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Following the launch of a new child safeguarding programme and toolkit for member associations last week, FIFA joined key stakeholders and other international organisations at the United Nations headquarters in New York today during a special session dedicated to discussing the protection of children against sexual violence.

Organised by the Council of Europe and its Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, the side event entitled “We need to talk – To stop sexual abuse of children in the circle of trust” featured a special presentation by Joyce Cook (FIFA Chief Member Associations Officer), who highlighted how FIFA’s new child safeguarding programme and toolkit will play a key role in guiding and raising awareness within member associations to ensure best practice is in place to safeguard children in football.

Speaking at the meeting, Cook said: “Following the launch of the FIFA Guardians programme last week, today’s event has provided an important opportunity for leading international experts and organisations in safeguarding to come together and unite with one voice on the issue of child protection and combating sexual violence against children.

"In order to overcome and break taboos on discussing child protection and safeguarding, it’s #UptoUs to speak out and ensure that proper measures and best practice are put in place to protect and safeguard children in football.

"On behalf of FIFA, I would like to thank the Council of Europe and the United Nations for organising this important event on the sidelines of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. We look forward to working with our Child Safeguarding Expert Working Group and other experts over the coming months to implement the FIFA Guardians programme and toolkit with member associations.”

To read the FIFA child safeguarding toolkit for member associations, please click HERE.


Archbishop of Canterbury calls for mandatory reporting of sexual abuse

The archbishop of Canterbury has thrown his weight behind calls for the government to make the reporting of sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults mandatory.

Justin Welby told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA): “I am convinced that we need to move to mandatory reporting for regulated activities.”

Regulated activities cover areas where professionals come into routine contact with children and vulnerable adults, such as teaching, healthcare and sporting activities. In a church context, this would cover clergy and youth leaders.

Survivors of clerical sexual abuse have argued that mandatory reporting of allegations or suspicions of abuse to statutory authorities is a vital component of effective child protection. They argue that a failure to comply should lead to criminal sanctions.

Welby told the inquiry that John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, shared his view. “We now both believe in mandatory reporting.”

Giving evidence at the inquiry’s third session of hearings into the Church of England’s handling of cases of sexual abuse, Welby said he felt “shame and horror that we have done this to people”. He added: “I hope God will forgive us.”

Questioned about his response to an allegation of sexual misconduct when he was dean of Liverpool cathedral in 2011, he admitted to making a “serious mistake”.

Fiona Scolding, counsel to the inquiry, read an email from a vulnerable adult complainant, accusing Welby of “casual indifference” regarding written allegations that a member of the cathedral staff – given the cipher F-18 by the inquiry – had made sexual advances towards him.

The archbishop told the inquiry the complainant had acted in a threatening manner and had used abusive language. “People were very frightened by him,” he said.

Welby told the complainant in an email that his and F-18’s accounts were “totally different” and that in the absence of any independent witness he had been unable to come to a conclusion about which account to believe.

But, he added: “With the benefit of hindsight and with the things I’ve learned over the last six years, if I was dean now, I would not have permitted F-18 to be on my staff.”

He went on: “There were a number of things I got wrong on this … F-18 should not have been involved in the life of the cathedral, I think F-18 should have been suspended at that point.”

At the time, he said: “I would have seen safeguarding as being around minors and would have been less conscious of [the risk to] vulnerable adults, which was a serious mistake – and not one I would commit now.”

But he denied the complainant’s charge of casual indifference. “I would never have been casual about something like that,” he said.

He agreed the C of E was too “tribal”, and said there had been “grievous failures” in terms of diversity. The C of E’s leadership needed better ethnic minority representation, more people with disabilities and greater social range, he said. “Diversity is a huge blessing … people just see things in different ways and will ask the awkward questions.”

There was still too much deference shown to bishops, he added. Asked what he could do about that, he said: “I have not got a great answer.” Later, he said he found it strange to be shown deference, but added he was “quite baffled as to how we reverse [it]”.

Scolding read a letter dated 5 July 2017 by Welby to Matthew Ineson, a survivor of sexual abuse who insists he has never received an apology from the church over its handling of his disclosures. Welby wrote: “I am deeply sorry for the abuse you suffered and, from your description, how this has been dealt with by the church.”

Ineson later said he had never received Welby’s letter.

In his concluding remarks, the archbishop told the inquiry: “Mr Ineson feels I didn’t apologise, he may well be right. I thought I had, but clearly I didn’t communicate it well … We’ve got to learn to put actions behind the words because ‘sorry’ is pretty cheap.”



Credit: Harriet Sherwood.



