Safeguarding Policy

Hackney Youth Orchestras Trust (HYOT) Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy


Contents

Main document

Toolkit

Online delivery


Foreword

Hackney Youth Orchestras Trust is a registered charity, providing a music education to children and young people in the London Borough of Hackney, since 1992. Our students range from 6 to 21 years of age and reflect the diversity of the local population in terms of ethnicity, musical experience and interests. Our music education is delivered through orchestral, ensemble and 1:1 instrumental and vocal tuition through our Saturday school, holiday and online projects.

Hackney Youth Orchestras Trust (HYOT) believe that children and young people have a right to be protected from abuse, neglect or exploitation and to have their welfare and development promoted. The health, safety and well-being of children and young people are paramount. Children and young people and families should be understood in the context of their own cultural, religious and ethnic origin and the values which support this context.

The aim of the HYOT’s Policy and Procedures for Safeguarding Children and Young People is to clarify responsibilities for staff and to ensure that children and young people are kept safe from harm whilst engaging in music and are protected if they disclose abuse, wherever it takes place

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. 

Everyone involved with HYOT is expected to behave in a way which complies with this policy. Staff will cooperate with all other agencies which provide care and services to children and young people to contribute to an effective, well-integrated network of services to support families and to protect children and young people. HYOT will do all that it can to promote the values of mutual respect and keeping everyone safe. This policy will be reviewed as necessary, always following any serious incident, whenever there are changes in relevant legislation or guidance and at least once a year.

If anyone suspects a child or young person is in immediate danger or is at immediate risk of harm, then they should contact the police by calling 999 without delay.

Chris Lane

Chair of Trustees

Hackney Youth Orchestras Trust

Purpose of the Policy

The health, safety and well-being of children and young people are paramount. The purpose of this policy is to set out the responsibilities that Hackney Youth Orchestras Trust (HYOT) and individuals within it have to ensure that children are kept safe in all places and at all times. 

This policy covers all children using the definition of a child as set out in statutory guidance (1). Anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. The fact that a child has reached 16 years of age, is living independently or is in further education, is a member of the armed forces, is in hospital or in custody in the secure estate, does not change their status or entitlements to services or protection.

HYOT services work within the framework and principles of the children and young people legislation which currently applies. This policy is consistent with relevant sector statutory and non-statutory guidance including, Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trusteesWorking Together to Safeguard Children and Information Sharing: Advice for Practitioners Providing Safeguarding Services to Children, Young People, Parents and Carers. This policy is intended for all those who occupy positions of responsibility, who work, volunteer or come into contact with children and young people as part of their role with the organisation, but also acts as guidance for the wider community.

This policy is promoted by the organisation, it is publicly available on our website and circulated to staff and volunteers.

This policy defines the key safeguarding roles, so that everyone knows who is responsible and to whom a concern can be raised.

This policy sets out:

  • the steps to be taken if someone is worried about a child or young person.
  • the steps to be taken if there are concerns about someone working, volunteering or occupying a position of trust or engaging with children and young people.
  • how to escalate concerns, whistle-blow and share information
  • how appointments will be made safely.
  • a toolkit of supporting procedures and guidance.

Safeguarding is at the heart of all of our practice and therefore other policies such as Health and Safety, Data Protection, Equality also make reference to matters linked to safeguarding.

Commitment to Children & Young People

HYOT is committed to promoting the welfare and safety of all children and young people who come into contact with the Charity. 

Our staff will

  • Remain alert to safeguarding risks and ensure familiarity with this safeguarding policy.
  • Take all suspicions and/or allegations of abuse or risk to children seriously and respond swiftly in accordance with this policy. This includes taking seriously any allegations made against an adult working or volunteering with children.
  • Share information appropriately.
  • Attend safeguarding training (at Level 1/Group A)  to equip them to carry out their responsibilities for child protection effectively (keeping this training refreshed at 3 yearly intervals).
  • The school’s senior members of staff and trustees, with designated responsibility for child protection will undertake basic child protection training and training in inter–agency working.
  • Escalate matters of concern as required and be alert to our Whistleblowing Policy.
  • Ensure that all concerns and discussions about a child’s welfare, the decisions made and the reasons for those decisions are recorded in writing.

Safeguarding Level 1 is available via the Safer School App  (A PIN is required for the digital test – please ask Rachel Dollimore rachel@dollimore.net).  Training is also available through CHSCP CHSCP Training Calendar.

