Understand Safeguarding of children and young people
Understand Safeguarding of children and young people
The UK Government has defined the term ‘safeguarding children’ as: ‘The process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care that enables children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.’
To be able to safeguard children effectively we need to be aware of the following policies:
Children Act 1984 with the following additions
The Every Child Matters (ECM) 2003
Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
Protection of Children Act
Working Together to Safeguard Children March 2013
This shift from traditional child protection to a more all-encompassing approach were influenced by the first Joint Chief Inspectors’ safeguarding children report (2002) and the Victoria Climbié Inquiry (2003). The Every Child Matters programme outlined in the Children Act 2004 formalised these changes in approach into a legislative framework.
Every Child Matters (ECM) is a UK government initiative for England and Wales, that was launched in 2003, at least partly in response to the death of Victoria Climbié. It is one of the most important policy initiatives and development programmes in relation to children and children’s services of the last decade, and has been described as a “sea change” to the children and families agenda. It has been the title of three government papers, leading to the Children Act 2004. Every Child Matters covers children and young adults up to the age of 19, or 24 for those with disabilities. Its main aims are for every child, whatever their background or circumstances, to have the support they need to: SHEEP
Enjoy and achieve
Each of these themes has a detailed framework attached whose outcomes require multi-agency partnerships working together to achieve. The agencies in partnership may include children’s centres, early years, schools, children’s social work services, primary and secondary health services, playwork, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS). In the past it has been argued that children and families have received poorer services because of the failure of professionals to understand each other’s roles or to work together effectively in a multi-disciplinary manner. ECM seeks to change this, stressing that it is important that all professionals working with children are aware of the contribution that could be made by their own and each other’s service and to plan and deliver their work with children and young people accordingly.
To help achieve this the Act made a number of institutional changes including the abolition of Area Child Protection Committees that had been deemed to have performed poorly in some areas by the Joint Chief Inspectors’ 2002 report and the formation of the multi-agency Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs). These consisted of representatives from local partner agencies such as housing, health, police and probation services. The LSCBs were charged with co-ordinating the functions of all partner agencies in relation to safeguarding children. They carry out this function by, among other things, agreeing the contribution of all member agencies and deciding how these pooled funds should be allocated. In addition they are responsible for commissioning independent Serious Case Reviews and training member agency staff in safeguarding children best practice. The Act also placed a duty on all agencies to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children our local LSCB is 4LSCB, which incorporates Southampton, Portsmouth, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. They keep their updated policies online and regularly update them depending on policy change and serious case reviews.
In 2006 the government released Working Together to Safeguard Children, which set out the ways in which organizations and individuals should work together to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of children. In 2010 this was superseded by Working Together to Safeguard Children (2010) (updated again in March 2013) which expanded the focus on interagency working and took into account the recommendations of Lord Lamings 2008 progress report The Protection of Children in England which suggested it was imperative that frontline professionals get to know children as individuals.
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 was the Government’s response to the Bichard Inquiry report which examined vetting procedures after the murders of ten-year-olds Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells in 2002. It establishes a new centralised vetting and barring scheme for people working with children.
Takes all safeguarding issues very importantly. Whilst we may focus on vulnerable adults we do have young member of staff who would still be classed as children for Safeguarding purposes. We also have children who visit the home. We adhere that all staff on the premises are adequately checked at employment and we risk assess the adults who live within the home to the impact that they may pose to children on the premises. Sxxxxxx adheres to the 4LSCB procedures and we have a policy in place for the staff members to follow should they be worried about any child on the premises. A child’s safety is paramount and we have a duty to protect that child. Our staff members understand abuse, signs and symptoms due to dealing with vulnerable adults and the steps that need to be put in place. Training on child safeguarding goes hand in hand with adult safeguarding.
