Public urged to keep eyes and ears open for children at risk during COVID-19 With the closure of schools and nurseries during the COVID-19 crisis, a national child protection group is urging everyone to keep their eyes and ears open for children who may be at risk during this time. Child Protection Committees Scotland, a national grouping of child protection professionals, supports all efforts by the Scottish Government, local authorities and the third sector to keep children safe from harm during the enforced break in normal routine. Highland Child Protection Committee recognises the impact a significant change in day-to-day life may have on vulnerable children. “Schools and nurseries in Highland play a central role in contributing to the safety of all local children, especially those who may be at risk of abuse and neglect. When children are not at school we lose the ability to monitor their wellbeing on a daily basis, and we are making every effort possible to support those children and families who may need it during these demanding times.” However, Highland Council stresses the need for the public to join efforts to protect potentially vulnerable children during the Coronavirus outbreak. Chief Social Work Officer, Karen Ralston urges everyone to play a part to keep local children safe: “The onus of care has now shifted from schools to local communities, and we’re asking everyone to keep their eyes and ears open. Local people always provide a significant protective factor for children and that’s even more important at a time when families may be under significant additional stress. If you’re at all worried about a child’s welfare, it’s much better to say something than do nothing.” Highland Child Protection Committee urges everyone to take action if they’re concerned about a child or young person. If you’re worried don’t hesitate to seek help. Full contact details for social work and other professionals are available on the website www.hcpc.scot. If you are worried a child or young person may be at immediate risk of harm, please phone 999.