Key Safeguarding Roles

HYOT’s key safeguarding roles are as follows:

Lead Trustee for Safeguarding Chris Lane, Chair of Trustees, chair@hyot.org.uk, 07881 837 824

Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) Vicky Yannoula, CEO, hyot@hotmail.co.uk, 07956 113 541

Deputy DSL Rachel Dollimore, Trustee rachel@dollimore.net 07748 344 331

What to do if you are worried about a child

HYOT Staff  have a responsibility to be aware of any concerns or suspicions, whether major or minor, about the safety or welfare of a child or young person. The guidance, What to do if you’re worried that a child is being abused (2015) must be referred to, and sets out what to do if someone is worried a child is being abused. This guidance includes four basic steps to follow when worried about a child or young person. 

  1. Being alert to signs of abuse and neglect
  2. Questioning behaviours
  3. Asking for help
  4. Reporting

You should record, in writing, all concerns and discussions about a child’s welfare, the decisions made and the reasons for those decisions.

Such concerns must always be discussed with one of the individuals named in the section ‘Key Safeguarding Roles’, who in turn will seek guidance from the Trustees. In this way staff can reflect on their concerns in the light of other people’s knowledge and experience. A fuller picture is likely to emerge which may enable concerns to be reduced or it may lead to the realisation that further action is appropriate. There will exist situations when it may not be possible or reasonable in terms of the child’s or young person’s safety and welfare to share concerns. In some situations, any attempt to find out more about what has happened may directly increase the risks of further harm to the child or young person.

It may not always be appropriate to go through all four stages sequentially. If a child is in immediate danger or is at risk of harm, you should refer to children’s social care and/or the police. Before doing so, you should try to establish the basic facts. However, it will be the role of social workers and the police to investigate cases and make a judgement on whether there should be a statutory intervention and/or a criminal investigation. You should record, in writing, all concerns and discussions about a child’s welfare, the decisions made and the reasons for those decisions (2).

If you suspect a child or young person is in immediate danger or is at risk of harm, you should contact the police by calling 999 without delay.

The law empowers anyone who has actual care of a child to do all that is reasonable in the circumstances to safeguard their welfare. Accordingly, those working directly with children and young people should take appropriate action wherever necessary to ensure that no child is left in immediate danger and take all reasonable steps to offer a child immediate protection (including from an aggressive parent / carer). (Children Act 1989 S.3 (5)(a) and (b)). All non-recent (historical) allegations should be responded to in the same way as contemporary concerns.

Advice can be sought from the NSPCC helpline (help@nspcc.org.uk / 0808 800 5000). The NSPCC can help make a determination if a safeguarding referral is required and complete it if necessary.

At the point a concern is identified, a referral should be made to the local authority children’s social care and/or the police without delay. Advice should always be sought from the local authority children’s social care and/or the police as to what internal action the organisation is able to take based on the status of any statutory investigation.

Local criteria for action is set out and should be referred to, in the following document The Hackney Child Wellbeing Framework, which has been published by safeguarding partners and is in place in Hackney.

If you require support and advice on making a referral to children’s Social Care, or to make a referral, please contact the First Access and Screening Team (FAST) Tel: 020 8356 5500 

Email: FAST@hackney.gov.uk.cjsm.net

Out of hours: 020 8356 2710

Obtaining Feedback

Within one working day of a referral being made, Children’s Social Care should acknowledge receipt to the referrer and make a decision about the next steps. The DSL should always follow this up if information is not forthcoming (3). If feedback is not provided with 5 working days, contact should be made directly with the local authority’s children’s social care department to determine the status of the referral. The DSL needs to clarify and record the action being proposed

Recording

At all stages of the process, staff / volunteers must record, in writing all concerns and discussions about a child’s welfare, the decisions made and the reasons for those decisions. As a minimum, this recording must include the following:

  • the nature of the concern first raised, by whom and when;
  • to whom it is related, i.e. a specific child, adult or organisation;
  • the points discussed with the DSL and/or any other staff member providing advice.
  • when and with whom the discussion occurred; the decision reached, whether consent for referral has been obtained or not and reasons for the actions taken.

