From those that have lost their jobs to those that have lost friends and family, lockdown has been incredibly difficult for everyone. It has been challenging for mental health, led to increases in reports of domestic abuse and interrupted education for many long months for both primary and secondary school age children. However, for parents of young children especially, the global health crisis has had a significant impact on mental health, it has caused a sense of isolation, posed child care issues and brought with it a host of unprecedented challenges that have left many families struggling to regain a sense of normality as life slowly gets back on track.
Increased Cases of Mistreatment
During England’s first lockdown, 87% of parents were homeschooling their children, with more than half reporting that their children were struggling with their education. While this alone was stressful enough, many parents were also juggling full time jobs, facing financial difficulties or health anxieties, and some were even finding themselves trapped in abusive home situations, with no obvious way out and no physical support.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, many have been under increased stress. There have been reports of rapidly growing rates of depression, feelings of isolation, greater consumption of alcohol in the home, and increased substance use. And these are all factors that can affect a parent’s ability to provide optimal care and support for their children.
And so, although not surprising, it is a sad reality that cases of child neglect and mistreatment in the UK have risen significantly over the past 12 months. A recent study by the NSPCC has found a clear link between parental stress and the risk of child abuse and emotional and physical neglect, with the number of serious incidents reported to The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel growing by 27% during the pandemic.
Now, as the country begins to slowly return to some degree of normalcy, it is expected that referrals to social services will rise as face-to-face interactions ramp up. As children return to school full time, attend routine dental appointments, and visit extended family and friends, it is possible that signs of neglect – such as fearfulness or personality changes – will result in growing concerns for children’s health and wellbeing.
We’re Here to Help
At National Legal Service, we understand that this is a very difficult, unusual, and challenging time for parents. And it can be even more stressful and uncertain if social workers have raised concerns about the wellbeing of your child or children. We’re here to support you, and help you make the right decisions for your family at this time.
Call our specialist team now for early advice which may remove the need for legal proceedings in the future. Or, if there is already a possibility of legal proceedings, contact us immediately. At National Legal Service, we can advise on the availability of legal aid, and provide you with urgent advice for ensuring your children are protected.