St Helens Church, High Street, Wheathampstead, St Albans, AL4 8AA. Worship Times: 8am, 9:30am, 3.30pm

Safeguarding Policy

Safeguarding Policy (procedures)

Wheathampstead Parochial Church Council

January 2017 amendment 2018

Table of contents

Section 1 Details of the place of worship/organisation…………………………………………………….. 2

Section 2 Recognising and responding appropriately to an allegation or suspicion of abuse… 5

Section 3 Prevention…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 9

Section 4 Pastoral Care…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 110

Section 5 Practice Guidelines…………………………………………………………………………………….. 122

Appendix 1 Leadership Safeguarding Statement…………………………………………………………… 133

appendix 2 CCPAS Safeguarding Poster……………………………………………………………………….. 155

Appendix 3.1 Statutory Definitions of Abuse (Children)…………………………………………………. 166

Appendix 3 .2  Signs of Possible Abuse (children & young people)…………………………………… 188

Appendix 3.3 Responding to a child who is seeking to make a disclosure Error! Bookmark not defined.0

Appendix 4 Checklist for response if child/adult makes a disclosure. Error! Bookmark not defined.2

Appendix 5 Volunteer Declaration Statement……………………… Error! Bookmark not defined.3

Appendix 6 Code of conduct for workers/volunteers ……………………………………………………….. 24

The Safeguarding Policy

Section 1
Details of the place of worship/organisation

Name of Place of Worship/Organisation:       Wheathampstead PCC

Address:       St Helen’s Church,
High Street

Tel No:       01582 834031

Email address:

Membership of Denomination/Organisation :     Church of England

Charity Number:       Wheathampstead PCC
registered charity no 113924

Regulators details:       regulated by the Charity Commission

Insurance Company

Public Liability Insurance       Ecclesiastical Insurance Co.

Details of activities with children & vulnerable adults

We are the parish of St Helens and St Peter’s, within the diocese of St Albans and the Church of England. We hold weekly Sunday worship at both churches and regular mid weekly activities for children and families. There are also occasional special events.

The Ark

is a weekly session for preschool children with their carers. It is held in term-time and some holidays in church and lasts for approximately 90 mins. The children are always accompanied by a parent or carer. The number attending averages 20 children and it is led by Tania Markwick, supported by members of the Ministry Team. All leaders are DBS checked.

Junior Church:
Our Junior Church at St Helen’s meets during the 9.30 Parish Communion Service during term time. Children remain with their parents or carers during the service except for a 20 minute story session during the sermon. This takes place in the Lady Chapel within sight of carers. There is a team of 5 leaders. All leaders are DBS checked. There is also a parent run crèche area within the church with toys and books suitable for children under three.

We also have family worship in church and the team who run this are all DBS checked. In the school holidays children and adults worship together and there can be some provision for children or young people e.g. DVD shown to the children by at least 2 adults who are DBS checked in the Vestry, or games outside.

Youth Work

There are weekly meeting for our youth group. Adult leaders facilitate worship, run small groups in the church and organise games. Other Youth Work will include outings to be led by adult leaders with at least 2 DBS checked adults.

Older Children being involved within activities in church such as junior church, choir and bell ringing:

We like to support older children who are increasing their own understanding of working with children. We try to encourage them to volunteer within areas in church thus developing their skills and supporting their worship.

In line with our policy on using volunteers in church they will be asked to fill out a volunteer’s declaration statement giving their personal contact details, some personal information and a comment of introduction by a member of the church community. They will also be asked to provide a letter from their school.

If there are children under 18 involved in a church activity, the person supervising the activity needs to be DBS checked.

Support for Vulnerable Adults

We welcome the opportunity to support those who have become frail, or unable to access church or other places without help. Many do this as individuals but where this is undertaken within the remit of the church the church will ensure those involved have been checked as to their suitability for the role. This will involve completing a volunteer’s declaration statement as described above.

Involving new church members in activities with Children or Vulnerable adults

In order to safeguard our children and vulnerable adults we ask new members of our church to become familiar with the church and the ethos and practices for approx. 6 months before they become directly involved in supporting these individuals. We then ask as part of the volunteer’s declaration statement (see Appendix 5) that they are sponsored by someone who is a long standing regular church member. We recognise the need to deal sensitively with this issue to not offend or discourage new members from involving themselves into the church family.

Domestic Abuse


The safety of individuals suffering abuse or seeking help is the first priority for the church which will also be aware of the need for confidentiality within the bounds of good safeguarding practice.