What to do if you are concerned about a professional or volunteer

The first step in effectively protecting children and young people from professionals or volunteers who want to harm them is to accept that this risk exists and that this risk may exist from the people you work alongside. Staff and volunteers must be prepared to think the unthinkable, regardless of how challenging or uncomfortable this might be. 

It is the personal and professional responsibility of all to report any concerns about professionals or volunteers working with children or young people that involve people:

  • behaving in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed a child or young person;
  • committing a criminal offence against, or related to, a child or young person;
  • or behaving towards a child or young person, or groups of children and young people in a way that indicates that they are unsuitable to work with children.

These behaviours should always be considered within the context of the four categories of abuse (i.e. physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect). They should also be considered in terms of inappropriate relationships being suspected between members of staff and children or young people. For example:

  • Having a sexual relationship with a child under 18 if in a position of trust in respect of that child, even if consensual (see ss16-19 Sexual Offences Act 2003);
  • ‘Grooming’, i.e. meeting a child under 16 with intent to commit a relevant offence (see s15 Sexual Offences Act 2003);
  • Other ‘grooming’ behaviour giving rise to concerns of a broader child protection nature e.g. inappropriate text / e-mail messages or images, gifts, socialising etc.;
  • Possession of indecent images / pseudo-images of children.

This policy will be applied where concerns arise in the context of a professional’s or volunteer’s personal life and/or where concerns arise in respect of a family member and /or close associate of the professional or volunteer.

In some cases, an allegation of abuse against someone closely associated with a member of staff may also present a risk of harm to children and young people with whom the member of staff might be engaged through their work with the organisation.

All non-recent (historical) allegations will be responded to in the same way as contemporary concerns. 

If an allegation is made against a member of the staff or volunteer, the allegation must be reported immediately to their DSL (Deputy DSL or Lead Trustee for Safeguarding if unavailable) and manager. If the allegation concerns one of these roles, do not notify them. Report to another senior member of the organisation or refer directly to the Local Area Designated Officer (LADO) (within 24 hours). Failure to make such a disclosure, whether it concerns a current or historic allegation, will result in immediate suspension and disciplinary proceedings. 

The Hackney LADO can be contacted on 0208 356 4569 / LADO@hackney.gov.uk

Escalation / Whistleblowing

Problem resolution is an integral part of professional co-operation and joint working to safeguard children and young people. Effective practice depends on an open approach and honest relationships between staff, professional curiosity and challenge. All aspects should be supported and actively encouraged to embed a culture where children and young people are seen, heard and helped and their outcomes improved.

If any member of staff or volunteer has concerns about the safety or welfare of a child and feels that they are not being taken seriously or acted upon appropriately, it is their responsibility to take action. In these circumstances, staff should refer to the City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP)’s Escalation Policy  CHSCP’s Escalation Policy and/or HYOT’s Whistleblowing policy.

The Charity Commission – Workers or volunteers can report serious wrongdoing at a charity by following this guidance Report serious wrongdoing at a charity as a worker or volunteer.

What to report 

You can report things to the Charity Commission that have happened, are happening or are likely to happen. Issues that you can report to the to Charity Commission are those that could seriously harm:

  • the people a charity helps
  • the charity’s staff or volunteers
  • services the charity provides
  • the charity’s assets
  • the charity’s reputation

Examples of serious harm include:

  • if someone’s health or safety is in danger, for example if a charity does not use its safeguarding policy
  • a criminal offence, for example theft, fraud or financial mismanagement
  • if a charity uses its activities as a platform for extremist views or materials
  • loss of charity funds, for example when a charity loses more than 20% of its income or more than £25,000
  • if the charity does not meet its legal obligations, for example if someone uses a charity for significant personal advantage (4).

Confidentiality, Consent & Information Sharing

Good information sharing is vital when professionals are worried about people and want to help them. Statutory guidance (5) relating to children and young people stresses the importance of sharing information relating to concerns of possible harm with the appropriate statutory authorities as early as possible. 

The following non-statutory guidance should be referred to as a source of further advice about information sharing,  Information Sharing: Advice for Practitioners Providing Safeguarding Services to Children, Young People, Parents and Carers. The advice includes the seven golden rules for sharing information effectively.

