- What to do if you have a concern about a child
- What to do if you have a concern about a PVCSE employee, trustee or volunteer
- What to do if you have a concern about a vulnerable adult
- Applying for a DBS
- Safer Recruitment procedures and employee support
- Specific application: POP ideas advice
- Specific application: Street-to-Scale
- What to do if someone makes a disclosure to a member of PVCSE Trustees, staff member or volunteer
Whilst we recognise that PVCSE as an ‘infrastructure organisation, supporting the voluntary and community sector, has very little direct contact with children and young people, there:
- May be times where we do have direct contact;
- As sector ‘leaders’ we need to ensure we understand the basics of what other organisations should be doing.
If emergency medical attention is required, this can be secured by calling an ambulance (dial 999) or taking a child to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department OR if a child is in immediate danger the police should be contacted (dial 999).
- What is child abuse?
There are many different types of child abuse and many ways in which abuse can occur. The main forms of abuse are:
- Physical abuse – where a child is physically hurt, injured or killed. This can involve hitting, shaking, squeezing, burning and biting. It also includes giving a child poisonous substances, inappropriate drugs and alcohol, and attempting suffocation or drowning. In some cases, excessive force may be used when feeding or changing a child’s nappy.
- Sexual abuse – where children (girls and boys) are sexually abused by adults or other children who use them to meet their own sexual needs. This might be sexual intercourse, and also includes fondling, masturbation, oral sex, anal intercourse and exposing children to pornographic material – including videos.
- Neglect – where parents or carers fail to meet the basic and essential needs of their children to have food, clothes, warmth and medical care. Leaving children alone and unsupervised is also an example of neglect. Parents not giving love and affection to their children is an example of emotional neglect.
- Emotional abuse – where constant lack of love and affection, or threats, verbal attacks, taunting and shouting can lead to a loss of confidence and self-esteem, making a child nervous and withdrawn, or conversely, displaying challenging behaviour e.g. displays of bullying behaviour similar to that they are victim of.
What might make you worry?
- Is the child doing something that is unusual for the child?
- Is the child over-friendly with strangers?
- Do you recognise any or some of the following behaviours in the child?
- Frequent mood changes.
- Unusual eating patterns e.g. always hungry.
- Change in appearance.
- Quiet and withdrawn, a loner, under confident.
- Angry, short attention span, attention seeking, under confident.
- Never wants to go home.
- Tired looking.
- Seductive behaviour.
- Frequent bruises (particularly on fleshy parts).
- Gives the impression of being unloved and unhappy.
Who might be abusing the child?
Abuse can happen inside and outside the family. It might be a parent or carer but it could be a member of the wider family, a family friend, a neighbour, a youth worker, church worker, teacher, play-worker or a volunteer working with children or young people. It could be another child. It could be a member of staff or a volunteer in this organisation.
Do’s and don’ts
Remember that children are vulnerable individuals who do not always communicate their anxieties or concerns in ‘usual’ ways. This is particularly important if a child has special needs or disabilities.
If you suspect child abuse:
Do tell your line manager.
Don’t examine the child.
Do realise that your concerns could be significant and should be passed on.
Don’t ask leading questions – allow the child to tell their own story.
If the child tells you something has happened:
Do allow the child to do the talking.
Don’t postpone or delay the opportunity to listen.
Do listen – take the child seriously.
Don’t ask leading questions.
Do remain calm and caring.
Don’t allow your own feelings (such as anger, pity or shock) to surface.
Do allow the child to finish.
Don’t make false promises (e.g. that you will keep ‘the secret’).
Do record the conversation as soon as possible afterwards using the child’s own words.
Don’t interpret what you have been told; just record it.
Do refer to your line manager and the Safeguarding Lead.
Do share your concerns – you are not expected to handle it alone.
Do tell the child what you are going to do. Communicate with the child in a way that is appropriate to their age, understanding, language preference and abilities.
Is the information offered confidential?
