All child protection concerns need to be acted on immediately. If you are concerned that a child may be at risk or is actually suffering abuse, you should tell one of the Designated Safeguarding Leads at Thornborough Infant School.
- DSL: Laura Passenger
- Deputy DSL: Carol-Anne McCollum
- Safeguarding Governor: Philip Luce
All adults have a duty of care to refer all known or suspected cases of abuse to the relevant agency including social services or the police. Where a disclosure is made to a visiting staff member from a different agency, such as the School Nurse etc, it is the responsibility of the agency staff to formally report the referral to the school’s DSL in the first instance.
Recognising Concerns, Signs and Indicators of Abuse
Safeguarding is not just about protecting children from deliberate harm. For Thornborough Infant School, it includes such things as pupil safety, bullying, racist abuse and harassment, radicalisation, intimate care, children missing education and internet safety.
The witnessing of abuse can also have a damaging effect on those who are associated with any person who may have suffered abuse, as well as the child subjected to the actual abuse. This can, and often will, have a significant impact on the health and emotional well-being of the child. Abuse can take place in any family, institution or community setting. It can be by telephone or on the internet. Abuse can often be difficult to recognise as children may behave differently or seem unhappy for many reasons, as they move through the stages of childhood or if their family circumstances change. However, it is important to know what the indicators of abuse are and to be alert to the need to act upon any concerns.
Physical abuse happens when a child is deliberately hurt, causing physical harm. It can involve hitting, kicking, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or suffocating. It’s also physical abuse if a parent or carer makes up or causes the symptoms of illness in children. For example, they may give them medicine they don’t need, making them unwell. This is known as fabricated or induced illness (FII).
All children have trips, falls and accidents which may cause cuts, bumps and bruises. These injuries tend to affect bony areas of their body such as elbows, knees and shins and are not usually a cause for concern. Injuries that are more likely to indicate physical abuse include:
- bruises on babies who are not yet crawling or walking
- bruises on the cheeks, ears, palms, arms and feet
- •bruises on the back, buttocks, tummy, hips and backs of legs
- multiple bruises in clusters, usually on the upper arms or outer thighs
- bruising which looks like it has been caused by fingers, a hand or an object, like a belt or shoe
- large oval-shaped bite marks. Burns or scalds
- any burns which have a clear shape of an object, for example cigarette burns
- burns to the backs of hands, feet, legs, genitals or buttocks.
Other signs of physical abuse include multiple injuries (such as bruising, fractures) inflicted at different times. If a child is frequently injured, and if the bruises or injuries are unexplained or the explanation doesn’t match the injury, this should be investigated. It’s also concerning if there is a delay in seeking medical help for a child who has been injured.
Emotional abuse is where a child’s need for security, love, praise and recognition is not met. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of someone else, such as in domestic abuse or domestic violence. A parent, carer or authority figure is considered emotionally abusive when they are consistently hostile, rejecting, threatening or undermining towards a child or other family member. It can also occur when children are prevented from having social contact with others or if inappropriate expectations are placed upon them. Symptoms that indicate emotional abuse can include:
There aren’t usually any obvious physical signs of emotional abuse but you may spot changes in a child's actions or emotions. Some children are naturally quiet and self-contained whilst others are more open and affectionate. Mood swings and challenging behaviour are also a normal part of growing up for teenagers and children going through puberty. Be alert to behaviours which appear to be out of character for the individual child or are particularly unusual for their stage of development.
- use language, act in a way or know about things that you wouldn’t expect for their age
- struggle to control strong emotions or have extreme outbursts
- seem isolated from their parents
- lack social skills or have few, if any, friends
- fear making mistakes
- fear their parent being approached regarding their behaviour
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a young person or child to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. This may include physical contact or viewing pornographic material including through the use of the internet. Indicators of sexual abuse include: allegations or disclosures, injuries or disclosure, genital soreness, inappropriate sexualised behaviour including play, words or drawing, and sexually transmitted diseases.
There may be physical signs that a child has suffered sexual abuse. Changes in the child’s mood or behaviour may also cause concern. They may want to avoid spending time with specific people
What is neglect? Neglect is not meeting a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs. This can result in serious damage to their health and development.
Neglect may involve a parent or carer not:
- providing adequate food, clothing or shelter
- supervising a child or keeping them safe from harm or danger(including leaving them with unsuitable carers)
- making sure the child receives appropriate health and/or dental care
- making sure the child receives a suitable education
- meeting the child’s basic emotional needs – this is known as emotional neglect.
Neglect is the most common type of child abuse. It often happens at the same time as other types of abuse.