(Please note the use of the phrase ‘Pop Up Dance’ in this document refers to all persons working on behalf of the organisation)
Introduction: The Concept of Significant Harm
Some children are in need because they are suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm. The Children Act 1989 introduced the concept of significant harm as the threshold that justifies compulsory intervention in family life in the best interests of children, and gives local authorities a duty to make enquiries (Section 47) to decide whether they should take action to safeguard or promote the welfare of a child who is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm.
In addition, ‘harm’ is defined as the ill treatment or impairment of health and development. This definition was clarified in section 120 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (implemented on 31 January 2005) so that it may include ‘impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another’ for example, where there are concerns of Domestic Violence and Abuse.
Sometimes, a single traumatic event may constitute significant harm (e.g. a violent assault, suffocation or poisoning). More often, significant harm is a compilation of significant events, both acute and longstanding, which interrupt, change or damage the child's physical and psychological development.
Some children live in family and social circumstances where their health and development are neglected. For them, it is the corrosiveness of long-term neglect, emotional, physical or sexual abuse that causes impairment to the extent of constituting significant harm.
Introduction: Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.
Physical harm may also be caused when a parent fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent effects on the child's emotional development, and may involve:
Conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person;
Imposing age or developmentally inappropriate expectations on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child's developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction;
Seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another e.g. where there is domestic violence and abuse;
Serious bullying, causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger;
Exploiting and corrupting children.
Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (e.g. rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing.
Sexual abuse includes non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, including online and with mobile phones, or in the production of, pornographic materials, watching sexual activities or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
In addition; Sexual abuse includes abuse of children through sexual exploitation. Penetrative sex where one of the partners is under the age of 16 is illegal, although prosecution of similar age, consenting partners is not usual. However, where a child is under the age of 13 it is classified as rape under s5 Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child's health or development.
Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance misuse, maternal mental ill health or learning difficulties or a cluster of such issues. Where there is domestic abuse and violence towards a carer, the needs of the child may be neglected.
Neglect may involve a parent failing to:
Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers);
Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child's basic emotional, social and educational needs.
These definitions are used when determining significant harm and children can be affected by combinations of maltreatment and abuse, which can be impacted on by for example domestic violence and abuse in the household or a cluster of problems faced by the adults.
Potential Risk of Harm to an Unborn Child
In some circumstances, organisations or individuals are able to anticipate the likelihood of significant harm with regard to an unborn baby (e.g. where there is information known about domestic abuse, substance misuse or a diagnosis of a mental health problem which may impact on parental capacity)
Pop up Dance will always aim to
Be alert to potential indicators of abuse or neglect;
Be alert to the risks which individual abusers, or potential abusers, may pose to children;
Contribute to whatever actions are needed to safeguard and promote a child's welfare
Pop Up Dance follows the referral process of the Suffolk Safeguarding Childrens Board
We will always make a referral via the Suffolk County Council Customer First Helpline 0808 800 4005
In an emergency we will always phone the emergency services on 999
Response: Hearing and Observing a Child/Young Person
Whenever a child reports that they are suffering or have suffered significant harm through abuse or neglect, or have caused or are causing physical or sexual harm to others, Pop Up Dance will listen carefully to what the child says and observe the child’s behaviour and circumstances to:
Clarify and document the concerns
Explain what action Pop Up Dance will take, and within what timeframe
A child will not be pressed for information, led or cross-examined or given false assurances of absolute confidentiality, as this could prejudice police investigations, especially in cases of sexual abuse.
A child or young person will be given information and asked their views about any referral in a way appropriate to their age and developmental level unless to do so is felt likely to cause increase risk of harm to them or others. If the child can understand the significance and consequences of making a referral the possible outcomes and the different stages of the process will be explained to them. Their views and comments will be recorded.
It will be explained to the child that whilst their views will be taken into account, Pop Up Dance has a responsibility to take whatever action is required to ensure their safety and the safety of other children.
Response: Parental Consultation
Concerns which have been raised, will, where practicable, be discussed with the parent and agreement sought for a referral unless seeking agreement is likely to place the child or the worker at risk of significant harm through delay or from the parent's actions or reactions; For example in circumstances where there are concerns or suspicions that a serious crime such as sexual abuse, domestic violence or fabricated or induced illness has taken place.
When a referral is deemed to be necessary in the interests of the child, and the parents have been consulted and are not in agreement, the following action will be taken:
The reason for proceeding without parental or competent young person’s agreement will be recorded;
The parent's or competent young person withholding of permission will form part of the verbal and written referral.
Response: Urgent Medical Attention
If the child is suffering from a serious injury, unwell or in pain, Pop Up Dance will arrange appropriate medical attention and make a referral to Customer FIrst. Safeguarding concerns will be communicated with any medical services involved with immediate care e.g. the ambulance service, Accident and Emergency Department. If required, Pop Up Dance will contact the on call consultant paediatrician for child protection at the hospital the child is attending.
Response: Concerns Raised by a Member of the Public
If a member of the public approaches Pop Up Dance with concerns about the welfare of a child we will always:
Take basic details: Name, address, gender and date of birth of child, Name and contact details for parent/s, educational setting (e.g. nursery, school), primary medical practitioner (e.g. GP practice), practitioners providing other services, a lead professional for the child.
Record the information received and given, separating out fact from opinion as far as possible.
Make a referral to Customer First
The member of the public should also be given the number for Customer First and encouraged to contact them directly. However, Pop Up Dance will always contact Customer First to make a referral as well in case the member of the public does not follow through.