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Hear Arthur's cry for help and redouble efforts to keep children safe say Christian leaders

by Donna Birrell

More than 20 Christian leaders and charities are offering to work with the government to help safeguard vulnerable children. 

The group, which includes the safeguarding leads for the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England and the Methodist Church in Britain have written an open letter to the Secretary of State for Education and the Minister for Children and Families offering full co-operation and assistance to help reduce the risk of further cases of child abuse and neglect.

It follows the deaths of 6 year old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and 16 month old Star Hobson who died recently after suffering abuse and neglect by their parents and step-parents.

The National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel is conducting a review for the government into the deaths and the letter offers it 'full support to make sure no child should have to face the suffering Arthur, Star and others experienced.'

Christian charity co-ordinator, Dr Krish Kandiah tells Premier why it was important to write the letter. 

"I think the nation has been rocked by these awful stories of child murders in recent weeks. The first was Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and then that was followed up by Star Hobson. And then many of us were equally just traumatised at hearing about those two sets of twins that died in a house fire. So it just seems that we're seeing some of the fruit of the challenges there are in the system, in terms of safeguarding children right now. We think as Christians, we have a duty to speak up for vulnerable children, and to be great citizens, and great citizens offer help to governments, and the government has a statutory responsibility to keep children safe. We have a spiritual mandate from God to care for widows and orphans, those two things overlap." 

The letter recognises that the Church has a history of failing vulnerable children and young adults in its treatment of sexual abuse victims and survivors. Dr Krish says it's important to be transparent in this area.

"We were quite open about that in the letter as well. This isn't coming from a position of superiority, it's coming from humility, we acknowledge the fact that the church has failed. There are many reports in the Church of England and the Catholic Church that highlight these failings to keep children safe. We want to say, look, we do need to put our own house in order, but we still think we've got something to offer to the nation. The church is often present, where many other statutory bodies aren't, the church is often the first to offer support to families in need, think about food banks, think about baby basics and baby bank centres. We are in touch with some of the most vulnerable people in our land. We think that if we can signpost people to the support and help they need, maybe we could help alleviate some of the pressures that lead to these just horrific circumstances. But we also think we want to be the eyes and ears of the nation to be able to report and champion the needs of children when we recognise something's gone wrong."

"I think we could create a culture where the welfare of children is at the forefront. And I think the church could be a real catalyst to make that possible."

You can read the full letter here :


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