  1. Remember that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Data Protection Act 2018 and human rights law are not barriers to justified information sharing, but provide a framework to ensure that personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.
  2. Be open and honest with the individual (and/or their family where appropriate) from the outset about why, what, how and with whom information will, or could be shared, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
  3. Seek advice from other practitioners, or your information governance lead, if you are in any doubt about sharing the information concerned, without disclosing the identity of the individual where possible.
  4. Where possible, share information with consent, and where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to having their information shared. Under the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 you may share information without consent if, in your judgement, there is a lawful basis to do so, such as where safety may be at risk. You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case. When you are sharing or requesting personal information from someone, be clear of the basis upon which you are doing so. Where you do not have consent, be mindful that an individual might not expect information to be shared.
  5. Consider safety and well-being: base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and well-being of the individual and others who may be affected by their actions.
  6. Necessary, proportionate, relevant, adequate, accurate, timely and secure: ensure that the information you share is necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it, is shared only with those individuals who need to have it, is accurate and up- to-date, is shared in a timely fashion, and is shared securely.
  7. Keep a record of your decision and the reasons for it – whether it is to share information or not. If you decide to share, then record what you have shared, with whom and for what purpose.

In ensuring the safeguarding of children and young people it is recognized that child/parent/staff privacy is respected. As per guidance, HYOT takes a balanced approach to confidentiality vs. risk of harm. The legal principle that the “welfare of the child is paramount” means that taking action to safeguard the child is most important. Privacy and confidentiality should be respected, but if doing this leaves a child at risk or harm, the child’s safety has to come first. So, legally, it is fine to share information if someone is worried about the safety of a child.

Safer Recruitment

  • HYOT makes sure that it does everything that it can to prevent appointing people who may pose a risk to children and strives to create a culture of safeguarding in the workplace. HYOT is committed to recruiting staff and volunteers safely, ensuring that all necessary steps are taken and checks made, in line with best practice and legal requirements. 
  • Our Recruitment, Selection and Record Keeping Policy includes explicit reference to safeguarding children.
  • There is a generic statement within every job description.”Everyone has a responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults. The post holder will undertake the appropriate level of training and is responsible for ensuring they understand and work in line with the relevant safeguarding policies and associated guidance.” 
  • HYOT will include a definition in each job description of the supervision that a post-holder will receive 
  • HYOT requires a new DBS at enhanced level for relevant roles consistent with existing legislation. A previous DBS at enhanced level is acceptable if a new check is undertaken by HYOT with the updates service.
  • HYOT will conduct repeat checks every three years on every member of staff who works directly with, or has regular contact with, children and young people.
  • All HYOT staff must register on the DBS annual update service.
  • Two references are taken up before employment of all staff and trustees, with one reference from the most recent employer.
  • Every member of staff or volunteer engaged in recruitment will receive and can evidence that they have received recent safe recruitment training.

Support for Staff and Volunteers

If HYOTs staff or volunteers are affected by issues of abuse or other concerns expressed by children and young people, then they are entitled to seek support.

AGREED at a meeting of the HYOT Trustees held on 13 March 2021.  Next review date Spring 2022.


Toolkit

Principles

Working within the footprint of the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP), HYOT supports and reflects CHSCP’s stated  principles set out in the local safeguarding arrangements in the City of London and Hackney.

  • Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. We will champion the most vulnerable and maintain a single child-centred culture.
  • Context is key. We will have an unswerving focus on both intra-familial and extra-familial safeguarding contexts across the City of London and the London Borough of Hackney.
  • The voice of children and young people. We will collaborate with children and young people and use their lived experience to inform the way we work. We will regularly engage with them as part of our core business and ensure their voices help both design and improve our local multi-agency safeguarding arrangements.
  • The voice of communities. Improving our understanding of the diverse communities across our footprint, we will regularly communicate with, listen to and engage local communities in our work. We will harness their experience to both inform and improve the way we safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.
  • Enabling high quality safeguarding practice. We will promote awareness, improve knowledge and work in a way that is characterised by an attitude of constructive professional challenge.
  • Fostering a culture of transparency. We will enable staff and volunteers to learn from individual experience and continuously improve the quality of multi-agency practice.

Equality and Diversity – Anti-Discriminatory Practice

HYOT will make sure that all children and young people have the same protection regardless of gender, ethnic origin, age, race, disability, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation or gender reassignment. Our practice is based on core values within an equal opportunities framework.

