SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN POLICY (including child protection)
- This policy has been developed in accordance with the principles established by the Children Acts 1989 and 2004; the Education Act 2002, and in line with government publications: ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ 2013, Revised Safeguarding Statutory Guidance 2 ‘Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families’ 2000, ‘What to do if You are Worried a Child is Being Abused’ 2003. The guidance reflects, ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ September
- The Governing body takes seriously its responsibility under section 175 of the Education Act 2002 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children; and to work together with other agencies to ensure adequate arrangements within our school to identify, assess, and support those children who are suffering harm.
- We recognise that all adults, including temporary staff, volunteers and governors, have a full and active part to play in protecting our students from harm, and that the child’s welfare is our paramount concern.
Rossett School fully recognises its responsibilities for safeguarding children. Our policy applies to all staff, governors and volunteers working in the school.
There are six main elements to our policy:
- Ensuring we practice safe recruitment in checking the suitability of staff and volunteers to work with children;
- Raising awareness of child protection issues and equipping children with the skills needed to keep them safe;
- Developing and then implementing procedures for identifying and reporting cases, or suspected cases, of abuse;
- Supporting students who have been abused in accordance with his/her agreed child protection plan;
- Establishing a safe environment in which children can learn and develop;
- Safeguarding incidents could happen anywhere in school and staff should be aware of the steps to follow.
From March 2015, we have followed the procedures set out by the “Keeping Children safe in Education” Act (March 2015) and take account of guidance issued by the Department for Education (DFE) (Appendix 1).
The school will:
- Ensure it has a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) who is a member of the leadership team and the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads (DDSL) who will undertake regular, appropriate training for this role;
- Ensure it has a member of staff who will act in the absence of the DDSL;
- Ensure it has a nominated governor responsible for safeguarding children;
- Ensure every member of staff (including temporary and supply staff and volunteers) and the governing body knows the name of the DDSL and their role;
- Ensure all staff and volunteers understand their responsibilities in being alert to the signs of abuse and responsibility for referring any concerns to the DDSL;
- Ensure that parents have an understanding of the responsibility placed on the school and staff for child protection by setting out its obligations on the school website.
- Develop effective links with relevant agencies and co-operate as required with their enquiries regarding safeguarding matters including attendance at strategy meetings, initial case conferences, core group and child in need review meetings;
- Ensure that the duty of care towards its students and staff is promoted by raising awareness of illegal, unsafe and unwise behaviour and assist staff to monitor their own standards and practice;
- Be aware of and follow procedures set out by Children’s Services and the ISA where an allegation is made against a member of staff or volunteer;
- Ensure safer recruitment practices are always followed.
- Ensure that staff are aware that anyone can make a referral to children’s Social Care if there is a risk of immediate serious harm to a child.
Our procedures will be reviewed annually and up-dated in accordance with current legislation.
When staff join our school they will be informed of the safeguarding children arrangements in place together with who the DDSL is and who acts in their absence. Rossett’s Safeguarding Children Policy is available on our website http://www.rossettschool.co.uk/contact-policies/policies/safe-guarding-children/. All members of staff are expected to read this document and sign a statement to confirm they understand that they share a responsibility for safeguarding children with other staff and governors.
The induction programme will include basic safeguarding information relating to signs and symptoms of abuse, how to manage a disclosure from a child, when and how to record a concern about the welfare of a child.
All volunteers and regular visitors to our school will be told where our policy is kept and given the name of the DDSL.
The Governing Body will nominate a member to be responsible for Safeguarding Children and liaise with the DDSL in matters relating to Safeguarding. It will ensure that Safeguarding Policies and procedures are in place, available to parents and reviewed annually.
The Headteacher will ensure that the Safeguarding Policies and procedures are fully implemented and followed by all staff and that sufficient resources are allocated to enable the DDSL and other staff to discharge their responsibilities with regard to Safeguarding.
The DDSL will co-ordinate action on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children within the school ensuring that all staff, volunteers and visitors to the school know who the DDSL is and who acts in his/her absence, they are aware of their responsibilities in being alert to the signs of abuse and of their responsibility to report and record any concerns.
The Designated Safeguarding Lead is Mr Mark Richardson and the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads is Mr Iain Scrimger and his deputy is Mrs Hayley Sinclair. These Officers have undertaken the relevant training, and, will undertake ‘new to role’ training followed by biennial updates.
- Managing a Disclosure
Teachers and other staff in schools are in a unique position to observe children’s behaviour over time and often develop close and trusting relationships with students. All adults working in the school (including support staff, visiting staff, governors, visitors and volunteers) are required to report instances of actual or suspected child abuse or neglect to the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead immediately. This includes alleged abuse by one or more students against another student. If a child discloses directly to a member of staff, the following procedures will be followed:
- Listen carefully to what is said.
Ask only open questions such as:
‘How did that happen?’
‘What was happening at the time?’
‘Anything else you want to tell me?’
- Do not ask questions which may be considered to suggest what might have happened, or who has perpetrated the abuse, e.g. ‘Did your Dad hit you?’
- Do not force the child to repeat what he/she said in front of another person.
Following a disclosure, the member of staff should talk immediately to the DDSL and complete a written record.
- Information Sharing & Confidentiality
Rossett School has regard to “Information Sharing: Practitioner’s guide” HM Government, 2008
“Where there is a concern that the child may be suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm, the child’s safety and welfare must be the overriding consideration. “
We recognise that all matters relating to Child Protection are confidential.
The Headteacher or DDSL will disclose any information about a student to other members of staff on a need to know basis only. All staff must be aware that they have a professional responsibility to share information with other agencies in order to safeguard children. All staff will be aware that they cannot promise a child to keep secrets. This will be made clear through child protection training.
- Record Keeping
Any member of staff receiving a disclosure of abuse from a child or young person, or noticing signs or symptoms of possible abuse, will make notes as soon as possible (within the hour, if possible) writing down exactly what was said, using the child’s own words as far as possible. All notes should be timed, dated and signed, with name printed alongside the signature. Concerns should be recorded using the school’s safeguarding children recording system.
All records of a child protection nature should be passed to the DDSL including case conference minutes and written records of any concerns.
- We recognise that children who are abused or witness violence may find it difficult to develop a sense of self-worth. They may feel helplessness, humiliation and some sense of blame. The school may be the only stable, secure and predictable element in the lives of children at risk. When at school their behaviour may be challenging and defiant or they may be withdrawn. The school will endeavour to support the student through:
- The content of the curriculum;
- The school ethos which promotes a positive, supportive and secure environment and gives students a sense of being valued;
- The school behaviour policy which is aimed at supporting vulnerable students in the school. The school will ensure that the student knows that some behaviour is unacceptable but they are valued and not to be blamed for any abuse which has occurred;
- Liaison with other agencies that support the student such as Children’s Services, Child and Adult Mental Health Service (CAMHS), education welfare service and educational psychology service and those agencies involved in the safeguarding of children;
- Notifying Children’s Social Care immediately there is a significant concern.
