Yorkshire Ripper victim's son offers to help schools after Covid-19 lockdown

The son of Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe's first victim has said  teachers will need specialist guidance to help children returning to school following the Coronavirus lockdown.
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The son of Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe's first victim has said teachers will need specialist guidance to help children returning to school following the Coronavirus lockdown.

Richard McCann was just five-years-old in October 1975 when his mother Wilma was murdered on playing fields near the family's home in Scott Hall Road, Leeds.

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Mr McCann went on to endure a troubled childhood and later served time in prison for drug offences.

Richard McCannRichard McCann
Richard McCann

Mr McCann turned his life around and is now a motivational speaker and resilience trainer, who has delivered presentations around the world, inspiring audiences with his story of overcoming adversity.

Mr McCann spoke out about the issues children will face returning to school after lockdown after research findings from a team of experts at the University of Bath suggest children could be affected by the trauma of lockdown for anything up to nine years after it has been eased.

The research, which has been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, was led by Dr Maria Loades of the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath.

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Mr McCann said schools will need specialist guidance and resources to help their pupils readjust.

Following the success of his resilience workshops for frontline NHS staff and many organisations in the retail and corporate world, Mr McCann is reaching out to schools across the UK to offer the support that schoolchildren will need.

He said: “According to Dr Loades and her team, the length of time that children are locked down has a much more significant long-term effect than the intensity of it.

"So, even for children who are locked down with loving parents and siblings, the fact that they’ve been locked down for almost three months should be a cause for concern.

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He added: “My story has always been one of resilience. Having experienced childhood trauma and its aftermath, which followed me well into my late twenties, I understand how fear, uncertainty and disruption will be affecting today’s children.

“I have been delivering talks to children of all ages for over a decade, and I have the training, the tools and the experience to help them come to terms with what they have been through and the new post-Covid world they have to adjust to.”

The review team that carried out the research have sent an open letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson, to advise that schools will need clear guidelines and resources to support children during the transitional period while schools are gradually reopened.

Their concerns have been mirrored by the minister for mental health, Nadine Dorries, who has said, “it’s vital we continue to give them [children] the support they need to maintain their mental health and well-being and deal with any feelings of uncertainty or worry they may be experiencing”.

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Mr McCann’s story was published in his Times bestselling autobiography, Just a Boy, in 2004, and since then he has shared his story with audiences around the globe as an internationally renowned inspirational speaker.