Skip to main content

Prevention Programme Covid-19 Guidance

Guidance, support and resources for partners working with children, young people and their families who may be at risk of harm during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Number of pages:

7 pages

Date published:

Reporting abuse

half face of boy looking a camera

Spotting and reporting abuse in the home

During lockdown we are concerned that children experiencing abuse within the home may be shut in with their abusers and feel unable to ask for help. It is therefore vital that key workers, delivery drivers, neighbours and others entering the family home at this time are able to spot the signs of child abuse and report any concerns.

We developed a poster, in partnership with the National Police Chief’s Council, for public and key workers to spot and respond to abuse and exploitation in the home.

Alongside the National Police Chief’s Council, we also developed a briefing guide and a poster for the police on responding to child sexual abuse during Covid-19.

Online Harm and Abuse

The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children has experienced a global increase in reports of Child Sexual Exploitation to CyberTipLine compared to 2019. The National Crime Agency suggested in April 2020 that there are a minimum of 300,000 individuals in the UK posing a sexual threat to children either through physical contact abuse of online. The Internet Watch Foundation also saw a 50% increase in reports of child sexual abuse material members of the public during the first national lockdown.

We have also seen an increase in online grooming into child criminal exploitation during Covid-19 including grooming through social media and online gaming.

Due to increased online time, children and young people’s risk of harm may be increased. The content they are able to access, individuals they are communicating with and isolation from their social network groups could all have a negative impact on young people. 

  • Accessing explicit material such as pornography and violent content is easier than ever and can negatively impact young people. 
  • Offenders may find it easier to communicate with young people to facilitate harm or exploitation through use of social media, chat groups in apps, phishing email attempts or online gaming. 
  • Offenders may encourage young people to create explicit content that can then be shared further than expected. This could be through peers or through a new contact online. 
  • Sometimes young people may feel isolated from their social network and offenders can try to exploit this to arrange meeting in real life. 
  • The risk of financial harm online is also present due to children and young people not being aware of in-game costs or being able to access gambling websites.

Online harm and abuse resources

We created a Z-Card resource to help professionals, parents and carers learn more about specific online exploitation and abuse risks to children and young people.

The Home Office and Department for Education have developed guidance, resources and support contacts for parents and carers to keep children safe online during Covid-19. These cover topics including child sexual abuse, cyberbullying, sexting, suicide content and radicalising content.

Think U Know and the NSPCC have advice to encourage safe use of the internet and can support professionals, parents or carers with facilitating conversations with young people:

The Marie Collins Foundation and NWG created a parent and carer guide and professionals guide for supporting young people who have experienced sexual exploitation or abuse online. They also provide a 'Path to Protection' online portal.

Children's well-being

Fear and stress are common reactions to potential threats and with the uncertainty that comes from Covid-19, more young people are likely to struggle with their mental health and well-being. Fear of contracting the virus may be very present for young people and the disruption to the normalcy they have always known life to be are added pressures on top of the common issues we know are ever present in children and young people’s lives.

We have developed a resource to help children and young people work through stressful situations, which has useful tools young people can use for a whole host of potentially difficult situations or emotions they may be feeling due to Covid-19.

Our well-being advice pages are also there to help young people through a range of feelings and emotions.

Domestic violence

Levels of domestic violence notably increased during phase one of Covid-19 with domestic abuse services reporting a huge increase in calls. For example domestic violence support charity Refuge reported a 700% increase in calls to their helpline in a single day when tighter Lockdown levels were introduced in the first Lockdown. 

We know that many individuals are now in the same situation and feeling unsafe in their home. Though Domestic Abuse and Violence is often experienced by a spouse or partner, Children and Young people often witness this with 950,000 children affected by Domestic Violence each year. We want to ensure that individuals experiencing Domestic Violence are able to access support. 

Domestic violence resources

For Social Workers supporting individuals experiencing domestic abuse or violence: 

For adults experiencing domestic abuse: 

For Children and Young People experiencing domestic abuse: 

  • If a child or young person needs support from witnessing abuse or violence Child Line have a 1-2-1 counsellor Online Chat function or children and young people can call directly on 0800 1111. 
  • The NSPCC also have a function to report children and young people who may be experiencing abuse or violence: NSPCC Reporting Child Abuse Online Form or call 0808 800 5000 anytime for support with how to proceed. 

Supporting Perpetrators

We focus on supporting child and young adult victims of abuse and exploitation. However we recognise the value of work with perpetrators of harmful behaviour. The Lucy Faithfull Foundation offer support for individuals evidencing harmful sexual behaviour to Children and Young people, whilst Respect and Drive offer support for individuals showing behaviour linked with Domestic Abuse or Violence. 

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation “Stop It Now” Helpline can offer support to adults concerned about other adults or their own, potentially harmful sexual behaviour to children. They support adult male and female abusers, children and young people with harmful or concerning sexual behaviour, victims of abuse and families. Click here to access the Stop It Now Campaign to find out about the support they offer and to understand harmful behaviour and its implications. 

The Respect: Confidential Helpline for Perpetrators of Domestic Violence is another way to access support for if you have concerns about an adult’s behaviour with children and young people. Respect offer advice for recognising a person’s own harmful behaviour within a domestic setting. 

The Drive Project work alongside Respect and offer advice for professionals working with Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse or Violence.