Numbers are available on the child safeguarding policy should they be required. The term child abuse and neglect describes a range of ways in which people, often known and trusted by the child (e.g. a family member, family friend or professional), harm children knowingly or by failing to act to prevent harm. Child abuse can be physical, emotional or sexual. Neglect is the result of a parent’s or caregiver’s failure to provide adequate care for their child, whether or not that failure is deliberate. Neglect is different from other forms of abuse because it is about what is not done. In many cases, children are subjected to a combination of types of abuse, e.g. neglect and emotional abuse. Child abuse can take place in the home, at school or anywhere else children spend their time. Some forms of abuse are obvious, such as when an adult strikes out at a child in anger, but others are much more difficult for outsiders to notice. While some types of abuse are caused by someone doing something that harms a child, others are the result of neglect – failing to take steps to keep a child safe and well. Physical abuse
Most children collect cuts and bruises quite routinely, as part of the rough and tumble of daily life, and injuries should always be interpreted in light of the child’s medical and social history, developmental stage and the explanation given. But physical abuse may have occurred when one or more of the following apply. Any child with unexplained signs of pain or illness should be seen promptly by a doctor. Physical signs: injuries that the child cannot explain, or explains unconvincingly injuries that have not been treated or have been treated inadequately injuries on parts of the body where accidental injury is unlikely, such as the cheeks, chest or thighs bruising in babies and in children who are not independently mobile bruising to the face, back, abdomen, arms, buttocks, ears and hands bruising which reflects an imprint – of an implement or cord, or hand or finger marks multiple bruises – in clusters or of uniform shape human bite marks fractures in children under 18 months fractures that are inconsistent with the child’s developmental stage scalds, especially those with upward splash marks where hot water has been deliberately thrown over the child, or tide marks – rings on the child’s arms, legs or body where the child has been made to sit or stand in very hot water multiple burns, burns with a clearly demarcated edge and burns affecting unusual areas of the body such as the back, shoulders or buttocks. Behavioural signs:
reluctance to have their parents contacted
aggressive behaviour or severe temper outbursts
running away or showing fear of going home
flinching when approached or touched
reluctance to get undressed for sporting or other activities where changing into other clothes is normal covering arms and legs even when hot
depression or moods which are out of character with the child’s general behaviour unnatural compliance with parents or carers.
As with all the other categories, the signs of emotional abuse must be seen in context. For example, some children are by nature shy and find it difficult to be outgoing and confident and, as previously mentioned, some disabled children may present some of the signs and behaviours listed here as a result of an impairment. Physical signs:
a failure to grow or to thrive, particularly if the child thrives when away from home delayed development, either physically or emotionally.
compulsive nervous behaviour such as hair-twisting or rocking sudden speech disorders
an unwillingness or inability to play
an excessive fear of making mistakes
self-harm or mutilation
reluctance to have parents contacted
an excessive deference towards others, especially adults
an excessive lack of confidence
an excessive need for approval, attention and affection
an inability to cope with praise.
Both girls and boys can be victims of sexual abuse and, for many reasons, this type of abuse is difficult to identify. It is likely to happen in private and child abusers go to incredible lengths to prevent discovery, including threatening the child to keep silent. Many children feel such a strong sense of guilt and shame that they are reluctant to speak about what has happened to them. Nevertheless, there are some clues. Physical signs:
pain, itching, bruising or bleeding in the genital or anal areas any sexually transmitted disease
recurrent genital discharge or urinary tract infections without apparent cause stomach pains or discomfort when the child is walking or sitting down. Behavioural signs:
sudden or unexplained changes in behaviour
an apparent fear of someone
running away from home
nightmares or bedwetting
self-harm, self-mutilation or attempts at suicide
misuse of drugs or other substances
eating problems such as anorexia or bulimia
sexualised behaviour or knowledge in young children
sexual drawings or language
possession of unexplained amounts of money
taking a parental role at home and functioning beyond their age level not being allowed to have friends (particularly in adolescence) alluding to secrets that they cannot reveal
telling other children or adults about the abuse.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, which is likely to seriously damage their health or development. In pregnancy, this can happen as a result of maternal substance misuse. Neglect
Neglect is often seen as less serious than other forms of abuse, but its effects can be very damaging. Children who are neglected often develop more slowly than others and find it hard to make friends and fit in with their peer group, though again this can be for other reasons. A child suffering from neglect may show any of the following signs. Physical signs:
being in an unkempt state, and frequently dirty or smelly
loss of weight or being constantly underweight
often being dressed inappropriately for the weather conditions untreated
medical conditions – not being taken for medical treatment for illnesses or injuries. Behavioural signs:
being constantly hungry and sometimes stealing food from others being tired all the time
frequently missing school or being late
failing to keep hospital or medical appointments
having few friends
being left alone or unsupervised on a regular basis.
