Within the police force they have implemented Child Protection Investigation Units (CPIU) this unit is run by the police which investigates allegations or suspicions of child abuse; they also have access to databases that quickly check information on particular individuals. The police service have the principle role of ensuring any alleged cases of child abuse are prioritized and investigated immediately as well as the prevention and detection of crime against or involving children and to minimize children’s potential to become a victim. The police service also communicate and work closely with agencies such as social services and the CPIU, sharing information and intelligence with other agencies where necessary to ensure children are protected from harm. Their role and responsibilities involve providing information directly to children themselves through many routes i.e. assemblies etc and safeguarding young people on the streets for their own safety. One of there many aims are to protect the lives of children and to ensure that the welfare of the child is paramount. The police are able to take emergency action in the case of a child being in immediate danger, including removal of the child or perpetrator.
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Health Services –
These include health professionals such as school nurses, GP’s, nurses, health visitors and doctors. GP’s and doctors in particular within emergency departments may examine children thought to be at possible risk with injuries which they may question to be non-accidental. Health professionals have a duty of care to refer information to Social Services who they liaise with, when abuse is suspected and a child is thought to be at risk of abuse or has previously suffered abuse. Their role and responsibilities involve liaising and helping aid other agencies in the effort to prevent abuse of children and keep record/track of injuries throughout a child’s life. They may contribute to Social Services reports and provide evidence in court when a crime has been committed.
Social Services –
Social Services are legally responsible for supporting vulnerable children and families in need and are responsible for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. Their role includes offering information, support and advice to children and families, to investigate cases of concern, suspected abuse or inappropriate behaviour and select a course of action to be taken. Social Services meet and hold interviews with children and families and liaise with other agencies to gather relevant information regarding the child and their situation. They are able to take immediate action if a child is felt to be in immediate danger or harm, they are also there to assess children of their needs and to establish if the parents are capable of fulfilling the child’s needs.
E Safety Council –
Are there to set up guidelines to ensure a safe experience for children when using the internet and other forms of technology in order to protect children from harm via methods of E technology.
The NSPCC is a third-sector charitable organisation and their main aim is to work towards protecting and preventing children from harm. The NSPCC is known to be the only third-sector charitable organisation with statutory power alongside social services and the police, able to respond and take action appropriately when children are at risk of abuse. The NSPCC are able to receive anonymous information from the public, if the information is taken seriously and a child is thought to be at risk the NSPCC have a duty of care to refer this information to Social Services. They also provide a helpline providing help, advice and information to children who are troubled and distressed or feel they are in danger. The organisation also offers services to help support children, families and carers.
Because of our day-to-day contact with children, child practitioners are particularly well placed to observe signs of abuse, changes in behaviour or failure to develop. Abuse of children and young people can take many different forms; the following categories of abuse are generally recognised: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and bullying.
Physical abuse – Actual or likely physical injury to a child, or failure to prevent physical injury (or suffering) to a child, including deliberate poisoning, suffocation and Munchausen’s’s syndrome by proxy.
Unexplained or recurrent injuries or burns
Reluctance to change for PE
Issues with making friendships and difficulty trusting people
Child becoming withdrawn
Watchful/cautious attitude towards adults
Emotional abuse – Actual or likely severe adverse affect on the emotional and behavioral development of a child caused by persistent or severe emotional ill treatment or rejection. All these forms of abuse involve some emotional ill treatment.
Delay in speech development
Poor concentration levels
Passive, Lacking in spontaneity
Delayed physical and/or emotional development
Self-absorbing behavior e.g., thumb sucking, rocking.
Unable to engage in imaginative play
Sexual abuse – Occurs when a child is forced or enticed into sexual activities or situations by others. Actual or likely sexual exploitation of a child or adolescent. The child may be dependant and develop mentally immature.
Sudden behavior change
Frightened of physical contact
Bruises or scratches, including ‘Love bites’ on the body.
Sexual knowledge or demonstrating inappropriate sexual behavior
Beginning to wet or soil themselves
Withdrawn or secretive behavior
Depression, self-harm, running away
Using sexually explicit language
Neglect – A persistent or severe neglect of a child, or the failure to protect a child from exposure to any kind of danger, cold or starvation or extreme failure to carry out important aspects of care, resulting in the significant impairment of the child’s health or development, including non organic failure to thrive. The signs of neglect may also include being dirty, hungry, seeking attention and generally failing to thrive.
