Child Protection Update on V Team Training by Robin Watts 31st March 2009
What is a child?What is abuse? • A child in the UK is defined as an individual under 18 years of age. • Four legal categories of abuse (‘PENS’): • Physical • Emotional • Neglect • Sexual All cases of abuse are defined as one or more of the above.
Facts and figures • Each week at least one child will die as a result of an adult’s cruelty • Most abuse is committed by someone the child knows and trusts • Three-quarters of sexually-abused children do not tell anyone at the time • Each week over 600 children are added to the child protection registers • Each week at least 450,000 children are bullied at school • The current cost of child abuse to statutory and voluntary organisations is £1 billion a year
Behavioural symptoms of abuse • Abused children can be living in a constant state of ‘catastrophic stress’ • Change of behaviour or inappropriate play • Self-destructive behaviour • Eating or sleeping problems • Pseudo-mature • Depressed and/or withdrawn • Problems at school • And many more… • Can also be none of the above – each child’s reaction is unique
How to respond if a child discloses abuse • Listen – but don’t ask questions (can lead to ‘child suggestibility’) • Never stop a child who is freely disclosing abuse • Don’t make promises (for example, of being able to stop the abuse) • Make notes using the child’s words and phrases; record date, time and place of disclosure • Record all subsequent meetings with the child • Don’t ever lie to the child • See government booklet: What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused (Google)
The Children Act of 1989 • The Children Act of 1989 introduced the concept of Significant Harm as the threshold which justifies compulsory investigation in family life in the best interests of children • Section 47 of the Act places a duty on local authorities to investigate where it has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm • No absolute criteria to judge what constitutes Significant Harm – may be single traumatic event; more often, it is a compilation of significant events • Following referral of the case, there will be a strategy meeting involving the LA, the local police CAIT (Child Abuse Investigation Team), and other bodies as appropriate (e.g., children’s centre/school/health worker) to discuss the next steps of any investigation, and to agree immediate steps to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child
Every Child Matters – 5 outcomes The Children Act 2004 states that all organisations have a duty to co-operate to improve the well being of children as measured by the 5 outcomes of Every Child Matters.
Child Protection PoliciesPolicies are frequently unwritten, but written policies are preferable, for many reasons, including: • they force the organisation to think strategically and act professionally; • they ensure continuity over time; • they are lent greater importance and therefore assure more compliance; • they make sure there is less chance of misinterpretation. RAW Trainng
A policy usually contains: • An introduction • Policy issues: definition of abuse, how to disclose and respond to abuse, selection of staff • Lists of good practices expected of workers • Applicable forms to be used to implement the policy • Contact details of assigned child protection officers (internal and external to the organization) RAW Trainng
Managing allegations against staff • Initial Action: the staff member’s manager or responsible body will consider the action, taking advice from the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). If social services involvement or police investigation necessary, a Strategy Discussion will take place (individual involved will not be invited) • Suspension: A decision to suspend rests solely with the employer or responsible body. Suspension is a neutral act, and should not be automatic. Alternatives should always be considered, e.g. leave of absence, transfer duties, and additional supervision • Who will be notified? People, including other staff, should only be told about the allegation on a ‘need to know basis’.
Managing allegations against staff • Support : Staff member should be offered staff support/Counselling Service during this stressful time and, if suspended, given a workplace contact to update them about normal activities • What records will be kept? A summary record, to which you may add your comments, will be given to you, and kept on your personnel file until you reach normal retirement age, or for 10 years if that is longer. The LADO will also keep a central record of all allegations. Other agencies, if involved, will keep their own records. • See: Working Together to Safeguard Children HM Government 2006 6.20-6.30 and Appendix 5 (Google)
Nominated Safeguarding Children’s Advisor Workshop Did you know that every group / organisation must have a Nominated Safeguarding Children's Advisor (NSCA)? An NSCA is a senior member of staff in your group/organisation who staff must go to if there any allegations or concerns over the welfare of a child. The NSCA must then consult with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) to report these concerns. NSCA's are also responsible for ensuring that an organisation has and adheres to child protection policies and procedures. This workshop, brought to you by the Ealing Safeguarding Children Board, will explain the role and responsibilities of the NSCA, and what actions / procedures need to be followed to fulfil this role. • Date: 19th May 2009 • Time: 10.00am– 12:30pm • Venue: Ealing Community Resource Centre, 63 Mattock Lane, West Ealing Visit http://www.ealingcvs.org.uk/documents/escb%20booking%20form%202009-2010.doc for a booking form and send to ESCBtraining@ealing.gov.uk. For more information, please contact VarshaRana on 020 8825 7378