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Wales Violence Prevention Unit urges the public to protect vulnerable children and young people this Christmas

The Wales Violence Prevention Unit is urging people to continue to look out for signs of harm and abuse of children and young people this Christmas.

A report published today by the Wales Violence Prevention Unit, in partnership with the Adverse Childhood Experiences Support Hub, highlights the potential devastating impact Covid-19 has had on vulnerable children and young people.

The report found that, during school closures earlier this year, the NSPCC adult helpline saw an almost 30% increase in reports about a child or young people experiencing abuse or trauma. Similarly, multiple helplines saw a dramatic increase in children and young people seeking support for their mental wellbeing, with many reported to have been feeling lonely and anxious.

Now, as Wales prepares for a festive period unlike any other, the Unit is urging people to take notice of the warning signs of harm and abuse of children and young people. These signs could include unexplained changes in behaviour, developing new and inappropriate friendships (such as with people much older than them), becoming withdrawn or seeming anxious or running away.

Jon Drake, Director, Wales Violence Prevention Unit, said: “During the school closures earlier this year, we saw a sharp increase in reports of harm and abuse of children and young people by adults as well as reports from children and young people themselves about their own mental wellbeing.

“We are concerned that as children and young people spend more time at home over the festive period, those who are vulnerable may experience more harm whilst still having reduced access to care and support because of the current restrictions in place to control Coronavirus.

“It can be hard to know who to turn to if you have concerns about a child, and of course the warning signs may be as a result of something else happening in their life. That said, if you are worried the right thing to do is speak up and share your concerns.

“Support is still available through services such as the NSPCC who have continued to work tirelessly to protect children and young people throughout this pandemic. The NSPCC helpline is available 24/7 and their advisors can help you to assess the situation.”

Adults who are concerned about a child or young people are urged to report concerns to the NSPCC.

Download the Report: Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on Violence and ACEs Experienced by Children and Young People in Wales