- Providing continuing support to a student about whom there have been concerns who leaves the school by ensuring that appropriate information is forwarded under confidential cover to the student’s new school.
In order to keep children safe and provide appropriate care for them the school requires accurate and up to date information regarding:
- Names ( including any previous names), address and date of birth of child
- Names and contact details of persons with whom the child normally lives
- Names and contact details of all persons with parental responsibility (if different from above)
- Emergency contact details (if different from above)
- Details of any persons authorised to collect the child from school (if different from above)
- Any relevant court orders in place including those which affect any person’s access to the child (e.g. Residence Order, Contact Order, Care Order, Injunctions etc.)
- If the child is or has a Child Protection Plan (formerly known as being on the Child Protection Register)
- Name and contact detail of key persons in other agencies, including GP
- Any other factors which may impact on the safety and welfare of the child
The school will collate, store and agree access to this information to relevant agencies to ensure that the child’s safety is paramount.
- Supporting Staff
We recognise that staff working in the school who have become involved with a child who has suffered harm, or appears to be likely to suffer harm, may find the situation stressful and upsetting. We will support such staff by providing an opportunity to talk through their anxieties with the DDSL and to seek further support as appropriate.
- Safer Recruitment and Selection of Staff
The school has a written recruitment and selection policy statement and procedures linking explicitly to this policy. The statement is included in all job advertisements, publicity material, recruitment websites, and candidate information packs.
The recruitment process is robust in seeking to establish the commitment of candidates to support the school’s measures to safeguard children and to deter, reject or identify people who might abuse children or are otherwise unsuited to work with them.
Any interview panel will always have at least one person who has undertaken the safer recruitment training. (See Appendix 3)
- Allegations against staff
We understand that a student may make an allegation against a member of staff.
If such an allegation is made, the member of staff receiving the allegation will immediately inform the Headteacher.
The Headteacher on all such occasions will discuss the content of the allegation with the LA’s Senior Adviser for Safeguarding Children in Education.
If the allegation made to a member of staff concerns the Headteacher, the designated teacher will immediately inform the Chair of Governors who will consult with the LA’s Senior Adviser for Safeguarding Children in Education.
The school will follow the LA procedures for managing allegations against staff, a copy of which will be readily available in the school.
- Allegations against another Student
We understand that a student may make an allegation against another student.
If such an allegation is made, the member of staff dealing with the allegation will immediately inform the Designated Safeguarding Lead or Headteacher.
If staff suspect or become aware of an allegation of child abuse made against another student they must bring to the attention of the Designated Safeguarding Lead.
The child protection procedures set out in this document will be followed, even when the abuse is alleged to have come from another student or students. Students may be harmed by other students, children or young people. Indeed, research suggests that up to 30 per cent of child sexual abuse is committed by someone under the age of 18. Staff are aware of the harm caused by bullying and use the school’s antibullying procedures where necessary.
However, on occasions a student’s behaviour may warrant a response under Child Protection, rather than antibullying procedures. When there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm the school
should report its concerns to the Local Authority social care department.
The management of children and young people with sexually harmful behaviour is complex and the Headteacher, Designated Safeguard Lead and appropriate staff will work with other relevant agenciesnd to maintain the safety of the whole school community. Young people who display such behaviour may be victims of abuse themselves and the Child Protection procedures will be followed for both victim and perpetrator.
We recognise that children cannot be expected to raise concerns in an environment where staff fail to do so.
All staff should be aware of their duty to raise concerns, where they exist, about the attitude or actions of colleagues.
14. Complaints or Concerns expressed by Students, Parents, Staff or Volunteers
We recognise that listening to children is an important and essential part of safeguarding them against abuse and neglect. To this end any expression of dissatisfaction or disquiet in relation to an individual child will be listened to and acted upon in order to safeguard his/her welfare.
We will also seek to ensure that the child or adult who makes a complaint is informed not only about the action the school will take but also the length of time that will be required to resolve the complaint. The school will also endeavour to keep the child or adult regularly informed as to the progress of his/her complaint.
We recognise that the school plays a significant part in the prevention of harm to our students by providing them with good lines of communication with trusted adults, supportive friends and an ethos of protection.
The school will therefore:
- Establish and maintain an environment where children feel secure, are encouraged to talk, and are always listened to;
- Ensure children know that there are adults in the school whom they can approach if they are worried or in difficulty;
- Include in the curriculum opportunities that equip children with the skills they need to recognise and stay safe from abuse.
- Physical Intervention
Our policy on positive handling is set out in a separate policy and acknowledges that staff must only ever use physical intervention as a last resort, and that at all times it must be the minimal force necessary to prevent injury or damage to property.
We understand that physical intervention of a nature that causes injury or distress to a child may be considered under safeguarding children or disciplinary procedures.
- Abuse of Trust
We recognise that as adults working in the school, we are in a relationship of trust with the students in our care and acknowledge that it is a criminal offence to abuse that trust.
We acknowledge that the principle of equality embedded in the legislation of the Sexual Offenders Act 2003 applies irrespective of sexual orientation: neither homosexual nor heterosexual relationships are acceptable within a position of trust.
We recognise that the legislation is intended to protect young people in education who are over the age of consent but under 18 years of age.
18. Racist Incidents
Our policy on racist incidents is set out in a separate policy and acknowledges that repeated racist incidents or a single serious incident may lead to consideration under safeguarding children procedures.
Our policy on anti-bullying is set out in and acknowledges that to allow or condone bullying may lead to consideration under safeguarding children procedures.
Our Acceptable Use policy recognises that internet safety is a whole school responsibility (staff, students, parents).
Children and young people may expose themselves to danger, whether knowingly or unknowingly, when using the internet and other technologies. Additionally, some young people may find themselves involved in activities which are inappropriate or possibly illegal.
We therefore recognise our responsibility to educate our students, teaching them the appropriate behaviours and critical thinking skills to enable them to remain both safe and legal when using the internet and related technologies. This is done within our PSHEE programme and through assemblies.
- Health & Safety
Our Health & Safety policy, set out in a separate document, reflects the consideration we give to the safeguarding of our children both within the school environment and when away from the school when undertaking school trips and visits.
- Partnership with Parents
- The school shares a purpose with parents to keep children safe from harm and to have their welfare promoted.
- We are committed to working with parents positively, openly and honestly. We ensure that all parents are treated with respect, dignity and courtesy. We respect parents’ rights to privacy and confidentiality and will not share sensitive information unless we have permission or it is necessary to do so in order to protect a child.
- School will share with parents any concerns we may have about their child unless to do so may place a child at risk of harm (see Section 3: 3 Action by Senior Designated Person)
- We encourage parents to discuss any concerns they may have with Year team staff
- We make parents aware of our policy via the school web site and parents are made aware that they can view this policy on request.
