Everyone is responsible for children in danger

4th April 2008 at 01:00
Everyone must band together to help identify abused and neglected children, according to new official advice.

An HMIE guide calls for a wider safety net than those traditionally charged with child protection - teachers, social workers, plumbers and members of the public are all responsible. It states: "All staff who come into contact with children hold a responsibility for recognising when they are suffering or may be at risk of suffering harm."

Real-life scenarios are used to show advisable responses to suspicions that a child may be in danger.

In one, a class teacher was alerted that a 13-year-old girl had been frequently seen with older men. The teacher discussed this with the girl's guidance teacher, then social work was contacted and immediately convened a meeting involving staff who knew the girl's circumstances.

It was agreed that the guidance teacher was the best person to bring the concerns to the girl's attention sensitively and allow her to respond. The guidance teacher also helped the girl during investigations by social work and police.

In another case, following child-protection training for all local authority staff, a council plumber visited a home and saw five children living in "very poor" conditions. The plumber contacted social work, which took "prompt action" to investigate and protect the children.

The guide, titled "How good are we at assessing risks and needs to help children and families?" came out this week alongside another HMIE publication on child protection which deals with sharing information about abused and neglected children.

The second report, "How good are we at sharing and recording information to help children and families?", shows how organisations can work together to protect children.

One example is given where school staff held meetings with a wider range of professionals than previously, including nurses, campus police officers and youth workers. This led to earlier identification of at-risk children.

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