THORNHAM ST. JAMES PRIMARY SCHOOL
SAFEGUARDING AND CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
Updated Feb 2017
To be reviewed Oct 2018
Statement of Intent
This school believes that the safeguarding, welfare and protection of children should be an integral part of the ethos of the school, and that this should be a ‘listening’ school which seeks to create an atmosphere in which children feel secure, that their viewpoints are valued, and that they are encouraged to talk and are listened to.
The school will follow procedures as laid down by the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), and government guidance as recommended by ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ DfE 2016, and ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ DfE 2015. The school will respect issues of confidentiality and will give priority to working together with other agencies to protect children in our care particularly those who have been identified as being at risk of child abuse.
In this statement, and policy, staff includes both teachers and any other person employed or volunteering to work in the school who has contact with our children. It intends to give clear direction about expected behaviour and our legal responsibility to safeguard all children at our school.
This policy should be read along side other safeguarding policies e.g.: anti-bullying, e-safety, health & safety, allegations against staff, safer working practices and whistleblowing.
It is the responsibility of every member of staff, governor, volunteer and regular visitor to school to ensure that they carry out the requirements of this policy and, at all times, work in away that will safeguard and promote the welfare of all the pupils in this school.
Aims and Objectives
- The school aims to provide pupils with relevant information, skills and attitudes to help them to resist abuse. We hope that pupils will feel confident they can confide in staff on issues of neglect, abuse and deprivation.
- To allow staff to be familiar and confident with the appropriate child protection procedures and issues. This policy is intended to give clear guidance to all staff teaching and non-teaching on:
- The signs that may indicate the possibility of abuse;
- The procedures to follow, if a child discloses abuse or a member of staff suspects abuse.
- To work with parents to build an understanding of the School’s responsibility to ensure the welfare of all children and a recognition that this may occasionally require cases to be referred to other investigative agencies as a constructive and helpful measure.
- To monitor children who have been identified as ‘at risk’.
- To contribute to an inter-agency approach to child protection by developing effective and supportive liaison with other agencies and schools – thereby contributing towards a more effective detection of the incidence of child abuse.
- To annually review the School procedures and improve the way child protection issues are managed.
These objectives relate directly to the six aims of this Child Protection Policy at Thornham St. James School and are intended to show how the aims are actually put into practice.
- Safeguarding through the Curriculum.
- The skills will be delivered through the Curriculum and especially via Pastoral and Social Education (PSHE).
- We try to create an environment and ethos in which children feel secure, their viewpoints are valued, they are encouraged to talk and they are listened to.
- We use the Curriculum to raise pupils’ awareness and build confidence so that pupils have a range of contacts and strategies to ensure their own protection and understand the importance of protecting others.
- We try to impress upon pupils the importance of rejecting violence as a means of resolving conflict.
- We include, in the Curriculum/PSHE programmes, information on personal safety.
- Training and development of staff.
- We provide child protection training regularly to school staff and in particular the designated teacher to ensure that their skills and expertise are up to date. Training focuses on the recognition of the symptoms of child abuse, the procedures and case studies. All staff undergo some initial training in child protection during the induction programme for new teachers.
- Each member of staff is given a complete copy of this policy in their staff file.
- Communication with parents.
We inform parents/carers (by publishing a statement in the School prospectus and on the school website) that the staff are required by law to follow the procedures laid down by the Oldham Child Protection Guidelines and OLSCB. The statement reads as follows:(See P6 of policy – Information for parents)
- Recording, Storing and Sharing information.
We keep clear records of pupils’ progress, maintain sound policies on confidentiality, provide information to other professionals and submit reports to case conferences. All records are kept in a secure location.
- We employ the child protection procedures and systems of the LA.
- We employ systems that enable the transition process to include child protection procedures.
- School is committed to developing links with outside agencies – by attending case conferences, core groups.
- School will undertake/consider a CAF when necessary. This is the procedure for early identification concerns about a child’s welfare before they become bigger concerns.
