The government’s response to the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children consultation, including new child death review guidance and new regulations has been published. Important for all to read, there are specific comment for Education, sports organisations and religious organisations.
Dear Safeguarding colleagues
I, like many of you I am sure; have been listening and reading about the many abuse scandals happening in charities, many will have been shocked, saddened and dismayed at the recent revelations of abuse occurring, others will not be shocked but experience a sense of inevitability and sadness that lessons are not learnt and shared across organisations.
Reflecting on this and the plethora or historic sexual abuse allegations occurring within the media and sports industries has raised many safeguarding issues that need to be addressed. One I would like us all to consider that we can all begin to act on is that of Whistleblowing, when I say we I do refer to us all. As senior leaders, Designated Safeguarding Leads, CEO’s, Managing Directors and Chairmen what do you know about safeguarding in your company/business?
I have had the opportunity to discuss this with a number of colleagues and acquaintances from differing backgrounds including small sports clubs, large finance corporation, education, social care and smaller independent businesses, some are ahead of the game with clear whistleblowing policies, robust safeguarding policies and regular training, think education and social care; others are beginning to recognise that they either do not have any policies in place or they do but they are unaware of how the policies are implemented and training……………an occasional thing for specific staff!
When exploring this further these specific issues seem to be present in many:
- Lack of awareness about the actions and behaviours of predatory abusers, the at times long term planning and intent on their aim
- Lack of understanding about grooming, the forms this can take and how everyone can be groomed – yes even you!
- What is abuse, abuse of other male and female employees, misuse of power and bullying, turning a blind eye to inappropriate behaviours, the worker who is clearly a victim of domestic abuse, sexual, physical, neglect or emotional.
- Naivety – it couldn’t/wouldn’t happen here, we only work with teenagers or young adults in their school or office as mentors.
- Lack of intent to address and accept abuse of power and therefore abuse of others can happen anywhere – including on a computer in your company during work hours – imagine the image damage let alone the impact on the victims.
- If your staff witnessed abuse when visiting another venue would they know who to report to – would they be heard? We heard Penny Mordaunt refer to ‘reputational risks’ preventing appropriate action being taken and robust investigations being completed, including letting staff leave without any mention to future employers.
- Staff leading the safeguarding for their business having little experience of safeguarding and some being given the role despite their view they do not have the skill base or desire to undertake the role.
- Would your sport staff/mentors/workers know the signs and indicators of child abuse including peer on peer abuse, does your establishment unintentionally provide the opportunity for abuse to occur due to the physical location of buildings, staff and activities.
Let’s now go back to the start of this comment – Whistleblowing.
You don’t have to be a psychologist to witness something that you consider odd, or that makes you feel uncomfortable, you keep thinking about as you had a ‘gut instinct it was not right’, you knew was abuse but were fearful of accepting the fact. Sadly, however we seek to normalise and minimise for many reasons, here are a few:
- Because we inherently don’t want to think badly of someone
- It’s too awful to consider
- What if I am wrong
- No one would believe me- this person is too important, everyone else likes them, they are close to senior leaders who trust them
- They would be so angry if I said something
- Someone else will see it and do something about it
- I don’t know who to tell
- I need this job, they will make life very difficult if I say something
- I don’t know how to report or what happens after
I encourage you all to stop and reflect; if there was something abusive occurring in your business do you have the correct checks and balances in place to protect those you work with and your employees.
Much of my work is in schools where there are clear expectations and government guidance regarding safeguarding in schools, including clear ‘Safer Recruitment’ and ‘Allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff’ procedures**. I see schools working hard to create a culture of whistleblowing as an acceptable and expected practice, even so at times abuse occurs as it is impossible to eliminate all risk, with good practice we can however reduce risk.
This is a very short comment on a very large risk issue but if it encourages a few of you to think about this, take action and prevent one child or adult experiencing abuse it has achieved its aim.
Keeping Children Safe in Education 2016,
Working together to safeguarding children – last updated 2017
Please note both publications are under revision
Just alerting safeguarding colleagues to the trend for upskirting (also known as creepshots) that is back in the news. This is the act of taking surreptitious photos up a females skirt without their consent, this often occurs in crowded places where the victim may not be aware until after the event.
Whilst it has been condemn as sexual harassment upskirting is not currently seen as an offence in the UK and Wales.
If you catch somebody doing it, and inform the authorities, they can request that the image is deleted, but no further prosecution is possible. In Scotland, upskirting is an illegal offence, and has been since 2010 when it was listed under the definition of voyeurism.
Sky News quote:
Children as young as 10 have fallen victim to “upskirting” – the act of taking photographs under dresses without consent – according to new figures.
The big question could this be happening in your school, club, office ………..
A useful tool has been developed regarding the digital knowledge and skills young people need to acquire at different ages and stages. it provides a useful reference guide.
This is a framework developed by UKCCIS for those working with children, including school leaders and teachers, describing the digital knowledge and skills that children and young people should have the opportunity to develop at different ages and stages of their lives. Its easily accessible and may also assist parents in understanding the stages of learning and development for their children and in turn what they need to know as their children mature..
The framework covers a range of areas including: self-image and identity; online relationships; online bullying; managing online information; health wellbeing and lifestyle.
Source: UKCCIS Date: 14 February 2018
Dear safeguarding colleagues
I apologise for the significant lack of posts for a few weeks, the Buttrey household has had a few health challenges! All things moving positively forward now.
There are a number of safeguarding matters, updates and tools I think will be helpful to share and discuss. For the ease of being able to refer back to items I will upload them separately, I hope they are useful to you and that the short flurry of posts and emails over the coming week is acceptable; I know how busy you all are.
Also, many thanks to those of you who have provided positive feedback about the Facebook page and let me know what has been helpful and what you would like more of as we move forward. Do feel free to email or message me if you have any specific safeguarding topic requests or want further information about the services we offer.
Very best wishes