- Partnerships with others
The school recognises that it is essential to establish positive and effective working relationships with other agencies. We have positive relationships with a variety of other agencies such as Social Care, Barnardo’s, Police, Health, CAMHS, Young Carers.
- School Training and Staff Induction
- The school’s senior member of staff with designated responsibility for child protection undertakes basic child protection training and training in inter–agency working, (that is provided by, or to standards agreed by, the NYSCB) and refresher training at 2 yearly intervals (safeguardingchildren.co.uk/training-courses.html).
- The Headteacher and all other school staff, including non teaching staff, undertake appropriate induction training to equip them to carry out their responsibilities for child protection effectively, which is kept up to date by refresher training at 3 yearly intervals.
- Children Missing from Education
The school follows the North Yorkshire LA procedures “Children Who May Be Missing/Lost From Education” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Children Looked After (CLA)
The term ‘looked after’ refers to children who are under 18 and have been provided with care and accommodation by Children’s Services. Often this will be with foster carers, but some looked after children might stay in a children’s home or boarding school, or with another adult known to the parents and Children’s Services.
The aim is to ensure the health and safety of CLA, who often come from families who have experienced extreme hardship and upheaval, whilst working as closely as possible with the birth parents.
Any disruption to home life often means that CLA do not achieve their academic potential.
Staff should be aware that CLA can be particularly vulnerable with regards to Safeguarding and Child Protection issues
Other Relevant Policies
The Governing Body’s legal responsibility for safeguarding the welfare of children goes beyond basic child protection procedures.
The duty is now to ensure that safeguarding permeates all activity and functions. This policy therefore complements and supports a range of other policies, for instance:
- Acceptable Use Policy (e-safety)
- Access & Inclusion
- Anti-Bullying (including cyber bullying)
- Behaviour Policy
- Child Protection Overview
- Communications (including References)
- Complaints Procedure
- Disciplinary Policy
- Equality, Diversity & Community Cohesion
- First Aid and the administration of medicines
- Health and Safety
- Positive Handling
- Restraint + Physical Intervention
- Sex and Relationships Education
- Site Security
- Trips and visits
The above list is not exhaustive but when undertaking development or planning of any kind the school will need to consider safeguarding matters.
Adopted by Governors: 1 July 2011
Reviewed: September 2016
Next Review Date: September 2017
Part one: Safeguarding information for all staff
What school and college staff should know and do
A child centred and coordinated approach to safeguarding
- Schools and colleges and their staff are an important part of the wider safeguarding system for children. This system is described in statutory guidance Working together to safeguard children.
- Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s Everyone who comes into contact with children and their families and carers has a role to play in safeguarding children. In order to fulfil this responsibility effectively, all professionals should make sure their approach is child-centred. This means that they should consider, at all times, what is in the best interests of the child.
- No single professional can have a full picture of a child’s needs and circumstances. If children and families are to receive the right help at the right time, everyone who comes into contact with them has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action.
- Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined for the purposes of this guidance as: protecting children from maltreatment; preventing impairment of children’s health or development; ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.
- Children includes everyone under the age of 18.
The role of school and college staff
- School and college staff are particularly important as they are in a position to identify concerns early, provide help for children, and prevent concerns from escalating.
- All school and college staff have a responsibility to provide a safe environment in which children can learn.
- Every school and college should have a designated safeguarding lead who will provide support to staff members to carry out their safeguarding duties and who will liaise closely with other services such as children’s social care.
- All school and college staff should be prepared to identify children who may benefit from early help.1 Early help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges at any point in a child’s life, from the foundation years through to the teenage years. In the first instance, staff should discuss early help requirements with the designated safeguarding lead. Staff may be required to support other agencies and professionals in an early help assessment.
- Any staff member who has a concern about a child’s welfare should follow the referral processes set out in paragraphs 21-27. Staff may be required to support social workers and other agencies following any referral.
- The Teachers’ Standards 2012 state that teachers, including headteachers, should safeguard children’s wellbeing and maintain public trust in the teaching profession as part of their professional duties.2
1 Detailed information on early help can be found in Chapter 1 of Working together to safeguard children
2 The Teachers’ Standards apply to: trainees working towards QTS; all teachers completing their statutory induction period (newly qualified teachers [NQTs]); and teachers in maintained schools, including maintained special schools, who are subject to the Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012.
What school and college staff need to know
- All staff members should be aware of systems within their school or college which support safeguarding and these should be explained to them as part of staff induction. This should include:
- the child protection policy;
- the staff behaviour policy (sometimes called a code of conduct); and
- the role of the designated safeguarding lead.
Copies of policies and a copy of Part one of this document (Keeping children safe in education) should be provided to staff at induction.
- All staff members should receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection training which is regularly updated. In addition all staff members should receive safeguarding and child protection updates (for example, via email, e-bulletins and staff meetings), as required, but at least annually, to provide them with relevant skills and knowledge to safeguard children effectively.
- All staff should be aware of the early help process, and understand their role in it. This includes identifying emerging problems, liaising with the designated safeguarding lead, sharing information with other professionals to support early identification and assessment and, in some cases, acting as the lead professional in undertaking an early help assessment.
- All staff should be aware of the process for making referrals to children’s social care and for statutory assessments under the Children Act 19893 that may follow a referral, along with the role they might be expected to play in such assessments.4
- All staff should know what to do if a child tells them he/she is being abused or neglected. Staff should know how to manage the requirement to maintain an appropriate level of confidentiality whilst at the same time liaising with relevant professionals such as the designated safeguarding lead and children’s social care. Staff should never promise a child that they will not tell anyone about an allegation, as this may ultimately not be in the best interests of the child.
What school and college staff should look out for
- All school and college staff members should be aware of the types of abuse and neglect so that they are able to identify cases of children who may be in need of help or protection. Types of abuse and neglect, and examples of safeguarding issues are described in paragraphs 35-44 of this guidance.
- Departmental advice What to do if you are worried a child is being abused – Advice for practitioners provides more information on understanding and identifying abuse and neglect. Examples of potential signs of abuse and neglect are highlighted throughout the advice and will be particularly helpful for school and college staff. The NSPCC website also provides useful additional information on types of abuse and what to look out for.
- Staff members working with children are advised to maintain an attitude of ‘it could happen here’ where safeguarding is concerned. When concerned about the welfare of a child, staff members should always act in the best interests of the child.
- Knowing what to look for is vital to the early identification of abuse and neglect. If staff members are unsure, they should always speak to the designated safeguarding lead.
