Unfortunately every child has the possibility to be hurt, put at risk of harm or abused. Safeguarding is our way to ensure that all children are allowed to grow up in a safe environment, protect them from ill treatment, harm and any factors that may impact on their safety and wellbeing. “Everyone has a responsibility for safeguarding children and young people and every child should be kept safe.” Safenetwork.org (safe activities for everyone).
Safeguarding is a fairly new concept and was brought into practice with the Children Act 2004. There are many factors that are included within the statutory definition of safeguarding and promoting welfare. Protecting children from maltreatment
Preventing impairment to children’s health or development
Ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care Undertaking that role so as to enable children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.
Effective safeguarding is when the child’s needs are paramount, so that every child receives the support they need before a problem escalates. All professionals who come into contact with children and families must be alert to any risks of harm that individual abusers or potential abusers may pose to children. All professionals may discuss their concerns about an individual child with colleagues and local authority children’s social care and share appropriate information in a timely way. Every childcare organization will have policies and procedures in place for safeguarding and child protection.
All Early Years practitioners should be aware and have adequate training of the Government guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children (2013). This provides a national framework to enable all childcare providers to implement safeguarding and child protection. It outlines procedures for responding to and recording concerns about children and good awareness to the signs and symptoms of abuse. Although safeguarding can include many different issues, there are four different types of abuse to be aware of.
Physical abuse – This may include causing deliberate harm, punching, kicking, biting, hitting with objects, scalding, shaking, drowning, poisoning and can also include a parent or carer deliberately causing illness in a child, so that the child has to suffer trips to hospital and/or undergo tests.
Neglect – This may include depriving a child of basic emotional or physical requirements, not providing protection from physical or emotional harm, lack of shelter, clothing and food, education and medical treatment.
Sexual abuse – This may include encouraging or forcing a child to behave in a sexually inappropriate manner or physical contact (kissing, touching, and rubbing inside or outside of clothing, masturbation, penetrative sex and oral sex) and producing or watching sexual images.
Emotional abuse – This includes failure to provide love and affection, deliberately limiting development, frequent criticism or over expectation, shouting or allowing the child to see someone else be poorly treated.
Looking for possible signs, symptoms, indicators and behaviours that may cause concern in the context of safeguarding
There are many signs, symptoms, indicators and behaviours that a child or young person may show when experiencing abuse or issues with safeguarding. Often early signs are not physical but a change in behaviour. A usually social child may appear to be withdrawn, sitting quietly on their own and not wanting to join in with the other children. They may show aggression towards themselves (biting or pinching parts of their own body or face, self- mutilation, or pulling at their own hair). They may be aggressive or confrontational towards their peers, teachers and assistants.
They may seem suddenly unhappy to attend their childcare establishment or school. Showing signs of severe distress when entering the building or refusing to attend altogether. A child showing apparent fear of parents or carers may take time to settle at the beginning of the day or not want to leave at the end of a session. They may not want their key worker or teacher to speak to their parent or carer and become anxious or upset towards the end of the day. They also may show signs of over pleasing or attention seeking towards adults.
Flinching when approached by play assistants, keyworkers, teachers and peers, or seeming scared of contact or interaction could be a sign of physical abuse. Showing little or no interest in food, or even over eating. Regression- returning to babyish behaviour such as thumb sucking or rocking (unusual to that child). Appearing unable to concentrate or play and complaining of being tired all the time are just some signs that a young child is unhappy and may cause concern with regards to safeguarding.
Physical signs of safeguarding issues can be; noticing a child to be frequently dirty, smelly or inadequately dressed, they may turn up wearing the same clothes many days in a row or arrive with a very soiled nappy or underwear, requests to parents or carers for larger shoes or clothes may be ignored. Although children can often look “grubby” they should not appear smelly or unwashed. A child showing constant hunger or sometimes stealing food from other children can be a sign of neglect and malnutrition, this can be shown as weight loss or being constantly underweight. In extreme cases this can cause growth or developmental failure, you may also notice changes to skin and hair condition.
