News roundup: October 2019

01 November 2019, Thirtyone:eight

Here are our top safeguarding stories from October 2019.  To access or view the full articles click on the link embedded in the title:

>> Make failing to report child abuse illegal, say survivors

It should be illegal not to report child abuse, survivors told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) at the start of its investigation into boarding schools. The inquiry heard of an "overwhelming body of evidence" to support the introduction of mandatory reporting. The residential schools phase is one of 14 separate investigations by the inquiry.

>> Vatican continues to decline IICSA’s invitation to discuss abuse

The Vatican’s repeated refusal to cooperate with official investigations into paedophile priests and its delay in stripping convicted offenders of their clerical status has been condemned by the IICSA. A final two-week hearing began investigating the extent to which the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales had failed to protect children from sexual abuse. Reports on separate hearings that focused on patterns of abuse in the Archdiocese of Birmingham the English Benedictine Congregation, and Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School, have already been published.

>> Scotland to be first country in the UK to ban smacking

Scotland is to become the first country in the United Kingdom to make it a criminal offence for parents to smack their children. The member’s bill, which was lodged by the Scottish Green party MSP John Finnie and supported by the Scottish National party government, was passed overwhelmingly, with 84 MSPs voting in favour and 29 against. Parents in England and Northern Ireland are currently allowed to use “reasonable chastisement”, while similar legislation to Scotland was introduced by the Welsh government in March 2019.

>> Lord Hain criticises government over abuse victims bill

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Lord Hain has criticised the government's handling of a bill to compensate institutional abuse victims. The Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, chaired by the late Sir Anthony Hart, investigated historical allegations of child abuse in residential institutions run by religious, charitable and state organisations. It examined 22 institutions and its remit covered a 73-year period ranging from 1995 back to the foundation of Northern Ireland. The inquiry's final report in January 2017 recommended that all survivors of institutional abuse receive tax-free, lump sum payments ranging from £7,500 to £100,000.

>> Sex abuse compensation rules 'must change'

Rules that mean some victims of childhood sex abuse in England and Wales are denied compensation must be changed, MPs told the Victoria Derbyshire programme. Those with an unspent criminal conviction or victims deemed to have "consented" to abuse despite being a child, are among those denied payouts. Victims also have to claim within two years of reporting abuse, described by MPs as an "unrealistic timeframe". The Ministry of Justice has launched a review into the compensation system.

>> JK Rowling urges students not to volunteer at orphanages

JK Rowling called on students around the world not to volunteer at orphanages, pointing to emerging evidence that “orphanage tourism” drives family separation and child trafficking. Speaking at the One Young World summit in London, the Harry Potter author and founder and president of children’s charity Lumos, said: “Despite the best of intentions, the sad truth is that visiting and volunteering in orphanages drives an industry that separates children from their families and puts them at risk of neglect and abuse.”

>> NHS opens first clinic for young people addicted to gambling

The NHS has opened its first clinic for young people addicted to gaming and gambling, a year after a Gambling Commission report found that 55,000 11-to-16-year-olds in the United Kingdom were problem gamblers. MPs recently recommended that the sale of ‘loot boxes’ should be regulated as gambling, and that selling them to children should be banned entirely. In video games, loot boxes may contain virtual items such as weapons or shields that help a player win a video game - and gamers don't know what's in them until they have bought them.  

>> What does good safeguarding governance look like?

Tabitha Cave discusses the Charity Commission’s guidance on safeguarding and looks at some recent cases where the regulator has intervened in safeguarding matters. These recent cases include the inquiry into Essex Islamic Academy and the report relating to Birmingham Diocesan Trust.