Question of child abuse
Jane Westover made this Freedom of Information request to Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel
This authority is not subject to FOI law, so is not legally obliged to respond (details).
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Dear Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel,
I believe that the governments campaign of fear is harming our children and young people. The constant message that we are all to act as if we are infectious, is having a detrimental effect on us all, but especially our children, who may not have developed the skills to understand that this message is incorrect and is not an indication that they may harm anyone.
Matt Hancocks statement "don't kill your granny" was a prime example of such emotional abuse.
The enforcing of masks and testing of children is child abuse. And as medical interventions masks and testing are covered by the Nuremburg code. No medical intervention should be carried out without proper informed consent. And in this case it is vital to stress that this consent should not be given under any form of coercion. So threatening a childs parent that unless their child is submitted to the above they will be excluded from school or treated differently is definitely coercion.
There is little evidence that children experience serious symptoms, or that they are infectious. Children need to be free to interact freely and to learn to read facial expressions if they are to grow up as fully functional, well adjusted adults.
The government has kept children and young people isolated from their peer groups for the best part of a year. Solitary confinement is used as a punishment in prisons.
Can you provide me with the evidence that proves this continuing abuse of our children is justified.
A copy of the risk assessment for schools to complete for each child to assess the benefits and harms of mask wearing in schools would be useful
Dear Ms Westover,
I acknowledge receipt of your email of 23 February 2021 concerning schools
I should explain that the role of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review
Panel, as set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 statutory
guidance, is to consider notifications made by local authorities of
serious incidents. The Panel can also arrange, where appropriate, to carry
out national child safeguarding practice reviews. As outlined in statutory
guidance, a serious incident is one where a child has died or been
seriously harmed and abuse or neglect is known or suspected.
The issue you have raised does not come within the Panel’s remit. I have
forwarded your email to the Department for Education correspondence
section so that your concerns can be considered and responded to properly.
Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel Secretariat
Department for Education, Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BT
Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel
Dear Ms Westover,
Thank you for your request for information which was received on 23
February 2021. You asked the following:
I believe that the governments campaign of fear is harming our children
and young people. The constant message that we are all to act as if we are
infectious, is having a detrimental effect on us all, but especially our
children, who may not have developed the skills to understand that this
message is incorrect and is not an indication that they may harm anyone.
Matt Hancocks statement "don't kill your granny" was a prime example of
such emotional abuse.
The enforcing of masks and testing of children is child abuse. And as
medical interventions masks and testing are covered by the Nuremburg
code. No medical intervention should be carried out without proper
informed consent. And in this case it is vital to stress that this
consent should not be given under any form of coercion. So threatening a
child’s parent that unless their child is submitted to the above they will
be excluded from school or treated differently is definitely coercion.
There is little evidence that children experience serious symptoms, or
that they are infectious. Children need to be free to interact freely and
to learn to read facial expressions if they are to grow up as fully
functional, well-adjusted adults.
The government has kept children and young people isolated from their peer
groups for the best part of a year. Solitary confinement is used as a
punishment in prisons.
Can you provide me with the evidence that proves this continuing abuse of
our children is justified.
A copy of the risk assessment for schools to complete for each child to
assess the benefits and harms of mask wearing in schools would be useful
I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Department for Education (DfE) will always prioritise the health and
welfare of pupils and students. It is important that children and young
people attend their education for their well-being, mental health and
long-term development. We do not hold information or evidence that proves
wearing face coverings is child abuse.
I would like to take the opportunity to allay any concerns you may have
and provide assurance about what the DfE are doing to ensure pupils and
students are learning in a safer environment. Education settings have
implemented a range of protective measures recommended by Public Health
England (PHE) endorsed guidance published by the DfE which, when followed,
creates an inherently safer environment for pupils, staff and families.
We continue to work closely with other government departments throughout
the response to the pandemic, including PHE and the Department of Health
and Social Care (DHSC), as well as stakeholders across the sector. We
continue to work to ensure that our policy is based on the latest
scientific and medical advice, to continue to develop comprehensive
guidance based on the PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’ and to understand
the impact and effectiveness of these measures on staff, pupils and
To ensure education and care policy is guided by the most up-to-date
scientific evidence as this continues to evolve, the DfE regularly reviews
data, analysis and advice from a number of different sources, including
PHE, the Office for National Statistics, and the Joint Biosecurity
On 22 February, we published our Evidence summary: COVID-19 - children,
young people and education settings. Here you will find a summary which
sets out the evidence relevant to, and in support of, the Government’s
decision to lift restrictions on education from 8 March 2021 - focussed in
particular on schools, colleges and early years settings. The Government’s
wider decision-making is set out in the Government’s COVID-19 Response -
Spring 2021 and supporting scientific evidence, including links to various
evidence and data. The DfE evidence summary can be found at the following
As referenced within the evidence summary under the face coverings section
on page 18, SAGE have advised that face coverings can be effective in
reducing transmission in public and community settings. Their
effectiveness stems mostly from reducing the emission of virus-carrying
particles when worn by an infected person (source control). Face coverings
are likely to be most effective at reducing transmission in both indoor
and outdoor settings when people are likely to be close together. Physical
distancing and use of fabric face coverings, alongside other
interventions, are important mitigation strategies to reduce community
transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) and are likely to be needed to be
applied more consistently and effectively to be able to mitigate
transmission of the B.1.1.7 variant. The link to meeting minutes are
SAGE 76 minutes: Coronavirus (COVID-19) response, 14 January 2021
Scientific evidence supporting the government response to coronavirus
(COVID-19) is published by the SAGE. Papers and meeting minutes can be
found at the following link: Scientific evidence supporting the
government response to coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) Here,
you will also be able to find scientific publications from SAGE and SAGE
sub-groups. These publications will include minutes and papers covering
the scientific advice received at that time. There is also a list. List of
participants of SAGE and related sub-groups - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) you will
also find a list of SAGE participants who have authored and discussed
these papers at SAGE meetings.