National Guidance and Legislation

The following sets out the key legislation, statutory and non-statutory guidance supporting child safeguarding that is relevant to all organisations in England:

The Children Act 2004

The Children Act 1989

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 – Statutory guidance covering the legislative requirements and expectations on individual services to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused – advice for practitioners 2015 – Non-statutory and has been produced to help practitioners identify child abuse and neglect and take appropriate action in response.

Information sharing advice for safeguarding practitioners 2018 – Guidance on information sharing for people who provide safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers.

Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees 2017 – (updated 2019)

Local Guidance & Associated Policies 

The London Safeguarding Children Board provides a comprehensive range of specific guidance within Part B3 of the London Child Protection Procedures  and is a useful reference tool. 

Definitions 

A Child

Anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. The fact that a child has reached 16 years of age, is living independently or is in further education, is a member of the armed forces, is in hospital or in custody in the secure estate, does not change their status or entitlements to services or protection(6). 

Safeguarding 

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined for the purpose of statutory guidance under the Children Acts 1989 and 2004 respectively as

  • Protecting children from maltreatment.
  • Preventing impairment of children’s health or development.
  • Ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care. Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes

Child Protection

Child Protection is a part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. This refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant harm.

A Child in Need 

Children who are defined as being ‘in need’, under the Children Act 1989, are those whose vulnerability is such that they are unlikely to reach or maintain a satisfactory level of health or development, or their health and development will be significantly impaired, without the provision of services plus those who are disabled. The critical factors to be taken into account in deciding whether a child is in need under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 are:

  • What will happen to a child’s health or development without such services being provided.
  • The likely effect the services will have on the child’s standard of health and development. 

Harm

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 Abuse.

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.

A Court may only make a Care Order or Supervision Order in respect of a child if it is satisfied that:

  • The child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm; and 
  • The harm, or likelihood of harm, is attributable to a lack of adequate parental care or control (Section 31).

There are no absolute criteria on which to rely when judging what constitutes significant harm. Consideration of the severity of ill treatment may include the degree and the extent of physical harm, the duration and frequency of abuse and neglect, the extent of premeditation, and the presence or degree of threat, coercion, sadism and bizarre or unusual elements.

Each of these elements has been associated with more severe effects on the child, and or relatively greater difficulty in helping the child overcome the adverse impact of the maltreatment. 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.

Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse 

Abuse and Neglect are forms of maltreatment – a person may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Child welfare concerns may arise in many different contexts and can vary greatly in terms of their nature and seriousness. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or by a stranger, including, via the Internet. In the case of Female Genital Mutilation, children may be taken out of the country to be abused.

They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children. An abused child will often experience more than one type of abuse, as well as other difficulties in their lives. Abuse and neglect can happen over a period of time but can also be a one-off event. Child abuse and neglect can have major long-term impacts on all aspects of a child’s health, development and wellbeing. 

The warning signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect can vary from child to child. Disabled children may be especially vulnerable to abuse, including because they may have an impaired capacity to resist or avoid abuse. They may have speech, language and communication needs which may make it difficult to tell others what is happening. Children also develop and mature at different rates so what appears to be worrying for a younger child might be normal behaviour for an older child. 

Parental behaviours may also indicate child abuse or neglect, so you should also be alert to parent-child interactions which are concerning and other parental behaviours. This could include parents who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or if there is a sudden change in their mental health. By understanding the warning signs, you can respond to problems as early as possible and provide the right support and services for the child and their family. It is important to recognise that a warning sign doesn’t automatically mean a child is being abused. 

There are a number of warning indicators that might suggest that a child may be being abused or neglected. Some of the following signs might be indicators of abuse or neglect:

  • Children whose behaviour changes – they may become aggressive, challenging, disruptive, withdrawn or clingy, or they might have difficulty sleeping or start wetting the bed.
  • Children with clothes which are ill-fitting and/or dirty.
  • Children with consistently poor hygiene.
  • Children who make strong efforts to avoid specific family members or friends, without an obvious reason. Children who don’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
  • Children who are having problems at school, for example, a sudden lack of concentration and learning or they appear to be tired and hungry.
  • Children who talk about being left home alone, with inappropriate carers or with strangers.
  • Children who reach developmental milestones, such as learning to speak or walk, late, with no medical reason.
  • Children who are regularly missing from school or education.
  • Children who are reluctant to go home after school.
  • Children with poor school attendance and punctuality, or who are consistently late being picked up.
  • Parents who are dismissive and non-responsive to practitioners’ concerns.
  • Parents who collect their children from school when drunk, or under the influence of drugs.
  • Children who drink alcohol regularly from an early age.
  • Children who are concerned for younger siblings without explaining why.
  • Children who talk about running away and 
  • Children who shy away from being touched or flinch at sudden movements.

