February 26, 2016 4:53 pm
The 4 R’s of Child Protection
I would like to talk about the importance of recognising, recording, reporting and referring child protection concerns.
So, you can’t do any of the other three R’s without firstly recognising that there is a concern that needs to be recorded and reported or referred, and that recognising is that little alarm bell that goes off in the back of your brain. It comes from knowing the signs of child abuse, from knowing the signs that a child is being harmed or having an alarm bell ringing that there is a safeguarding issue that’s going on and so get your little alarm bell working.
Get that little alarm bell trained so it can recognise when something isn’t right so that it can recognise when there is a potential problem and you can recognise when you need to take the next step which is to record the incident, the disclosure or the concern that you’ve got.
Now recording for me as a lawyer, is the really important bit. It’s the bit where you actually say, “I’ve recognised the concern, this is what the concern is and this is what has happened” and in terms of recording it, do so as thoroughly as possible.
Ask yourself things like:-
- ‘Why did it happen?’
- ‘When did it happen?’
- ‘What happened?’
- ‘Who said it?’
- ‘What was going on?’
- ‘What was happening at the time?’
- Who was around?’
- ‘Why that time?’
Was there something specific happening at that particular time that could have prompted that disclosure from the child?
Any of that could be really useful and really important to further information being gathered and certainly in terms of the next …… , in terms of reporting it. So, you’ve recognised the concern, you’ve then recorded the concern, the next thing you have to do is to look at reporting it.
Is the situation such that this is information that has to be shared?
Is it information that has to be shared immediately?
Is this information that you have to share, does it have to be done immediately, do I have drop everything and run off and go and do this; or is it something that I can say, ‘right, okay, I’ll finish what I’m doing, I’ve recorded it, I’m seeing the person I need to speak to later on today, I will go and have that conversation. You will only know that by knowing what your policies and procedures are in terms of escalating safeguarding concerns and in terms of meeting your safeguarding obligations.
So, you’ve recognised it, you’ve recorded it and now you’re reporting it. And in the reporting of it, the Safeguarding Officer then has a job, they have to decide what happens next. Is that something that happens immediately, is it something that needs to be referred on, or is it something that actually it’s low level, we don’t need to worry about it, we can consider it at a later stage. And if it is the latter one, fine, keep a record of it, keep it in a safe place, following the policies and procedures and know what you need to do with it. Keep an eye on it, don’t forget about it, keep referring and keep a regular check on these disclosures that come up. If it’s a referral that needs to be made, is it immediate? Is there an immediate risk of harm to this child or children? Do I need to act now, if so, ring the Police, ring the Local Authority, do not delay. If not, make the referral when you need to, make it in a timely manner and the Local Authority will take over their steps as appropriate or the Police will act as they see fit.
So remember . . . Recognise it, Record it, Report it, Refer it.