Teaching and worship reflect awareness-raising about domestic abuse, use appropriate language and state clearly that domestic abuse is wrong.

Inappropriate behaviour is challenged – which needs to be done extremely carefully and in a way that does not place any individual (including a victim) at increased risk.

Clergy and clergy spouses have the same access to support and resources as others who are experiencing domestic abuse.

St. Helen’s Church is committed to:


Training those in leadership positions and those with safeguarding roles and pastoral roles about domestic abuse. Discussing domestic abuse and violence in appropriate contexts such as marriage preparation, youth groups, leadership training and other church settings.

Organising and promoting training and awareness-raising sessions.

Working with statutory agencies and other support bodies; and by supporting and publicising their work.


Disclosure and Barring Scheme Checks (incorporating PCC policy for CRB checking)

There are certain positions which have been identified as in need of clearance:

  • All working with children and young people in church on a regular basis, particularly those in Junior Church, leading the Ark, Impact
  • Director of Music/ Choirmaster and Bell Captains
  • All Clergy ( these are obtained through the Diocese)
  • Those involved in Pastoral Care or Care of Adults when they are vulnerable as part of the church team
  • Safeguarding Officers
  • Churchwardens

Our commitment

As a Leadership (Leadership as used in this policy is defined as the PCC as trustees of the church, with the Rector and Churchwardens) we recognise the need to provide a safe and caring environment for children, young people and vulnerable adults. We acknowledge that children, young people and vulnerable adults can be the victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and neglect. We have a responsibility to protect them from harm as a result of contacts or situations they are placed in whilst in the care of adults in church. Our responsibility extends also to protecting adults working with children from being placed in situations where accusations can be made about their behaviour through assessing risk in situations and also by providing training. We also have a responsibility towards any abused child who might chose to make a disclosure to us as an adult that we simply receive the information without comment, record in the child’s words, refer the information on to the safeguarding officer either in the parish or at the Diocese office.

As a Leadership we have therefore adopted the procedures set out in this safeguarding policy in accordance with statutory guidance. We are committed to build constructive links with statutory and voluntary agencies involved in safeguarding.

The policy and attached practice guidelines are based on the ten Safe and Secure safeguarding standards published by the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) and prepared in consultation with Diocese of St Albans Children’s Work Dept. The document “Protecting All God’s Children” 4th edition 2010 – the policy for protecting children in the Church of England has also been used as guidance. The PCC acknowledges the permission of the CCPAS to use their standard in preparing this policy document.

The Leadership undertakes to:

  • endorse and follow all national and local safeguarding legislation and procedures, in addition to the international conventions outlined above.
  • provide on-going safeguarding training for all its workers/volunteers and will regularly review the operational guidelines attached.
  • support the Safeguarding Coordinator(s) in their work and in any action they may need to take in order to protect children and vulnerable adults.
  • file a copy of the policy and practice guidelines with CCPAS and the Diocese of St Albans, and any amendments subsequently published.


Section 2
Recognising and responding appropriately to an allegation or suspicion of abuse

Understanding abuse and neglect

Defining child abuse or abuse against a vulnerable adult is a difficult and complex issue. A person may abuse by inflicting harm, or failing to prevent harm. Children and adults in need of protection may be abused within a family, an institution or a community setting. Very often the abuser is known or in a trusted relationship with the child or vulnerable adult.

In order to safeguard those in our places of worship and organisations we adhere to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and have as our starting point as a definition of abuse, Article 19 which states:

  1. Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
  2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.

Also for adults the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights with particular reference to Article 5 which states:

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Detailed definitions, and signs and symptoms of abuse, as well as how to respond to a disclosure of abuse, are included here in our policy.

Definitions of abuse – Appendix 3.1

Signs and symptoms of abuse – Appendix 3.2

How to respond to a child wishing to disclose – Appendix 3.3

Safeguarding awareness

The Leadership is committed to on-going safeguarding training and development opportunities for all workers/volunteers, developing a culture of awareness of safeguarding issues to help protect everyone.  All our workers will receive induction training and undertake recognised safeguarding training on a regular basis.

The Leadership will also ensure that children and vulnerable adults are provided with information on where to get help and advice in relation to abuse, discrimination, bullying or any other matter where they have a concern.

