23rd April, 2021 9:29 am
Children in Jersey’s care homes are at risk of exploitation, including sexual grooming, according to experts. It comes in the week an independent report revealed multiple failings within the system and the scale of incidents of children running away. Among those going missing, a 12-year-old child, while another child went missing 47 times during the course of a year. In one home alone in 2020, there were 143 missing children incidents.
The Jersey Care Commission is the independent inspector of Jersey’s children’s homes. When asked by ITV News if children in such homes are being failed, the commission’s chief said: “I think there’s some distance to travel to give us assurance that’s where it needs to be.”
We spoke to ‘Sarah’ who lived in a care home from the age of 12.
I didn’t like it. You feel like you’re always getting targeted. You don’t have much privacy. I just didn’t like it there. There were always people shouting and you couldn’t sleep cause there were so many kids there. As soon as I went in there I started drinking, doing drugs, I didn’t care. Hanging out with older people and drinking with them at a young age.
She says her life is now “so much better” since she left a children’s home and moved into foster care. April Langlois, who was in foster care as a child and then a homeless shelter for young people, now advocates for others in that situation. She believes part of the problem is seeing these youngsters as problem kids rather than vulnerable ones.
Jersey’s Children, Young People, Education and Skills department says the issue affects thousands of children and young people across the UK and “no jurisdiction, town, village is free from this scourge”.
Identification, however, isn’t easy. Perpetrators are sophisticated in their grooming and manipulation of children and young people. Victims don’t always realise that this is happening to them; or they are controlled and intimidated, making them fearful for themselves and their families and friends.
Children, Young People, Education and Skills, spokesperson
Source: ITV News
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