Safeguarding welfare of children

Safeguarding is a term which has replaced the term child protection. It includes promoting children’s safety and welfare as well as protecting children when abuse occurs.

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The concept of safeguarding, which works to protect children, has only been developed in the last 50 years. The need for improved legislation has been highlighted by high-profile cases where abuse and neglect occurred to such a serious extent, the death of Maria Colwell in 1973 and Victoria Climbié in 2000. These cases shocked the nation because they showed the weaknesses in procedures in place at the time the cases had occurred.

The current legislation, guidelines, policies and procedures for safeguarding the welfare of children and young people including e-safety are:

Children Act 1989

This Act identifies the responsibilities of parents and professionals who must work to ensure the safety of the child. This Act includes two important sections which focus specifically on child protection. Section 47 states that the Local Authority has ‘a duty to investigate when there is a reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm’. Section 17 states that services must be put into place to ‘safeguard and promote the welfare of children within the area who are in need’.

The Education Act 2002

This sets out the responsibilities of Local Education Authorities (LEAs), governing bodies, head teachers and all those working in schools to ensure that children are safe and free from harm.

Children Act 2004

This provides the legal framework for Every Child Matters. It includes the requirement for:

● services to work more closely, forming an integrated service

● a ‘common’ assessment of children’s needs

● a shared database of information which is relevant to the safety and welfare of children

● earlier support for parents who are experiencing problems.

Policies which safeguard

Schools must develop a range of policies which ensure the safety, security and well-being of their pupils. These will set out the responsibilities of staff and the procedures that they must follow. Policies may be separate or incorporated into one health and safety policy, but they must include sections which cover the following issues of:

● safeguarding and protecting, and procedures for reporting

● e-safety

● bullying and cyber-bullying

The Department for Education (DfE) provides guidance for local authorities including schools. Schools use this guidance to develop their own policy and procedures which must be followed. They are:

Working Together to Safeguard Children (2006)

This is guidance which sets out the duties of organisations and how they must work together to safeguard children and young people.

What to do if you’re worried that a child is being abused (2006)

This is guidance to help those working with children safeguard and promote their welfare. It also looks at the actions which all adults working with children should take if they are concerned.

There are key agencies which are involved in safegaurding children and young people include – social services, multi-agency approach, and collective responsibility.

All adults within the school have a responsibility to safeguard the welfare of children. There must also be a named member of staff with particular responsibilities for safeguarding children and for e-safety.

The safety and welfare of children depends upon agencies working together. For example, when assessing the needs of individual children there may be a meeting between the child and family, health services, social services and the school.

Children’s social care

Children’s social care has a key role to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in need. To do this, they must work in partnership with parents and other agencies. When concern has been raised about a child, and they are thought to be at risk, children’s social care has particular responsibilities to decide on the course of action to take. If it is found that the child may be at risk of harm or abuse social workers will:

● carry out an initial assessment of children who are thought to be at risk to find out about: for example, the child’s needs, the ability of parents to meet the child’s needs, family and environmental factors

● meet and conduct interviews with the child and family members

● liaise with and gather relevant information about the child and their circumstances from other agencies

● take the lead during the Child Protection Conference

● take action when a child is thought to be in immediate danger.


The police work closely with children’s social care to protect children from harm. The police have particular role to play. All forces have a Child Abuse Investigation Unit (CAIU). Their role and responsibilities include:

● making a decision on whether a crime had been committed and if so, to begin a criminal investigation.

● gathering evidence from children’s social care, other agencies and others thought to be involved

● taking emergency action if children are in immediate danger – this may involve removing the child or removing the perpetrator

● attending court to give evidence when a crime has been committed.

Health professionals

Health professionals, in particular GPs and doctors in emergency departments, may examine children with injuries which they suspect may be non-accidental. They have a duty to alert children’s social care when abuse is suspected. Health professionals may also:

● carry out a medical examination or observations of a child thought to be at risk of abuse or who has suffered abuse

● contribute to children’s social care reports

● give evidence in court if a crime has been committed.

The National Society for the Protection of Children (NSPCC) The NSPCC is a third-sector (charitable) organisation. Its role, as its name suggests, is to work to protect children from harm. The NSPCC is the only third-sector organisation (charity) which has the statutory power, alongside the police and children’s social services, to take action when children are at risk of abuse. The NSPCC also:

● Provides services to support families and children

● Provides a helpline for people to call who are worried about a child

● Provides a helpline for children in distress or danger

● Raises awareness of abuse, for example, through advertising and training materials

● Works to influence the law and social policy to protect children better

● Shares expertise with other professionals.


