My last blog and post on Twitter and LinkedIn caused a bit of a stir. If you have not read it, I basically said train stations had their part to play in safeguarding children and young people at that by not having many staff at gates and on trains then they are playing their part in making county lines more of a harsh reality for society as a whole.
I was a comment and a blog that was not planned but from an observation from my train journeys over a couple of days.
Now, and this is interesting, lots of people seemed to really relate to what I was saying. People were tweeting or going on LinkedIn and commenting what they though about this. However, some people raised the point that the train stations were not really at fault or that there were many other issues that needed to be addressed. One individual contacted me directly and said that “There are better things to spend money on than those who want to run around for the local gangs”. I asked that individual if he felt that the savings that were made were worth the cost of a child’s life. He did not reply.
All these comments got me thinking….. got me thinking hard. No point in going back over my points about the train stations, go look at my stuff and you will see, but what it has made me realise is that there lots and lots of people out there that are doing very little to safeguard our children and young people. I am not talking gangs and exploitation, I am including that, but I am talking ALL children and young people. Of course, I am aware that budget cuts and such have impacts on the youth of today but are some companies just… turning a blind eye to safeguarding.
I started to think about the changes in the community and its clear to see that, like the example of the train station, safeguarding may not be high on company’s agenda!
Then I started to think about the individual. I mean, I can’t be the first person to put the thought process behind the lack of train staff and county lines. Am I the first person to raise this? The answer is No. Because myself and people that I do presentations with often mention it. We will say that we arrived at what ever train station and if there was an inspector or not.
So maybe people don’t notice the things that I would, or others that educate in the same sector because…. They may not be aware. Then I thought… hang on… Have I ever seen a poster on a train about county lines, the signs, what to do if you see a young person you are concerned about on a train… And, me personally, I have not.
Then I thought… and that’s a lot of thinking for me… if someone did see a child or young person that they were concerned about regarding gangs and county lines… would they even know WHO to contact.
I got a cab this morning. I asked the cab driver what he knew about gangs, CSE and county lines. He gave me a few dodgy looks in his mirror, probs trying to figure out where that question had come from and then he told me his understanding of these subjects. I told him I was impressed. I then asked him if he had ever had concerns for a person he was driving. He said yes. I asked him what he had done about it. He looked at me in the mirror for slightly longer this time and said “Nothing”. We sat in silence for a while. He then said, “I was unsure what to do, we have never been trained or anything”. I said nothing. He then said “I didn’t worry too much to be honest because I was dropping them to the train station and they were saying to each other that they were going to bunk the train to London, so I knew they would not get far”. I said nothing.
When we got to my house I asked him to wait. I went inside and got a car air freshener from my house. It has the contact number for ChildLine on it. I gave it to him. He looked at this and said, “What’s the point” and I said, “You have to do something, you must never do nothing”.
But maybe that’s just me. Always looking and watching to see where a child could be exploited, where an opportunity could be missed to protect and safeguard a child.
But know this, If I can spot the gaps…. You best believe that the people that are looking to exploite our children and young people can see them same gaps.