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Protecting vulnerable teenagers

6th January 2022 | New reports

A new report warns that the current care system is unfit for purpose

The Clewer Initiative

Last week, Anne Longfield, the chair of the Commission on Young Lives, published 'Out of Harm's Way’

The report evaluates how well the current care system is protecting vulnerable teenagers from exploitation and crime.

It warns that the current care system is unfit for purpose and claims that instead of protecting vulnerable teenagers, the system is handing over some to criminals and abusers by moving them away from their families and communities and, too often, moving them from placement to placement. It is also continuing to place them in accommodation that puts them at risk of harm - sometimes alongside adults and those involved with drugs and crime.

The report argues that a care system that was largely designed for small children is struggling to adapt to the needs of older children, including operating inflexible hours and work practices that are not suited to the often chaotic lives of vulnerable teens. It makes a series of recommendations to government, aimed at improving the children's social care system and keeping teenagers safe from county lines, drug gangs and criminal exploitation.

There are several shocking revelations within the report including the following anecdote: “We have even heard of criminal gangs being tipped off from within local authorities when vulnerable children are moved into unregulated accommodation, because of the opportunity this can bring for cuckooing or other exploitation.”

The Commission's report also reveals how the care system is failing some Black boys. Evidence provided to the Commission describes how Black boys in care are more likely to go on and enter the youth justice system, and how this problem is worsening as the number of Black boys going into care rises. The Commission also heard evidence that Black boys, who are already disproportionately affected by gang criminal exploitation, are often receiving different services, including police responses, and how Black teenage boys are less likely to be seen as victims and more likely to be viewed as offenders.

'Out of Harm's Way' makes a series of recommendations to government. To read the report in full, click here

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