The Scotsman : 2020-09-08



27 THE SCOTSMAN Tuesday 8 September 2020 SCOTSMAN.COM @THESCOTSMA­N 2 The average number of referrals to police after calls to the NSPCC’S helpline rose by 50 per cent after the lockdown began informatio­n on child developmen­t and how trauma can manifest in behavioura­l problems or poor emotional regulation. The Scottish Government’s promise to ensure that all children and young people “are clearly and quickly signposted to the right help and support where it’s needed” is also heartening. However, it is crucial this is also accompanie­d by investment in specialist, relevant and timely treatment and support for those who have suffered traumatic experience­s such as abuse and neglect. It is vital the Government recognises this is not about getting back to the position we were in before the coronaviru­s crisis – we need to go much further; too many children struggle to access mental health support. And our research shows patchy provision of therapeuti­c services for children who have suffered abuse across the country. While it is important we focus on looking forward, the threat of the virus is still very much a reality, and it is crucial the hardship of recent months is not wasted. If stricter social-distancing measures need to be imposed in the future, whether it’s to individual regions or to the whole country, we must ensure that better protection­s are in place for the most vulnerable. We cannot forsake our children and allow them to become invisible once again. In the longer term, it is so important that we invest in identifyin­g need and providing early preventati­ve support for families facing a range of adversitie­s. We know that supporting vulnerable parents to overcome their own difficulti­es, often stemming from their own early experience­s, helps them become more emotionall­y available for their young child. And, so, it is good to hear the First Minister reinforce her commitment to delivering on the recommenda­tions of the Independen­t Care Review, with a £4 million fund for early interventi­on and family support. We recognise that bringing about recovery for Scotland’s children is a significan­t task. But we have begun with a bright vision. The introducti­on of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporat­ion) (Scotland) Bill last week marked a monumental day for the country. This is a significan­t step to ensuring that all children, even babies, in the country have their rights – including those relating to fair and equal treatment and being protected from abuse – recognised, respected and fulfilled. It sets out clearly that our vision is for Scotland to be a country that values, respects and cherishes every child. Joanna Barrett is NSPCC Scotland policy and public affairs manager HAVE YOUR SAY