What school and college staff should do if they have concerns about a child
- If staff members have any concerns about a child (as opposed to a child being in immediate danger – see paragraph 28) they will need to decide what action to take. Where possible, there should be a conversation with the designated safeguarding lead to agree a course of action, although any staff member can make a referral to children’s social care. Other options could include referral to specialist services or early help services and should be made in accordance with the referral threshold set by the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
- If anyone other than the designated safeguarding lead makes the referral, they should inform the designated safeguarding lead as soon as possible. The local authority should make a decision within one working day of a referral being made about what course of action they are taking and should let the referrer know the outcome. Staff should follow up on a referral should that information not be forthcoming. The online tool
Reporting child abuse to your local council directs staff to their local children’s social care contact number.
- See flow chart setting out the process for staff when they have concerns about a child.
- If, after a referral, the child’s situation does not appear to be improving, the designated safeguarding lead (or the person who made the referral) should press for re-consideration to ensure their concerns have been addressed and, most importantly, that the child’s situation improves.
- If early help is appropriate, the designated safeguarding lead should support the staff member in liaising with other agencies and setting up an inter-agency assessment as appropriate.
- If early help or other support is appropriate, the case should be kept under constant review and consideration given to a referral to children’s social care if the child’s situation does not appear to be improving.
- If a teacher5, in the course of their work in the profession, discovers that an act of Female Genital Mutilation appears to have been carried out on a girl under the age of 18, the teacher must report this to the police. See Annex A for further details.
What school and college staff should do if a child is in danger or at risk of harm
- If a child is in immediate danger or is at risk of harm, a referral should be made to children’s social care and/or the police immediately. Anyone can make a referral. Where referrals are not made by the designated safeguarding lead, the designated safeguarding lead should be informed as soon as possible that a referral has been made. Reporting child abuse to your local council directs staff to their local children’s social care contact number.
5 Section 5B(11) of the FGM Act 2003 (as inserted by section 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015) provides the definition for the term ‘techer’: ‘teacher’ means – (a) in relation to England, a person within section 141A(1) of the Education Act 2002 (persons employed or engaged to carry out teaching work at schools and other institutions in England).
- All concerns, discussions and decisions made and the reasons for those decisions should be recorded in writing. If in doubt about recording requirements, staff should discuss with the designated safeguarding lead.
Why is all of this important?
- It is important for children to receive the right help at the right time to address risks and prevent issues escalating. Research and Serious Case Reviews have repeatedly shown the dangers of failing to take effective action. Poor practice includes: failing to act on and refer the early signs of abuse and neglect; poor record keeping; failing to listen to the views of the child; failing to re-assess concerns when situations do not improve; sharing information too slowly; and a lack of challenge to those who appear not to be taking action.6
What school and college staff should do if they have concerns about another staff member
- If staff members have concerns about another staff member, then this should be referred to the headteacher or principal. Where there are concerns about the headteacher or principal, this should be referred to the chair of governors, chair of the management committee or proprietor of an independent school as appropriate. In the event of allegations of abuse being made against the headteacher, where the headteacher is also the sole proprietor of an independent school, allegations should be reported directly to the designated officer(s) at the local authority. Staff may consider discussing any concerns with the school’s designated safeguarding lead and make any referral via them. Full details can be found in Part four of this guidance.
What school or college staff should do if they have concerns about safeguarding practices within the school or college
- All staff and volunteers should feel able to raise concerns about poor or unsafe practice and potential failures in the school or college’s safeguarding regime and know that such concerns will be taken seriously by the senior leadership team.
- Appropriate whistleblowing procedures, which are suitably reflected in staff training and staff behaviour policies, should be in place for such concerns to be raised with the school or college’s senior leadership team.
- Where a staff member feels unable to raise an issue with their employer or feels that their genuine concerns are not being addressed, other whistleblowing channels may be open to them:
- General guidance can be found at- Advice on whistleblowing
- The NSPCC whistleblowing helpline is available for staff who do not feel able to raise concerns regarding child protection failures internally. Staff can call 0800 028 0285 – line is available from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Monday to Friday and email: email@example.com
6 Serious case reviews, 2011 to 2014
7 Alternatively, staff can write to: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Weston House, 42 Curtain, Road, London EC2A 3NH.
Types of abuse and neglect
- All school and college staff should be aware that abuse, neglect and safeguarding issues are rarely standalone events that can be covered by one definition or label. In most cases, multiple issues will overlap with one another.
- Abuse: a form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by others (e.g. via the internet). They may be abused by an adult or adults or by another child or children.
- Physical abuse: a form of abuse which may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.
- Emotional abuse: the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond a child’s developmental capability as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, although it may occur alone.
- Sexual abuse: involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
- Neglect: the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to: provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment); protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger; ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
Specific safeguarding issues
- All staff should have an awareness of safeguarding issues, some of which are listed below. Staff should be aware that behaviours linked to the likes of drug taking, alcohol abuse, truanting and sexting put children in danger.
- All staff should be aware that safeguarding issues can manifest themselves via peer on peer abuse. This is most likely to include, but may not be limited to, bullying (including cyberbullying), gender based violence/sexual assaults and sexting. Staff should be clear as to the school or college’s policy and procedures with regards to peer on peer abuse.
- Expert and professional organisations are best placed to provide up-to-date guidance and practical support on specific safeguarding issues. For example, information for schools and colleges can be found on the TES, MindEd and the NSPCC websites. School and college staff can access government guidance as required on the issues listed below via GOV.UK and other government websites:
- bullying including cyberbullying
- children missing education – and Annex A
- child missing from home or care
- child sexual exploitation (CSE) – and Annex A
- domestic violence
- fabricated or induced illness
- faith abuse
- female genital mutilation (FGM) – and Annex A
- forced marriage- and Annex A
- gangs and youth violence
- gender-based violence/violence against women and girls (VAWG)
- Annex A contains important additional information about specific forms of abuse and safeguarding issues. School leaders and those staff who work directly with children should read the annex.
Annex A: Further information
Further information on a child missing from education
All children, regardless of their circumstances, are entitled to a full time education, which is suitable to their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs they may have. Local authorities have a duty to establish, as far as it is possible to do so, the identity of children of compulsory school age who are missing education in their area. Effective information sharing between parents, schools, colleges and local authorities is critical to ensuring that all children are safe and receiving suitable education.
A child going missing from education is a potential indicator of abuse or neglect and such children are at risk of being victims of harm, exploitation or radicalisation. School and college staff should follow their procedures for unauthorised absence and for dealing with children that go missing from education, particularly on repeat occasions, to help identify the risk of abuse and neglect, including sexual exploitation, and to help prevent the risks of going missing in future.
Schools and colleges should put in place appropriate safeguarding policies, procedures and responses for children who go missing from education, particularly on repeat occasions. It is essential that all staff are alert to signs to look out for and the individual triggers to be aware of when considering the risks of potential safeguarding concerns such as travelling to conflict zones, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Further information about children at risk of missing education can be found in the Children Missing Education guidance.
