff sent to help victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Covid: Make children priority after pandemic, Anne Longfield says

Vulnerable children must be at the heart of government plans to "build back better" after the pandemic, England's children's commissioner has said. Anne Longfield called on Boris Johnson to put them at the "centre stage" of plans to "level up" the nation.

In a final speech after six years in the role, she said it was a "terrible thing" that "most of their lives would have got worse" during the pandemic.

'Pure brilliance': Duchess of Cornwall praises scheme helping victims of domestic abuse

The Duchess of Cornwall has praised the "brilliance" of an innovative new scheme providing help for victims of domestic abuse. During a video call with representatives of SafeLives, of which she is patron, Camilla was given an update on the Ask for Ani (Action Needed Immediately) scheme.

The project was first launched in mid-January and operates in more than 2,000 pharmacies, which offer a private space for people when they mention the codeword "Ani". A trained member of staff will provide a phone and ask if a person needs help from the police or other domestic abuse support services.

United Kingdom's FGM safeguarding policies undermining welfare, study warns

Current FGM safeguarding measures are undermining the welfare and safety of the women and young girls they seek to protect, with families feeling racially profiled, criminalised and stigmatised, according to a report.

Amy Abdelshahid, lead author and head of evidence at the charity Forward, said: “The current FGM safeguarding policies are causing quite a lot of harm. Communities are feeling targeted and that they are racially profiled. There is a general sense of assumption that many of these African diaspora communities are having the intention of subjecting their daughters to FGM, even if in some of the cases that’s not actually true.”

Independent scrutiny for National Safeguarding Team moves a step closer

The first phase of the Church of England’s move towards independent oversight of its National Safeguarding Team (NST) will be in place by July, according to a paper presented to General Synod members.

In December, the Archbishops’ Council voted unanimously in favour of a proposal for interim oversight of the NST to be put in place before the February 2021 Synod, to pave the way for full independent oversight by February 2022.



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