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East London council teams up with primary schools to tackle youth violence

boy holding knifeTags Children , Family , Residents , Teenagers

Barking and Dagenham Council has teamed up with local primary schools to launch the third phase of its Lost Hours campaign in a bid to tackle youth violence and exploitation. 

The Lost Hours campaign launched with a two-month borough-wide communications campaign in August 2020. The campaign kicked off with a hard-hitting short film featuring the voices of local people who have been affected by youth violence, including parents who have tragically lost children. 

In the second phase of the campaign, Barking and Dagenham council worked closely with secondary schools to encourage parents to take responsibility for what their children were doing and when and involved students in an activity to learn more about county lines and how to keep themselves safe.

The next phase aims to engage with parents of children in Years 5 and 6 as an early intervention before their children move to secondary school, along with parents of Year 7 children as their children become more independent.

This new phase of the campaign is a call for parents to get their children involved in positive activities after school to have somewhere safe to go and build positive relationships. This is supported by a new mapping tool that parents can use to locate the clubs and activities available to their children nearby. 

If you don’t know who they’re hanging around with after school or who they’re talking to late at night, it’s time to find out.

Councillor Evelyn Carpenter, Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement, said: “We know that most children gain more independence as they move into an upper school place in primary and as they go on to secondary school, so engaging parents at this point is key.

“By working with our schools, we can support parents to ensure their child gets involved in something positive.”

All schools in the borough have been given a toolkit to help them share key messages and information with parents, including social media assets, flyers and posters.

Councillor Margaret Mullane, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety, added: “Sadly, we saw three school-aged children in our borough become the victims of stabbings as schools reopened in March after the national lockdown.

“Don’t let this happen to your son or daughter; I urge you to check in with your child and take responsibility for what they’re doing. 

“If you don’t know who they’re hanging around with after school or who they’re talking to late at night, it’s time to find out.”

The third phase of the campaign will also address online child exploitation and recruitment into gangs, something the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated.

Councillor Maureen Worby, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care commented: “I’m really pleased that the new mapping tool will support parents to find local activities and groups for their children to get involved in.

“There’s plenty for young people to do in Barking and Dagenham, and many opportunities for them to do something they enjoy and build positive relationships in safe places after school.”

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