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Vulnerable Youth Better Protected This Summer

Two organisations that work with children and young people have teamed up to provide an enhanced level of support for young people this holiday period, following a nationwide rise in child protection enquiries.

Child Matters has partnered with Youthline to upskill their team further in identifying vulnerability and potential abuse in children and young people, and to better understand when to take appropriate action – and what action to take.

Child Matters National Services Manager, Megan West says they have worked closely with Youthline over the past month to make sure their team feel well equipped to tackle the current and expected increase in complex cases relating to child protection during the busy holiday period.

“With Youthline already seeing an increase in the number of people experiencing these concerns this year, it was imperative that their frontline workers felt confident to offer the right support,” she says.

“For a vulnerable child or young person, it can make the world of difference to be heard and helped - people say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to keep a child safe,” she says.

Shae Ronald, Youthline Auckland’s CEO, says during New Zealand’s first lockdown, they saw a 90 percent increase in the number of contacts relating to care and protection matters.

“This training has directly responded to the need we are seeing in the community and it has given our staff the skills to better manage situations relating to vulnerability and abuse, which we expect to see more of during the holiday period,” she says.

“Christmas can be a difficult time for young people across New Zealand and it’s typically the busiest time of the year for Youthline. This training will ultimately mean that children and young people across New Zealand will be better supported when times are tough.”

Ms West agrees that there is an increase in vulnerability and child abuse cases over the Christmas and new year period, and the high level of pressure this year has put even more stress on families as a ripple effect from COVID-19.

“Many families and individuals are experiencing financial hardship this year in particular and the holiday season can be a tipping point for some.

“We encourage people to make use of services such as Youthline if they need extra support and to contact the appropriate agencies if they believe they have seen signs of vulnerability or abuse in children and young people.”

Ms West says Child Matters has seen an increase in demand for child protection training this year from organisations that work with children and young people – as a result of the impact of COVID-19.

Young people or anyone who is supporting a young person are encouraged to contact Youthline on 0800 376 633, free text 234, via Webchat at youthline.co.nz or by email at talk@youthline.co.nz if they in a difficult position and need support.

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