Fortnightly Safeguarding Briefing

13th January 2020

Safeguarding Network - Confidence in safeguarding

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the first briefing of the new year and the new decade. Many of you will be like me and remember heralding in the new century wondering what it would bring and what 2010 would be like, let alone 2020!  Thinking about what the next ten years may hold, one commentator I heard was suggesting that this will be the decade where we roll back on the social media and start to meet people face to face again.  This links with another commentary which suggests that mobile phones are akin to cigarettes through the 1960's and 1970's, essentially a societal addiction that will pass, particularly with increasing concerns about physical and mental health problems associated with overuse.

Whether there is a decreasing reliance on social media and mobile phones remains to be seen.  What is more definite however is Safer Internet Day on the 11th February.  As with every year, resources for working with children and young people are available as is information for parents.  Safeguarding Network will be focusing on online safety and cyber-bullying in our February training update for subscribing schools.

In this briefing:

  • Pass the parcel - Children's Commissioner report on looked after children placed out of area
  • Professional dangerousness (and a competition)
  • Averting tragedy: Suicide prevention in Welsh children and young people
Pass the parcel report cover

Pass the parcel

Building on the focus on looked after children in our last fortnightly briefing, this report released just before Christmas, looks at the experiences of children and young people who are placed outside of their home area.  In the report the Children's Commissioner identifies that around 41% of children in the care system are more than 20 miles from what they would call home.  There are numerous reasons as to why this happens, but a significant number of children and young people are out of area purely due to lack of appropriate resource in their own area.

As the report identifies, this cohort of children are often those who have multiple vulnerabilities, have experienced multiple moves and have potentially had a number of adverse childhood experiences which leads to associated trauma.  These children are therefore more vulnerable to exploitation and at higher risk of going missing.  The report challenges us to reframe our thinking so that we do not see them as 'problems' but as victims of the system that has let them down.

The report, informed by the voices of the children caught up in the out of area cycle, identifies key areas that need to be urgently addressed to reduce the impact on the children and young people, both now and for their future adulthoods.  As individual practitioners it is important that we consider how we can reduce the impact on children and young people as well as challenging the wider system to make changes both on an individual and system-wide basis.

Professional dangerousness

Child protection has been described as 'anxious work' (Tony Morrison).  The work is emotionally fraught and can trigger issues and difficulties not just for the families concerned, but also for the professionals and organisations working with them.  The phrase professional dangerousness came about in the 1990's, with Morrison describing this as "the process whereby professionals involved in Child Protection work can behave in a way which either colludes with or increases the dangerous dynamics of the abusing family" (Morrison, 1990).  The phrase has subsequently been used in serious case reviews when looking at how the system (either individual elements or the whole) has worked in a way that puts children and young people at risk.

Safeguarding Network has drawn on research to identify definitions and aspects of professional dangerousness with the hope that it will help organisations to review current practice to pre-empt and prevent future incidents.

Competition

We’ve written a short submission to a review child protection conference, based on our own experiences of poor practice, and concealed a significant number of the professional dangerousness errors within the document. Your role is to identify and label as many as you can find (with the aid of the list we have drawn up).   For the submission deemed to most accurately complete the exercise there is a prize of a free term’s membership for a school of your choice, or for current members a £99 voucher towards our online learning products. See our safeguarding insight for more details about professional dangerousness and the competition (closing date is 9am on 31st January 2020).

Child Death Review Programme - Thematic Review cover

Averting tragedy: Suicide prevention in Welsh children and young people

A review by Public Health Wales has considered the deaths of all children and young people aged between 10 and 18 in Wales who died by suicide over a four year period.  The subsequent report has identified a number of themes which can then be considered when looking at how to prevent future suicides.  The report highlights that whilst there is rarely a single reason for a child taking their own life, suicides are potentially preventable.

The review found issues present included substance misuse; poverty; sexual abuse and assault; bereavement; shame; difficulties in education, employment or training; and lack of awareness around self-harm.  The key opportunities identified by the review were:

  1. Prevention of alcohol and substance misuse.
  2. Mitigation of Adverse Childhood Experiences.
  3. Management of self-harm.
  4. Raising the age of participation in education, employment or training (already in place in England).
  5. Better information sharing.
  6. Better knowledge and awareness of self-harm and other risk factors for suicide.

For many of us, poor mental health is still a difficult subject to broach with a child or young person for fear of getting it wrong.  However, just by talking you can reduce the stigma a young person may be facing.  Safeguarding Network has more information on mental health (both in relation to adults and children) and for subscribing schools there is an update package available allowing you to look to increase staff knowledge and consider how school culture can support children who are thinking about harming themselves.

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.

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