Rotherham child sex abuse scandal used by Government to highlight need to protect youngsters

Alexis Jay produced a report on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham
Alexis Jay produced a report on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham
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Rotherham's child sexual exploitation scandal has been used to highlight the need for more to be done to protect children from abuse.

The Governement is considering new proposals, which could see school staff jailed if they fail to raise the alarm about child abuse.

As well as teachers, doctors and social workers, those in administrative or support roles may fall under the scope of a new regime being considered by the Government.

The proposals would see those who work in roles that bring them into contact with children placed under a statutory duty to report or act on child abuse or neglect.

Sanctions for those who fail to comply could range from disciplinary to criminal action.

Two possible models are outlined in a consultation document published by the Home Office and Department for Education.

One is a mandatory reporting duty which would require certain practitioners or organisations to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect.

The other would introduce a 'duty to act' requiring staff or bodies to take appropriate action, which could include reporting.

There is currently no legal requirement on those working with children to report either known or suspected child abuse or neglect.

Education Minister Edward Timpson said: "We must do all we can to protect children and young people from abuse and neglect.

"That's why we're making radical improvements to make sure services identify children at risk as early as possible and take swift action to give them the protection and care they need, but events in Rotherham, Oxford and elsewhere show there is still more to be done.

"It's right, therefore, that we look at whether it's necessary to strengthen the law to better protect the most vulnerable. I know that social workers, teachers and other professionals are as passionate about protecting the young people they care for as I am - I would encourage them to share their views with us over the next 12 weeks."

A report in 2014 revealed that 1,400 children in Rotherham were abused by men of largely Pakistani heritage between 1997 and 2013 while authorities field to act.