PENSNETT HIGH SCHOOL Learning Shapes Lives Tiled House Lane Brierley Hill West Midlands Child Protection DY5 4LN Tel: 01384 816435 Policy Fax: 01384 816436 Contents: www.pensnett.com Rationale Headteacher: Aims of the Policy Dave Wood Objectives Procedures Deputy Managing a Disclosure Headteacher: What to do if a person discloses to you Ian Beddows Definitions Disclosure Categories of Abuse for Registration Designated Child Neglect Protection Officer: Physical Abuse Dave Wood Sexual Abuse Emotional Abuse Appendices: Appendix A: Child Protection – At a Glance Draft Consultation completed: Taken to Governors: Adopted: Due for Review: October 2009 Pensnett High School “Where Learning Shapes Lives” Our Aims Our aim is for the school to be a centre of educational excellence in the Pensnett community, providing a high quality educational experience for all students, encouraging them along the path of life long learning and using our specialist technology status to achieve the highest standards. Our Values At Pensnett High School we believe there are no boundaries to achievement. At the heart of the school is a desire to raise the aspirations of our learners so that they develop the independence, skills and personal qualities required to meet challenge and become successful. Ours is an inclusive culture which encourages each and every learner to recognise their individual talents. We strive to offer a purposeful learning experience which personalises opportunity and inspires them to reach their potential and beyond. We want the best for everyone in our learning community but equally we expect their commitment to values which show respect for others and tolerance for diversity; who preserve our caring and supportive ethos through their contribution as individuals and as members of a team. In meeting the ever changing demands of the modern world we seek to foster creative and adaptable young people who can grasp life and face their futures with the confidence, humour and resilience to become the best they can be. Pensnett High School Child Protection Policy Rationale As adults taking responsibility for the Health and Safety of students during the school day, we are obliged to accept responsibility for the disclosure of any event, observation or dialogue that could suggest that a student is at risk. It is not our responsibility to make value judgements about the extent of that risk. Aim of the policy To describe the processes and structures existing within the school which enables an effective system of support and intervention to operate for students who may be at risk. Objectives This policy will enable staff within the school to adopt consistent approaches to the handling of disclosures understand their role and responsibilities regarding child protection as adults in the school Procedures The correct procedure in cases of disclosure should be known to all adults who are in regular contact with young people. (Adults should never give a youngster an undertaking that a disclosure can be ‘kept secret’.) Many cases of abuse are criminal offences against the young person, the young person could be in serious physical or emotional danger. As an adult in charge of children, as a partner in what is frequently a quite unique relationship and as a citizen upholding the law, it is the duty of the teacher to be aware of the possibility that some of their students are being abused and it is a responsibility to report any disclosure to the appropriate body. There are likely to be cases of child abuse in most schools. Adults working with children should be in the alert for symptoms and indicators of such abuse. During what appears to be a disclosure, adults should remain calm, not asking leading questions, but rather, whilst comforting the youngster, remember exactly what was said, and as soon as possible, record it. The record should include date, time, place as well as what was said. The information should immediately be passed to a line manager or to the Child Protection Co-ordinator, Dave Wood. A written record of all circumstances pertaining to the case will be kept. Record sheets are available from the Child Protection Procedures Folder. If it is considered that there are grounds for concern, the Child Protection Co- ordinator will inform the appropriate Team Leader or officer at the local Social Services Department without delay. A child should not be allowed to go home before a case of suspected abuse has been reported to the appropriate body. Strict confidentiality must be maintained at all times. If the case does go to court anybody in any way involved could be called to give evidence. The Headteacher or Teacher-in-Charge will liaise with Social Services and attend case conferences. Members of staff involved will be informed as and when appropriate. Any member of staff who is questioned by a solicitor or other representative either inside or outside the courtroom must keep strictly to the facts, as they have been recorded. The Child Protection Officer in charge of Child Protection issues is Mr Wood (Headteacher). In the event of hisr absence, the matter should be reported to Paul Taylor. Managing a Disclosure Often a child will begin by testing you out, e.g. “If I tell you something will you promise not to tell anybody else?” As you cannot give such an undertaking, you should find alternative strategies to encourage the continuation of the conversation. Some of the remarks which could help the youngster to continue with a disclosure might be – “I realise how difficult it must be for you …..” “You cannot go on taking this kind of treatment …..” “You must not take the blame…..” “I will get help for you from people who have the right kind of knowledge”. “Would you prefer to talk to someone you don’t know?” If a teacher or other adult feels unable to accept the confidentiality, it should, with the approval of the child, be handed over to another responsible adult. What to do if a person discloses to you Believe – There is obviously much concern amongst professionals about the possibility of false allegations. However, in the vast majority of cases, children who disclose are telling the truth. Lies are unusual, and it is not the teacher’s job to decide on the veracity of any allegations. Think – It may well have taken a great deal of courage for the youngster to make the momentous decision to approach you. Signs of shock, horror or alarm will not help to make it easier for the child to continue the disclosure. Support – Listen quietly, reassure, be patient, say – You were right to tell me. You are not alone. I will certainly do all I can to help you. Ask – Open questions if you need clarification ……… Can you add to that…. ? Is there anything else you want to say? Avoid – Giving an undertaking you will not tell anybody, Asking leading questions e.g. Did your uncle get into your bed? Apportioning blame to anybody. Remember – What was said, even small details can help experienced people to make the correct