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In this essay I will be looking at signs of harm and abuse, ways in which the individual may become vulnerable to abuse, legislation in relation to safeguarding and codes of practice in which we as social care workers must adhere to in order to safeguard an individual.
Harm and abuse is something that unfortunately happens, but there are ways in which we can recognise the signs of children who are victim to this. Physical abuse can lead to neurological damage, injury, disfigurement, disability and in the most severe cases death. The possible signs of physical abuse could see someone with injuries that aren’t consistent with an explanation given for how they received them, injuries to the body in places which are not normally exposed to falls or rough play, injuries that have not received medical attention, bites, bruises, burns and fractures that do not have an accidental explanation, reluctance to change for or take part in, games and sports activities. The effects of sexual abuse could include behaviours such as self-harm, inappropriate sexual behaviour, depression, sadness, and a severe loss of self-esteem. The impact of this is believed to increase the longer the abuse continues. The possible signs of sexual abuse could be eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia, sexual activity through words or drawings, repeated urinary infections and stomach aches, severe sleep disturbances, allegations concerning sexual abuse, preoccupation of sexual matters and knowledge of adult sexual behaviour or engages in sexual play inappropriate for the child’s age, the child is provocative or seductive towards adults. Neglect of a child can have an impact on health, social functioning, education, growth and development, relationships and more severely death. The possible signs of neglect could be hunger, tiredness, dirty clothes, clothes too big or too small or inappropriate for weather conditions, left to fend for themselves or left unsupervised, unkempt, dirty hair, dirty skin, bad odour, untreated illness, infected cuts (www.kirkleessafeguardingchildren.co.uk)
There are many ways in which children can be vulnerable to abuse such as parental substance abuse, the child has poor communication skills, absence of supportive/structed living environment, family is isolated, family dysfunction, history of abuse in the family, family refuse professional help, witness to abuse or domestic violence, child has no support/rejected by parents or carers, family live in poverty, poor housing conditions, family have an unhealthy social network, parent/s suffer from depression/stress, parent/s unable to supervise child. In recent years, we have seen a rise in children being targeted online, in a report by the Herald, it is estimated that the number of indecent communications recorded under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 between adults and children under the age of 13 rose from 103 in 2013/14 to 165 in 2014/15. In 2010 when the legislation first came into force there were only 15 offences recorded by Police Scotland, under the legislation it is an offence for a person to send sexual written and verbal communication to a child. (www.heraldscotland.com/news/14569603.Rise_in_the_of_Scottish_sexual_predators_targeting_children_online/)
The Children and Young Peoples (Scotland) Act 2014 is a current piece of legislation designed to safeguard our children and young people, the act focuses on the rights of the children and young people in Scotland-encourages Scottish ministers and public bodies to think about these rights and how they relate to their work, the wellbeing and getting it right for every child (GIRFEC)-by improving the way services work to support children, young people and families, early learning and childcare-to strengthen the role of early years support the children’s and families lives, getting it right for looked after children-to ensure better permanence planning for looked after children. The act will also strengthen existing legislation that effects children and young people by creating a new right to appeal a local authority decision to place a child in secure accommodation, and by making procedural changes in the areas children’s hearings support arrangements and school closures. (www.gov.scot/Topics/People/Young-People/legislation/proposed-bill)
The SSSC is the regulator of the social service workforce in Scotland, their role is to protect the public by registering social service workers, setting standards for their work practice, conduct, training and education and by supporting their professional development. Where social service workers fall below these standards of practice and conduct, they will investigate and take action. Some of the duties and responsibilities set out by the SSSC to safeguard individuals are 3.3 follow practices and procedures designed to keep me and other people safe from violent and behaviour at work, 3.9 enable people who use services and carers to make complaints. Take complaints seriously and either respond to them or pass them to the appropriate person. Take appropriate action when there is an allegation of harm, 4.3 take necessary steps to the reduce the risks of people who use services harming themselves or other people (Scottish Social Services Council, codes of practice for social service workers)
My research has shown me the various ways in which harm and abuse is perpetrated on an individual and the signs that we can look for to prevent further abuse or harm taking place. It has also shown me government legislation in protecting individuals and codes of practice that social services worker must work to, to safeguard individuals in our care.
Word count: 883
Scottish Social Services Council, codes of practice for social service workers
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