The law requires all schools to have an admission register and, with the exception of schools where all pupils are boarders, an attendance register. All pupils must be placed on both registers. Schools must place pupils on the admission register at the beginning of the first day on which the school has agreed, or been notified, that the pupil will attend the school. If a pupil fails to attend on the agreed or notified date, the school should consider notifying the local authority at the earliest opportunity to prevent the child from going missing from education.
It is important that the admission register is accurate and kept up to date. Schools should regularly encourage parents to inform them of any changes whenever they occur. This can assist the school and local authority when making enquiries to locate children missing education.
Schools should monitor attendance and address it when it is poor or irregular. All schools must inform the local authority of any pupil who fails to attend school regularly, or has 14 for a continuous period of 10 school days or more, at such intervals as are agreed between the school and the local authority.9
Where a parent notifies a school that a pupil will live at another address, all schools are required10 to record in the admission register:
- the full name of the parent with whom the pupil will live;
- the new address; and
- the date from when it is expected the pupil will live at this address.11
Where a parent of a pupil notifies the school that the pupil is registered at another school or will be attending a different school in future, schools must record12 in the admission register:13
- the name of the new school; and
- the date on which the pupil first attended or is due to start attending that school.
Schools are required14 to notify the local authority within five days when a pupil’s name is added to the admission register. Schools will need to provide the local authority with all the information held within the admission register about the pupil. This duty does not apply to pupils who are registered at the start of the school’s youngest year, unless the local authority requests for such information to be provided.
Schools must also notify the local authority when a pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admission register under any of the fifteen grounds set out in the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended,15 as soon as the ground for deletion is met and no later than the time at which the pupil’s name is deleted from the register. This duty does not apply where the pupil has completed the school’s final year, unless the local authority requests for such information to be provided.
A pupil’s name can only be deleted from the admission register under regulation 8(1), sub-paragraph (f)(iii) or (h)(iii) if the school and the local authority have failed to establish the pupil’s whereabouts after jointly making reasonable enquiries. Advice on carrying out reasonable enquiries can be found in the Children Missing Education guidance.
Where a school notifies a local authority that a pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admission register, the school must provide16 the local authority with:
the full name of the pupil;
- the full name and address of any parent with whom the pupil lives;
- at least one telephone number of the parent with whom the pupil lives;
- the full name and address of the parent with whom the pupil is going to live, and the date the pupil is expected to start living there, if applicable;
- the name of pupil’s destination school and the pupil’s expected start date there, if applicable; and
- the ground in regulation 8 under which the pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admission register.
Schools and local authorities should work together to agree on methods of making returns. When making returns, the school should highlight to the local authority where they have been unable to obtain the necessary information from the parent, for example in cases where the child’s destination school or address is unknown. Schools should also consider whether it is appropriate to highlight any contextual information of a vulnerable child who is missing education, such as any safeguarding concerns.
It is essential that schools comply with these duties, so that local authorities can, as part of their duty to identify children of compulsory school age who are missing education, follow up with any child who might be at risk of not receiving an education and who might be at risk of being harmed, exploited or radicalised.
The department provides a secure internet system – school2school – to allow schools to transfer pupil information to another school when the child moves. All local authority maintained schools are required, when a pupil ceases to be registered at their school and becomes a registered pupil at another school in England or Wales, to send a Common Transfer File (CTF) to the new school. Academies (including free schools) are also strongly encouraged to send CTFs when a pupil leaves to attend another school. Independent schools can be given access to school2school by the department.
8 or by reason of sickness or unavoidable cause or on a day exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which their parent belongs or because the school is not within walking distance of the pupil’s home and no suitable arrangements have been made by the local authority either for their transport to and from the school or for boarding accommodation for them at or near the school or for enabling them to become a registered pupil at a school nearer their home.
9 In default of such agreement, at intervals determined by the Secretary of State.
10 Under regulation 5 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended.
11 Where schools can reasonably obtain this information.
12 Under regulation 5 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended.
13 Where schools can reasonably obtain this information.
14 Under regulation 12 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended.
15 Regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006.
16 Under regulation 12 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended.
The school2school website also contains a searchable area, commonly referred to as the ‘Lost Pupil Database’, where schools can upload CTFs of pupils who have left but their destination or next school is unknown or the child has moved abroad or transferred to a non-maintained school. If a pupil arrives in a school and the previous school is unknown, schools should contact their local authority who will be able to search the database.
Where a college is providing education for a child of compulsory school age, the college shall work collaboratively with the appropriate local authority in order to share information about the attendance and/or absences of that child as the local authority deems necessary, as set out in departmental advice Enrolment of 14 to 16 year olds in full time further education. The college should also inform the relevant local authority immediately if that child is removed from the roll so that the local authority can as part of their duty identify children of compulsory school age who are missing education.
Further information on child sexual exploitation
Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse where children are sexually exploited for money, power or status. It can involve violent, humiliating and degrading sexual assaults. In some cases, young people are persuaded or forced into exchanging sexual activity for money, drugs, gifts, affection or status. Consent cannot be given, even where a child may believe they are voluntarily engaging in sexual activity with the person who is exploiting them. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact and can happen online. A significant number of children who are victims of sexual exploitation go missing from home, care and education at some point. Some of the following signs may be indicators of sexual exploitation:
- Children who appear with unexplained gifts or new possessions;
- Children who associate with other young people involved in exploitation;
- Children who have older boyfriends or girlfriends;
- Children who suffer from sexually transmitted infections or become pregnant;
- Children who suffer from changes in emotional well-being;
- Children who misuse drugs and alcohol;
- Children who go missing for periods of time or regularly come home late; and
- Children who regularly miss school or education or do not take part in education.
Further information on so-called ‘honour based’ violence
So-called ‘honour-based’ violence (HBV) encompasses crimes which have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or the community, including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, and practices such as breast ironing. All forms of so called HBV are abuse (regardless of the motivation) and should be handled and escalated as such. If in any doubt, staff should speak to the designated safeguarding lead. Professionals in all agencies, and individuals and groups in relevant communities, need to be alert to the possibility of a child being at risk of HBV, or already having suffered HBV.
There are a range of potential indicators that a child may be at risk of HBV. Guidance on the warning signs that FGM or forced marriage may be about to take place, or may have already taken place, can be found on pages 38-41 of the Multi agency statutory guidance on FGM (pages 59-61 focus on the role of schools and colleges) and pages 13-14 of the Multi-agency guidelines: Handling case of forced marriage.
If staff have a concern regarding a child that might be at risk of HBV, they should activate local safeguarding procedures, using existing national and local protocols for multi-agency liaison with police and children’s social care. Where FGM has taken place, since 31 October 2015 there has been a mandatory reporting duty placed on teachers 17 that requires a different approach (see following section).
FGM mandatory reporting duty
FGM comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs. It is illegal in the UK and a form of child abuse with long-lasting harmful consequences.
