Local safeguarding children’s boards ignore guidance on children under 13

    One-third of local safeguarding children’s boards are departing from government guidance and reporting all cases of sexual activity among children under 13 to the police or social services.

    That was the key finding from a survey issued yesterday by young people’s sexual health charity Brook, which polled 77 local safeguarding children’s boards in England.

    It said the results showed there was still confusion over the guidance in the updated version of Working Together to Safeguard Children , issued last April.

    And chief executive Simon Blake warned that automatic reporting would deter young people from seeking help from sexual health services, potentially leaving abusive relationships hidden.

    Working Together said there should be a “presumption” in favour of reporting cases of under-13s having sex to social services, but the Department for Education and Skills later said this was not a requirement.

    However, 26 of the 77 boards surveyed by Brook indicated they would report all such cases.

    Brook’s concerns were backed by children’s commissioner for England Al Aynsley-Green.

    He said: “Where young people are reported, the risk of serious harm and the best interests of the child must be the overriding reasons for doing so.”

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