All those supporting children and vulnerable adults will be offered training in safeguarding provided by a registered provider. Any costs will be met by the church budget. Those who have responsibility within the leadership of the church must also undertake safeguarding training. All training should be updated each five years


Under no circumstances should a worker carry out their own investigation into an allegation or suspicion of abuse.  Following procedures as below:

  • The person in receipt of allegations or suspicions of abuse should report concerns as soon as possible to the Children’s & Youth Minister: Claire Banham, tel no: 07930 676373/ 01582 833144 or the Safeguarding Officer: Jacqui Chaston tel no: 07715 990451/ 01483 832718 (email: Chaston and a meeting should be arranged to pass over the written record of the conversation. This should not be sent by email.
  • In the absence of the Safeguarding Co-ordinator or, if the suspicions in any way involve the Safeguarding Co-ordinator, then the report should be made to the Deputy Safeguarding Co-ordinator, (also our DBS Coordinator) Helen Caldwell, tel no: 07974 762997 (email:
  • If the suspicions implicate both the Safeguarding Co-ordinator and the Deputy, then the report should be made in the first instance to the Diocesan Child Protection Officer Jeremy Hirst.  He can be contacted on Tel: 01727 818107  Mob: 07867 350886.  The email address is
  • or you can contact Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) PO Box 133, Swanley, Kent, BR8 7UQ. Telephone 0845 120 4550 for advice.
  • Suspicions must not be discussed with anyone other than those nominated above. A written record of the concerns should be made in accordance with these procedures and kept in a secure place.
  • Whilst allegations or suspicions of abuse will normally be reported to the Safeguarding Co-ordinator, the absence of the Safeguarding Co-ordinator or Deputy should not delay referral to Social Services, the Police or taking advice from CCPAS.
  • The Leadership will support the Safeguarding Co-ordinator/Deputy in their role, and accept that any information they may have in their possession will be shared in a strictly limited way on a need to know basis.
  • It is, of course, the right of any individual as a citizen to make a direct referral to the safeguarding agencies or seek advice from CCPAS, although the Leadership hope that members of the place of worship/organisation will follow the church procedure. If, however, the individual with the concern feels that the Safeguarding Co-ordinator/Deputy has not responded appropriately, or where they have a disagreement with the Safeguarding Co-ordinator(s) as to the appropriateness of a referral they are free to contact an outside agency direct. We hope by making this statement that the Leadership demonstrate its commitment to effective safeguarding and the protection of all those who are vulnerable.

The role of the safeguarding co-ordinator/deputy is to collate and clarify the precise details of the allegation or suspicion and pass this information on to statutory agencies who have a legal duty to investigate.

Detailed procedures where there is a concern about a child:

Allegations of physical injury, neglect or emotional abuse

If a child has a physical injury, a symptom of neglect or where there are concerns about emotional abuse, the Safeguarding Co-ordinator/Deputy will:

  • Contact Children’s Social Services (or CCPAS) for advice in cases of deliberate injury, if concerned about a child’s safety or if a child is afraid to return home.
  • Not tell the parents or carers unless advised to do so, having contacted Children’s Social Services.
  • Seek medical help if needed urgently, informing the doctor of any suspicions.
  • For lesser concerns, (e.g. poor parenting), encourage parent/carer to seek help, but not if this places the child at risk of significant harm.

Where the parent/carer is unwilling to seek help, offer to accompany them.  In cases of real concern, if they still fail to act, contact Children’s Social Services direct for advice.

  • Seek and follow advice given by CCPAS (who will confirm their advice in writing) if unsure whether or not to refer a case to Children’s Social Services.


In the event of allegations or suspicions of sexual abuse, the Safeguarding Co-ordinator/Deputy will:

  • Contact the Children’s Social Services Department Duty Social Worker for children and families or Police Child Protection Team direct. They will NOT speak to the parent/carer or anyone else.
  • Seek and follow the advice given by CCPAS if, for any reason they are unsure whether or not to contact Children’s Social Services/Police. CCPAS will confirm its advice in writing for future reference.

The following procedure will be followed where there is a concern that an adult is in need of protection:


If a vulnerable adult has a physical injury or symptom of sexual abuse the Safeguarding Co-ordinator/Deputy will:

  • Discuss any concerns with the individual themselves giving due regard to their autonomy, privacy and rights to lead an independent life.
  • If the vulnerable adult is in immediate danger or has sustained a serious injury contact the Emergency Services, informing them of any suspicions.
  • For advice contact the Adult Social Care Vulnerable Adults Team who have responsibility under Section 47 of the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 and government guidance, ‘No Secrets’, to investigate allegations of abuse. Alternatively CCPAS can be contacted for advice.