Poor social skills or social isolation
Poor personal hygiene
Constant hunger and/or tiredness
Poor state of clothing
Slow physical development
Frequent lateness or poor school attendance
Compulsive stealing e.g. food
Undiagnosed/untreated medical conditions
Suddenly not wanting to go to school
Unexplained cuts and bruises
Persistently lost and/or unexplained damaged possessions
Becoming withdrawn or depressed
Possible consequences for children and young people using the internet, mobile phones and other technologies –
As the Internet is so easily accessible and widely available nowadays, especially to children and young people more so than previous years, there is not really a way of stopping children from using the internet. Because it is so easy to access such advance technology children of all ages are now able to use the internet from home, school or even their mobile phones, making it extremely difficult and unreasonable to ever suggest that children should no longer be able to access the internet. Unfortunately due to the internet becoming increasingly popular to young children the Internet has become a virtual world that can bring significant risks of sexual and emotional abuse to children and has become somewhere that children can also unknowingly expose themselves to danger. Most children and teenagers simply just do not see the dangers lurking on social networking sites, chat rooms and online game rooms etc therefore It is extremely important that children of all age groups are educated and made aware of the risks and dangers involved with using the internet and how to protect themselves online. There is also the possibility that children may expose personal information via the Internet, a mobile phone or using other advance forms of technology, sometimes providing strangers with private material, media and details such as their full name, email address and home address putting them at risk.
Exposure to commercial websites
Cyber Bullying – Due to the increasingly popular use of the Internet, mobile phones and other methods of technology, cases of “cyber bullying” are becoming increasingly common. Enabling bullies the opportunity to remain anonymous and to remain tormenting their victim at any time of day. Children may suffer bullying online or via their mobile phones through email, chat rooms, chat, text messages and social networking websites which in the long run can affect a child’s self esteem and psychological well being. Receiving emails and texts from bullies may not be a physical threat but it will have a mental affect on the child possibly making them feel embarrassed, lonely, depressed, upset and scared.
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Inappropriate Material & Unsuitable Websites – With the Internet being highly accessible to children and young people it has also exposed them to inappropriate, graphic, violent and pornographic material. It is now a requirement that schools have a filtering system in place to prevent children from having access to unsuitable websites and material during their time using the internet in school. To minimise the risk of viewing inappropriate material they have made it compulsory that children are supervised during their time using the computers in school. It Is Important to educate and inform children of the risks and consequences that come with using the internet, most importantly they should be made aware of how to protect themselves and what they should do in the case of reporting a concern if they feel there is a problem. Unfortunately there is always the possibility of children accessing and viewing inappropriate material via the internet due to its easy accessibility resulting in them finding and viewing inappropriate content which can have a negative influence and impact on a child of such a young and influential age. Children who are exposed to this type of material can become upset and desensitized to something’s, their perception of what is right, wrong or normal may also be changed.
Adults Seeking To Exploit Children – When a child or young person is using the Internet, a mobile phone or any other form of advance technology, they are potentially opening themselves up to risk and danger. They may find themselves exposing personal information, details or private material e.g. photo’s, videos. This may happen through the use of online chat rooms where relationships may be formed between a child and a person that they feel may be a friend and trustworthy, resulting in the child possibly sending personal information or photo’s etc. This makes the child an easy target for adults who are seeking to exploit children, grooming children online. Unfortunately the use of the Internet, chat rooms and social networking has made it easier for paedophiles to target young children, intentionally posing as a young person with similar hobbies and interests to establish and form an online friendship with a child where they could potentially progress to sexual activity. This could result in the child forming a “trusting” relationship with a paedophile/online predator who has gained so must trust that the child is prepared to meet the predator. Putting the child at serious risk and danger.
If a child tells you about abuse, listen carefully and take what the child is saying seriously. Reassure the child or young person that they are in-fact right to tell you and that they are not to blame or at fault, negotiate getting help.
Explain to the child that you will have to tell another adult who can help them.
Make careful notes and records of what the child has said using their own words, including details. Date, time and sign the record. Believe and listen to what is being told to you, taking the matter seriously. Tell the child that you will try your best to ensure they are protected and support but never make any promises. If the child informs you that they have discussed the incident with another member of staff or school nurse etc contact them. It is important to liaise with the establishment’s child protection officer, reporting your observations or what you have been told. Remain confidential throughout ensuring conversations with parents, line manager or CPO are held in private. All records about the child should be kept in the child’s file.