You may find it useful to review the information set out in recent SAGE
Children’s Task and Finish Group papers which is outlined in the summary
document. As in schools, where settings implement the PHE-endorsed system
of controls outlined in DfE guidance, in line with their own workplace
risk assessment, these measures create a safer environment for staff and
children where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially
reduced. Mitigations as set out in the system of controls are important in
all school settings to reduce transmission through aerosols, close-range
interactions and via surfaces. This paper is available here: TFC:
Children and transmission - update paper, 10 February 2021 - GOV.UK
Throughout the evidence summary document, in each of the footnotes you
will find links to the evidence and analysis that have contributed towards
the Government’s decision-making and which you may find helpful. Since
September 2020, face coverings have been included in the system of
controls for settings where year 7 and above are educated, first in
communal areas and – from 8 March – recommended in classrooms unless
social distancing can be maintained. This guidance was first introduced as
part of the Government’s commitment to open schools to all pupils safely
in September. This followed the publication of a statement by the World
Health Organisation advising that ‘children aged 12 and over should wear
face coverings under the same condition as adults, particularly when they
cannot guarantee at least a 1 metre distance from others and there is
widespread transmission in the area’. The statement is available here:
Based on advice from PHE, the Department has recently published updated
guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance from 8
March, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can
be found at the following link:
As the guidance outlines, where pupils and students in year 7 and above
are educated, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by adults,
pupils and students when moving around the premises, outside of
classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social
distancing cannot easily be maintained. Face coverings do not need
to be worn by pupils and students when outdoors on the premises.
In addition, from 8 March, we now also recommend that in those settings
where pupils and students in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings
should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be
maintained. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face
covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise
activity, for example in PE lessons.
The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in
shops and on public transport also apply in education settings. This
includes people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because
of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you
are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip
reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. We expect
teachers and other staff to be sensitive to those needs.
Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone
who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to
communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence
regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings, but
they may be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
We are recommending this additional precautionary measure for a limited
time during this period of high coronavirus (COVID-19) prevalence in the
community. As with all measures, we will keep this under review and update
guidance as necessary.
DfE’s guidance on the system of controls is advisory; it
does not create any new legal obligations, but it is a
recommendation based on the latest public health advice from PHE. The
system of controls has been developed with PHE to effectively minimise the
risk of transmission in education and childcare settings and there is
scientific rationale behind these measures. We therefore recommend that
settings implement these controls to the fullest extent possible, in line
with a thorough risk assessment. As the guidance itself says, where
something is essential for public health reasons, as advised by PHE,
we say it ‘must’ be implemented.
All elements of the system of controls are essential in effectively
minimising risks. All schools should cover them all, but the way schools
implement some of the requirements will differ based on their individual
circumstances. The use of face coverings where recommended is one element
of the system of controls that schools are putting in place to reduce
PHE are the lead department for providing government, local government,
the NHS, Parliament, industry and the public with evidence-based
professional, scientific expertise and support. PHE provides specialist
public health advice to the Department in the context of the coronavirus
Should you require any further information or have any further
questions on this issue, then we would recommend that you get in touch
with PHE at [email address] as they lead on evidence-based professional,
scientific expertise and support. You may find it useful to check
PHE previous FOI releases to see if your question has been answered
already. FOI previous releases are available at the following
link: Transparency and freedom of information releases - GOV.UK
In response to the risk assessment part of your question, the department
do not hold this information. However, I would like to signpost you to
our updated guidance where we have provided information on how the
system of controls should be implemented in line with a risk assessment.
We have also published guidance on how schools should undertake and
review risk assessments during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Everyone needs to assess and manage the risks from coronavirus (COVID-19),
including school employers and leaders, who are required by law to think
about the risks the staff and pupils face and do everything reasonably
practicable to minimise them, recognising that they cannot completely
eliminate the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19).
As the guidance outlines, schools must comply with health and safety law
and put in place proportionate control measures. To meet these obligations
* review their health and safety risk assessments in light of our
* make any necessary changes to their control measures applying the
system of controls
Schools need to take reasonable steps to protect staff, pupils and others
from coronavirus (COVID-19) within the school.
They must implement sensible and proportionate control measures which
follow the health and safety hierarchy of controls to reduce the risk to
the lowest reasonably practicable level.
Schools must regularly review and update their risk assessments - treating
them as ‘living documents’ - as the circumstances at the school and the
public health advice changes. Schools should have active arrangements in
place to monitor that the controls are:
* working as planned
For more information on what is required of school leaders we would
recommend that you review annex A link highlighted above, which sets out
guidance on the risk assessment process. If parents or carers are
concerned, we would recommend that you speak to the school so that you can
discuss these concerns and for schools to explain the measures that have
been put in place to reduce the risk at the school.
The information supplied to you continues to be protected by copyright.
You are free to use it for your own purposes, including for private study
and non-commercial research, and for any other purpose authorised by an
exception in current copyright law. Documents (except photographs) can be
also used in the UK without requiring permission for the purposes of news
reporting. Any other re-use, for example commercial publication, would
require the permission of the copyright holder.
Most documents produced by a government department or agency will be
protected by Crown Copyright. Most Crown copyright information can be
re-used under the Open Government Licence
information about the OGL and about re-using Crown Copyright information
please see The National Archives website
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to
quote the reference number 2021-0014624 in any future communications.
If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should
make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar
months of the date of this letter. Your complaint will be considered by an
independent review panel, who were not involved in the original
consideration of your request.
If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Infection, Prevention and Control Team
Coronavirus Response Unit
Department for Education
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