The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) was launched in 2008 in response to concerns about Internet safety. Its role is to safeguard children in relation to this issue. The Council has produced a strategy to increase awareness of Internet safety, set out measures to protect children from unsuitable sites and establish codes of practice.

The Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB)

The LSCB have particular roles and responsibilities to oversee the work of other agencies. The Board is made up from experts from the range of children’s services. Serious cases of abuse are always reviewed by the LSCB. You can find out about your LSCB through your own local authority

2.1, 2.2, 2.3

Below is a table listing the common signs and symptoms of common childhood illness’s

Signs and Symptoms
Headaches, weakness
Very sore throat, difficulty swallowing, fever,
pain in ears and neck
Diarrhoea / vomiting
Diarrhoea, stomach pains / vomiting,
Chicken pox
Itchy rash with blister-like appearance, fever
Painful and swollen jaw, pain when
swallowing, fever
Rubella (german measles)
Runny nose, temperature, red-pink rash, sore
throat, headache
Fever, runny nose, cough, blotchy red-brown
spots, greyish-white spots in the mouth
Glandular fever
Fatigue, sore throat, swollen glands, fever
Red sores around mouth and nose
developing into yellow-brown crusts
Skin ringworm – ring-like red rash with raised
rim; scalp ringworm – scaly patches on scalp
which may feel inflamed and tender

It is very important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms in a child of common illness’s so that parents can be informed and a health professional can check the symptoms to diagnose if there is anything seriously wrong. Older children are able to describe how they feel where as young children wont be able to in great detail. Some ways to recognize any common symptoms are:

looking pale
appear to be tired or lethargic
has dark rings/circle around eyes
looks flushed or has a rash
loss of appetite
is quiet or irritable

If Meningitis is suspected immediate medical help should be sought Meningitis can be difficult to spot in the early stages but can become life threatening very quickly.

All schools must have at least one qualified first aider. It is vital that everyone knows the named first aider and how they can be contacted. All schools will have a system in place for summoning urgent medical assistance to the classroom or the school grounds.

Minor injuries may be minor cuts, bruises and abrasions. These can be dealt with by a member of staff at the school and in many cases do not require the child or young person to be sent home. These can be washed and cleaned with clean water, however lotions and creams should never be applied.

If a child has been feeling ill or poorly through out the day or has a minor injury, the child’s parent or carer must be notified. Reporting to parents in particular cases such as bumping the head is important. Even if there are no obvious symptoms, the parents should be aware of what has happened and the symptoms which could arise later so they can look for the symptoms.

All accidents and incidents taken place should always be registered in the school accident/incident report book. Even if you have observed an accident/incident you must provide details on what took place and your actions taken. A manager or member of staff with the authority to do so will complete and sign the report. Serious accidents/incidents have to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive by law.

When working in a school, you may be in a situation where you have to make a decision about calling for urgent medical attention. It is important to be able to recognise the signs and circumstances when you must summon immediate help. An emergency situation which requires urgent medical attention includes:

● severe bleeding

● unconsciousness

● choking

● breathing difficulties

● head injuries

● epileptic seizure

● suspected fractures

● when it is suspected that children have taken drugs or abused substances

● disorientation.

When an accident occurs you must always call for immediate help, even if you are a first aider yourself. You must find out what has happened so that accurate information can be given when dialling 999. It is also important to try and remain calm around other children during the accident as the children can become very distressed.

Immediate action should be taken as follows:

● Reassure the child.

● Do not move the child unless it is absolutely necessary.

● If children are unconscious they should be put into the recovery position.

● Do not give the child any food or drink.

● Keep the child warm, for example, by placing a coat over them.

● Ensure other children in the area are not at risk of being hurt.

3.1, 3.2, 3.3

Child abuse can occur in many forms such as:

Form of Abuse
Physical abuse
Physical abuse happens when a child is physically hurt or injured. Hitting, kicking, beating with objects, burning, scolding, suffocating, throwing and shaking are all forms of physical abuse.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse happens when a child is forced or persuaded into sexual activities or situations by others.

This may be:
• physical contact – including touching or acts of penetration

• non-physical contact – involving children in looking at pornographic materials or sexual acts.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse happens when the child suffers persistent ill treatment which affects their emotional development. It may involve making the child feel frightened, unloved, worthless or in danger. Sometimes expectations of the child are inappropriate for their age. Emotional abuse may happen alone, but often takes place with other types of abuse.