Procedures for RESPONDING TO ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE are dealt with as a checklist in Appendix 4 and should be worked through systematically in making a response. This section should include details of the safeguarding co-ordinator and their deputy, as well as details of the statutory agencies to contact (local and national).


If an accusation is made against a worker/volunteer (whether a volunteer or paid member of staff) whilst following the procedure outlined above, the Safeguarding Co-ordinator, in accordance with Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) procedures will need to liaise with Children’s Social Services in regards to the suspension of the worker, also making a referral to a Safeguarding Adviser (SA)/Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).

Sections 6.20 – 6.30 ‘Allegations of abuse made against a person who works with children’ in UK Government Guidelines (Home Office, Department of Health) Working Together 2010 states that local authorities should have a designated officer to manage cases where an accusation is made against someone working with children (whether working in a paid or voluntary capacity). These individuals are often known as Safeguarding Advisers or Local Authority Designated Officers. Where accusations involve a worker then speak to social services and the police and ask social services whether the individual discussed needs to be referred to them for investigation.

In addition to this, whether or not there are such mechanisms in operation, consideration should be given to whether a referral should be made to the ISA (Independent Safeguarding Authority) Vetting and Barring Scheme lists of those people deemed unsuitable for working with children or vulnerable adults. Where you are liaising with a Safeguarding Adviser (SA)/Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) discuss with them about the need to refer to the ISA.

Section 3

Safe recruitment (paid staff)

The Leadership will ensure all workers will be appointed, trained, supported and supervised in accordance with government guidance on safe recruitment. This includes ensuring that:

  • There is a written role description / person specification for the post
  • Those applying have completed an application form and a self-declaration form
  • Those short listed have been interviewed
  • Safeguarding has been discussed at interview and responses recorded and retained. There will always be at least 2 people, agreed with the safeguarding co-ordinator, in addition to the candidate at the interview.
  • The exact format of the person specification, self-declaration form and interview will be determined by the nature of the position being applied for.
  • Written references have been obtained, and followed up where appropriate only for paid positions
  • A DBS disclosure has been completed if appropriate (we will comply with Code of Practice requirements concerning the fair treatment of applicants and the handling of information)
  • Qualifications where relevant have been verified
  • A suitable training programme is provided for the successful applicant
  • The applicant has completed a probationary period
  • The applicant has been given a copy of the organisation’s safeguarding policy summary and knows how to report concerns.

Safe recruitment (volunteers)

The Leadership accepts such a full process is inappropriate for volunteers and has developed a shorter process

  • There is a written role description indicating the responsibility and requirement for the volunteer to ensure they understand the expectations within the commitment
  • Those applying have completed a self-declaration and job application form (CCPAS website).
  • There has been a discussion with at least 2 people present in addition to the potential volunteer and safeguarding protocols have been discussed.
  • Some form of reference has been given by a member of the church or a professional person.
  • If the volunteer is to have access to children or vulnerable adults on their own, a DBS check has been undertaken.
  • Suitable training including mentoring as appropriate has been provided and the volunteer supported to understand and enjoy their role.

Management of Workers – Codes of Conduct

As a Leadership we are committed to supporting all workers and volunteers and ensuring they receive support and supervision. All workers and volunteers will be issued with a code of conduct towards children, young people and vulnerable adults. The Leadership undertakes to follow the principles found within the ‘Abuse of Trust’ guidance issued by the Home Office and it is therefore unacceptable for those in a position of trust to engage in any behaviour which might allow a sexual relationship to develop for as long as the relationship of trust continues.


Section 4
Pastoral Care

Supporting those affected by abuse

The Leadership is committed to offering pastoral care, working with statutory agencies as appropriate, and support to all those who have been affected by abuse who have contact with or are part of the place of worship/organisation. The leadership can provide referrals to Christian counselling.

Working with offenders

When someone attending the place of worship/organisation is known to have abused children, or is known to be a risk to vulnerable adults the Leadership will supervise the individual concerned and offer pastoral care, but in its safeguarding commitment to the protection of children and vulnerable adults, set boundaries for that person which they will be expected to keep. Our procedures will involve a risk assessment, contact with the Diocese and the drawing up of guidelines/code of conduct with the individual including regular monitoring and review.


Section 5
Practice Guidelines

As an organisation/place of worship working with children, young people and vulnerable adults we wish to operate and promote good working practice. This will enable workers to run activities safely, develop good relationships and minimise the risk of false accusation.

