Simon Balle School Child Protection Policy November 2009
1. Principles of Child Protection – (A ‘child’ is anyone under the age of 18). The needs of the child are paramount and should under pin all child protection work and resolve any conflict of interests. All children deserve the opportunity to achieve their full potential. All children have the right to be safeguarded from harm and exploitation whatever their: -
Race, religion, first language or ethnicity. Gender or sexuality. Age. Health or disability. Location or placement. Any criminal behaviour. Political or immigration status.
Responsibility for protection of children must be shared because children are safeguarded only when all relevant agencies and individuals accept responsibility and co-operate with one another. Statements about or allegations of abuse or neglect made by children must always be taken seriously. The wishes and feelings of children are vital elements in assessing risk and formulating protection plans, and must always be sought and given weight according to the level of understanding of the child. During enquiries, the involvement and support of those who have parental responsibility for, or regular care of a child, should be encouraged and facilitated, unless doing so compromises that enquiry or the child’s immediate or long term welfare. Those planning, delivering, monitoring or providing training about child protection services, must in recognition of diversity, and to facilitate social inclusion of equality of potential outcome, take all reasonable steps to support parents and children who have experienced racism and other forms of prejudice. Child protection procedures aim to protect children from Child Abuse which may be PHYSICAL ABUSE, SEXUAL ABUSE, EMOTIONAL ABUSE, NEGLECT or a combination of any of theses. Teachers and school staff have a duty to try to protect children from Child Abuse and might be involved at one or more stages of an investigation such as in reporting a suspicion or a disclosure, writing a report or helping to monitor and support an abused child in school. As employers of Hertfordshire, teachers and school staff must follow the borough’s Child Protection Guidelines and may only act in certain ways and then only with sensitivity and circumspection. Details are set out in these guidelines.
In ALL cases of suspected or disclosed Child abuse, teachers MUST report to the school’s Child Protection Co-ordinator Mr M Moss as soon as is practical. In his absence please see Mrs L Fenton. Teachers and school staff should ensure they know the answers to the following questions. • • • • •
How can Child Abuse be identified? What do you do if you suspect a child has been abused? What happens once you have reported a suspicion of abuse? What is the role of the school’s Child Protection Co-ordinator and who is it? Should parents be informed of suspected abuse and, if so, when and how?
The answers to these questions are in the following sections of these guidelines. 2. Attempting to identify Child Abuse Teachers can play a very important part in the identification of child abuse and should be aware of its signs and symptoms. Teachers should also be aware that the signs and behaviours set out below are not necessarily diagnostic – they can be symptomatic or characteristic of other disturbances, or may simply represent behaviour and mood swings which adolescents can present. However, it is important not to trivialise or dismiss signs and symptoms which could suggest child abuse. Signs of abuse may catch your attention, be so subtle they are easily missed or may be concealed completely. Most child abuse probably goes undetected. It should be remembered that, as a group of adults, teachers have a unique and privileged opportunity to observe children and their behaviour and to detect signs of possible child abuse in some. General signs and symptoms of Child Abuse Children who have been abused, may have one or more of the following feelings: • Conflict of emotions, especially if the perpetrator is also loved. • Guilt at family break-up, punishment of perpetrator – “all my fault”. • Shame - feeling different, dirty. • Anger – against perpetrator, non-protective parent, self. • Fear – of perpetrator, other adults, of “telling”. • Insecurity – distrust of adults. • Low self-esteem. • Sadness, depression. • Sexual over-simulation. These feelings may present any of the following behaviours: • Absence from school. • Poor concentration – difficulties in paying attention, learning. • Attention seeking behaviour – flirtatious, precocious, sexually provocative. • Aggression – sudden over-reaction, violent tantrums, mood swings. • Trouble seeking behaviour – looking for punishment, blame. • Obsessive behaviour – cleaning things, seeking perfection in work/dress.