Peer on Peer abuse - update

The Department for Education should introduce mandatory, anonymised reporting of incidents of pupil-on-pupil sexual abuse in schools, an MP has said.

Emma Hardy, a Labour MP who sits on the House of Commons Education Select Committee said the DfE was “sending the wrong message” by not collecting this data, and that people would be “incredibly shocked” if the numbers were known.

Currently, it is difficult to get exact figures for incidents of sexual abuse where both the perpetrator and victim are children or young people, but there are fears it is on the rise.

According to a freedom of information request by the BBC to police forces in England and Wales, at least 6,289 sexual assaults took place in and around schools between 2015 and 2017 (including assaults on staff as well as pupils). There was a 60 per cent rise across those three years.

However, those figures were based on responses from only 26 of 45 police forces.

Ms Hardy, who has campaigned to raise the profile of peer abuse, called on the government to start collecting this information.

“I think if we started to look at the data regarding peer-on-peer sexual abuse, I think we would all be incredibly shocked,” she told Tes Magazine.

“That’s what I want the DfE to start asking for. Ideally, I want the DfE to prove that they’re taking this issue seriously by saying to schools: 'We want you to anonymously record the data which we can then look at nationally to get a picture of what is going on in our schools'.

“At the moment, that is only available through freedom of information requests to the police because that information isn’t collated.”

She went on: “I think that is sending the wrong message because the DfE seems to be interested in collecting data and information on almost everything else imaginable but not on something as significant as keeping our children safe and the number of times they’re facing sexual abuse and harassment.”

The call for better reporting of peer-on-peer abuse was backed by Alana Ryan, a senior policy advisor at the NSPCC, who said current information was “patchy”.

“I think data is really important to be able to get a representative picture of a problem and to determine the appropriate response to be taken,” she said. “The data on this is very patchy.

“We don’t necessarily know where prevalence might be highest – we know that girls are more at risk than boys but we don’t know whether there are particular age ranges of students who are more vulnerable.

“Having a full picture and an understanding of where the risk is and particular periods of vulnerability would be really helpful to inform prevention activities and to enable appropriate resourcing to be put in place for support as well.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “All incidents of peer on peer sexual abuse in schools should be treated seriously"

"Guidance for schools is very clear that a school’s child protection policy should amongst other things set out how they will record reports of peer on peer abuse.”


Credit: Will Hazell, TES


International Child Protection Certificate Launched

It has become common practice that UK nationals or UK Registered Sex Offenders will travel overseas to gain access to vulnerable children for the purposes of sexually abusing them. They do this by seeking direct contact with children through employment, volunteering and charity work.

In a joint initiative, the National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (NCA-CEOP) and ACRO have developed the International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) to help protect children from offenders.

The ICPC is a criminal record check against police and intelligence databases located in the UK. It is similar to the DBS check and provides information on convictions and cautions as well as impending prosecutions and offences that are under investigation.

Schools and organisations that are registered for the ICPC scheme can request a job applicant to provide a certificate as part of their recruitment process. Furthermore, existing employees can be asked to periodically produce an ICPC as part of their ongoing inspection processes.

When used alongside robust safeguarding procedures, the ICPC enables overseas schools and organisations to make informed decisions about whether the people they employ are suitable to work with children.

If you are an organisation functioning abroad, please include the ICPC within your recruitment process. You will be taking an important step in helping to protect vulnerable children from those individuals who intend to sexually abuse and exploit them. For more information, including in other languages, please visit:


Following another death at a University due to mental illness, the student’s father has been working with Universities around the UK, such as Bristol and East London, to develop a new system to assist with individuals who require support. The aim is to identify students who need but don't ask for help by analysing their digital footprint. A trail is left when they attend lectures, take out books at the library or log in to the computer system. Through analytics they then can build a student profile that is updated regularly.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show 95 recorded university student suicides for the 12 months to July 2017 in England and Wales. But around half of students who take their own lives are not known to mental health services.

Last September, vice-chancellor Hugh Brady brought in an initiative that allows students to opt in to a scheme that would allow staff to contact a friend or relative if there were serious concerns about a student's mental health. According to Mr Brady, around 95% of students have signed up and since the scheme started, just over a dozen students had been a cause for concern. "We've probably considered it so far this year in maybe about 15 students. We have actively used it in about five.”

Other institutions doing their part are Wolverhampton University, who have trained 450 staff including security guards, caretakers and cleaners to recognise early warning signs in students; and Nottingham Trent University has a dashboard for staff and students that generates an alert after 14 days of lack of engagement.

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