Safeguarding Week - We can all play a part in spotting and reporting abuse

The need for everyone to play a part in helping to spot abuse in its many forms was the key message from a York and North Yorkshire conference that brought together professionals working to safeguard children and adults.

Delegates at the conference in Harrogate this month as part of national safeguarding week heard from Lorin LaFave, whose son, Breck, was groomed online and killed by his groomer. She founded the Breck Foundation to raise awareness of the dangers young people face online every day.

They also heard from Jamie Bartlett, Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, who spoke about social media monitoring, the dark web and hidden internet subcultures.

Jamie said: “Young people are extremely confident online, but are also sometimes very naïve, and make mistakes. Unlike a generation ago, kids are facing a whole new environment to their parents, and it's vital those parents, teachers, police and others understand the sorts of the challenges they face online.”

Subjects addressed in the conference also included modern slavery, suicide prevention, hate crime, financial abuse and exploitation, safeguarding in sport and the Prevent programme, which works with individuals vulnerable to extremism.

The aim of the conference and safeguarding week was to emphasise that everyone has a role to play in spotting these signs and to encourage the public and professionals in all walks of life to be vigilant in their everyday lives.

Cllr Michael Harrison, Executive Member for Health and Adult Services at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “There are many signs of abuse, for example if someone is dirty or not dressed properly, has an injury that is difficult to explain, seems frightened around certain people, seems unusually sad or withdrawn, or finds money is missing. Sometimes signs of abuse are not obvious or visible, especially where grooming is taking placed, but someone may start to behave differently, which may give cause for concern.”

Cllr Carol Runciman, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health at City of York Council, said: “The theme of Safeguarding is Everybody’s Business was picked up by all the speakers, highlighting that everyone has their part to play in raising concerns or passing on the sort of information. The power and emotion of Lorin’s talk left its mark on many people at the conference.

“Also running through the day was the theme of e-safety and the message that friends you make online may not be real friends.”

Safeguarding week was supported by the four safeguarding boards that look after children, young people and adults in North Yorkshire and York and their partner organisations, including the Office of the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and the community safety partnerships.

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