1. Understand the policies, procedures and practices for safe working with children and young people.
1.1 Explain the policies, procedures and practices for safe working with children and young people.
The Children Act of 1984 and 2004 set out the responsibilities of professionals working with children to report suspected abuse. Due to failures in the law to uphold the protection of vulnerable children (for example the death of Victoria Climbie in 2000) an Inquiry was carried out by Lord Laming resulting in The Every Child Matters initiative (ECM), which made major changes in the Children Act in particular child protection policies. These covered children and young adults up to the age of 19, or 24 for those with disabilities. It provided a framework for working with children in multi-agency partnership. It identified 5 main themes:
Enjoy and achieve
Make a positive contribution
Achieve economic well-being
These themes were adopted by all agencies working with children. A major criticism in the past of Children’s Services has been the failure of professionals to work together in a multi-disciplinary manner or to understand each other’s role. Despite huge changes to policy following the Laming Inquiry and the ECM initiative, these changes did not prevent the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells, which resulted in a further Inquiry (Bichard Inquiry). This Inquiry recommended the introduction of a new scheme to check the suitability and registration of anyone wishing to work with children and/or vulnerable adults. This screening led to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and the setting up of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) who were responsible for managing the systems and processing the applications for ISA registration.
The ISA has access to lists held by POVA (Protection of Vulnerable Adults) and POCA (Protection of Children Act) and List 99 (a list of teachers who have been considered unsuitable to work with children) when assessing applications for registration to work with children and/or vulnerable adults. Anyone found unsuitable is put on the ISA barred list.
Many other policy documents have been launched including:
Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006 (updated in 2010), which resulted in the creation of:
The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO)
LADO is responsible for managing allegations of abuse against adults who work with children for example: teachers, social workers, church leaders, youth workers etc.
Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs)
LSCBs remit is to ensure agencies and professionals in the area promote the welfare of children.
A Serious Case Review would be initiated, in the event of a death or serious injury of a child, to identify failings and improve future practice.
The Protection of Children in England: A progress report (Laming, 2009) Ed Balls, Children’s Secretary, commissioned Lord Laming in November 2008 to produce a progress report following his report on the Protection of Children in England. This was published in March 2009 and recognised that Every Child Matters is the right framework for safeguarding children, but that more must be done to ensure that it is implemented in practice to provide the best quality care and protection for every child at the front door of each of the key services.
Its recommendations are aimed at making sure that good practice becomes standard practice in every service. This includes recommendations on improving the inspection of safeguarding services and the quality of Serious Case Reviews as well as recommendations on improving the help and support children receive when they are at risk of harm.
The document aims to:
Evaluate the good practice that has been developed since the publication of the report of the Independent Statutory Inquiry following the death of Victoria Climbie Identify the barriers that are now preventing good practice becoming standard practice Recommend actions to be taken to make systematic improvements in safeguarding children across the country
2. Understand how to respond to evidence or concerns that a child or young person has been abused or harmed
2.1Describe the possible signs, symptoms, indicators and behaviours that may cause concern in the context of safeguarding
The UK Government guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children 2010 identifies four types of abuse as being:
1. Physical abuse
2. Emotional abuse
3. Sexual abuse
This is when a child is hurt in a physical manner such as hitting, shaking, burning, drowning or suffocating and as a result harm is caused to a child.
Signs of Physical abuse may include:
Bruising or injuries to any part of the body that cannot be explained Bruising on the upper arm or on the outside of the thigh
Human bite marks
Changes in behaviour that might indicate physical abuse could include: Depression
Fear of parents getting involved
Aggressive behaviour or temper outbursts
Reluctance to get changed
Flinching when approached or touched
This can be any action that results in a child feeling worthless, unloved or inadequate. This can include not giving a child the chance to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate.
Changes in behaviour that might indicate emotional abuse could include: Fear of making mistakes
Being unable to play
Rocking or behaviour which is neurotic in nature
Development delay in terms of emotional progress
Speech disorders which develop suddenly
Fear of parent being approached or involved in discussion
This can be forcing a child to take part in sexual activity, encouraging them to behave inappropriately in a sexual way as well as non-contact activities such as involving children in looking at sexual images.
