Participants at a community meeting held at the House of Commons on Tuesday 23rd October called on the government to act to address the over-representation of African children and families in the child protection system.

The event organised by AFRUCA and hosted by former Children’s Minister Meg Hillier MP attracted over 100 members of the African community in London who were unanimous in lamenting the huge devastation the removal of children was having on families and the African community. Participants were concerned about the long term impact of children being removed on society at large. A key issue that arose was the link between looked-after-children and young Africans involved in crime and criminality – especially gun and knife crime as well as in gangs.

AFRUCA’s new Manual on Child Protection for African Children in the UK was launched at the event. Although it does not contain information on Scottish legislation, efforts are being made to explore the production of a Scottish version.

Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Children Minister who gave the keynote speech said:

“It is clear that more must be done to tackle the links between child abuse, the child protection system and the involvement of young Africans involved in crime and criminality. I commend the work of AFRUCA in helping to raise awareness and educate parents who have to deal with child protection cases.

“AFRUCA’s new Manual on Child Protection for African Children in the UK will help keep children safe in their homes and out of care.”

Meg Hillier MP, former Children’s Minister and event host said: “It is clear that parents want support in how to discipline their children without using physical force. The AFRUCA guide is a useful tool for parents and also plays an important role in opening the debate on the issues around physical abuse within some African families.  All children deserve protection and this guide should help achieve this while also supporting parents.”

Debbie Ariyo OBE, Director of AFRUCA said: “This was a landmark event addressing a very sensitive issue in our community. Parents who abusechildren should not be allowed to go scot-free. However, we need to imbibe a “carrot and stick” approach in dealing with child protection cases sochildren removed from families who have to return home can be free of abuse living happily with their families and not have to return into the care system. There should be more emphasis on prevention and early intervention programmes to deter child abuse and support families experiencing difficulties.”

Key Outcomes from the meeting include:
  •  Overwhelming support for AFRUCA’s proposal for government to establish a National Working Group to help explore the issue of over-representation of black African children in care and the production of a National Action Plan led by government to address the problem
  •  Research to explore the link between child abuse, the looked after system and the growing involvement of young Africans in crime and criminality – especially gun and knife crime
  • AFRUCA to organise local campaigns to raise awareness of its new Manual on Child Protection for African Parents to help educate and reduce the incidences of child abuse. The Mayor of Enfield, Kate Anolue agreed to host the first of such events in her borough.
  • Agencies to explore opportunities for more Africans to volunteer in areas where they can help to reduce the numbers of children ending up in the child protection system
  • African Charities present at the event agreed to team up to organise a major conference on Child Protection for African parents in London in 2013.
  • A conference involving key policymakers and practitioners to address the issue of over-representation of Black/African children in the care system and the link with crime and criminality is necessary to start to draw attention to the issue.

Notes to Editors

  •  AFRUCA – Africans Unite Against Child Abuse is the premier charity promoting the rights and welfare of African children in the UK.
  • AFRUCA has its Head Office in London, a newly established Centre for African Children and Families in Manchester and projects working with faith organisations across Yorkshire.
  • Recent government figures show that 4,520 out of 65,520 looked after children are Black or Black African children i.e. (7%) compared to 3090 (5%) of Asian or Asian British; black population is estimated to be 2% of the UK population and Asian around 5%.
  • Official figures put the cost of keeping a vulnerable child in a care home at £2,248 a week.
  • AFRUCA has been at the forefront of efforts to address the branding of children as witches. In January 2011, AFRUCA corresponded with the then Children’s Minister Tim Loughton MP urging him to address this growing problem. Our efforts led to the establishment of a National Working Group on Faith and Belief with an Action Plan published in August 2012.
  • Each year AFRUCA works with at least 20 families where children have either been referred to the child protection system, removed from families as a result of a court order or are returned to family after a period in care. A key issue is the lack of support for such families to aid re-integration and provide parents with new skills to help address key concerns.
  •  AFRUCA is supported by a range of UK donors, trusts and foundations in carrying out its work. These include the Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief, Esmee Fairnbarn Foundation, John Ellerman Foundation, the Tudor Trust as well as Trust for London.
  • For more information about our work, visit our website at www.afruca.org. For inquiries please contact Debbie Ariyo (OBE) AFRUCA Founder and Executive Director on 02077042261.
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