A child informing you of a situation where you believe they have been left in an unsafe situation or environment. Unsuitable use of sexual language and inappropriate sexual behaviour. Recurrent urinary infections or genital itching/pain can be a symptom of sexual abuse. Untreated illnesses or lack of medical attention for prolonged chesty coughs, eczema or sore limbs etc. or the parents seeming uninterested when told of injury or concern for illness can be a safeguarding issue. Although young children often have numerous bumps and bruises as part of everyday rough and tumble, these are usually visible on bonier parts of the body such as the elbows, knees, shins etc.
Bruising to softer parts of the body (the upper arm or outside of the thigh) can be an indicator of abuse. Noticing frequent bruising of different shades (showing age of bruise), or markings on the body that is inconsistent with the explanation given and non-mobile babies with bruises or injuries. “the action we take to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm – is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone who comes into contact with children and families has a role to play” Working together to safeguard children (HM Government 2013)
Signs of physical abuse
All UK state schools and early years’ organisations are required by law to have anti- bullying policies to safeguard children. Bullying can take many forms; it can be carried out by one person (a child or adult) or a group of people. It consists of repeatedly and intentionally causing hurt, harm and distress to another person or group of people. The individual or group being bullied can feel incredibly upset, singled out and helpless. Many children will bully at one time or another as they learn how to behave in social situations. They may be imitating something they have seen at home or through the media, television or video games.
Four main types of bullying are recognised.
Physical bullying – This includes damaging property, pushing, hitting, kicking, tripping and any other form of threatening behaviour.
Verbal bullying – This includes persistent teasing, insults, name calling, spreading rumours, verbal intimidation and homophobic or racist remarks.
Covert bullying – This can include causing harm or ridicule someone’s social reputation, or the child being social excluded by their peers, spreading rumours, often carried out behind someone’s back, physical and disrespectful gestures.
Cyber bulling – Using digital technologies to deliberately, privately or publicly cause distress and hurt, harassment or exclusion from cyber social networks.
Children who are bullied can be affected in many different ways. They may have low self-esteem, be very shy and not able to form positive friendships with their peers. This can also be indicated with vulnerability and lower levels of resilience. They may feel detached and isolated from their school or preschool and have lower attendance and academic/developmental results. Some victims of bullying may become a bully themselves through learnt behaviour or as a coping strategy. Depression and anxiety is also a very common in victims of bullying. In older children this may include a greater risk of eating disorders, self-harm or substance abuse and in extreme cases, higher levels of suicide. Bullying can have a big impact on children in later life, making it hard for them to make positive social relationships, limit job prospects, continuing depression, low self-esteem, self-harm and anxiety.
Policies and Procedures
In every setting there are policies and procedures to follow when dealing with bullying.
Anti-Bullying Policies are largely similar from setting to setting although they will change according to the age of the child. They will state what is considered to be bullying and how they will deal with any undesirable behaviour. A typical policy may resemble this.
We believe that:-
Bullying is undesirable and unacceptable. Bullying is a problem to which solutions can be found.
Seeking help and openness are regarded as signs of strength not weakness. All allegations of bullying will be listened to and taken seriously. Bullying prevents children achieving to their full potential and affects standards of achievement and aspirations. Everyone has the right to work and learn in an atmosphere that is free from fear. All of us have a responsibility to ensure that we do not abuse or bully others. Young people should be encouraged to seek support if they are worried about bullying and have a right to expect that their concerns will be listened to and treated seriously. Young people should be involved in decision making about matters that concern them. We all have a duty to work together to protect vulnerable individuals from bullying and other forms of abuse.
To assist in creating an environment in which learning and play is a positive experience for all. To make it clear that all forms of bullying are unacceptable. To enable everyone to feel safe and encourage pupils to report incidences of bullying. To deal effectively with bullying.