The Role of Headteacher and Governors
The Headteacher and governors of the school will seek to fully support the role and responsibilities of the designated persons for child protection through ensuring that:
- The school has an effective policy in place, is reviewed annually and is available on the school website.
- The policies and procedures adopted by the Governing Body are followed by all.
- There is a designated person for Safeguarding, Child Protection and Looked after Children.
- There is a designated governor for Safeguarding and Looked after Children. The Designated Governor at our school is Mrs D Millington.
- The Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) guidelines are complied with.
- All staff receive a copy of the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy.
- All staff undertake regular safeguarding training.
- Procedures are in place for dealing with allegations against members of staff and volunteers in line with statutory guidance.
- Safer Recruitment practices are followed in accordance with the requirements of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ DfE (2016).
- A Single Central Record is held, which includes all members of staff.
The Role and Responsibilities of the Designated Safeguarding Lead
The designated person for the school is M. Johnson. She will always be the first point of reference for any issue to do with safeguarding in the school. In the absence of M. Johnson the deputy Headteacher, A.Tomlinson, (as deputy Designated Lead) should be referred to.
In this school the designated lead will carry out their role in accordance with the responsibilities outlined in Annex B of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’.
The Designated Safeguarding Lead will:
- Provide advice and support to all staff on child protection matters.
- Represent school at child protection conferences and core group meetings, liaise with Children’s Services and other agencies when necessary, make referrals of suspected abuse and attend inter agency meetings.
- Ensure that appropriate staff within the school know sufficient about the child who has or maybe suffering abuse, know what signs to look for and what to do.
- Keep information regarding children on the Child Protection Register, informing staff appropriately.
- Ensure written records of concerns are kept, even if there is no immediate need for referral, and monitored using the school ‘cause for concern’ form.
- Pass on information when children change schools
- Arrange ongoing whole school awareness raising and staff development (including support staff), with regard to child protection.
The Role and Responsibilities of Every Member of Staff
- Know who the designated person is.
- Know and follow the in-school procedures.
- Understand the role of the designated person and the LSCB procedures.
- Attend any in-school meetings when appropriate.
- Monitor any vulnerable child who is in their care and implement any child protection plans.
- Have a general awareness of the possible indicators of abuse.
- Keep confidential any sensitive information, which has been shared with them.
- Record concerns on a ‘Cause for Concern’ form and hand to the designated persons.
- Deal with a disclosure from a child in line with recommendations set down in ‘Dealing with Disclosure’.
- Undergo regular child protection training.
- Ensure that curriculum plans provide opportunities for children to develop their skills and knowledge of safe practices, including e-safety.
All teaching staff must understand the importance of reporting suspicious circumstances and be able to report signs of abuse to the Headteacher/Designated Person. Beyond the initial reporting of suspected child abuse, staff have a clearly restricted role as further judgements and action decisions are the responsibility of other agencies with statutory powers to help the child.
A child going missing from education is a potential indicator of abuse or neglect. Going missing during the school day is also a potential indicator of abuse, including child sexual exploitation.
All staff have a responsibility to alert the Designated Safeguarding Lead if a pupil goes missing from education or during the school day.
Guidance and Procedures to Follow
Staff will follow the in-school child protection procedures as shown at Appendix 1 and Appendix 2.
- Our school procedures for safeguarding children are in line with Oldham LSCB child protection procedures.
- Any member of staff, volunteer or visitor to the school who receives a disclosure of abuse, an allegation or suspects that the abuse may have occurred must report it immediately to the Designated Safeguarding Lead, or in their absence the deputy designated person for child protection or another designated member of staff. An initial concern should be done verbally on the same day that the concern arises, and then should be followed up using the in-school recording and notification procedure, (Cause for Concern Form).
- All staff should be prepared to identify children who may benefit from Early Help. Early Help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges at any point in a child’s life. In the first instance, staff should discuss early help requirements with the Designated Safeguarding Lead, which may result in an Early Help assessment.
