Public asked to check on children

Public asked to check on children

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/7227228.stm

People are to be taught how to spot children who are at risk and report their concerns to the authorities.

A government strategy says keeping children in England safe is fundamental to their happiness and school results.

But it also says they need to explore and to take "managed risks" – and must not be "wrapped in cotton wool".

A new system for approving venues is to be devised, to cut down on the red tape that is said to be deterring teachers from organising school trips.

Balance

The Department for Children, Schools and Families says the strategy is based on responses to a consultation.

"One thing we found in the consultation is that there was overwhelming agreement with the idea that keeping children safe was everyone’s responsibility," a spokesman said.

"There was also widespread agreement that we need to strike a balance between protecting children and allowing them to explore and learn about risks – and a feeling that as a society we are not getting that balance right."

There is as yet little detail on how people should go about reporting their fears for children.

The department proposes "information to parents about risks of harm faced by their children, including online risk" and "targeted communications to parents in high-risk households about accident prevention".

There will be "a public communication campaign to improve the public’s ability to identify and report concerns about children’s safety – and raise awareness of the need for everyone to take responsibility for children’s safety".

Learning outside

The "out and about" package for teachers draws on statistics showing that schools are doing the same amount of school trips as before but are doing fewer residential visits and fewer visits to the natural environment such as geography field trips.

"Teachers themselves have said that they will take pupils on visits if they feel confident and have had training."

So as well as revised guidance on planning trips the department is going to combine various safety and quality schemes into one easily recognisable and understandable system for selecting suitable venues.

Accident figures show that the biggest risk to youngsters is from transport accidents – especially among those in poorer neighbourhoods.

Children of parents who are long-term unemployed are said to be 13 times more likely to die from unintentional injury, and 37 times more likely to die from smoke, fire and flames, than children of parents in managerial and professional occupations.

Abuse by strangers is rare. Most of the children who are injured or murdered suffer at the hands of their parents.

On Monday the Conservatives launched a childhood review with a call for children to be allowed to play outdoors more, with park rangers being employed to ensure greater safety in playgrounds.

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