Changes in behaviour that may indicate sexual abuse could include: Having nightmares
Becoming aggressive or withdrawn
Trying to run away from home
Fear of being left with a specific person or group of people Bedwetting
Sexual knowledge which is beyond their age, or sexual drawing or use of sexual language Eating problems such as overeating or anorexia
Saying they have secrets they cannot reveal
Self-harm or mutilation, or suicide attempts
Acting in a sexually explicit way towards adults
Suddenly having unexplained sources of money or consumer items Substance or drug abuse
Not allowed to have friends (particularly in adolescence)
Physical signs of sexual abuse could be:
Pain or itching in the genital region
Vaginal discharge or infection
Sexually transmitted disease
Bruising or bleeding near genital region
Discomfort when walking or sitting down
This is any failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs
The physical signs of neglect could include:
Being constantly dirty or ‘smelly’
Wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather conditions ie no jumper or coat Being constantly hungry, sometimes resorting to stealing food from other children
Changes in behaviour that could indicate neglect could include: Not attending to medical needs/failing to attend appointments Mentioning being left alone or unsupervised
Being a ‘loner’ – having few friends
Complaining of tiredness all the time
2.2 Describe the actions to take if a child or young person alleges harm or abuse in line with policies and procedures of own setting
We have a responsibility and duty of care, as set out in our safeguarding policy and procedures, to alert the appropriate person or agencies if we suspect any form of abuse on a child or an adult.
It is important that we:
Know who to contact to express any concerns about a child’s welfare Recognise that an allegation could lead to a criminal investigation and that care is therefore needed to ensure no action is taken to jeopardise a police investigation Do not attempt to investigate any allegations of abuse
Know who is responsible for making any referral
Keep our records up-to-date e.g. name, address, gender, date of birth, parents/main carer(s) of our service users Record in writing all concerns, discussions and decisions that are made and the reasons for those decisions
Both myself, colleague and Managing Director have all completed Safeguarding training and have applied for an enhanced check by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). We also carry put DBS checks on all our volunteers.
I have been on numerous courses through my work as a support assistant at RCAT and at my time at Reclaim including: Safeguarding Adults – Role of the Alerter – January 2014.
At Reclaim we have service users from a number of local authorities including Sheffield, Nottinghamshire and Barnsley. We have a list of the emergency telephone numbers for all the direct lines for the Safeguarding offices, both daytime and out of hours, for each authority (Sheffield, Nottinghamshire and Barnsley) together with the telephone numbers for the Police and other relevant Agencies that we can use in the case of any suspected abuse. These telephone numbers are listed on one sheet of paper and kept in the relevant file in the office, which can be accessed by all staff. We also have leaflets that are available for both staff and service users regarding abuse and how to report safeguarding issues.
2.3 Explain the rights that children, young people and their families have in situations where harm or abuse is suspected or alleged.
Every child has a right to live free from physical and emotional harm, neglect and bullying. In 1989, governments worldwide promised all children the same rights by adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, also known as the CRC or UNCRC. The 54 articles covered in the UNCRC list the different rights that children have, and the responsibilities that the Government, and others, have to make sure that children have these rights in order to survive, grow, and live up to their potential in the world. They apply equally to every child, no matter who they are or where they come from. In 1991, the UK Government agreed to make sure that children have all of the rights listed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which included:
The right to be protected from abuse
The right to express their views
The right to be listened to
The right to care and services for disabled children or children living away from home The right to protection from any for of discrimination
The right to receive and share information as long as that information is not damaging to others The right to freedom of religion although they should also be free to examine beliefs The right to education
Section 19 of the UNCRC covers; Protection from violence, exploitation, abuse, neglect and maltreatment. It states that the Government must make sure children are protected from any type of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse or exploitation, whilst living with parents or in the care of anyone else. Therefor, special procedures must also be set up to help any children that have been the victim of abuse.
The Children's Commissioner for Wales is an independent children’s rights institution, which was established in 2001. The organisation’s principal aim is to safeguard and promote the rights and welfare of children and young people in Wales. The rest of the UK soon followed on with the creation of further commissioners for Northern Ireland (Commissioner for Children and Young People (NI) Order 2003), Scotland (Commissioner for Children and Young People (Scotland) Order 2003), and England (sections 1-9 of the Children Act 2004). All have a responsibility for protecting children's rights as set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Further rights for Children are supported in the Education Act 2002, which requires school governing bodies, LEAs and further education institutions to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. In addition, the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which replaced the Children Act 1989, modernised the law to include witnessing domestic violence as a further definition of ‘harm’.
The Children Act 2004 provides the legal basis for how social services and other agencies deal with issues relating to children. It states that the interests of children and young people are ‘paramount’ in all considerations of welfare and safeguarding and that safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility. The main principles of the Act are:
To allow children to be healthy
Allowing children to remain safe in their environments
Helping children to enjoy life
Assist children in their quest to succeed
Help make a contribution – a positive contribution – to the lives of children Help achieve economic stability for our children’s futures
These guidelines ensure that all individuals who are involved in the looking after children, be it in the home, the work place, school or other locale are aware of how children should be looked after in the eyes of the law.