- If it is decided that a referral is necessary, the designated safeguarding lead or another designated member of staff will immediately refer cases of suspected abuse or allegation to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH team) on tel: 0161 770 7777. A telephone referral should be followed by a written record of the referral, which will be emailed to the MASH team (using the LSCB multi-agency referral form) as soon as possible and within the school day. www.oldham.gov.uk/lscb/info/4/referralsandassessments
If students are from out of borough then the relevant Social Services Safeguarding Team will be contacted.
- The school will always undertake to share information with parents/carers where there is an intention to refer a child to statutory services unless to do so could place the child/young person at greater risk or harm or impede an investigation by statutory services. (See LSCB Guide to ‘Making a Child Protection Referral’)
What School Staff Should Look out For
Types of Abuse
(Extract from Keeping Children Safe in Education – Statutory guidance for schools and colleges – July 2016)
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. They may be abused by an adult or adults, or 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 in so far 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 cyber bullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, r 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 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 rooming 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
In addition to being vigilant of the signs of neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and child exploitation (see appendix), all staff should understand the risks presented by:
- Children missing from education
- Children missing from home or care
- Child sexual exploitation
- Bullying including cyber bullying
- Fabricated or induced illness
- Faith abuse
- Female genital mutilation
- Forced marriage
- Gangs and youth violence
- Gender based violence/ violence against women and girls
- Mental illness
- Private fostering
- Radicalisation and extremism
- Teenage relationship abuse
Further information on these issues can be found on the NSPCC website and via the GOV.UK website.
Female Genital Mutilation
If staff have any concerns regarding FGM, they must follow school safeguarding procedures e.g. immediately speak to a Designated Safeguarding Lead.
Staff have a statutory duty to report any discovery that FGM appears to have been carried out on a girl under the age of 18.
Radicalisation and Extremism
Protecting children from the risk of radicalisation is part of schools’ wider safeguarding duties, and is similar in nature to protecting children from other forms of harm and abuse. As with managing other safeguarding risks, staff should be alert to changes in students’ behaviour, which could indicate that they may be in need of help or protection. If staff have any concerns about a young person’s safety they should speak to a Designated Lead.
What is extremism? – 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. (Keeping Children Safe in Education – Statutory guidance for schools and colleges July 2016 p18). Extremism can be both violent and non-violent.
What is radicalisation? – Radicalisation is the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism leading to terrorism. (Keeping Children Safe in Education – Statutory guidance for schools and colleges July 2016 p18).
Procedures in place for protecting students at risk of radicalisation
The way forward in Primary Schools is through ‘Healthy Relationships’, the difference between right and wrong, mutual respect, personal safety and well-being. It is about spotting the early signs!
Teaching British Values within the curriculum
Fundamental British Values are defined as: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. Actively promoting the values means challenging opinions or behaviours in school that are contrary to British Values.
We teach a broad and balanced curriculum, which promoters the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life. We actively promote community cohesion and British Values across all curriculum areas, but particularly RE, PSHE and English.
We aim to build pupils’ resilience to radicalisation by providing a safe environment for debating controversial issues and helping them understand how they can influence and participate in decision making.
All visiting speakers that visit school should be fully checked to ensure they are suitable. All staff who wish to invite visiting speakers into school must get permission from the Headteacher or Deputy Headteacher who will ensure necessary checks are carried out. All visiting speakers must be supervised by at least one member of school staff.
After School Activities
All after school activities and groups must have approval from the Headteacher or Deputy Headteacher, and have relevant certificates of training and/or qualifications and DBS checks.
Our Internet controls in school ensure all students are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the Internet in school.
Our E-safety education with pupils, parents and staff includes the risks of online radicalisation.
Understanding the risk factors and signs of radicalisation is part of the ongoing safeguarding training of all staff. The Designated Safeguarding Lead has had Prevent Awareness Training and is able to provide advice and support to other members of staff on protecting children from the risk of radicalisation
If we have safeguarding concerns regarding a young person, the Designated Safeguarding Leads will make an appropriate referral to Channel or Children’s Social Care.
What to do if a child talks to you about abuse
It should be recognised that a child or young person may seek you out to share information about abuse or neglect, or talk spontaneously individually or in a group when you are present. In these situations you should:
- Listen carefully to the child; do not directly question them.
