Scotland- Home Educated -- Missing Children
edit - I have removed the words Children's Society from the thread title as it has become clear that they are not directly associated with this document beyond them being quoted so prominently at the start.
Oh deary deary me
REVIEW OF NATIONAL CHILD PROTECTION GUIDANCE
NATIONAL WORKING GROUP - SUB GROUP
ISSUE: MISSING CHILDREN AND RUNAWAYS
“It is useful to think of runaways as an index of the fact that services for children aren’t working” Alison Harvey. The Children’s Society.
The document is a pdf that can be downloaded here
I have copied the main body of text and highlighted the relevant section .
1. Categories (American)
• Runaways; implies a “spur-of-the-moment” decision in reaction to immediate social pressure.
• Throwaways; a term used to indicate people, but in particular children, who have been “thrown out of their home” as a response to some behavioural issue.
• Pushaways; or “push -out” where social or domestic situation forces a person to leave, e.g. domestic or sexual abuse.
• Fallaways; also called the “mislaid” or “drifters” indicative of situations where relationships lapse or communication has naturally diminished until the point of lack of known whereabouts.
• Takeaways; which defines situations such as kidnapping or parental abductions.
1.1 Newer Categories or “Otherwise Missing” (American) (Finkelhor et al, 1996).
In this interesting study, children’s’ vulnerability to these types of episodes was associated with certain family characteristics suggesting that they were not simply accidental occurrences. The “lost” and “injured” were of particular note because of the potential seriousness. Analysis of the qualitative data noted differences in distribution in respect of age and stage of development, however even short episodes of the above categories for children with disability or life-threatening conditions was deemed very concerning.
• Injured; physical injury, attacked or involved in an accident which caused a child to be missed by his caregiver.
(Associated with the highest score of parent-child disagreements, household stress, child stress, parents with a history of childhood trauma, and the highest incidence of physical child abuse. It is suggested that injuries may result from children engaging in high-risk and self-destructive behaviour in unsupervised settings e.g. gang fighting and reckless driving).
• Lost: children who wandered off or lost their way.
(Associated with higher levels of household stress and child stress than the controls).
• Delinquent: missing due to wilful violation of parental instruction.
(Associated with a consistent pattern of family problems and scoring differently from controls on all but one family interaction measure).
• Victims of Caregivers Mix-ups: Missing due to misunderstandings among caregivers.
(Associated with higher levels of household stress and parents with a history of childhood trauma than the controls).
2. National Definition of Runaway
• Perceived issue in respect of the wide definition for missing/runaways. E.g. includes any child who has stayed out overnight without parental permission. It is also likely to include children in the LAC system, routinely reported to police as missing, because they stayed out beyond their curfew.
• It is understood the Scottish Government is producing a new definition.
NB However see issues raised in 1.1
3. Statistical Identification
• Currently there is no national requirement to identify and collect data on young runaways.
• Statistical analyses may show children appearing in more than one category of “missing” or not appearing on any statistics due to lack of identification (e.g. trafficked, unaccompanied asylum seeking, children within a missing family unit).
4. Children as Members of a Missing Family
• Minimal research available to define the characteristics of a “missing family”. (NHS Scotland has piloted and adopted Missing Family Alert Guidelines to support the identification of and the tracing of children within “missing families”. These Guidelines link to GPs, NHS24, Police, Education and Social Services. Asylum seekers and migrant families are reported to pose particular identity and tracing challenges)
5. Unborn Children
• Ethical issues in circulating information in respect of “missing” unborn children before 24 weeks gestation. (Pre-24 weeks is within the legal time-frame of the Abortion Act).
• Cross national border transfer of information, particularly in respect of unborn children but also generally, was not possible/easy excepting when the police became involved.
• Alerts for unborn children generated by social services were often received by Health Boards after the birth of the child.
6. Children Missing from Care
• Half of all runaways are believed to abscond from care settings.
• This group of children are more likely to go missing repeatedly. (Valios, 2003)
• 10% of children in care are asylum seekers. (Tickle, 2009)
7. Children Missing from Education
• CME Guidance to be reviewed by Scottish Government in 2009/2010.
• Should include improved focus on children missing education and links with forced marriage.
• Children excluded from school may be “lost” to organisational services and avoid or be prevented from enrolling in alternative schools.
• Children prevented from enrolling in school in a new area because school rolls are closed/full and as such may become disengaged/missing.
8. Home Educated Children
• These children are perceived to be very difficult to engage with and “lost” to organisational services. This seems to apply equally to those who have registered an intention to home educate, and are subject to annual checks and those who have not registered an intention to home educate or have never enrolled in school and are therefore not subject to annual checks.