The effects of cruelty to children are wide-ranging and profound. They vary according to the type of abuse and how long it has been endured but can include problems around: behaviour
drug and alcohol misuse.
It takes a lot of courage for a child to talk to an adult about their abuse, not least because the child is informing on someone who is more powerful than they are. Children often learn to be very good at covering up the abuse and are able to give believable explanations for what has happened. In talking about the abuse, the child may have to betray someone who is not only close to them but someone they love. They are risking a great deal in the hope that you will believe what they say. Some helpful responses:
remain calm, accessible and receptive
listen carefully without interrupting
communicate with the child in a way that is appropriate to their age, understanding and preference – this is especially important for disabled children and for children whose preferred language is not English (or Welsh) be aware of the non-verbal messages you are giving
make it clear that you are taking them seriously
acknowledge their courage and reassure them that they are right to tell reassure them that they should not feel guilty and say that you’re sorry that this has happened to them let them know that you are going to do everything you can to help them and what may happen as a result make a note of what was said and who was present, using the child’s actual words wherever possible. What to avoid. Do not:
allow your shock or distaste to show
probe for more information than the child offers
speculate or make assumptions
make negative comments about the alleged abuser
make any promises that you cannot keep – e.g. that “everything will be all right” agree to keep the information a secret
delay getting emergency help if needed – e.g., medical help. Working with strong suspicions
Sometimes you will be concerned about a child’s behaviour or injuries but the child may not have said anything to suggest they have been abused. This can be very difficult for you. You can help by:
being someone to turn to – being available and willing to listen discussing your concerns with a colleague, manager, designated safeguarding professional or the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 not relying on someone else to take action.
Where children have been abused, it often turns out that the people who had contact with them had been suspicious for some time but did not do anything about their concerns. Sometimes, this has resulted in a tragedy that could have been avoided.
Remember that once you have reported your concerns, professionals trained in identifying child abuse will make many other checks. They will not blame you or think that you have wasted their time if the reasons for your concerns turn out to have been caused by something other than abuse. They would far rather be alerted unnecessarily than fail to protect a child who was being abused.
A step-by-step action plan
1. Discuss your concerns with the child’s parents or carers only if this is appropriate. If a discussion with the child’s parents or carers is inappropriate, immediately contact a senior colleague or named professional for safeguarding children, the local children’s services or the NSPCC Helpline. If, after talking to the child’s parents or carers, you are still unhappy about the situation, or if the explanations that you have been given do not ease your concerns, immediately inform a senior colleague or named professional, contact children’s services or ring the NSPCC Helpline yourself. 2. Be prepared to provide the following details.
Your name, address, telephone number and your role.
Information about the child, including their name, date of birth, address and school. What you have observed or been told by the child, providing dates where possible and details of the child’s emotional state at the time. What the child has said in response to any suspicions or concerns you have had. The action you have taken so far.
When you make the referral, agree with the person you are making the referral to what the parents and the child will be told, by whom and when. Make sure you know the person’s name. Confirm telephone referrals in writing within 48 hours. Children’s services should acknowledge receipt within one working day. If you haven’t heard back within three working days you should contact children’s services again. 3. Children’s services, the police or the NSPCC will advise you on what to do next, including whether to involve parents or carers. Children’s services will then take responsibility for ensuring that appropriate further enquiries are made. 4. If the child needs urgent medical attention, obtain this first as a matter of urgency.
After this, consult with children’s services, the police or the NSPCC on whether to involve the child’s parents or carers. In 1991 the UN Convention on the rights of the child 1989 was ratified in the UK. The attached table sets out the rights that a child can expect. Most child safeguarding policies will now give children a voice and their needs and rights are paramount. If abuse is suspected or alleged the child’s rights will take precedence over the family’s views. Child safeguarding boards will assign a case worker to the child who will work through an assessment with them. Whilst they like to involve the families they can also omit them from partaking in any discussions. The attached leaflet explains in detail what happens.