- Allow the child the time to give an account; do not stop a child from recalling events.
- Make an accurate record of concerns using the school record of concern form Reassure the child that they were right to tell.
- Explain that you cannot promise not to speak to others, but will only pass on the information to those who need to know.
- Pass the concern directly to the Designated Safeguarding lead or deputy designated person.
- If, at any point, there is a risk of immediate serious harm to a child, a referral should be made to Children’s Social Care immediately. Anybody can make a referral.
Recording, Storing and Sharing Information
All staff are required to record accurately information that may be required in respect of child protection. If a child discloses, record the precise information as soon as possible, with date, event, action taken and sign and date the record. All records of concerns or disclosures should be made using the in school cause for concern form. It is very important for staff to distinguish between fact, observation, allegation and opinion.
- All staff records must be passed to the Headteacher/Designated Teacher for storage and action.
- All safeguarding records are kept confidentially and securely in a locked cabinet in the Headteacher’s office.
- Information required by the court should be given to the officers of the court and not to other persons who may use it as evidence.
- An asterisk is placed next to the child’s name on the class list, indicating that any sensitive issues relating to that child should be taken to the Headteacher or Designated teacher.
- Once any information has, of necessity, been shared with a member of staff, that member of staff must undertake not to discuss the information with anyone who is not in possession of the same information.
When a pupil transfers to another school in this area, the following action will be taken:
- If the child has a Child Protection Plan, a meeting will be held with the designated person from the receiving school, at which all relevant information will be transferred. If possible, both designated persons will attend the next case review.
- If the child does not have a Child Protection Plan but concerns exist, a note will accompany the child’s information to the new school, which indicates that the designated person is available for informal discussion if the new school considers it necessary. Confidential information on children in this position, will be stored by this school for a period of five years. Unless the child is returned to a Child Protection Plan at the new school these records will be destroyed after that time.
- The Headteacher and all other staff who work with children will undertake appropriate child protection awareness training to equip them to carry out their responsibilities for child protection effectively, that is kept up to date by refresher training at ‘regular’ intervals as set out in “Keeping Children Safe in Education” 2016. All staff should read at least part one of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ (2016).
- The school will ensure that the designated persons undertake refresher safeguarding training every two years to keep knowledge and skills up to date.
- All staff (including governors) will receive child protection/safeguarding training when first appointed as part of their induction.
- We recognise that staff working in school have who may have become involved with a child who has suffered harm or appears likely to suffer harm may find the situation upsetting. We will support such staff by providing an opportunity to talk through their anxieties with the Designated Safeguarding Lead and to seek further support if required.
Advice to Teachers
Staff often become initially aware of the possibility of abuse occurring when they are asked for advice/questioned by children in a confidential manner. Having considered teacher’s professional responsibilities, the current legal situation and a desire to protect staff, the Governing body have issued the following statement/directive.
- The Governors and staff believe that the school’s function is to provide a general education about sexual, drug and other matters and not to offer individual advice, information or counselling on aspects of sexual behaviour, contraception or social behaviour.
- If a pupil asks a teacher for advice on sexual matters, the teacher must not trespass on the parents’ rights and responsibilities. Therefore, the teacher should encourage the pupil to seek advice from his or her parents and, if appropriate, from the relevant health service professional.
- In all cases of explicit questions being asked by a child to a member of staff, abuse should only be suspected when the questions are totally inappropriate to the age of the child.
- We recognise that all matters relating to child protection are confidential.
- The Headteacher or Designated Person will disclose personal information about a pupil 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 sensitive information with other agencies in order to safeguard children.
- All staff must be aware that they cannot promise a child to keep secrets which might compromise the child’s safety or well-being, or that of any other.
- All staff and volunteers need to be aware of the confidential nature of personal information about all pupils’ families, and will aim to maintain this confidentiality.
Allegation Against School Staff
- Teachers must protect themselves and staff should bear in mind that even perfectly innocent actions can sometimes be misconstrued.
- When pupils make such an allegation against a member of staff, Safeguarding Staff from Allegations Procedures must be followed.