9. Missing and Sexually Exploited Children
• Children involved in prostitution, drug abuse and/or criminality. (Pearce,2006)
• Individual children caught up in international, internet supported, rings of paedophiles are difficult for practitioners in universal services to identify.
• Issue of vulnerable parents being groomed and/or lacking awareness of internet dangers.
• Issue of many parents lacking sufficient IT social networking site awareness.
10. Trafficked Children
• Often arrive as unaccompanied minors and are particularly difficult to trace. (Tickle, 2009)
• How we locate and identify trafficked children is an issue
• Accommodating trafficked children/young people is an issue.
• May be groomed to present as unaccompanied, become LAC, and subsequently walk out; or are collected at a pre-agreed venue and disappear.
• May state their age as being younger than they are and become accommodated in Children’s Homes.
• Myth that child trafficking is a large city issue. Smaller less controlled airports and immigrations points may be used.
• Trafficked children may carry a debt which requires to be paid off – slave labour.
• Rural Wales identified a number of cases of Bangladeshi children aged 14-15yrs found working in kebab shops, owned by strangers, who claimed to be from the children’s home area. None were registered with a GP or attended school.
• May be an issues of fraud – state benefit being claimed for trafficked children.
• Likely to present an increased demand on psychological services because of their experience.
• No national guidance on trafficked children available
• No dedicated services for trafficked children. (E.g. England’s experience of children going “missing” during the support process.)
• We have minimal knowledge of the trafficking trade and the people working in it.
• Ecpat global campaign to raise awareness about child trafficking after research showed that 1 in 10 Britons do not believe it happens in the UK.
• Legislative impasse between child protection and immigration authorities.
• Children’s shame may make return to family impossible and/or children may be blackmailed re harm to family if they “tell”.
• Need to ensure transition between child and adult services is robust.
11. Children Susceptible to Running Away due to Vulnerability
• Early intervention in vulnerable children’s lives before any incident of running away. (Mackaskill, 2006)
NB See also issues of family dynamic in 1.1
12. General and Statistical Issues
• 68% of incidents are not reported to the police and less than 5% approach an agency for help. (Scottish Coalition for Young Runaways, 2007)
• 1 in 4 young people say they were forced to leave home. (Rowantree, 2009)
• 1 in 50 young people are forced to leave home before their 16th birthday. (Rees and Siakeu, 2004)
• It is estimated by Ofsted that 10,000 children are missing from school rolls. (Broadhurst, Paton and May-Chahal, 2005).
NB See issues raised in 7
• Hundred of looked-after children go missing without trace every year. (Tickle, 2009)
• 1 in 9 children in Scotland will runaway before the age of 16; this amounts to 9000 children running away in 12000 incidents each year. (Scottish Coalition for Young Runaways, 2007).
13. Children’s Society – Stepping Up. A Review of Services 2007 (England)
• 50% of English Local Authorities had no protocol for managing cases of children missing from home.
• 10 out of 27 police forces who responded stated that they had young people staying in police stations overnight due to a lack of alternative emergency accommodation.
• Just over 12% of LAs have services targeted at runaways.
14. HMIE Child Protection Inspection
• Themes will include provision for runaways.
15. Experiential/Practitioner Issues
• Asylum seekers, illegal immigrants, and economic migrants add additional complexity to assessing risk and defining if a family is missing. It is often perceived that such families remain unregistered with a GP, are limited by language barriers, can be highly mobile and there can be significant difficulties in obtaining medical, nursing, education, social or child health records.
• Those families who register with GP Practices as temporary residents. Historic records are not sought and families may be able to avoid comprehensive risk/need assessment. There is no national database of temporary residents registered with GPs.
• A recommendation that families required to formally register with a GP within 2 weeks of moving house (Herbison J. undated). The national NHS Missing Family Alert pilot recommended 3 months as more appropriate. An associated issue with such a recommendation would be the requirement to inform the public of such an expectation and the “policing” of such a requirement.
• Concern expressed by NHS regarding the proliferation and lack of rigour of alerts circulated by social services which contain an exceptional amount of personal information. (These alerts often originate in England).
• There requires to be a more robust link with irregular pupil transfer, both in and out of schools, and a pro-active approach to sharing such information with school health services. (This could also support young girls who may be subject to forced marriages).
• It would seem appropriate to initiate a national, multiagency audit system of missing children/families/antenatals/runaways.
• Establishment of a cross border information sharing system; particularly for the NHS, similar to and linking with the Scottish Missing Family Alert pilot.
Last edited by Elaine Kirk; 02-02-11 at 00:52.