Difficulties – in eating, sleeping, tiredness, fatigue. Carelessness – in appearance, forgetfulness. Withdrawal – excessive. Exhibiting low self-esteem o Repeated talk of failure/deliberately seeking failure. o Denial or destruction of anything good. o Rejection of praise. o Pleasure in criticism. o Clowning, acting “big”, telling tall stories • Verbally showing distress o Self-denigration. o Pessimism. o Morbid thinking*. o Pathological thinking*. o Worthlessness. o Hopelessness. o Suicidal thoughts*. o Self-blame. • • • •
• Non-verbally showing distress o Loss of interest and withdrawal. o Irritability and tearfulness. o Tiredness and change in weight. o Poor concentration and deterioration in work. o Destructive behaviour*. o Morbid art work and writing*. o Deliberate failure*. o Self-harming*. o Suicidal attempts*. o Arson*. NB asterisked (*) are particularly significant and should NEVER be ignored. Specific signs and symptoms of Child Abuse Physical Abuse • Withdrawal from physical contact. • Running away. • Self-destructive tendencies. • Aggression towards others. • Being afraid of returning home. • Keeping arms and legs covered during hot weather. • Admission of punishment that seems excessive. • Having untreated injuries. • Having unexplained injuries or burns, particularly recurrent ones. • Giving improbable explanations or excuses about injuries. • Refusing to discuss injuries having bald patches. • Being afraid of having medical help.
Sexual Abuse • Sudden changes in behaviour or performance at school. • A tendency to cry easily. • Regression to younger behaviour eg sucking thumb, playing with younger children’s toys, acting like a baby. • Feelings of guilt and shame and of being responsible for the abuse. • Feelings of being dirty, spoiled, worthless. • Feelings of very low self-esteem. • Being depressed and withdrawn. • Being apparently secretive. • Afraid of undressing e.g. for PE, games. • Having phobias or panic attacks. • Anorexic or bulimic. • Wetting clothes or bed, day or night. • Receiving unexplained gifts of money. • Sleep disturbances or nightmares. • Showing distrust of a familiar adult or anxiety about being left with a relative, lodger, babysitter etc. • Complaints of genital pain or itching. • Injuries or chronic illnesses in genital, anal, mouth, throat areas eg throat infections, sexually transmitted diseases (including AIDS). • Inappropriate or precocious sexual activity with peers or younger children eg compulsive masturbation, simulating oral sex/sexual intercourse. • Showing affection to adults in sexualised ways/expecting affection to be contingent on sexual approaches – child becomes extremely vulnerable to reabuse. • Older girls may become pregnant, pregnancy may remain unexplained • Long-term effects may include: o Difficulties in sexual relationships. o Difficulties in coming to terms with own sexuality. o Generalised anxiety and depression, suicidal tendencies. o As parents, difficulties in physically expressing affection for own children. Emotional Abuse • Running away. • Over-reacting to mistakes. • Continual self-deprecation. • Making inappropriate emotional responses to painful situations. • Showing extremes of passivity or aggression. • Being afraid of new situations. • Being afraid of parents being contacted. • Compulsive stealing, scavenging. • Admitting having received punishment which appears excessive. • Lagging physical/mental/emotional development. • Showing neurotic behaviour eg rocking, hair twisting, thumb sucking. • Having sudden speech disorders. • Self-mutilating. • Abusing solvents, drugs. Neglect • Being often late arriving at school, or often absent.
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Having a poor state of clothing. Having poor personal hygiene, smelling. Being constantly tired. Being emaciated. Being constantly hungry. Running away. Having low self-esteem. Having no social relationships. Compulsively stealing, scavenging. Having untreated medical problems. Showing destructive tendencies. Showing neurotic behaviour.