Section 5B of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (as inserted by section 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015) places a statutory duty upon teachers along with regulated health and social care professionals in England and Wales, to report to the police where they discover (either through disclosure by the victim or visual evidence) that FGM appears to have been carried out on a girl under 18. Those failing to report such cases will face disciplinary sanctions. It will be rare for teachers to see visual evidence, and they should not be examining pupils, but the same definition of what is meant by “to discover that an act of FGM appears to have been carried out” is used for all professionals to whom this mandatory reporting duty applies. Information on when and how to make a report can be found at Mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation procedural information.
17Section 5B(11) of the FGM Act 2003 (as inserted by section 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015) provides the definition for the term ‘teacher’: ”teacher” means – (a) in relation to England, a person within section 141A(1) of the Education Act 2002 (persons employed or engaged to carry out teaching work at schools and other institutions in England).
Teachers must personally report to the police cases where they discover that an act of FGM appears to have been carried out. 18 Unless the teacher has a good reason not to, they should also still consider and discuss any such case with the school or college’s designated safeguarding lead and involve children’s social care as appropriate. The duty does not apply in relation to at risk or suspected cases (i.e. where the teacher does not discover that an act of FGM appears to have been carried out, either through disclosure by the victim or visual evidence) or in cases where the woman is 18 or over. In these cases, teachers should follow local safeguarding procedures. The following is a useful summary of the FGM mandatory reporting duty: FGM Fact Sheet
Forcing a person into a marriage is a crime in England and Wales. A forced marriage is one entered into without the full and free consent of one or both parties and where violence, threats or any other form of coercion is used to cause a person to enter into a marriage. Threats can be physical or emotional and psychological. A lack of full and free consent can be where a person does not consent or where they cannot consent (if they have learning disabilities, for example). Nevertheless, some communities use religion and culture as a way to coerce a person into marriage. Schools and colleges can play an important role in safeguarding children from forced marriage.
The Forced Marriage Unit has published Multi-agency guidelines, with pages 32-36 focusing on the role of schools and colleges. School and college staff can contact the Forced Marriage Unit if they need advice or information: Contact: 020 7008 0151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information on preventing radicalisation
Protecting children from the risk of radicalisation should be seen as part of schools’ and colleges’ wider safeguarding duties, and is similar in nature to protecting children from other forms of harm and abuse. During the process of radicalisation it is possible to intervene to prevent vulnerable people being radicalised.
Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism.19 There is no single way of identifying an individual who is likely to be susceptible to an extremist ideology. It can happen in many different ways and settings. Specific background factors may contribute to vulnerability which are often combined with specific influences such as family, friends or online, and with specific needs for which an extremist or terrorist group may appear to provide an answer. The internet and the use of social media in particular has become a major factor in the radicalisation of young people.
As with other safeguarding risks, staff should be alert to changes in children’s behaviour which could indicate that they may be in need of help or protection. Staff should use their judgement in identifying children who might be at risk of radicalisation and act proportionately, which may include making a referral to the Channel programme.
From 1 July 2015, specified authorities, including all schools (and, since 18 September 2015, all colleges) as defined in the summary of this guidance, are subject to a duty under section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (the CTSA 2015), in the exercise of their functions, to have “due regard 20 to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. 21 This duty is known as the Prevent duty. It applies to a wide range of public-facing bodies. Bodies to which the duty applies must have regard to statutory guidance issued under section 29 of the CTSA 2015. Paragraphs 57-76 of the Revised Prevent duty guidance: for England and Wales are specifically concerned with schools (but also cover childcare). The guidance is set out in terms of four general themes: Risk assessment, working in partnership, staff training, and IT policies.
18 Section 5B(6) of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 states teachers need not report a case to the police if they have reason to believe that another teacher has already reported the case.
19 Extremism is vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas.
- Schools are expected to assess the risk of children being drawn into terrorism, including support for extremist ideas that are part of terrorist ideology. This means being able to demonstrate both a general understanding of the risks affecting children and young people in the area and a specific understanding of how to identify individual children who may be at risk of radicalisation and what to do to support them. Schools should have clear procedures in place for protecting children at risk of radicalisation. These procedures may be set out in existing safeguarding policies. It is not necessary for schools to have distinct policies on implementing the Prevent duty.
- The Prevent duty builds on existing local partnership arrangements. For example, governing bodies and proprietors of all schools should ensure that their safeguarding arrangements take into account the policies and procedures of the Local Safeguarding Children Board. Effective engagement with parents / the family should also be considered as they are in a key position to spot signs of radicalisation. It is important to assist and advise families who raise concerns and be able to point them to the right support mechanisms. Schools should also discuss any concerns in relation to possible radicalisation with a child’s parents in line with the individual school’s safeguarding policies and procedures unless they have specific reason to believe that to do so would put the child at risk.
- The Prevent guidance refers to the importance of Prevent awareness training to equip staff to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and to challenge extremist ideas. Individual schools are best placed to assess the training needs of staff in the light of their assessment of the risk to pupils at the school of being drawn into terrorism. As a minimum, however, schools should ensure that the designated safeguarding lead undertakes Prevent awareness training and is able to provide advice and support to staff on protecting children from the risk of radicalisation.
- Schools should ensure that children are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet in schools.
The department has also published advice for schools on the Prevent duty. The advice is intended to complement the Prevent guidance and signposts other sources of advice and support.
There is additional guidance: Prevent duty guidance: for further education institutions in England and Wales that applies to colleges.
The Government has launched educate against hate, a website designed to equip school and college leaders, teachers and parents with the information, tools and resources they need to recognise and address extremism and radicalisation in young people. The website provides information on training resources for teachers, staff and school and college leaders, such as Prevent e-learning, via the Prevent Training catalogue.
School and college staff should understand when it is appropriate to make a referral to the Channel programme. 22 Channel guidance is available at: Channel guidance. An e-learning channel awareness programme for staff is available at: Channel General Awareness. Channel is a programme which focuses on providing support at an early stage to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. It provides a mechanism for schools to make referrals if they are concerned that an individual might be vulnerable to radicalisation. An individual’s engagement with the programme is entirely voluntary at all stages. In addition to information sharing, if a staff member makes a referral to Channel, they may be asked to attend a Channel panel to discuss the individual referred to determine whether support is required.
20 According to the Prevent duty guidance ‘having due regard’ means that the authorities should place an appropriate amount of weight on the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism when they consider all the other factors relevant to how they carry out their usual functions.
21 “Terrorism” for these purposes has the same meaning as for the Terrorism Act 2000 (section 1(1) to (4) of that Act).
Section 36 of the CTSA 2015 places a duty on local authorities to ensure Channel panels are in place. The panel must be chaired by the local authority and include the police for the relevant local authority area. Following a referral, the panel will assess the extent to which identified individuals are vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism and, where considered appropriate and the necessary consent is obtained, arrange for support to be provided to those individuals. Section 38 of the CTSA 2015 requires partners of Channel panels to co-operate with the panel in the carrying out of its functions and with the police in providing information about a referred individual. Schools and colleges that are required to have regard to Keeping children safe in education are listed in the CTSA 2015 as partners required to cooperate with local Channel panels.23
Prevent at Rossett School
The identified Prevent Lead at Rossett School is Mr M Richardson, Assistant Headteacher: Learning Support.