No. All information should be recorded. The information will be passed to children’s services if a referral is made. If a referral is not made, concerns should still be shared with the family. There are times that when you should NOT discuss your concerns with the family:
- Where sexual abuse or sexual exploitation is suspected
- Where organised or multiple abuse is suspected.
- Where Fabricated or Induced Illness (previously known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy) is suspected
- Where Female Genital Mutilation is the concern
- In cases of suspected Forced Marriage
- Where contacting or discussing the referral would place a child, yourself, or others at immediate risk.
Professionals working with the family also need to be aware of previous concerns. A strategy to manage the sharing of information should be formed with the Safeguarding Lead.
How do I know whether it is definitely child abuse?
Naming the concern as ‘child abuse’ is less important that assessing the level of risk posed to the child. You may feel unsure in your judgement, the Safeguarding Lead and / or the Plymouth Gateway will be able to advise on whether there needs to be a referral made to Children’s Services. You can have an anonymous discussion about your concerns without disclosing the identity of the family at this stage.
You may have this discussion with either of the following:
PVCSE Safeguarding Lead is currently Matt Bell. The role of the nominated officer is to:
- To provide a single point of contact between PVCSE and the statutory child protection agencies- children’s social care and the police.
- To offer consultation and advice about safeguarding and child protection concerns pertaining to the activity of PVCSE.
At this stage do not discuss your concerns further with a potential abuser, even if they are the parents or carers. Doing this could put the child at greater risk of harm.
Making a referral.
If the discussion with the Safeguarding Lead / Plymouth Gateway concludes that there is a risk to the child; at this point you will be required to share your personal details and those of the child and family you are referring. Give all the information you have no matter how insignificant it might seem. When referring a child to Children’s Services consider and include any information you have on the child, their developmental needs and their parents’/carers’ ability to respond to these needs within the context of their wider family and environment. To refer to the Children and Young People’s Service (CYPS) contact the Plymouth Gateway on 01752 668000 (select option 1) and use the referral form here:
If a referral is accepted by CYPS an investigation into the child’s situation takes place at once. In exceptional circumstances, the evidence of an individual may be required in a Court of Law.
Whether the conclusion is that the child is or is not at risk, every effort should be made to handle information discreetly for the benefit of the child and their family by working openly and in partnership with parents or carers and other professionals. This helps identify lower level needs and appropriate action can still be taken. It encourages the spirit of cooperation that makes it easier to share information, which is important when child abuse is suspected. The Safeguarding Lead will be able to offer you practice supervision to manage information sharing appropriately.
It is vitally important that any disclosure made in confidence is recorded factually as soon as possible. An accurate account should be made of:
- All known personal details of the child, for example: Name of Child, Date of Birth, Addresses of child, parent / carers and other relevant family members.
- Date and time of what has occurred and the time the disclosure was made
- Provide full and accurate details of the issues and concerns. To include details of any persons believed to pose a risk to the child, in the event of a disclosure: the exact words used by the child. Be as observational as possible with no judgements.
- Record of discussion with Safeguarding Lead and Plymouth Gateway.
- Immediate action to be taken, and by whom.
- What is Children’s Services involvement with this child: open / closed, any history?
- Agreed strategy to monitor the situation and protect the child
If you have information which suggest an adult who works with children or young people (in a paid or unpaid capacity) has:
- Behaved in a way that has harmed or may have harmed a child
- Possibly committed a criminal offence against, or related to a child
You should speak immediately with the Safeguarding Lead. They will consult with / make a referral to the LADO for the relevant area. The Local Authority Delegated Officer is Marie Partridge who can be contacted in Children’s Social Care on Plymouth 01752 306340 or email LADO@plymouth.gov.uk.
LADO enquiries and/or concerns can also be managed by colleagues in the Safeguarding & Quality Assurance Team within Children’s Social Care (01752 306340). For advice and guidance ‘out of normal office hours’ (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday) please contact the Plymouth Out of Hours Service on 01752 346984.
- Raise concern with manager
- Online referral
- Advice line