News roundup: May 2021

01 June 2021, Thirtyone:eight

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

Youth and children's ministry attracting almost half as many trainees as a decade ago

A new report by the Christian Youth Work Consortium has revealed the number of trainees has fallen from 613 in 2011 to 336 in 2020. Rev David Howell, the author of the report, told Premier that austerity measures in 2008, churches struggling to finance youth and children's workers and a general decline in youth and children attending churches are among the reasons behind the trend. 

Archbishop of Canterbury issues 'personal apology' over charity abuse

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a "full personal apology" to the survivors of abuse by former barrister John Smyth QC in the 1970s and 80s. Smyth, who died aged 77 in 2018, violently beat boys who attended Christian summer camps.

Justin Welby said: "I am sorry this was done in the name of Jesus Christ by a perverted version of spirituality and evangelicalism." Survivors who recently met Mr Welby welcomed him "taking responsibility".

Internal emails reveal WHO knew of sex abuse claims in Congo

The World Health Organisation is facing a new wave of sexual misconduct allegations, including rape, by aid workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A report by the Associated Press in May said internal emails revealed that the WHO’s management was aware of sexual abuse claims in the DRC in 2019 and was asked how to handle it.

The WHO, facing pressure from donors, said an independent investigation into allegations against aid workers should issue findings by the end of August.

Government lays out plans to protect users online

Social media firms will have to remove harmful content quickly or potentially face multi-billion-pound fines under the new legislation. The government's Online Safety Bill, announced in the Queen's Speech, comes with a promise of protecting debate. It is "especially" geared at keeping children safe and says "democratically important" content should be preserved. But campaigners say the plans will lead to censorship, while others warn fines do not go far enough.

Ian Wright’s bravery in confronting memories of childhood abuse can inspire others, says psychiatrist

In a new BBC documentary, former England and Arsenal footballer, Ian Wright talks for the first time at length about his experience growing up in an abusive household. Wright considers the lasting trauma of domestic violence and gives an insight into what life is like as a child in a home where abuse is occurring. The 57-year-old also explores how it is a widespread problem today.

Noel Clarke accused of sexual harassment on Doctor Who set

The BBC has said it is "shocked" to hear allegations by several women that actor Noel Clarke sexually harassed them on the set of Doctor Who. Another Doctor Who actor, John Barrowman, has also been accused of repeatedly exposing himself to co-workers on two BBC productions, prompting questions about whether the corporation allowed a lax culture on its sets during the mid-2000s.

Clarke denied all the claims. Barrowman admitted to “tomfoolery” that he now understood upset colleagues, but stressed it was never intended or interpreted as sexual in nature.

Ex-prosecutor Nazir Afzal to lead Catholic Church child abuse body

The former chief crown prosecutor in the Rochdale grooming gang cases has been appointed as the chairman of the Catholic Church's new safeguarding body in England and Wales. Nazir Afzal's appointment was welcomed by two survivors of abuse, who said "a seismic shift in culture" was needed.

The body will be able to sanction clergy who do not meet standards. It comes after the Church was heavily criticised for its response to child abuse by the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

Covid: Social workers fear a 'generation of traumatised children'

A whole generation of children may have been left "traumatised" during the pandemic, social workers have warned. They say a 20% fall in child protection orders in Wales, a figure found by a BBC probe, paints a false picture.

Charities and unions fear many of the most vulnerable children across the United Kingdom have slipped under the radar because of lockdown restrictions. There is also concern social care services will face an influx of referrals as those restrictions ease.

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