There are four main categories of abuse and neglect: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Each has its own specific warning indicators, which you should be alert to. Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) statutory guidance sets out full descriptions.

The definitions and indicators are not meant to be definitive but only to serve as a guide to assist you and so that you can seek further advice. It is important too, to remember that many children and young people may exhibit some of these indicators at some time, and that the presence of one or more should not be taken as proof that abuse is occurring. There may well be other reasons for changes in behaviour such as a death or the birth of a new baby in their family, relationship problems between their parents/carers etc. In assessing whether indicators are related to abuse or not, the authorities will always want to understand them in relation to the child’s development and context.

Physical Abuse 

Physical abuse is deliberately physically hurting a child. It might take a variety of different forms, including hitting, pinching, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning or suffocating a child. Physical abuse can happen in any family, but children may be more at risk if their parents have problems with drugs, alcohol and mental health or if they live in a home where domestic abuse happens. Babies and disabled children also have a higher risk of suffering physical abuse. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child. Physical abuse can also occur outside of the family environment. Some of the following signs may be indicators of physical abuse:

  • Children with frequent injuries, 
  • Children with unexplained or unusual fractures or broken bones and 
  • Children with unexplained bruises or cuts, burns, scalds or bite marks

Neglect 

Neglect is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic needs, whether it be adequate food, clothing, hygiene, supervision or shelter. It is likely to result in the serious impairment of a child’s health or development. Children who are neglected often also suffer from other types of abuse. It is important that practitioners remain alert and do not miss opportunities to take timely action. However, while you may be concerned about a child, neglect is not always straightforward to identify.

Neglect may occur if a parent becomes physically or mentally unable to care for a child. A parent may also have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, which could impair their ability to keep a child safe or result in them prioritising buying drugs, or alcohol, over food, clothing or warmth for the child. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal drug or alcohol abuse.

It is important to remember that neglect is not simply confined to “poor parents”. Neglect can also happen in families that are affluent and this needs to be considered during all interventions. Some of the following signs may be indicators of neglect:

  • Children who are living in a home that is indisputably dirty or unsafe. 
  • Children who are left hungry or dirty. 
  • Children who are left without adequate clothing, e.g. not having a winter coat. 
  • Children who are living in dangerous conditions, i.e. around drugs, alcohol or violence. 
  • Children who are often angry, aggressive or self-harm. 
  • Children who fail to receive basic health care and 
  • Parents who fail to seek medical treatment when their children are ill or are injured.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child. It is also sometimes called psychological abuse and it can have severe and persistent adverse effects on a child’s emotional development. Although the effects of emotional abuse might take a long time to be recognisable, practitioners will be in a position to observe it, for example, in the way that a parent interacts with their child. Emotional abuse may involve deliberately telling a child that they are worthless, or unloved and inadequate. It may include not giving a child opportunity to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. Emotional abuse may involve serious bullying – including online bullying through social networks, online games or mobile phones – by a child’s peers. Some of the following signs may be indicators of emotional abuse:

  • Children who are excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong. 
  • Parents or carers who withdraw their attention from their child, giving the child the ‘cold shoulder’. 
  • Parents or carers blaming their problems on their child and 
  • Parents or carers who humiliate their child, for example, by name-calling or making negative comparisons.

Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any sexual activity with a child. You should be aware that many children and young people who are victims of sexual abuse do not recognise themselves as such. A child may not understand what is happening and may not even understand that it is wrong. Sexual abuse can have a long-term impact on mental health.

Sexual abuse may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside clothing. It may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in the production of sexual images, forcing children to look at sexual images or watch sexual activities, 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 commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children. Some of the following signs may be indicators of sexual abuse:

  • Children who display knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to their age.
  • Children who use sexual language or have sexual knowledge that you wouldn’t expect them to have. 
  • Children who ask others to behave sexually or play sexual games and 
  • Children with physical sexual health problems, including soreness in the genital and anal areas, sexually transmitted infections or underage pregnancy

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) 

CSE is a form of sexual abuse where children are sexually exploited for money, power or status. It can involve violent, humiliating and degrading sexual assaults. In some cases, young people are persuaded or forced into exchanging sexual activity for money, drugs, gifts, affection or status. Consent cannot be given, even where a child may believe they are voluntarily engaging in sexual activity with the person who is exploiting them. Child sexual exploitation doesn’t always involve physical contact and can happen online. A significant number of children who are victims of sexual exploitation go missing from home, care and education at some point. 

