Nearly all child abuse referrals / children in need of protection are made by adults on behalf of children. Children rarely self-refer and this makes the child protection system NOT child friendly. The number of vulnerable children is increasing with child deaths continuing at a rate of one per week. Child protective services are not capturing the true nature of the child‚’s voice / journey. The child‚’s voice is currently second hand by adult interpretations. A digital front door to child protection services does not exist. The system itself prevents access to the vulnerable in a time when we are losing sight of the scale of the issue as the pandemic is creating a rise in child abuse that is going unseen, unheard and untold.
The solution is to create a secure safe digital pathway for children & young people to self-refer/report child abuse directly to a Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). This is underpinned by Government policy referred to as early help (Munro, 2011). The earlier intervention is offered at the point that it is needed by children the more positive outcomes are likely to be for safeguarding. Implementation costs are likely to be outweighed by the effect in arrest rates, criminal convictions, reduction on Local Authority spend on no further action referrals, and increased identification of modern slavery / sexual exploitation (similar to the Polaris project – USA).
There is limited development in this space. This project will disrupt child protection in various ways: political (i.e. number of ‚’children in need‚’), economic (i.e. mobilising the social care sector), social (i.e. applying the ‚’voice of the child‚’ using technology as the enabler), technological (i.e. increasing technology development by children for children), legal (i.e. best practice on children‚’s privacy and security) and environmental (i.e. children being the generation of digital users).