Fortnightly Safeguarding Briefing

11th March 2019

Safeguarding Network - Confidence in safeguarding

Welcome to your latest briefing

Unfortunately not even safeguarding updates can escape the potential impact of Brexit. In their blog, the Children's Society demonstrate how Brexit will impact the lives of children and young people. They suggest there will be an impact on EU children living in the UK who will become subject to immigration control, the rights of all children will be downgraded and there will be a significant impact on levels of poverty.

MOMO challenge

We are sure that you will have seen the news by now the MOMO challenge has joined the Blue Whale challenge from 2017 in being declared a hoax. Like so many other areas of the ever changing internet, this has led to a debate about the roles of agencies such as schools and the Police in helping to propagate hoaxes. Currently it is a fine line that has to be walked, with agencies attempting to make sure that children are safe, whilst also trying to make sure that only real threats are discussed. Safeguarding Network has a page on online safety that has more information and areas to consider, with our forums section having a specific post considering how to respond to such hoaxes.

In this briefing:

  • Self-harm
  • Domestic abuse
  • Fabricated Illness

Self-harm

The 1st March was self-harm awareness day. To mark the issues that still surround self-harm and knowing what to do about it, YoungMinds released some statistics from research involving over 3,000 secondary school teachers. This found:

  • 84% of secondary school teachers have taught a student who they believe self-harms in the last year
  • 77% of secondary school teachers do not believe they have had sufficient training on children and young people’s mental health

Self-harm, along with mental health, is not necessarily an easy subject for anyone to address, with there being a big fear that intervening will make matters worse. There are also myths about self harm such as that it is an attention seeking behaviour, or that it is a phase that the young person is going through. These can all impact on the way self-harm is seen and perceived by others. Perceptions around self-harm are part of the wider stigma surrounding mental health. With teachers and front-line staff often the first port of call for children and young people seeking help, it is important that this stigma is addressed.

Safeguarding Networkhave a resource page on child mental health. Subscribing schools can access updates which include talking about self-harm and addressing stigma. We also have a more in-depth article looking at the issues around child mental health (available to all).

Domestic abuse

In the last week, a National Commission of leading experts has warned that too many survivors of domestic abuse are failed, and that on many occasions the signs are not picked up by professionals. Domestic abuse is estimated to affect at least 1 in 4 women in the course of their lifetime and at least 1 in 13 men. Domestic abuse is not just about physical violence, but can be emotional, sexual and involve coercion and control. A person aged 16 and over can be affected by domestic abuse.

SafeLives (previously CAADA) suggest their research shows that 85% of victims of domestic abuse sought help an average five times from professionals in the year before they got effective help to stop the abuse - it is important that we know what to do so that we can provide effective help first time.

Safeguarding Network has a resource page on domestic abuse which includes signs and symptoms to look out for. We also offer an elearning option looking at what domestic abuse is and how to recognise and support victims of domestic abuse - available at just 99p per user for subscribing organisations. See our domestic abuse page for more information.

Empty wheelchair in front of brick wall

Fabricated or Induced Illness

Fabricated or induced illness is a lesser known form of physical abuse. Although the illness is primarily a health issue, there are significant implications for schools and other non-medical organisations. Fabricated or induced illness is considered to cover a spectrum of issues, ranging from over anxious parents to parents who are deliberately harming their children for their own gain.

As professionals working with children and young people daily, staff in schools and other organisations are in a prime position to identify inconsistencies in what they are being told about the needs of the child versus how the child is presenting.

Numerous Serious Case Reviews tell us that there is also a need for organisations to maintain a respectful uncertainty and ensure that they challenge where necessary – including challenging the parent and health professionals, regardless of where they may be on the perceived hierarchy within the health system.

Safeguarding Network have a resource page on fabricated or induced illness which includes staff update materials for subscribing organisations. We have also written a more in depth article as part of our safeguarding insights series, aimed at contributing to your continuing professional development (available to all).

Who are we?

Safeguarding Network recognise that the demands on schools are increasing from every aspect. Safeguarding is no exception. Using our front-line safeguarding experience and knowledge we develop resources to help schools meet their safeguarding requirements with the aim of helping lighten the load.

Visit https://safeguarding.network/subscribe for more information.