Thousands of vulnerable teenagers are at risk of falling through gaps in the school and social care systems, the Children’s Commissioner for England has warned today.
In a new report, Anne Longfield highlights that one in 25 of all teens were already ‘slipping out of sight’ before the coronavirus crisis began.
She warns that many more teenagers could be at risk of educational failure and unemployment, or crime or exploitation as a result of the pandemic.
The report calls on councils to work with schools and police to focus resources on teenagers at risk of becoming ‘invisible’ to services or who have gone missing under lockdown.
It also calls for the Government to work with local areas to help them set up summer schemes to give young people safe and structured activities to take part in.
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: ‘Many of these children, and I fear many thousands of other vulnerable teenagers, have had very little structure to their lives over the last six months. School was often a stretch for them, and I am concerned we are never going to get some of them back into education.
’If we do not act now, this could result in a lost generation of teens – dropping out of school, going under the radar, getting into trouble, and at risk of being groomed by gangs and criminals.’
The Local Government Association (LGA) said councils share the concerns of the Commissioner about the impact of the coronavirus crisis on vulnerable teenagers.
Cllr Judith Blake, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: 'Councils are working with their partners and communities to try to identify children who may be at risk. As this report reinforces, it is vital that councils have the funding they need to support children, young people and families as part of the national recovery.'