Never jump to conclusions, speculate or make accusations.
Do not directly question the child or suggest words for him/her to use. Ensure you do not make promises you cannot keep. You must state the facts as reported or the information that has been told. Never attempt to access whether the allegations are true or false. Do not take it upon yourself to deal with any suspicions or reports of abuse by yourself.
Allegations of abuse – against you – If you find yourself in a position where an allegation of abuse is made against you, you are entitled to and have the right to know the nature and substance of the allegation. You should immediately document any pertinent information, telephone Ofsted and contact your local authorities if an allegation of abuse is made against you. During the investigation process you may wish to seek support from a solicitor and your union rep (if applicable). Ensure that you keep careful and precise records throughout the investigation e.g. letters, conversations, dates.
Signs and indicators of abuse – As a child practitioner working with children on a daily basis, you should have an understanding of the different signs of abuse. It is important to spot these signs and indicators as early as possible so that you can provide the child with as much support as needed. I am going to describe the actions to take in response to signs and indicators of abuse. All injuries to a child or young person must be recorded whether it be an injury they have arrived with or an injury that is discovered during a session. You must record and report these concerns and ensure action is taken. Always ask the parent for an explanation regarding the injury and record the explanation within the incident/accident book, ensure that the parent signs it. Never ask the child or young person direct questions and do not ask the child about their injury(s). Always record and report the injury to your child protection officer. Never jump to conclusions and always follow the correct procedures. You should never share the information and concerns with others; it should only be shared with those who need to know e.g. Line Manager, Designated Safeguarding Person.
What to do if you have concerns that a colleague is failing to comply with safeguarding procedures.
As a child practitioner you have the responsibility to take action if you feel that a colleague is not following the codes of conduct.
If you have concerns that another colleague is failing to comply with safeguarding procedures you have a responsibility to the child, you should immediately report this to a senior member of staff who is designated for safeguarding. All members of staff have a duty to comply with policies and procedures. You should never delay in acting if you have knowledge or suspect that a colleague is not complying with safeguarding procedures. Failing to comply may put a child or young person at risk of harm or abuse therefore any concerns must be reported to a senior member of staff. If for any reason you are unable to discuss your concerns with a senior member of staff or your named person then contact your local social services or Ofsted. If you want to speak to an outside professional then you may also ring The NSPCC. You should never discuss the situation with anyone else; you must ‘blow the whistle’. Remember that children and young people are your first and main priority.
Unfortunately institutional abuse has and remains to occur within establishments which work with children and young people, therefore you should always report any concerns regarding a colleague. If you have concerns that another colleague is harming, abusing or bullying a child or young person, you must act immediately and report your concerns to a senior member of staff or your supervisor. If for any reason you are unable to discuss your concerns with a senior member of staff or your supervisor e.g. If it was your supervisor abusing and harming a child, then you must report your concerns to the child protection officer or directly to the local safeguarding children board. Allegations should be taken very seriously and followed up with the correct procedures in line with local safeguarding children board procedures.
A childcare worker who has been accused of abuse has the right to a solicitor and to know the nature and substance of the allegation made towards them.
Confidentiality – When a child’s welfare is of concern, this is the one time it is acceptable to break this confidentiality agreement. Confidentiality is there to ensure the protection of children and young people at all times and is set out to provide staff with clear guidance as to their legal and professional roles.
Sometimes you may find yourself in a position where a parent(s) approaches you to tell you information which may be of a personal or sensitive nature. In this case you must inform the parent(s) that you will need to pass the information provided onto another higher member of staff. If you feel a child is at risk of abuse or harm then you may pass on this information without permission to the specified person within your establishment. If you find yourself in the position where you find yourselves being passed information of a sensitive nature regarding a child, this information is to be undisclosed and should never be discussed with other members of staff. Confidential information should never be a topic for discussion within the staffroom or with other parents.
When it is acceptable to share confidential information –
It is acceptable to share confidential information when there is reason to believe that a child is of risk of abuse or there is evidence to believe the child is suffering at the hands of abuse or harm, this should then be reported to a senior member of staff or supervisor. Confidential information about or from children should only be passed to designated staff members, strictly on a ‘need to know’ basis. You may also break confidentiality when police are involved and require information to further there investigation. You must always think of the child’s best interests and promote children’s safety and well-being.
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