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Youngsters under child protection orders in county among highest in England

Child in need.
Child in need.

The county has more children at risk of child abuse than almost anywhere else in England.

Only the 33 London boroughs combined have more children covered by a child protection plan than Kent and Medway.

And the charity believes that for every child covered by a protection plan or on child protection registers another eight have suffered mistreatment.

The stark figures were released today as the children's charity, which runs services to support vulnerable children in Kent, releases its report How Safe are our Children.

Highlighted in the report is that 953 youngsters in Kent were subject to a protection plan in March last year - the latest recorded figures.

In Medway, a further 346 children were being monitored for neglect or abuse, bringing the total to 1,299.

The combined figure is higher than that for Britain's second most populated city, Birmingham, which has 1,271.

But a spokesman for Kent County Council said the figures needed to be read as a proportion of the population.

As a large county, Kent had 29.5 children per 10,000 on a protection plan, which was lower than other areas in the South East.

"when we discover abuse we must do everything we can to protect children from further harm and help them recover" – nspcc regional head colin peak

Colin Peak, NSPCC regional head for South London and the South East, said: "Abuse and maltreatment can have a devastating effect on a child's mental and physical health.

"Without support to overcome their early experiences, a child can be scarred for life.

"When we discover abuse we must do everything we can to protect children from further harm and help them recover.

"But child protection services are already working in overdrive, so we must prevent abuse from happening to so many children in the first place."

He said organisations needed to identify and support vulnerable children and their families early, in order to stop abuse before it starts.

The Childline Schools Services is being rolled out in the county from May this year.

It targets year 5 and 6 pupils through assemblies and workshops, and encourages children to recognise situations where they may need help.

William Shaw, Childline schools services manager, said: "Research tells us that child abuse can remain hidden for many years, with children suffering in silence and other children continuing to be at risk from perpetrators.

"Many children fail to recognise their experience as abusive, and often do not know where they can go for help."

Mairead MacNeil, KCC director of specialist children's services, said: "We are a large authority which is reflected in the number of children subject to child protection plans.

"When a local authority makes a child subject to a child protection plan, it means that all the agencies involved are working closely with the family to keep the child safe.

"The welfare of children in Kent is our top priority and we have been investing in early intervention services for families to make sure they get the help they need at the earliest opportunity."

To find out more about the services offered by the NSPCC, visit the charity's website.

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