All settings should have a designated person to deal with child protection issues. If you have concerns that a child is being abused it is our job to disclose this information to the designated/manager of the setting unless you think by disclosing the information will put the child/young person in further danger. This can be very hard to work out so having colleagues to discuss this will help you come to a quick conclusion and more accurately. This can become very difficult if you feel that there is child/young person abuse issue and the designated/manager thinks that there isn’t.
I think if you have a doubt then it is better to be safe than sorry, maybe monitor the child and gather more information but if the child is in significant danger then report it to the safeguarding board immediately. Parents will have had a copy of the child protection policy which states that information regarding every child will be disclosed if it is deemed that any child is in significant harm/danger. This gives us the right to report any kind of abuse to the safeguarding board without the parents/carers permission. It is important to follow the right steps whilst reporting a case of abuse or a suspected case, we need to gather the correct information:
- When a child/young person discloses information to you. Do not promise to keep a secret. If the child/young person confides in us we cannot promise to keep it a secret because we will have to disclose the information given and this will make the child think that they cannot trust that person anymore, they trusted you in the first place to disclose the information.
Also a main feature of sexual abuse is that the abuser asks the child to keep this a secret between them. If a child asks you to keep a secret age/stage appropriately you should give them a gentle explanation why you may not be able to keep their secret. For an older child they may decide to with hold the information so make it clear to them that they have different options such as the NSPCC, Childline, Social Services, with an explanation again age/stage appropriate of how they can help and what they do.
- This information needs to be shared with the designated person or manager in a private and confidential area of your setting. This information needs to be shared with the designated person immediately so that the child will not come to any more harm, this should be done in a confidential area so that the conversation is not over heard and no information is given to the abuser at this time. Possible tensions could arise after the abuser has been informed of the alleged abuse. This could be face to face or via telephone call.
The parent/carer could remove their child’s from our care and a s practitioners this is not what we want because we need to monitor the child if they are left within their parents care. • Record the information that is given accurately and on the correct paperwork with drawings if needed (incident recording form). When a child discloses information to you, you should never cross examine them due to then getting confused in what they are saying and also without realising it you could be putting words into their head, so the child will use your words and not their own words. The information that should be recorded should be the child’s word. Do not ask question only write what the child has said if possible have a witness listening in.
- CAF (Common Assessment Framework). The CAF method is usually used at the very early stages to assess their needs or if you have a concern about a child. This is where multi agencies get together to assess a child’s/family’s needs. The CAF system enables multi agencies to work together gathering information from all aspects of the child’s/young person’s life. The First Visiting team can help you start a CAF on a child/family. Multi agencies will then all get together to discuss the child/family. This is when it is decided whether to start a CAF on the child/family. Then CAF can then be accessed via the internet after a child/family has been CAF assessed. This can give you current, correct and up to date information very quickly, this is updated very regular (when new information is available). Parents will have to give permission for a CAF assessment to take place.
- As practitioners we should also get support. As practitioners this can become very stressful and upsetting for us when we are involved in a case of suspected abuse or actual abuse, so it is important that we can talk to others about this, but because of strict confidentiality you must not talk to anyone who does not need to know. Your Supervisor /manager/colleagues can help support you but remember again this information is confidential so only talk to other professionals that you can legally confide in.Your manager/supervisor will put you in touch with an outside professional that you can talk things over with. This is usually a Social worker or a person from the NSPCC.
- When it is suspected that a crime has been/may be committed. When a crime has been suspected or committed by parents/carers: If you suspect or have been told by a child that their parent is possibly committing a crime or is committing a crime, depending on the crime that is being committed, depends on how we as practitioners would handle it.
It is important to define what crime means and the meaning of confidentiality within your setting. Crime can cover a wide range of things such as taking drugs, prostitution, DVD piracy, benefit fraud, theft burglary, robbery, violence (GBH) or murder. It depends on how serious the crime is as to whether we break the trust between parent’s. Trust is paramount because you need trust within a professional relationship with parents/carers, without the trust, the child and their family is not going to be willing to share important information with us.
If a child is being hurt or others such as abuse or violence/murder then it would be obvious that you have to break confidentiality to ensure that the child that you are looking after is not in any significant harm and is safe and protected. If however that crime that is suspected or being committed is DVD piracy then it is not going to be of significant harm to the child in your care so a blind eye should be turned because we need a good trusting relationship with the parents/carers and confidentiality should be treated as confidential.
It is our job to make sure that the child/others are not in any significant harm and if they are not then it should be none of our business and we should respect our confidentiality policy and procedure. When a child is suspected of committing a crime: If a child is committing a crime, this is when it becomes a child protection issue. The crime can be wide and varied such as shop lifting, theft, drugs or violence but one small crime can lead to another which can then lead to bigger crime being committed and a possibility of the child/young person being involved in a group or gang activity.
This can introduce the child/young person to dangerous people. Are the child’s/young person’s parents aware of their child’s activities and if they are not the child could be neglected. It is our job to protect and monitor the child, every child by law has the right to be protected from harm. If this means that we involve the Local Safeguarding Children Board then we have the right to break this confidentiality, under this we would follow child protection policy and procedures.
Perhaps you would speak to parents first to see if they are aware of their child’s crime related activities if they are and they are willing to do nothing then it is up to us as professionals to try and get this child/young person support and try to find out why they are committing these crimes. This can provide tension between the child/parents/practitioners but we have a duty to help protect the child from harm so it would justify why we have to break confidentiality.