3. Teacher – response to suspicion or allegation of Child Abuse Disclosure to a teacher Any worries, suspicions or concerns about Child Protection should be discussed as a matter of urgency with the school’s Child Protection Co-ordinator, Mr M Moss. However, a teacher may find him/herself without much prior warning in a situation where a student discloses that child abuse has taken place and/or makes an allegation of abuse against a particular person. If this happens, the following “DO’s” and “DON’Ts” are important. If a student discloses to you, DO • Ensure you have privacy. • Stay calm and do not allow your own feelings to show. • Believe the student and tell him/her you believe. • Tell the student you are glad he/she told you. • Reassure the student that what happened was not his/her fault. • Be honest about your own position, whom you will have to tell and why. • Keep the student fully informed about what you are doing and what will happen. • Give the student information about other confidential sources of help eg telephone helplines. • Report to the Child Protection Co-ordinator (DSP) as soon as is practical. If a student discloses to you DON’T • Make promises you cannot keep. • Interrogate the student with lots of questions – it is not your role to investigate. • Cast doubt on what you have been told. It has taken great courage to disclose. • Say anything to make the student feel responsible for the abuse (“why didn’t you say something before”? “What about your sister”? etc). • Communicate feelings of anger – if you do, make sure the student realises it is the perpetrator you feel angry towards, or he/she may think you are angry with him/her. • Panic – when confronted with the reality of abuse, there is often a feeling of needing to ‘act’ immediately but action taken too hastily can hinder the investigation and prove counter productive. • Even think about dealing with the allegation yourself – refer it. • Remember the four Rs, Receive, Reassure, Refer and Record. Disclosure and Confidentiality
As an employee of Hertfordshire, if a pupil discloses child abuse to you, you are not allowed to keep it to yourself – you must pass it on. However, you must also observe the following principles of confidentiality. • Only pass on the information to the school’s Child Protection Co-ordinator, do not mention it to anyone else. • Let the pupil know, in advance, whom you are going to tell. • Other staff should not be told anything. Most will not need to know anything. • If the child has been or is likely to be in a distressed state, other members of staff who may be teaching or dealing with them only need to know that they must act sensitively towards the child, not why. • You may be distressed and may need support yourself. If so, arrange to talk things over with the Child Protection Co-ordinator. If you really need to, you can talk things over with another member of staff but if you do this you must not name the child and must make absolutely certain you give no clues about whom he or she is nor any other way of the person finding out. • The child should be kept informed of who knows and of what they know, at all stages of child protection procedures. The role of the individual teacher Please note that, in all of the above levels of response to child abuse or suspicion of it, the role of the individual teacher is restricted to the following: • Forming a suspicion that abuse may have occurred to a particular student, or, receiving a disclosure of alleged abuse from a student. • Reporting that suspicion or disclosure to the DSP or, in his absence, to Mrs L Fenton. • Taking only what further action is required of him/her by the DSP or Mrs L Fenton eg observing/monitoring the student, writing reports etc. 4. The School’s Response to suspicion or allegation of Child Abuse The response of any member of staff to suspicion or disclosure of child abuse must be to inform the school’s Child Protection Co-ordinator, Mr M Moss, as soon as is practical. In the absence of the DSP, the teacher should inform Mrs L Fenton. The DSP or Mrs Fenton will then decide which of the three levels of response is most appropriate. Please note that the reporting teacher is unlikely to play any further role in the investigation and follow-up beyond making a written report, monitoring, observing and keeping further written records, as appropriate or required. Level 1 Response: low suspicion At this level, parental or other adult behaviour towards the child arouses suspicion but there is no clear evidence of physical ill-treatment, neglect or other abuse. 1. DSP or Deputy DSP will arrange for the child to be monitored within school. The following will be considered: o In what ways can the child be monitored? Who will monitor? o What discussion should there be with the child? o In addition to monitoring and discussion, in what other ways can information about the suspected abuse be obtained from the child?
2. DSP or Deputy DSP may seek further advice/assistance eg from: o Education Welfare Officer. o Child Protection Team – 01992 588613 (Gail Valentine, East Area). o School Nurse – 01707 369148 (Linda Edwards). 3. DSP or Deputy DSP will consider whether, as a result of monitoring, further action is appropriate eg: o Update level of concern to High Suspicion or Emergency. o Consult with or refer to Social Services. Written records of relevant observations, conversations and actions will be kept of the above by relevant school staff including the DSP or Deputy DSP. Parents will NOT be informed (see below). Level 2 Response: high suspicion At this level, the school believes the child may have been injured or abused by his/her parent(s) or another adult but is apparently in no immediate danger. The evidence may suggest that the child has been abused but further investigation will be needed to gauge the level of risk to the child and what further steps need to be taken. These may include the child’s removal to a place of safety. 1) DSP or Deputy DSP will telephone and inform the family prior to making a referral; referral 01438737511. The referral will need to be confirmed in writing within two days. SCF referral form. However, if the DSP or Deputy DSP believe there are exceptional circumstances ie where to do so would place the child at risk of significant harm, the referral will be made without parental consent. Written records of relevant observations, conversations and actions will be kept of the above by relevant school staff including the DSP or Deputy DSP. Level 3 Response: Emergency At this level, the child has a serious injury or is believed by the school to be in serious danger or abuse or further abuse if he/she returns home. This situation is quite rare and would invariably apply to a child who has been seriously attacked by his/her parents or abused in some other way that puts his or her life in danger. 1) As a matter of urgency, the DSP or Deputy DSP will: o Ensure prompt medical attention; where a child has been seriously injured this would normally be at a local accident or casualty hospital. o Secure the child’s safety (NB Social Services/Police/NSPCC can obtain a Place of Safety Order if the child is endangered). o Inform the Police Child Protection Team 01438737511 (Client Services). 2) The DSP or Deputy DSP must follow up by ensuring that the abuse is investigated. The responsibility for carrying out the investigation and possible further action lies with social workers, the NSPCC or the Police. Written records of relevant observations, conversations and actions will be kept of the above by relevant school staff including the DSP or Deputy DSP.