Neglect happens when there is a persistent failure to provide for a child’s health, development and psychological needs. This can include providing inadequate food, shelter, clothing or medical care, or not providing for their educational or emotional needs.

Children may also suffer more then one type of abuse at a time. For example a child who is physically being abused may also feel emotional abuse as an outcome from feeling scared and terrified.

When we think of the types of abuse it is easy to imagine how they may happen in the ‘real world’, however there are now significant risks of sexual and emotional abuse for children in the ‘virtual’ world. The virtual world is expanding into different types of technology such as smart phones and computers. Children can easily access the Internet through their mobile phones, tablets and games consoles. Images can even be downloaded through satellite navigation systems. It is impossible and unreasonable to suggest that children and young people do not use the Internet.

The Internet plays an important role in children’s lives in this day and age and helps to support their education as well as social and recreational. Research shows that almost all children have access to the Internet either at home, in school or elsewhere. Internet Social networking amongst children and young people have become a hobbies and past time in recent years after the increase of technology through phones and pc. There are many Apps on mobiles to chat as well as online chat rooms. It is important therefore that that children and young people know the risks and are able to protect themselves.

Risks when using the Internet

There are risks of sexual or emotional abuse when using the Internet. Research shows that the most common risks for children are:

Giving out personal information about themselves and others

Accessing inappropriate information – often accidentally when innocent words are entered into a search engine.

Sharing personal photos and images without privacy security

Risks of accessing inappropriate information

There is a high risk that children may access inappropriate or pornographic materials when innocently searching for information on the Internet. Schools must have filtering systems in place which prevent access to unsuitable sites. Children and young people must always be supervised when using computers in schools to minimise these risks. It is essential that children are aware of the risks, and of ways to protect themselves. They should also know how to report concerns. All schools must now have a policy which ensures that children are protected and are taught how to use the Internet safely.

Consequences of sharing personal information

Children increasingly use social networking sites and online diaries. These have a minimum age but children of 9 years or younger have been known to use them as anyone can enter a fraudulent age to gain entry into the sites. Children often place information about themselves online, which makes it easy for them to be identified. Some include addresses, phone numbers and sometimes even photographs. This makes them easy targets for adults who wish to exploit them by:

Talking to and building ‘friendships’ with children online with the intention of meeting the child – this is called grooming

Encouraging children to engage in conversations which are sexual in nature taking and/or distributing photographs using the Internet

Sharing personal information such as address and phone number

Children spend half their daily hours in school, so it is not surprising that schools have a particular responsibility to look for signs that abuse may be happening. It is likely that among the children, there will be children who have experienced some form of abuse. As a teaching assistant one may regularly work with children in small groups or on a one-to-one basis. It is likely to be the person who the child feels more comfortable to talk to when the rest of the class are not around. It is important to know how to recognise when abuse may be happening and what action one should take.

It is important to avoid jumping to conclusions, however you must always be observant. You may notice physical signs or changes in a child’s behaviour, or the child may hint or disclose to you that they are being abused or bullied. You must also think about how you would respond if a child were to hint or disclose this to you. A child will most likely be reluctant to express any information of abuse due to fear of the outcome and consequences. It is very important to be calm and reassuring.


Report concerns about possible signs or changes in behaviour to the designated person or your manager Take what children say seriously – it will take a lot of courage to tell you and children will rarely lie about abuse Reassure children that they are not to blame if they tell you they have been abused Tell children that you will have to tell someone who can help them Write down what you have observed or what has been said – but keep the information secure


Promise to keep information a secret
Investigate further or ask questions
Appear shocked
Make promises to children.

All organisations which work with children have a responsibility to recruit staff who are suitable and qualified to work with children. When a member of staff first applies to work with children, they would have been asked to complete a form to disclose any convictions that they may have (DBS). Even with these checks in place abuse can, and has, happened within schools. This is called institutional abuse. All staff have a duty to comply with policy and procedures. Failure to comply may put children at risk of harm or abuse, so concerns should always be reported to the designated person for safeguarding or the head teacher.

If someone have concerns that a colleague is abusing a child, their actions should be exactly the same as if the abuser is a parent, family member or stranger. Immediate action must be taken to protect children by informing the head teacher. If the allegation is against the head teacher, you should report concerns to the designated person for child protection or directly to the Education Authority.

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