All staff at Rossett School undertake an online training module on radicalisation, which includes additional resources and information for staff.
The Prevent agenda is embedded in the delivery of our PHSEE schemes, as are British Values (See additional British Values section of website)
If there are concerns that a young person may be at risk of being involved in radicalisation or extremism, staff should follow Rossett Safeguarding procedures and report this to Assistant Headteacher: Mr M Richardson or the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads: Mr I Scrimger and Mrs H Sinclair.
22 Guidance issued under section 36(7) and section 38(6) of the CTSA 2015.
23 Such partners are required to have regard to guidance issued under section 38(6) of the CTSA 2015 when co-operating with the panel and police under section 38 of the CTSA 2016
Appendix 2 CONTACTS
Principal E.S.W. Alan Critchlow 01609 532320/ 07715540712
CP Managers/ Rosemary Cannell 01609 534974/ 07715540723
LADOs Craven, Harrogate, Selby
Karen Lewis 01609 534200/ 07715540711
Hambleton, Richmondshire, Scarb, Whitby, Ryedale
CP Admin manager Julie Fenny 01609 532477
CP Admin. Support Valerie Hutchinson 01609 534211
CME Coordinator Julie Fenny 01609 532477
(Children Missing Education) email@example.com
Hambleton & Richmondshire 01609 536317
Scarborough, Whitby & Ryedale 01609 534460
Harrogate 01609 535547
Craven 01609 536765
Selby 01609 536823
Human Resources 0845 0349494
Customer Relations Tel: 01609 536993
Fax: 01609 532009
Assessment and Safeguarding Teams (Admin.):
Haywra Street, Harrogate 01609 534287
Brook Lodge, Selby 01609 536330
16 Dean Road, Scarborough 01609 536993
Thurston Rd, Northallerton 01609 533796
Manor Rd, Knaresborough 01609 536450
Ryedale House, Malton 01609 536521
Hipswell House, Hipswell 01609 536737
Armoury House, Skipton 01609 535471
Emergency Duty Team 0845 034 9417
Central Database 01609 774298
(formerly known as the Child Protection Register)
NORTH YORKSHIRE POLICE 0845 6060247
Appendix 2 (continued)
Customer Service Contact numbers for referral to Social Care in neighbouring Local Authorities:
Redcar and Cleveland 01642 774774
Stockton on Tees 01642 528501
Darlington 01325 346200
Middlesbrough 01642 854591
Durham 0919 560 8000
Cumbria 01228 606060
Lancashire 0161 7780123
Bradford 01274 432918
Leeds 0113 2477400
East Yorkshire 01482 393939
Wakefield 01924 201688
Doncaster 01302 736000
York 01904 554141
Designated Safeguarding Lead
Mr M Richardson (Assistant Headteacher)
Mr I Scrimger (Director of Access & Inclusion)
Mrs H Sinclair (Behaviour Support Officer)
Person who acts in the absence of the Designated Safeguarding Leads
Mr G Davies (Director of Behaviour Support)
Ms H Woodcock – Headteacher
Other staff to be contacted in the event of a problem
Student Support Officers/Directors of Learning
Governor responsible for safeguarding children
Mr J Hesketh
Safer Recruitment and Selection
The school pays full regard to DfE guidance ‘Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education’ Jan 2007. We ensure that all appropriate measures are applied in relation to everyone who works in the school who is likely to be perceived by the children as a safe and trustworthy adult including e.g. volunteers and staff employed by contractors. Safer recruitment practice includes scrutinising applicants, verifying identity and academic or vocational qualifications, obtaining professional and character references, checking previous employment history and ensuring that a candidate has the health and physical capacity for the job. It also includes undertaking interviews and, where appropriate, undertaking List 99 and Criminal Records Bureau checks.
Statutory changes, underpinned by regulations, are that:
- a DBS Enhanced Disclosure is obtained for all new appointments to the school’s workforce, new members of staff will not be left unsupervised with students until their DBS clearance is received
- a DBS check is obtained for volunteers further to a risk assessment considering the regularity, frequency, duration and nature of contact
- schools will ensure that any contracted staff are DBS checked where appropriate
- schools must keep a single central record detailing a range of checks carried out on their staff
- all new appointments to the school workforce who have lived outside the UK are subject to additional checks as appropriate
- schools must satisfy themselves that supply staff have undergone the necessary checks
- identity checks must be carried out on all appointments to the school workforce before the appointment is made
Ms H Woodcock (Headteacher), Mr P Kilford (School Governor) and Mr J Hesketh (School Governor), Mr C Stone have undertaken Safe Recruitment training (www.nspcc.org.uk). One of the above will be involved in all staff and volunteer appointments and arrangements (including, where appropriate, contracted services).
Categories of Abuse:
- Physical Abuse
- Emotional Abuse (including Domestic Abuse)
- Sexual Abuse
The following non-specific signs may indicate something is wrong:
- Significant change in behaviour
- Extreme anger or sadness
- Aggressive and attention-seeking behaviour
- Suspicious bruises with unsatisfactory explanations
- Lack of self-esteem
- Age inappropriate sexual behaviour
- Child Sexual Exploitation.
The factors described in this section are frequently found in cases of child abuse. Their presence is not proof that abuse has occurred, but:
- Must be regarded as indicators of the possibility of significant harm
- Justifies the need for careful assessment and discussion with designated / named / lead person, manager, (or in the absence of all those individuals, an experienced colleague)
- May require consultation with and / or referral to Children’s Services
The absence of such indicators does not mean that abuse or neglect has not occurred.
In an abusive relationship the child may:
- Appear frightened of the parent/s
- Act in a way that is inappropriate to her/his age and development (though full account needs to be taken of different patterns of development and different ethnic groups)
The parent or carer may:
- Persistently avoid child health promotion services and treatment of the child’s episodic illnesses
- Have unrealistic expectations of the child
- Frequently complain about/to the child and may fail to provide attention or praise (high criticism/low warmth environment)
- Be absent or misusing substances
- Persistently refuse to allow access on home visits
- Be involved in domestic abuse
Staff should be aware of the potential risk to children when individuals, previously known or suspected to have abused children, move into the household. Staff should also be aware of the added vulnerability of Children Looked After when taking the above into account.