To support and protect victims of bullying and ensure they are listened to. To help and support bullies to change their attitudes as well as their behaviour and understand this is important and necessary. To liaise with pupils, parents and other appropriate members of the school community. To ensure everyone feels a responsibility for combating bullying. To ensure consistency in practice when dealing with appropriate behaviour.
Following these guidelines enables everyone to understand what is expected, and helps us to deal with every situation in a consistent manner.
Procedures are steps we take to successfully deal with a situation effectively. Procedures dealing with bullying can differ from setting to setting but ultimately have the same goal. I child has asked to speak to you in private and you suspect it may be to do with bullying… Listen to the child, do not interrupt.
Reassure them that they are doing the right thing by talking to an adult and that you will take the complaint seriously. Believe what they are saying. Ask them what they would like the outcome of your conversation to be, but do not promise to keep it a secret. Write down what the child has said to you while it is fresh in your mind. Tell the child you will inform someone in authority, who will be able to help the situation and confront the bully.
Always the child has trusted you with very important information and it is now your responsibility to act in the correct manner.
There are many organisations available to help where bullying is concerned here are a few childline This is a private and confidential service set up solely for the purpose of children and young people up to the age of 19. www.kidscape.org.uk This is the first charity in the UK specifically established to prevent bullying and child abuse. NSPCC Set up to help prevent cruelty to children, change laws and offer advice to both children and adults. www.stopbullying.gov This is a government based website. www.bullying.co.uk- Is part of the family lives website that was set up to help families deal with day to day situations.
Learner Awareness Statement
I am cleaning up paint pots during first break, when I turn around to see child A standing in the door way to the classroom. All the children are meant to be outside in the playground at this time but I sense that child A has something on their mind as they have been very quiet all morning so I ask if there is anything bothering them and if they would like to come into the classroom? They accept my invitation and walk into the classroom. I wait for them to start speaking. Child A tells me that child B has been has been sending them nasty text messages and making fun of them in front of their peers.
I make sure my body language is open and stay quiet as I feel they have not finished their story and don’t want to interrupt in case they bottle up and stop speaking. Child A continues by saying that it is upsetting them every day and they now get an awful sick feeling in their stomach every time their phone message notification sounds. I ask if they would like to tell me what has been said in the messages, but child A declines so I nod understandingly. I reassure child A they have done the right thing by coming to speak to me and I will do everything I can to deal with the situation. I state that although I understand that it’s difficult, I cannot keep this to myself and will have to speak to the classroom teacher, as I am a voluntary classroom assistant I am un-able to deal with this alone.
Child A begins to get upset but I comfort them by telling them that now it is no longer a secret we can deal with the bullying and confront the bully and offer some tissues to dry their eyes. I ask if child A has told their parents and they say “no”. I tell them that they don’t have to tell their parents but they may find it helpful to have support at home and that their parents love them and would just want to be there for them. I then ask what they would like the outcome to be.
Child A says they just want the text messages and the teasing to stop. I ask if they would like to speak to the classroom teacher themselves or would they prefer me to first broach the subject. Child A asks that I speak to the class teacher first.
I ask if I they have kept the messages on the phone and if so could I take the phone to the teacher. Child A says there are only messages from today, about 10 and agrees to this and passes me the phone. I tell them I will not look at the messages if they don’t want me to, to which child A says no please don’t they are embarrassing. I promise I won’t look but ask if they will give permission for the class teacher to look at the messages and child A agrees. I ask is there anything else upsetting them and child A replies no. I tell child A I will go and speak to the teacher now if they like, and they are welcome to stay sat quietly in the classroom until I get back and again reassure them that everything will feel better now they have spoken about the bullying. They look worried but agree to sit quietly in the book corner while they wait for me.
I head off to the staffroom and find the class teacher. I ask if I can speak to them quietly about something. We go to a quiet corner where I tell them what child A has just disclosed to me and hand them the phone. The teacher asks me to take them to where child A is waiting as they may appreciate the familiarity and But then asks that I go and write down in as much detail as possible what was said to correctly record the allegation.