- There is an LSCB procedure for investigating allegations of professional abuse. Issues of concern should be reported to the Headteacher or the next most senior member of staff who will then contact the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) at the Safeguarding Children Team on 770 8870.
- In the event of an allegation of abuse being made against the headteacher allegations should be reported to the Chair of Governors.
Safer Working Practice
- We understand that staff should have access to advice on the boundaries of appropriate behaviour. The document “Guidance for Safer Working Practice for Adults who work with Children and Young People” (DfE Oct 2015) provides advice on this and circumstances, which should be avoided in order to limit complaints against staff of abuse, and/or allegations of physical or sexual abuse. These matters are referred to in the staff handbook.
- This school is committed to safer recruitment and the suitability of all at the school. The Headteacher has undertaken approved safer recruitment training in line with statutory requirements and at least one Governor will also undertake this training.
- School ensures that there is safe practice followed in checking the suitability of staff to work at the school. All school staff have undertaken an enhanced DBS check.
- School ensures that visitors or contractors who visit the school premises are appropriately ‘risk assessed’ – identities are checked on arrival. Those visitors/contractors who have not undergone a DBS check are supervised whilst in school.
Photography and Videos
Full parental consent is sought at the beginning of each year for their child to be photographed or videoed for school purposes, publicity and/or use on the school website. Parents are permitted to take photographs at school events such as the Nativity or music performances, but are reminded of their responsibilities with regard to their safe use and circulation.
Information for Parents
In general, we will discuss concerns with parents before approaching other agencies. However, there may be occasions when the school will contact another agency before informing the parents if the school decides that contacting parents may increase the risk of significant harm to the child.
The following statement will appear in the school’s prospectus to inform parents of the school’s duty in this respect:
Protecting Children from Abuse
Parents should be aware that the school will take any reasonable action to ensure the safety of pupils. Where the school is concerned that a child may be the subject of ill-treatment, neglect or other forms of abuse, staff must follow Oldham Child Protection procedures and report their concerns to Oldham Social Care Department.
The LSCB procedures instruct the school to contact the Social Care Team first, where sexual abuse is alleged/suspected. Otherwise, in any discussion of concerns with parents a copy of the Oldham leaflet for the public on child protection will be shared.
Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse
Although the signs of child abuse are well documented many of the symptoms taken in isolation can occur in situations where no child abuse is occurring, will occur or has ever occurred. Many of these signs may also be indications of other medical, social or psychological problems or simply normal child development. Staff therefore need to be careful and thoughtful in ascertaining whether abuse is suspected. The large number of signs and symptoms described in this policy need to be considered in the light of normal child development e.g.
- Temper tantrums are to be expected from a two-year-old but may be a sign of serious distress in a child of 10.
- An interest in sexual topics and members of the opposite sex is to be expected in a youngster of 15, but in a 7 year old, such behaviour may well be a cause for concern.
If there are reasonable grounds for suspecting child abuse is taking place then the Headteacher/Designated Person must act immediately. It is safer to act or to discuss with other agencies than to delay.
The different categories of child abuse and their symptoms can be found in appendices 4 &5.
The policy is regularly updated in order that we comply with new legislation and good practice. Currently the School’s policy for ‘Child Protection’ is consistent with, and so reinforces:
- Oldham Local Safeguarding Children Board and Child Protection Procedures (OLSCB).
- Working Together to Safeguard Children. DfE (2015)
- ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’. DfE (2016)
- ‘What to Do of You are Worried a Child is Being Abused’. DfE (March 2015)
- Guidance for Safer Working practices for Adults who work with Children and Young people in Education Settings. DfE (Oct 2015)
- Information Sharing: ‘Advice for Practitioners’ DfE (March 2015)
- The Prevent Duty: Departmental Advice for Schools and Childcare Providers. DfE (2015)
- Dealing with a Disclosure of Abuse.
- Cause for Concern Form.
- Definitions and Signs of Abuse.
- Signs of possible Radicalisation.
Dealing with a Disclosure of Abuse
When a child tells me about abuse s/he has suffered, what must I remember?