‘Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology’. 

Some of the following signs may be indicators of sexual exploitation:

  • Children who appear with unexplained gifts or new possessions.
  • Children who associate with other young people involved in exploitation.
  • Children who have older boyfriends or girlfriends.
  • Children who suffer from sexually transmitted infections or become pregnant. 
  • Children who suffer from changes in emotional well-being.
  • Children who misuse drugs and alcohol. 
  • Children who go missing for periods of time or regularly come home late and 
  • Children who regularly miss school or education or don’t take part in education

Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) 

Child Criminal Exploitation is where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into any criminal activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial or other advantage of the perpetrator or facilitator and/or (c) through violence or the threat of violence. The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. Child criminal exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.

County Lines 

A term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas within the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of ‘deal line’. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money, and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.

Peer-on Peer Abuse 

Children can abuse other children (often referred to as peer on peer abuse). This is most likely to include, but may not be limited to:

  • Bullying (including cyberbullying).
  • Physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, hair pulling, or otherwise causing physical harm. Sexual violence, such as rape, assault by penetration and sexual assault.
  • Sexual harassment, such as sexual comments, remarks, jokes and online sexual harassment, which may be stand-alone or part of a broader pattern of abuse. 
  • Up-skirting, which typically involves taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks to obtain sexual gratification, or cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm; 
  • Sexting (also known as youth produced sexual imagery) and 
  • Initiation/hazing type violence and rituals (7).

Radicalisation / Extremism

Extremism goes beyond terrorism and includes people who target the vulnerable – including the young – by seeking to sow division between communities on the basis of race, faith or denomination; justify discrimination towards women and girls; persuade others that minorities are inferior; or argue against the primacy of democracy and the rule of law in our society.

Extremism is defined in the Counter Extremism Strategy 2015 as the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also regard calls for the death of members of our armed forces as extremist.

Handling Concerns and Disclosures 

  • Listen carefully to the child. Avoid expressing your own views on the matter. A reaction of shock or disbelief could cause the child to ‘shut down’, retract or stop talking
  • Let them know they’ve done the right thing. Reassurance can make a big impact to the child who may have been keeping the abuse secret.
  • Tell them it’s not their fault. Abuse is never the child’s fault and they need to know this.
  • Say you believe them. A child could keep abuse secret in fear they won’t be believed. They’ve told you because they want help and trust you’ll be the person to believe them and help them.
  • Don’t talk to the alleged abuser. Confronting the alleged abuser about what the child’s told you could make the situation a lot worse for the child.
  • Explain what you’ll do next. If age appropriate, explain to the child you’ll need to report the abuse to someone who will be able to help.
  • Don’t delay reporting the abuse. The sooner the abuse is reported after the child discloses the better. Report as soon as possible so details are fresh in your mind and action can be taken quickly (8).

You Should: 

  • Make a written record of the information (where possible in the child/adult’s own words), including the time, date and place of incident/s, persons present and what was said.
  • Sign and date the written record.

You Should Not 

  • Attempt to deal with the situation yourself. 
  • Make assumptions, offer alternative explanations or diminish the seriousness of the behaviour or alleged incidents.
  • Keep the information to yourself or promise confidentiality.
  • Take any action that might undermine any future investigation or disciplinary procedure, such as interviewing the alleged victim or potential witnesses, or informing the alleged perpetrator or parents or carers. 

The NSPCC provide comprehensive guidance about what parents, members of the public and professionals should do if a child reveals abuse (6).

