A partnership which helps young people discuss difficult topics helped reveal 117 potentially “hidden” young victims of crime and antisocial behaviour last year, bosses have said.
The Stay Safe partnership spoke to 19,141 secondary and 10,265 primary school pupils in 2021/22 about issues such as domestic abuse, county lines, knife crime, drug awareness and online safety.
Some of those pupils then made disclosures related to domestic abuse, abusive peer relationships and stalking, alcohol and drug misuse, knife crime, county lines, online exploitation, and road and fire safety concerns.
The Stay Safe Partnership started in 2015, however, the figures are the highest since it began. Between 2018-2021 the partnership helped 116 pupils who made disclosures during Stay Safe days.
“If we hadn’t have been out delivering these days, and they hadn’t had that intervention, then they would have remained hidden victims,” Kathryn Smith, Stay Safe co-ordinator told Lincolnshire County Council’s Public Protection Committee on Tuesday.
She added that follow-up visits conducted three months on showed that schools were reporting increased disclosures themselves and that pupils are showing improved behaviour.
“There is a need for prevention to be delivered to an earlier age range to ensure that there is more impact prevention should be offered to children who are forming their key values and beliefs and that has to happen at a younger age and we are seeing a lot from our schools,” she said.
Research by the partnership found that the primary concerns for pupils last year related to mental health and include eating disorders, anxiety, depression and self-harm, but that they were also focused on financial issues, including managing money and career worries.
Lincolnshire County Council did not say what the outcomes of the disclosures had been specifically, for instance, how many had led to prosecutions, police interventions or other support.
However, speaking following the meeting, Kathryn told the Local Democracy Reporting Service said: “The Stay Safe Days are an opportunity for pupils to share their concerns so we can ensure that the right support is available locally.
“Any disclosures are reported to the school’s designated safeguarding lead on the day, who will ensure they are dealt with appropriately.
“Schools are best placed to follow up on safeguarding concerns as they have an existing relationship with pupils and are a constant contact for support.
“However, in certain cases, other local agencies, such as those dealing with substance misuse, may be asked to provide additional support.”