Missing Children & Covid-19 Restrictions
The COVID-19 Pandemic has significantly disrupted the lives of young people. The routines and boundaries for many young people will have been significantly altered due to the lockdown measures that have been in place.
As we move in to a further national lockdown it is vital that parents and carers continue to report their child as missing if their whereabouts are unknown. It is appropriate to take steps to locate a missing child despite the current restrictions.
Reporting a Child as Missing – A Message from Cheshire Police
Reporting a child as missing is a necessary step to take to ensure that a child can be effectively safeguarded.
The police are entitled to expect parents and carers to accept normal parenting responsibilities and undertake reasonable actions to try and establish the whereabouts of the individual. This includes:
- Make attempts to contact them
- Call friends or family
- Visiting areas they frequent
- Visit place known to be attending (for example friend’s house or party)
- Checking to see if any items are missing from the home.
Once those enquiries have been completed, it may be appropriate to record the child as missing and take actions set out in national police guidance.
Children who are breaching parental discipline should not be dealt with by
police unless there are other risks.
Increased Risks during COVID-19 and Parent Resources
Young people are spending more time online during the COVID-19 Pandemic as a
means of staying in touch with friends, entertainment and for education. While the
internet can be a positive tool to support young people during this period, they can
be targeted by perpetrators and exploited. It is essential that young people are
effectively monitored and supported.
Online safety support for parents & carers can be found here:
Thriving or Surviving?
The Safeguarding Children Partnership’s practical guide to making the most of Social Distancing and Self-isolation!
We are all now living in another time of increased restrictions on our movement in a bid to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
For how long this will go on, nobody is sure.
Social-isolation is intense and tricky, and for families this is no exception.
For example, it may be that contact has been reduced and loneliness has set in, or elderly relatives have moved in with their families so that ongoing care can be provided and this can bring its own pressures.
The changing demands on the time and attention of parents and carers brings a variety of different challenges. But there are certainly ways to keep life as manageable as possible when you’re all working, living and playing under the same roof.
There are some behaviours that are easy to get into, and at times like this can make anxiety worse in the long run, such as:
- Avoiding things (e.g., a parent sleeping in the bed with their child instead of them sleeping on their own)
- Withdrawing from other people
- Constantly googling for information about symptoms etc.
- Spending a lot of time talking about worries
- Being on the lookout for danger
- Checking (e.g. looking at news a lot)
- Being in your head a lot thinking about things rather than fully doing things
- Washing hands at a level that goes well beyond the medical advice
If your child becomes unwell during “Lockdown”
Call 111 if you’re worried about a baby or child.
If they seem very unwell, are getting worse, or you think there’s something seriously wrong, call 999.
Do not delay getting help if you’re worried. Trust your instincts.
Get more advice about coronavirus in children.
If You’re Not Feeling Safe
Support for domestic abuse concerns
We recognise some children and adults could be facing increased risks as we all asked to stay at home due to COVID-19. We are here to help you and the people you are working with. It is important people know they’re not alone.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 999.
Social distancing and self-isolation could be used as a tool of coercive and controlling behaviour by people with abusing behaviours, and will shut down routes to safety and support.
Adults over 70 and those requiring shielding may be at increased risk of the following:
- Loneliness resulting in depression;
- Exploitation by others, strangers or unscrupulous neighbours who may take advantage of people financially or use scams to carry out unnecessary or fictitious work;
- Carers, paid or unpaid, who may put them under duress and refuse to follow government instructions.
Children who go missing
Advice and support
Please see the links below offering advice and support, including :
The SafeLives website has lots of information for you to think about and advice to keep you safe during isolation, including self-care, safety planning, useful guides, websites, line chats and survivor forums. Child contact arrangements, welfare benefits and financial abuse, other languages and disability.
Please read their guide here (https://safelives.org.uk/staying-safe-during-covid-19-guidance)
Open the Door: posters are currently being distributed to supermarkets, retail outlets and petrol stations to direct people with domestic abuse concerns to local and national support. Police officers sharing the posters are asking retail staff to be mindful if they see a member of the public engaging with the poster and/or need an opportunity to make a call in private.
The Women’s Aid website gives lots of information about Silent Solution system, support services, child contact, welfare benefits, financial abuse and immigration.
The Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) provides advice for families on effective co-parenting and child arrangements as the situation around COVID-19 develops.
More information around local and national support and advice available can be found on the domestic abuse webpages of our Council website, including specific pages relating to professionals supporting someone with domestic abuse concerns.
Tips and Tricks for Parents Who Are Living and Working From Home
Set aside enough time in the morning to have breakfast and get ready without rushing
If you can start in a positive way, the rest of the day will be easier to manage
Check and reply to emails, grab a coffee and breakfast “on the go”
|“Work Smart” prioritise tasks, allocate time to them and try to avoid getting caught up in unstructured meetings||“Work long” – Jump from one task/meeting to the another without thinking them through and considering how long they will take|
|Take a worthwhile lunch break of at least 30 minutes and try to keep it healthy!