decisions for the child. Write – Everything that was said before you forget. Communicate – The information to the appropriate person immediately after the disclosure. If the case is taken further, you could be questioned by a social worker, a solicitor or the police; you should keep to the facts as they were related to you and any relevant background knowledge you have of the child. Definitions Disclosure A disclosure is the term used to define the communication between a member of staff at the school and any another person, during which, information is exchanged which could be used to provide evidence that a student is at risk and may require protection from that risk. Categories of Abuse for Registration Dudley Area Child Protection Committee has adopted the following definitions of Child Abuse as laid down by the Department of Health:- NEGLECT: The persistent or severe neglect of a child, or the failure to protect a child from exposure to any kind of danger, including cold or starvation, or extreme failure to carry out important aspects of the child’s health or development, including non-organic failure to thrive. PHYSICAL INJURY: Actual or likely physical injury to a child, or failure to prevent physical injury (or suffering) to a child including deliberated poisoning, suffocation and Munchansen’s syndrome by proxy. SEXUAL ABUSE: Actual or likely exploitation of a child or adolescent. The child may be dependent and/or developmentally immature. EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Actual or likely severe adverse effect on the emotional and behavioural development of a child caused by persistent or sever emotional ill-treatment or rejection. All abuse involves some emotional ill-treatment. This category should be used where it is the main or sole form of abuse. Neglect Neglect is often difficult to detect as it is usually a slow, ongoing process. Professionals may, out of familiarity, start to unknowingly tolerate lessening standards of child care, and each one of us has different parameters of what is acceptable or unacceptable. It is therefore essential that a regular, objective appraisal of the child’s presentation and condition is made. Parents are responsible for giving love, care and protection. Parents are responsible for providing adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical care, supervision and protection, education, social guidance. If aspects of these components are missing it is likely a child is being neglected. Possible Signs of Neglect Constant hunger Poor personal hygiene Constant tiredness Poor clothing Emaciated Frequent lateness, earliness or non-attendance at school Destructive tendencies No social relationships Compulsive stealing Scavenging for food and clothes No carer at home Very low self-esteem Physical Abuse Most children suffer accidents form time to time which result in physical injury and this presents difficulty in diagnosing child abuse. We must also accept that some people believe children must never be hit, whereas others feel physical chastisement is acceptable. The professional when faced with an injured child must consider whether the injury is of an accidental origin or not. Some injuries may seem insignificant by themselves, but repeated injuries, even of a very minor nature, especially in a baby or young child may be symptomatic of child abuse, and if no action is taken, the child may be injured more seriously. It must be emphasised that if child abuse is suspected a thorough medical assessment must be undertaken with the minimum of delay. This can best be achieved by either presenting the child to the Accident and Emergency Department at Russells Hall Hospital or to the Consultant Paediatrician on call. Physical Signs Unexplained injuries including improbable explanations Untreated injuries Recurrent injuries Injuries with a pattern e.g. hand/finger marks, discernible belt marks Burns/scalds e.g. cigarette marks, “dipping” scalds Bite marks Symptoms of unexplained concussion Admitted injuries caused by excessive punishment Behavioural Signs Fear of adult/carer including fear of returning home Refusal to change for PE; keeping limbs covered Fear of medical help Self-destructive tendencies Aggression towards others Sudden, unexplained change in behaviour Learning difficulties Very low self-esteem including failure to respond to praise Inhibited, cowers Sexual Abuse Sexual abuse of children is now known to be more common than previously recognised. Both boys and girls can be victims. The perpetrators are most frequently male figures known to the children. The nature of the abuse covers a broad spectrum from fondling and caressing to full anal and vaginal intercourse. It is most likely the abuse has been taking place for weeks, months and sometimes years and may involve a number of children. Sometimes there are physical signs or symptoms which may indicate sexual abuse, these are: Injury to the genitals or anal area. e.g. bruising, tearing Infection or abnormal discharge in the genital, anal, oral area Pregnancy (real or imagined) Sometimes there are psychological or behavioural signs or symptoms which may indicate sexual abuse, these are:- Sexualised behaviour Sexualised drawings or play Sudden decline in school performance Regression i.e. soiling, wetting Low self-esteem, unkempt appearance Psychosomatic disorders Suicidal acts or threats Sexual victimisation of others Promiscuity and precocious behaviour Eating disorders Sleep disturbance and nightmares Depression Absconding or running away Emotional Abuse Emotional abuse can exist on its own and emotionally abused children are not necessarily physically abused as well. Emotionally abused children find their needs met with indifference, hostility, ridicule, sarcasm, shaming, belittling, frightening, tantalising. This may lead to cruel treatment, like locking children in their bedrooms or cupboards, or making unrealistic demands of them. Sometimes basic needs like food, warmth or clothing are withheld as punishment. These conditions may lead to physical, emotional and intellectual development delay or stunting. Possible Signs of Emotional Abuse Developmental delay (physical, mental, emotional) Admission of punishment which seems excessive Over reaction to mistakes Sudden speech disorders Rocking, hair twisting/pulling etc. Self mutilation Extremes of passivity or aggression Drug/solvent abuse Repeated running away Scavenging for food or clothes Extreme attention-seeking Bedwetting Appendix A: Child Protection – At a Glance C AWARENESS OF PROBLEM O N BE CALM AND CONFIDENT DO NOT PROMISE SECRECY F I LISTEN AND REMEMBER WHAT IS SAID KEEP QUESTIONS OPEN D E RECORD INFORMATION IMMEDIATELY N T INFORM CHILD PROTECTION OFFICER HEADTEACHER TO BE FULLY BRIEFED I A CHILD PROTECTION OFFICER DECIDES IF FURTHER ACTION IS NECESSARY L I APPROPRIATE STAFF TO ATTEND CHILD PROTECTION T CASE CONFERENCE AS NECESSARY Y N.B. If questioned by solicitor/police keep strictly to the facts as recorded.