The Government has today (February 21) launched ParentWise, a six-week pilot communications campaign aimed at providing support and advice to parents and carers in the West Midlands. The campaign aims to build parents’ and carers’ awareness of some of the things their children could face growing up, and has been designed to help them spot the signs that something could be wrong and empower and reassure them to act if they are worried.
Parents and carers in the area will have access to a new website – www.gov.uk/parentwise - a dedicated resource with links to help and support, as well as advice on what to do when noting a change in a child’s behaviour. The website, which has been developed in collaboration with partner organisations including the NSPCC, ParentZone and the Ben Kinsella Trust, provides support and advice across a number of issues.
· alcohol and drugs
· child criminal exploitation and ‘county lines’ (a term used to describe the criminal exploitation of children for the purpose of selling drugs)
· child sexual abuse and exploitation
· exploitation by extremist or radical influences
· knife harm
· online safety
· sex and relationships
Including Birmingham, the second largest city in the UK, the West Midlands was selected for this pilot due to the size of its population that allows us to compare the results to other areas across the UK. Findings will inform the Government’s approach to supporting parents and carers to keep children safe.
Birmingham will also benefit from targeted education support as part of the rollout of 10 ‘SAFE’ (Support, Attend, Fulfil, Exceed) taskforces in ‘hotspot’ areas, where incidents of serious youth violence are highest. This taskforce will be led by local schools, bringing headteachers together to support vulnerable young people, and avoid them becoming involved in county lines and criminal activity.
Safeguarding Minister, Rachel Maclean, said: “It is vital that parents know where to turn if they think that their child is at risk.
“I am pleased the West Midlands has been chosen to pilot this new resource, which I hope will be the blueprint for bringing together support and advice for parents and carers right across the country.”
Sue Harrison, Director for Children’s Services, from Birmingham City Council said: “We’re pleased that Birmingham has been chosen to pilot this really important campaign. We know parents and carers have concerns around understanding what their children are viewing online and where they are going. It is vital we all work together to support families and I’d encourage people to use the ParentWise website where there is a wealth of resources and advice.”
The Government is investing and funding programmes to divert young people away from a life of crime. This includes £20m for additional early intervention and prevention programmes to support young people at high risk of involvement in serious violence.
The Government has also provided £200m over 10 years for the Youth Endowment Foundation, which is funding projects to support children and young people at risk of violence and exploitation and to steer them away from crime.
This financial year we are investing up to £1m to provide specialist support to under 25s and their families from London, the West Midlands and Merseyside who are criminally exploited through county lines, to help them safely reduce and stop their involvement. In addition, we are funding Missing People’s SafeCall service which provides confidential, specialist advice and support to young people and their families/carers who are affected by county lines exploitation.
In January, the Government launched the Stop Abuse Together campaign. This campaign aims to empower parents and carers to take steps to help keep children safe from sexual abuse. The campaign website enables parents to learn about the potential signs of abuse, build trust by speaking to their children regularly and find further support.
The ParentWise campaign will run until 31 March with advertising running on social media, local radio, digital audio, out of home and digital display. If successful, the Government will consider a roll out to parents and carers nationally.