5. The Role of the Designated Senior Person in charge of Child Protection (DSP) General To co-ordinate the school’s response to child abuse. Staff Awareness Ensure all staff under the direction or guidance of the Headteacher are aware of: • Student behaviour and indicators which may suggest child abuse. • The school’s child protection procedures, reminding staff each term of what they are. • Their individual duty to refer immediately to the CPC any suspicion, knowledge or disclosure that a child is being abused or may need protection. Staff Training Ensure • That all existing staff receive regular training every 2 years. • That new staff receive induction training. • That records of all such training are kept. Referral • To receive reports of suspicion or disclosure of child abuse from other members of staff. • To inform the Headteacher (or, in his absence, a Deputy Head or Acting Head of Establishment) of such report. • To decide on which Level of Response (low suspicion, high suspicion or emergency) is the most appropriate. • To keep written records of reports, conversations and observations concerning suspicion or disclosure of child abuse. • To refer the report to the appropriate agency, as set out in the school’s Child Protection Guidelines. This would normally be the Child Protection Team, Education Welfare Service (EWS) but could also include other appropriate agencies such as the borough’s Social Services Department, Police Child Protection Team. • To record the details of any conversations with EWS, Social Services or other agency workers concerning child abuse reported in school. • To act as advised by the referral agency, as appropriate to the role. Follow-up • To ensure that referred reports of abuse are investigated. • To monitor students whose names are on the child protection register in line with what has been agreed in the child protection plan. • To monitor students who have been the subject of suspicion or who have disclosed and to keep written records of such monitoring. • To advise the CPC of any further suspicions of abuse concerning particular students and of any absences from school. Transfers of students from Simon Balle School Where a child is known to be on the Child Protection Register, to • Inform Hertfordshire Attendance Officer as soon as the intention to transfer between schools is known.
• Ensure that the DSP of the receiving school is made aware that the student is a child at risk.. • Inform Hertfordshire Attendance Officer when the transfer actually takes place. If it should happen that ANY student transfers from Simon Balle without any school records (eg through loss, failure of previous school to supply, to contact Hertfordshire Attendance Officer). Transfer of students to Simon Balle • To take appropriate action when a child’s previous school informs Simon Balle School that he/she is on the Child Protection Register. • In the case of such a student, to inform the Attendance Officer whether the child has started school on the expected date. • In the case of ALL students who transfer to Simon Balle School from non Herts schools, to contact the particular school(s) to ensure that any Child Protection information becomes known to us. • In the case of ANY student who transfers to Simon Balle School and for whom no records are forthcoming or whose previous school cannot be traced, to contact the Attendance Officer records are forthcoming or whose previous school cannot be traced, to contact the Attendance Officer. 6. Action to be taken in the case of a child abuse allegation against a member of staff • Any member of staff who receives an allegation that a student may have been abused by another member of staff, either at school or elsewhere, must immediately inform the Headteacher (or Chairman of Governors, if the suspicion relates to the Headteacher) and makes a record of their concerns including a note of anyone else who witnessed the incident or allegation, who should also make a record. • The Headteacher is not expected to investigate the allegation, or to take detailed or written assessments, but to assess whether the allegation requires a referral to Social Services. It would be difficult to say the allegation did not warrant any further investigation unless it was either trivial or demonstrably false. • The Headteacher is required to contact immediately the Social Services team and any subsequent investigation is undertaken by them. It is this team that make the decision to investigate. • Suspension of a member of staff may be considered at any stage of an investigation. (a) Where an allegation has been made which, if proven, would lead to dismissal or prosecution. (b) Where a child could be placed at significant harm if the member of staff were not removed from duty. (c) Where it is necessary to allow a full and proper investigation and the taking of statements. • If it is considered that a child protection investigation is not necessary but there may have been inappropriate professional behaviour the matter should be dealt with by the headteacher through the Disciplinary Procedures.
Reviewed in November 2009. Reviewer was Mr Moss, Deputy Head. To be reviewed next by the Child Protection Co-ordinator in December 2011.