Daily roundup: Children's centre redundancies, child legal disputes rise, and housing fears

Derren Hayes
Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sure Start jobs set to go in Portsmouth; international legal disputes over child custody on the rise, and Shelter report reveals extent of renting families' insecurity, all in the news today.

Sure Start children's centres in Portsmouth will scale back their services. Image: Arlen Connelly
Sure Start children's centres in Portsmouth will scale back their services. Image: Arlen Connelly

Children’s centre services in Portsmouth will be reduced after the local authority announced 21 positions are to be made redundant. The Portsmouth News reported the 34 locations for the Sure Start children’s centres would remain open, but provision would be scaled back. The announcement follows protests over the threat of closures by parents. Portsmouth City Council faces a central government funding reduction of £17m for 2013/14.

The number of international family legal disputes, in which UK courts intervene, has nearly quadrupled in four years, a new report by the Office of the Head of International Family Justice for England and Wales has shown. The report, released to the BBC, revealed 253 cases were handled in 2012, up from 65 in 2008. Cases where parents leave the country with children include custody battles, child protection proceedings, inter-country adoption and forced marriages.

A new report from Shelter has revealed that families with children living in rented accommodation experience insecure tenancies, high rents, and constant moves. The report, Growing Up Renting, based on research with more than 4,000 private renters, found 1 in 5 families in England now rent privately, yet tenancy contracts of just 6 or 12 months are the norm. It also shows 1 in 10 renting families have had to change their children’s school in the past five years and 13 per cent said that the move was stressful or upsetting for their children.

Young people are to be encouraged to become more active in their communities by a scheme launched by the British Olympic Foundation. The charity has received £2.5m of funding from the Big Lottery to create a network of young “change makers”, who will deliver community projects based on Olympic and Paralympic values. The Get Set to Make a Change programme will use roadshows, online activity and provide school learning resources to engage young people. Sebastian Coe, British Olympic Association chairman, said: “Get Set to Make a Change aims to use the legacy of the 2012 games to continue to inspire young people to work in their communities.” 

The number of children who lost a parent or parental figures in Scotland to a drug-related death in 2011 has risen to more than 300. Figures reported by the BBC from the National Drug-Related Deaths Database showed 331 such deaths occurred in 2011, compared to 283 in 2010. Of the total number of drug-related deaths in the country, almost two-thirds had been in contact with a drug treatment service at some point in their lives.

And finally, a University of Keele study into links between bullying and different styles of playground humour has found that children who use self-deprecating humour among their peers are more likely to be bullied. The BBC reports that researchers found children who were victims of bullying were more likely to make "self-defeating" jokes at their own expense or about their appearance. It quotes Dr Claire Fox, who said this type of humour associated with bullying victims is "self-defeating", where children make themselves the butt of their own jokes. This becomes a vicious circle, with bullied children confirming a negative view of themselves.

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