- Stay calm.
- Do not transmit shock, anger or embarrassment.
- Reassure the child. Tell her/him you are pleased that s/he is speaking to you.
- Never enter into a pact of secrecy with the child. Assure her/him that you will try to help, but let the child know that you will have to tell other people in order to do this. State who this will be.
- Tell her/him that you believe them. Children very rarely lie about abuse, but s/he may have tried to tell others and not been heard or believed. Tell the child that it is not her/his fault.
- Encourage the child to talk but do not ask ‘leading questions’ or press for information.
- Listen and remember.
- Check that you have understood correctly what the child is trying to tell you.
- Praise the child for telling you. Communicate that s/he has aright to be safe and protected.
- Do not tell the child that what s/he experienced is dirty, naughty or bad. It is inappropriate to make any comments about the alleged offender.
- Be aware that the child may retract what s/he has told you. It is essential to record all you have heard.
- At the end of the conversation, tell the child again whom you are going to tell and why that person or those people need to know.
- As soon as you can afterwards, make a detailed record of the conversation using the child’s own language. Include any questions you may have asked. Do not add any personal opinions or interpretations.
NB – It is not the education staff’s role to seek disclosures. Their role is to observe that something may be wrong, ask about it, listen, be available and try to make time to talk.
You must not deal with this yourself. Clear indications or disclosure of abuse must be reported to your Designated Lead who must then involve social services without delay. Listening to and supporting a child/young person who has been abused can be traumatic for the adults involved. Support is available from your Designated Lead.
Treat the information you have received in strictest confidence. Do not discuss it with any other staff member unless specifically asked to do so by the Designated Lead.
Appendix 2 Confidential
Child Protection Cause for Concern Form
Name of person making referral
Date & Time
Name of Pupil
Full Details of your concern
(NB: Record the facts; do not give personal opinion or interpretation.)
Signed staff member:
Action taken by Safeguarding Lead
Signed Designated Lead:
Definitions and Signs of Abuse
There are a number of warning indicators, which might suggest that a child may be being abused or neglected. Education professionals should be alert to these warning signs, but should be careful not to assume that abuse is the reason. Some signs can be present in children who are not abused at all. Nor should assumptions be made that they point to any particular form of abuse, simply because a pupil presents with any of these problems. They may suggest abuse if a child exhibits several of them or if a pattern emerges.
(Extracts from the Department of Education Publication “what to do if you’re worried a child is being abused: advice for practitioners’ March 2015).
Some of the following signs may be indicators of abuse or neglect:
- Children whose behaviour changes – they may become aggressive, challenging, disruptive, withdrawn or clingy, or they might have difficulty sleeping or start wetting the bed.
- Children with clothes, which are ill fitting and/or dirty.
- Children with consistently poor hygiene.
- Children who make strong efforts to avoid specific family members or friends, without an obvious reason.
- Children who don’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
- Children who are having problems at school, for example, a sudden lack of concentration and learning or they appear to be tired and hungry.
- Children who talk about being left home alone, with inappropriate carers or with strangers.
- Children who reach developmental milestones late, such as learning to speak or walk, with no medical reason.
- Children who are regularly missing from school or education.
- Children who are reluctant to go home after school.
- Children with poor school attendance and punctuality, or who are consistently late being picked up.
- Parents who are dismissive and non-responsive to practitioners’ concerns.
- Parents who collect their children from school when drunk, or under the influence of drugs.
- Children who drink alcohol regularly from an early age.
- Children who are concerned for younger siblings without explaining why.
- Children who talk about running away.
- Children who shy away from being touched or flinch at sudden movements.
Physical Abuse is deliberately physically hurting a child. It might take a variety of different forms, including hitting, pinching, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning or suffocating a child.
Physical abuse can happen in any family, but children may be more at risk if their parents have problems with drugs, alcohol and mental health or if they live in a home where domestic abuse happens. Babies and disabled children also have a higher risk of suffering physical abuse.
Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child. Physical abuse can also occur outside of the family environment.