Making a Referral – Top Tips

When making a referral, include as much of the following information as possible:

  • Full names (including aliases and spelling variations), date of birth and gender of all child/ren. 
  • Address and (where relevant) school / nursery attended.
  • Identity of those with parental responsibility. 
  • Names and date of birth of all household members.
  • Where available, the child’s NHS number and education UPN number.
  • Ethnicity, first (and preferred) language and religion of children and parents;
  • Any special needs of children or parents.
  • Any significant / important recent or historical events / incidents in child or family’s life.
  • Cause for concern including details of any allegations, their sources, timing and location; Include the child or young person’s explanation in their own words as near verbatim as possible (or other form of communication). Similarly, include the adult’s explanation (if known).
  • Include any questions which were asked, as near verbatim as possible.
  • Child’s current location and emotional and physical condition.
  • Whether the child needs immediate protection.
  • Details of alleged perpetrator, if relevant.
  • Referrer’s relationship and knowledge of child and parents.
  • Known involvement of other agencies / professionals (e.g. GP).
  • Information regarding parental knowledge of, and agreement to, the referral. 
  • The child’s views and wishes, if known.

Make sure the referral form: 

  • Is free from jargon / Is sensitive to diversity issues.
  • Separates fact from opinion / Includes all relevant information.
  • Is clear and concise and legible / Includes the worker’s professional judgment

Online Music Teaching

Advice for Tutors and Parents/Carers

Essential advice related to your online lessons

  • Safeguarding and any other type of concern. Just as in a face-to-face lesson, all of the usual safeguarding procedures still apply. Should you have any safeguarding or any other type of concern, contact the Chief Executive, Vicky Yannoula (hyot@hotmail.co.uk) in the first instance or the Chair of Trustees, Chris Lane (chair@hyot.org.uk).
  • Email addresses. For the lessons, the parent’s/carer’s email address should be used to log in to the chosen online platform (look at point below). The tutor’s email address and phone number should be used to communicate about the lessons and must not be shared with the student. If the student is 18 years old and over, they can communicate with the tutor directly about their lessons.
  • Zoom and/or Skype. Online video calls work very well on either of these free platforms (computer, tablet, smart phone) and HYOT recommends you use them for your online lessons. Setting up your Zoom or Skype account (click on names to download) is very simple and requires no specialist technical knowledge. Parents/carers/students can also record their lessons but must get the tutor’s consent before they start recording.
  • FaceTime. If you use an Apple device, it will come with FaceTime automatically built in. You can make video calls in a similar manner to making regular phone calls. You can only use FaceTime if both users have an Apple device.
  • Test your set-up. Before your lesson, ensure that your camera is in the right position (the student, tutor and their instruments should be well in view) and the microphone works properly. It is highly recommended that students and tutors use headphones, if possible; this helps students focus on the lesson and deal with possible latency in sound.
  • During the lesson. A parent/carer must be present in the room at the beginning of the lesson to help with set-up. They can remain in the room for the duration of the lesson (this is highly recommended for the first couple of lessons) if this has been agreed with the tutor, otherwise they should be in the same premises as the student while the lesson takes place. They should also be present at the end of the lesson to help with ending the call and receiving any feedback the tutor might wish to give about the lesson. The door where the lessons take place should be left open if there is no adult in the room during the lesson.
  • Presentation. For the lesson, the student should be dressed as they would be at Saturday School. They should be in a tidy space, without a group of people and distractions in the room. If a student presents unsuitably dressed, or is in a messy environment, or behaves inappropriately, the tutor has the right to terminate the lesson and communicate the reason to the parent/carer afterwards. The tutor should also be dressed as they would be at Saturday School, and should be conducting the lesson from a tidy, clear space.
  • Some useful technical points. On some platforms, if more than one person speaks at a time, the programme will choose who to prioritise and the other sounds get blocked out. This means you need to be patient. Take it in turns to talk/play. Try to do as much non-verbal communication as you can. Wait for the person to finish talking/playing, or stop them, say what you want to say and then carry on. And, remember to keep your device plugged in so that it does not run out of power mid-lesson.
  • Planning and preparation. Ensure you, both student and tutor, have your instrument (including essential accessories), music scores, music stand, notebook, pencil, rubber and any other necessary resources/material ready. Planning and preparation are even more essential in an online lesson.

For any enquiries, contact Vicky Yannoula, Chief Executive, at hyot@hotmail.co.uk


Footnotes

1  Working Together to Safeguard Children

What to do if you’re worried that a child is being abused (2015) 

Hackney Safer Schools App 

Report serious wrongdoing at a charity as a worker or volunteer

Working Together to Safeguard Children

6  Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018

Keeping children safe in education (2020)

What to do if a child reveals abuse – NSPCC