Try to get outside when possible
|Work through your lunch hour and for convenience, eat unhealthy food wherever you are working|
|Aim to shut off all work-related communications. If you have to work in the evenings, make sure you have a separate work space so it doesn’t blur into your home/leisure time||Take on all work that comes your way, even if you don’t have enough time to finish your current workload|
|Plan for things to do in the future, trips away, holidays, days out etc.||Skip exercising because you are too busy with work|
|Speak up when your workload or expectations get too much. (Learn to say no or ask for help with a smile 😊)||Stay up late replying to emails and completing work, leaving you feeling tired the next day|
|Limit worry and agitation by lessening the time that you and your family spend watching or listening to media coverage that you perceive as upsetting||Use smoking, alcohol or other drugs to deal with your emotions.|
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsafe, no matter what the reason, talk to someone; someone you trust, a health worker, counsellor, family member or one of many National Helplines
Educating Children During Social Distancing and Self Isolation
Once again, schools and colleges are closed for all but the most vulnerable children and for children of key workers.
The aim of this is reduce spread of COVID-19, and so, the majority of parents/carers have chosen to educate their children at home for the duration of the school closures, but this can bring it’s own stresses leaving some parents feeling inadequate or that they are doing their children a disservice..
If you are “Homeschooling”, it PLEASE remember that:-
“A Bachelor of Education (BEd) takes three to four years full-time study, or four to six years part-time, and combines a degree with initial teacher training!” (UCAS website)
There are concerns that our children are missing out on their education, and whilst not ideal, the virtual learning being provided by schools is the best solution in the circumstances. It is important to remember that all of our children are in the same situation and support will be provided once the schools reopen.
As long as your children are safe and happy while their routine is disrupted, then that is ‘good enough’. Anything else that is educational that you can work into their week is a bonus and you should be proud of yourself for at least attempting to provide schooling for them.
The NSPCC have put together some great resources to support you and they can be found here.
Sources of Support
Helps teens cope with anxiety
Strategies and tools to help deal with everyday anxiety.
Talk to online counsellors about panic or anxiety www.nopanic.org.uk
Smiling Mind App
Mindfulness meditation Free app developed by psychologists and educators for young people aged 7-18.
The advice people need for the problems they face and improve the policies and practices that affect people’s lives
Support for Under 25s emotional and mental health. Trusted by the NHS
Phone, text and online support with trained counsellors
Happy Not Perfect App
Supported by science. Designed by people
Includes simple exercises to help with mental wellbeing
Kooth offers free, safe, anonymous support
What’s up? App
Cognitive Behavioural Techniques
Using a mixture of CBT to help support
MindEd is a free educational resource on children and young people’s mental health for all adults
Shout -Text 85258
Mental health support offered 24/7 via text messaging service
Strategies, support and help for children and young people suffering with their mental health.
If you are taking drugs or are thinking about taking them then Frank can educate you on the implications.
Includes a Mood-self assessment and audio guides for a range of mental health conditions
Every Mind Matters
Information and Advice on how you can help others struggling with Mental Health
Cheshire West & Chester and NHS
Support and information services in Cheshire West and Chester
Mental Health Foundation
Part of the national mental health response providing support to address the mental health and psychosocial aspects of the Coronavirus outbreak. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak
- Coronavirus – A book for children – Axel Scheffler (illustrator of The Gruffalo) has illustrated a digital book for primary school age children, free for anyone to read on screen or print out, about the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it.
- The Children’s Commissioner for England, in association with the privacy law firm Schillings, has produced a digital safety and wellbeing kit for parents and a safety guide for children to help keep children safe and well online during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Parents’ digital safety and wellbeing kit (PDF)
- Children’s guide to staying safe online (PDF)
- ICON – The accumulated stressors associated with the pandemic combined with prolonged isolation at home can place additional pressures on parents. Stressed parents who then have to manage the needs of a baby that doesn’t seem to stop crying may begin to struggle and ICON provides guidance for resources and support.
- Additional information from the Institute of Health Visiting
- Please note: GPs and hospitals can be accessed safely and help should be sought when there are concerns about a child’s health irrespective of whether it’s COVID related.
- Cheshire and Wirral Partnership (CWP) have launch a new mental health helpline: 0300 303 3972
It’s available 24/7 for people of all ages who feel they need help with their mental health.
- Guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak (Public Health England)
- Kind to Your Mind campaign, developed by Champs Public Health Collaborative and the Cheshire & Merseyside Health & Care Partnership, is running in April and aims to support the mental wellbeing of people living and working in Cheshire and Merseyside.
- Supporting children and young people with worries about COVID-19 (PDF)
- Resource Pack for young people – This pack has been developed by CAMHS services within North Wales and offers helpful advice and activities for children and young people to complete alone, or with a parent/carer or professional. The Face Covid Poster also provides helpful advice about healthy coping strategies during the pandemic.
- British Psychological Society – Talking to children about Coronavirus
- Coronavirus Social Storydave-the-dog-coronavirus-1-1 (1) (003)