Some of the following signs may be indicators of physical abuse:
- Children with frequent injuries
- Children with unexplained or unusual fractures or broken bones
- Children with unexplained bruises or cuts, burns or scalds, or bite marks
- Children with a fear of undressing
- Children with a watchful attitude
Emotional Abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child. It is also sometimes called psychological abuse and it can have severe and persistent adverse effects on a child’s emotional development.
Although the effects of emotional abuse might take a long time to be recognisable, practitioners will be in a position to observe it, for example, in the way that a parent interacts with their child. Emotional abuse may involve deliberately telling a child that they are worthless, or unloved and inadequate. It may include not giving a child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate.
Emotional abuse may involve serious bullying – including online bullying through social networks, online games or mobile phones – by a child’s peers.
Some of the following signs may be indicators of emotional abuse:
- Children who are excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong
- Parents or carers who withdraw their attention from their child, giving the child the ‘cold shoulder’
- Parents or carers blaming their problems on their child
- Parents or carers who humiliate their child, for example, by name-calling or making negative comparisons
- Children who show desperate attention-seeking behaviour.
Neglect is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic needs, whether it is adequate food, clothing, hygiene, supervision or shelter. It is likely to result in serious impairment of a child’s health or development.
Children who are neglected also often suffer from other types of abuse. It is important that practitioners remain alert and do not miss opportunities to take timely action. However, while you may be concerned about a child, neglect is not always straightforward to identify.
Neglect may occur if a parent becomes physically or mentally unable to care for a child. A parent may also have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, which could impair their ability to keep a child safe or result in them prioritising buying drugs, or alcohol, over food, clothing or warmth for the child. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal drug or alcohol abuse.
Some of the following signs may be indicators of neglect:
- Children who are living in a home that is indisputably dirty or unsafe.
- Children who are left hungry or dirty.
- Children who are left without adequate clothing e.g. not having a winter coat.
- Children who are living in dangerous conditions i.e. around drugs, alcohol or violence.
- Children who are often angry, aggressive or self –harm.
- Children who fail to receive basic health care.
- Parents who fail to seek medical treatment when their children are ill or injured
Sexual Abuse is any sexual activity with a child. You should be aware that many children and young people who are victims of sexual abuse do not recognise themselves as such. A child may not understand what is happening and may not even understand what is happening and may not even understand that t is wrong. Sexual abuse can have a long-term impact on mental health.
Sexual abuse 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 clothing. It may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in the production of sexual images, forcing children to look at sexual images or watch 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 commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
Some of the following signs may be indicators of sexual abuse:
- Children who display knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to their age.
- Children who use sexual language or have sexual knowledge that you wouldn’t expect them to have.
- Children who ask others to behave sexually or play sexual games.
- Children with physical sexual health problems, including soreness in the genital and anal areas, sexually transmitted infections or underage pregnancy.
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 assault. 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 doesn’t 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 emotional well-being.
- Children who misuse drugs and alcohol.
- Children who go missing for periods of time or regularly come home late.
- Children who regularly miss school or education or don’t take part in education
Signs of Possible Radicalisation
Signs/Behaviours (Usually a noticeable CHANGE in behaviour)
- Speech may become scripted
- Out of character speech
- Age inappropriate discussions
- Unwillingness to consider other views (fixed ideas)
- An unnatural focus on a particular group
- Showing of resentment
- Feeling of injustice
- Lack of resilience, inability to handle emotions
- Feeling of a lack of support
- Feeling of not being understood
- Feeling of superiority – power
- Become paranoid, secretive
- Low self esteem
- Change of appearance – hairstyle, dress, tattoos etc. (Primary children may not have tattoos but start to doodle significant images)
- Erratic behaviour – violent, aggressive, opinionated, volatile, bullying, arrogant
- Disengaged – antisocial, withdrawn, subject to abuse, isolated, not conforming to rules
- Neglected? Balanced diet?
- Greater pride in appearance – gym attendance, physically fit
- Alcohol/drug use
- Constant new phones, multiple phones
- Unsettled attendance
- Extended leave