Dangers are less visible

Barnardo's has been helping vulnerable children and young people for 152 years, starting with Dr Barnardo himself. In his time, the problems facing children were severe and clear for all to see, but the problems facing children today are dangerously less visible.

Friday, 16th November 2018, 12:00 pm

Childhood should be a magical time but sadly too many today are being lost to exploitation, abuse and neglect.

Across the UK, more and more young people are ending up in the care system and being entrapped by violent crime and drug trafficking.

But the challenges aren’t just limited to the unlucky few. Around 1 in 20 children experience some form of sexual abuse before they reach 18 and three children in every classroom are thought to have a diagnosable mental health problem.

Evidence from Barnardo’s frontline services suggests a growing number of young people are facing multiple and overlapping dangers – from early trauma and neglect, to grooming and sexual abuse, through to criminal exploitation, drugs and gangs.

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Our recent survey of police, teachers and social workers provides further evidence that increasing numbers of the most vulnerable children are coming into contact with services that are struggling to meet their needs. Having risen steadily for nine years, there are now over 70,000 children going into the care system every year. The demand for children’s services and growing complexity of need are simply outstripping the resources available to local authorities. The scale and complexity of challenges facing children today demand a radical new approach.

At Barnardo’s, we believe part of the answer is to develop radical new approaches to delivering children’s services, forming long-term strategic partnerships with councils, the police, NHS and other charities, to co-design and deliver the services children, families and communities really need.

Children’s lives are changing at a pace we can barely comprehend. Just as society as a whole is becoming more diverse and digital technology is transforming how we work, learn and socialise, so childhood today is constantly evolving, creating some fantastic new opportunities, but some deeply worrying risks too.

We must keep one step ahead, investing in long-term partnerships, sharing knowledge, testing new approaches, and above all, listening to what young people really need. That’s the only way to achieve our ultimate goal – of better outcomes for more children.

Javed Khan

Chief Executive, Barnardo’s