1. Explain the importance of safeguarding children and young people
All practitioners have a duty to ensure the safety of children in their care. Children (in most cases) are unable to tell anyone if they are being abused, either out of fear, shame or because they are too young. Some children may even not realise that what is happening to them is wrong or any different to what happens to everyone else. Three quarters of sexually abused children under the age of 16 do not tell anybody what was happening to them at the time and a third still had not told anyone by the time they reached adulthood. It is up to adults to recognise and report any suspected cases of abuse or neglect as early as possible. The number or children on child protection registers in England has been steadily increasing over the years, however much work is still needed. The following statistics were recorded by the NSPCC in 2012: – Around 50,500 children are known to be at risk of abuse right now – A quarter of adults were severely maltreated during childhood
2.Explain the importance of a child or young person centred approach
The United Nations Right of the Child makes it clear that children and young people have the right to have their opinions listened to. Every Child Matters also states that the individual needs of the child must be met. It is important that children and young people have a say in important or even everyday decisions referring to them for the sake of their education and self esteem. A child centred approach means giving children a choice in what activities they participate in and when they are to participate.
This is to give them more motivation to learn as they are not being pressured and also ensures that curriculum in schools and settings are tailored to the needs of the child and not the other way around. As the child/children will have access to all activities it is also a way of both identifying the child’s interests and strengthening them whilst they are being supported in activities that are less interesting to them.
Knowing their interests is central for supporting the child’s learning, especially when activities are being planned as the activity can be adapted to suit their interests. Giving children a choice helps to develop their self esteem, and thus help their emotional and social development as they will have the confidence to form relationships. It also allows children to learn at their own level, supporting inclusion policies (especially in the case of disabilities and special needs or support). A child centred approach allows schools / settings to offer learning opportunities that suit the needs of the child rather than restricting them through having the schools dictate what should learn and at what pace.
3. Explain what is meant by partnership working in the context of safeguarding
It is important that all carers / professionals that work with children share their knowledge to provide the best care possible. Within settings communication is vital to preventing any harm befalling the child. Some practitioners may notice things about the child others do not which may pinpoint to a potentially serious problem regarding the child’s safety or well-being. Without passing this information on to an appropriate co-worker or the parents the child’s safety is at risk.
Over the years it was noticed that poor communication and teamwork was, in many cases, the root cause of failure to safeguard. Important information and concerns regarding the child (as noticed by professionals) had failed to be mentioned to suitable co-workers / the child’s carers / parents. This meant that the appropriate action was not taken regarding the concerns and so cases of harm / abuse / neglect failed to be prevented. A government document was drawn up called ‘Working Together to Safeguard children’ – the WTSC. This document highlights how professionals within settings should go about safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in line with the Children Act (2010).
4. Describe the roles and responsibilities of the different organisations that may be involved when a child or young person has been abused or harmed
Where it has been identified that a child is at risk or suffering from abuse or neglect multiple professionals will be involved in the identification or after care. Social services are called upon when there is suspicion a child is being abused or neglected. They must keep a close eye on the families involved and keep records of their findings. When necessary they also make the decision as to whether the child should be removed from their carer in order to protect them. Where possible they try to keep the families together for the welfare of the child – they must decide whether the risk or harm of the child is greater than the emotional trauma of removing them from their families. They try to help and support families and guide them in how to properly provide for the child’s needs. Social services work sensitively with parents whilst ensuring the child is protected.
Health visitors focus on the health and development of children up to the age of 5. As they visit children in the family home it is relatively easy to notice where a family is struggling or any environmental concerns in the home. They provide guidance and support for families – this is especially beneficial to new parent’s who may need more support and help than others. They identify where there are problems with the living conditions or if the child is being neglected in any way. The Police are central to cases involving abuse or neglect in children. Criminal proceedings may be needed which the Police are responsible for. It is also common for cases of child abuse or neglect to be identified where the Police have been called out to attend a domestic disturbance. Police officers may work in partnership with social services to identify whether it is necessary to remove the child from their family home as a safeguarding measure.
The NSPCC help to provide advice and support for both adults suspecting a child is being abused and children who are being abused. They support ChildLine, where volunteers are on hand 24 hours a day to provide advice and support to children who contact them either online or by phone. They also provide free online child protection resources for professionals whose work involves the protection and safeguarding of children. Psychological services would be involved in the identification and after care of a child after it was identified that they were abused / at risk of abuse.
Psychologists can aid in child risk assessments and help identify the level of risk the child is at. It can also pinpoint toward psychological abuse that may not be immediately obvious to other professionals. Psychologists may help children who have suffered abuse and neglect to overcome what happened to them and help restore their emotional and psychological wellbeing. GPs and hospitals are quite commonly the first practitioners to identify cases of abuse and neglect during examinations of children. Hospitals keep a record of their patients visits so they notice when there are repeated injuries or illnesses that may arise from abuse or neglect. These records can be used in cases where criminal proceedings are needed following the abuse, so this information is passed on to all other professionals involved in the proceedings that follow.