The following are often regarded as indicators of concern:
- An explanation which is inconsistent with an injury
- Several different explanations provided for an injury
- Unexplained delay in seeking treatment
- The parents/carers are uninterested or undisturbed by an accident or injury
- Parents are absent without good reason when their child is presented for treatment
- Repeated presentation of minor injuries (which may represent a “cry for help” and if ignored could lead to a more serious injury)
- Family use of different doctors and A&E departments
- Reluctance to give information or mention previous injuries
Children can have accidental bruising, but the following must be considered as non accidental unless there is evidence or an adequate explanation provided:
- Any bruising to a pre-crawling or pre-walking baby
- Bruising in or around the mouth, particularly in small babies which may indicate force feeding
- Two simultaneous bruised eyes, without bruising to the forehead, (rarely accidental, though a single bruised eye can be accidental or abusive)
- Repeated or multiple bruising on the head or on sites unlikely to be injured accidentally
- Variation in colour possibly indicating injuries caused at different times
- The outline of an object used e.g. belt marks, hand prints or a hair brush
- Bruising or tears around, or behind, the earlobe/s indicating injury by pulling or twisting
- Bruising around the face
- Grasp marks on small children
- Bruising on the arms, buttocks and thighs may be an indicator of sexual abuse
Bite marks can leave clear impressions of the teeth. Human bite marks are oval or crescent shaped. Those over 3 cm in diameter are more likely to have been caused by an adult or older child.
A medical opinion should be sought where there is any doubt over the origin of the bite.
It can be difficult to distinguish between accidental and non-accidental burns and scalds, and will always require experienced medical opinion. Any burn with a clear outline may be suspicious e.g.:
- Circular burns from cigarettes (but may be friction burns if along the bony protuberance of the spine)
- Linear burns from hot metal rods or electrical fire elements
- Burns of uniform depth over a large area
- Scalds that have a line indicating immersion or poured liquid (a child getting into hot water is his/her own accord will struggle to get out and cause splash marks)
- Old scars indicating previous burns/scalds which did not have appropriate treatment or adequate explanation
Scalds to the buttocks of a small child, particularly in the absence of burns to the feet, are indicative of dipping into a hot liquid or bath.
Fractures may cause pain, swelling and discolouration over a bone or joint.
Non-mobile children rarely sustain fractures.
There are grounds for concern if:
- The history provided is vague, non-existent or inconsistent with the fracture type
- There are associated old fractures
- Medical attention is sought after a period of delay when the fracture has caused symptoms such as swelling, pain or loss of movement
- There is an unexplained fracture in the first year of life
A large number of scars or scars of different sizes or ages, or on different parts of the body, may suggest abuse.
Emotional abuse may be difficult to recognise, as the signs are usually behavioural rather than physical. The manifestations of emotional abuse might also indicate the presence of other kinds of abuse.
The indicators of emotional abuse are often also associated with other forms of abuse.
The following may be indicators of emotional abuse:
- Developmental delay
- Abnormal attachment between a child and parent/carer e.g. anxious, indiscriminate or not attachment
- Indiscriminate attachment or failure to attach
- Aggressive behaviour towards others
- Scape-goated within the family
- Frozen watchfulness, particularly in pre-school children
- Low self-esteem and lack of confidence
- Withdrawn or seen as a “loner” – difficulty relating to others
Boys and girls of all ages may be sexually abused and are frequently scared to say anything due to guilt and/or fear. This is particularly difficult for a child to talk about and full account should be taken of the cultural sensitivities of any individual child/family.
Recognition can be difficult, unless the child discloses and is believed. There may be no physical signs and indications are likely to be emotional/behavioural.
Some behavioural indicators associated with this form of abuse are:
- Inappropriate sexualised conduct
- Sexually explicit behaviour, play or conversation, inappropriate to the child’s age
- Continual and inappropriate or excessive masturbation
- Self-harm (including eating disorder), self mutilation and suicide attempts
- Involvement in prostitution or indiscriminate choice of sexual partners
- An anxious unwillingness to remove clothes e.g. for sports events (but this may be related to cultural norms or physical difficulties)
Some physical indicators associated with this form of abuse are:
- Pain or itching of genital area
- Blood on underclothes
- Pregnancy in a younger girl where the identity of the father is not disclosed
- Physical symptoms such as injuries to the genital or anal area, bruising to buttocks, abdomen and thighs, sexually transmitted disease, presence of semen on vagina, anus, external genitalia or clothing
The boundary between what is abusive and what is part of normal childhood or youthful experimentation can be blurred. The determination of whether behaviour is developmental, inappropriate or abusive will hinge around the related concepts of true consent, power imbalance and exploitation. This may include children and young people who exhibit a range of sexually problematic behaviour such as indecent exposure, obscene telephone calls, fetishism, bestiality and sexual abuse against adults, peers or children.
Developmental Sexual Activity encompasses those actions that are to be expected from children and young people as they move from infancy through to an adult understanding of their physical, emotional and behavioural relationships with each other. Such sexual activity is essentially information gathering and experience testing. It is characterised by mutuality and of the seeking of consent.
Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour can be inappropriate socially, in appropriate to development, or both. In considering whether behaviour fits into this category, it is important to consider what negative effects it has on any of the parties involved and what concerns it raises about a child or young person. It should be recognised that some actions may be motivated by information seeking, but still cause significant upset, confusion, worry, physical damage, etc. it may also be that the behaviour is “acting out” which may derive from other sexual situations to which the child or young person has been exposed.
If an act appears to have been inappropriate, there may still be a need for some form of behaviour management or intervention. For some children, educative inputs may be enough to address the behaviour.
Abusive sexual activity included any behaviour involving coercion, threats, aggression together with secrecy, or where one participant relies on an unequal power base.
In order to more fully determine the nature of the incident the following factors should be given consideration. The presence of exploitation in terms of:
- Equality – consider differentials of physical, cognitive and emotional development, power and control and authority, passive and assertive tendencies
- Consent – agreement including all the following:
- Understanding that is proposed based on age, maturity, development level, functioning and experience
- Knowledge of society’s standards for what is being proposed
- Awareness of potential consequences and alternatives
- Assumption that agreements or disagreements will be respected equally
- Voluntary decision
- Mental competence
- Coercion – the young perpetrator who abuses may use techniques like bribing, manipulation and emotional threats of secondary gains and losses that is loss of love, friendship, etc. Some may use physical force, brutality or the threat of these regardless of victim resistance.
In evaluating sexual behaviour of children and young people, the above information should be used only as a guide.
Evidence of neglect is built up over a period of time and can cover different aspects of parenting. Indicators include:
- Failure by parents or carers to meet the basic essential needs e.g. adequate food, clothes, warmth, hygiene and medical care
- A child seen to be listless, apathetic and irresponsive with no apparent medical cause
- Failure of child to grow within normal expected pattern, with accompanying weight loss
- Child thrives away from home environment
- Child frequently absent from school
- Child left with adults who are intoxicated or violent
- Child abandoned or left alone for excessive periods
 Wherever the word “staff” is used, it covers ALL staff on site, including ancillary supply and self employed staff, contractors, volunteers working with children etc, and governors