Posted: 07 April 2020

School's out and young people are at risk: what closures mean for children across the country

Schools provide a safe space for many children and the decision to close schools will have life changing consequences for families, many of whom are already stretched to the limit.

We welcome the decision to keep schools open for children of key workers and those who are vulnerable, however many children will not quite meet the criteria and remain at risk.

That’s why we want schools and social care to work together to ensure all vulnerable children can attend school. Whether or not they are in school, they should have support from a trusted professional who can check on their well-being and help keep them safe at the current time. It’s also vital that professionals are able to identify those who become vulnerable in this difficult time.

Children in poverty

For parents of more than four million children who grow up in poverty, closures will mean further financial pressures as they struggle to juggle work, childcare and higher day-to-day costs of living. Added stress at home could impact the child’s well-being and increase the risk of going missing or being groomed with promises of easy cash. 

Young people whose families who can’t access laptops, phones or online learning, may also miss out on vital education, interaction and support.

Children at risk of exploitation

Becky from our Disrupting Exploitation Programme says, ‘school provides a safe place and supervision for vulnerable children, and it is a real concern that without this they may be more at risk of being targeted by criminals seeking to exploit them.’

‘without social interaction and support during the day at school, they may be more likely to go missing’

Police, public and professionals need to look out for the signs that a child may be at risk and be able to raise any concerns they may have.

Children at risk or abuse and neglect

School closures mean children and young people will be spending a lot more time at home. For many, home will not be a safe space. We are concerned that for children and young people who are experiencing abuse and neglect in the home these risks could be magnified.

Children’s well-being

Initially not going to school may seem exciting to some but without opportunities to socialise and learn, young people’s well-being will likely suffer.

Spending more time at home and less time unsupervised with friends can have a negative effect on children’s well-being. Being online more also increases the risk of cyberbullying and this can be damaging to children’s mental health.

Young carers

Schools give young carers a break from their caring responsibilities and provide them with trusted professionals who are aware of their situation. Without school, young carers lose an important part of their support network.

We will do everything we do everything we can to support the efforts of national government, local authorities and schools to help mitigate the impact of school, college and nursery closures on children and families.   

Our incredible front-line staff are delivering vital care packages and providing urgent advice and support to children that can literally save their lives.

Please donate to our Emergency Lifeline Appeal to help us be there for the most vulnerable young people.


By Kaja Zuvac-Graves

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