The volunteers policy and any good practice guidelines are in Appendix 6.

Working in Partnership

The diversity of organisations and settings means there can be great variation in practice when it comes to safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults. This can be because of cultural tradition, belief and religious practice or understanding, for example, of what constitutes abuse.

We therefore have clear guidelines in regards to our expectations of those with whom we work in partnership, whether in the UK or not. We will discuss with all partners our safeguarding expectations and have a partnership agreement for safeguarding. It is also our expectation that any organisation using our premises, as part of the letting agreement will have their own policy that meets CCPAS’ safeguarding standards. The partner organisations which would use the church regularly are Wheathampstead Churches Together, the local schools and uniformed organisations, Wheathampstead Friends and Outdoor Child.

Good communication is essential in promoting safeguarding, both to those we wish to protect, to everyone involved in working with children and vulnerable adults and to all those with whom we work in partnership. This safeguarding policy is just one means of promoting safeguarding.

The CCPAS safeguarding poster is prominently displayed in the church with the name and the telephone number of the safeguarding Officer.


Signed by:      ________________________________


Date:               ________________________________



Appendix 1
Leadership Safeguarding Statement

The Leadership, (the Rector, Churchwardens and PCC) recognises the importance of its ministry/work with children and young people and adults in need of protection and its responsibility to protect everyone entrusted to our care.

The following statement was agreed by the leadership/organisation on: _November 2016

This place of worship/organisation is committed to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults and ensuring their well-being.


  • We are committed to implementing a safeguarding children policy and accepting the Church of England Policy Protecting All God’s Children (4th edition 2010) and to be responsive to local parish requirements.
  • We will review and endorse the safeguarding policies annually so that all members are aware of their responsibilities.
  • The highest standards will be maintained in all the Church’s contacts with children and young people and adult volunteers will be given appropriate support and opportunities for training.
  • We will respond without delay to every complaint made that a child or young person for whom we are responsible may have been harmed.
  • This Parish will co‐operate fully with the statutory agencies in every situation and will not conduct its own investigations.
  • We will seek to offer informed pastoral care to any child, young person or adult who has suffered abuse.
  • We will care for and supervise any member of our church community known to have offended against a child.
  • The PCC acknowledges its responsibility for all work with children and young people done in the name of the Church and requires all those engaged in such work to be properly appointed and supported in accordance with the Church of England Practice Guidance: Safer Recruitment (July 2016).

We are committed to:

  • Following the requirements for UK legislation in relation to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults and good practice recommendations.
  • Respecting the rights of children as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Implementing the requirements of legislation in regard to people with disabilities.
  • Ensuring that workers/ volunteers adhere to the agreed procedures of our safeguarding policy.
  • Keeping up to date with national and local developments relating to safeguarding.
  • Following guidelines issued by St Albans Diocese in relation to safeguarding children and adults in need of protection.
  • Supporting the safeguarding co-ordinator/s in their work and in any action they may need to take in order to protect children/vulnerable adults.
  • Ensuring that everyone agrees to abide by these recommendations and the guidelines established by this place of worship/organisation.
  • Supporting parents and families
  • Nurturing, protecting and safeguarding of children and young people
  • Supporting, resourcing, training, monitoring and providing supervision to all those who undertake this work.
  • Supporting all in the place of worship/organisation affected by abuse.

We recognise:

  • Children’s Social Services has lead responsibility for investigating all allegations or suspicions of abuse where there are concerns about a child. Adult Social Care (or equivalent) has lead responsibility for investigating all allegations or suspicions of abuse where there are concerns about a vulnerable adult.
  • Where an allegation suggests that a criminal offence may have been committed then the police should be contacted as a matter of urgency.
  • Where working outside of the UK, concerns will be reported to the appropriate agencies in the country in which we operate, and their procedures followed, and in addition we will report concerns to our agency’s headquarters.
  • Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.

We will review this statement and our policy and procedures annually.

If you have any concerns for a child or vulnerable adult then speak to one of the following who have been approved as safeguarding co-ordinators for this place of worship/organisation.

Jacqui Chaston    Safeguarding Coordinator

Helen Caldwell    Deputy Safeguarding Coordinator

A copy of the full policy and procedures is available from the church office, St Helen’s Church, Wheathampstead. A copy of our safeguarding policy has been lodged with CCPAS and St Albans Diocese Child Protection Office.

Signed by leadership/organisation

Signed             __________________________

Date                __________________________


appendix 2
CCPAS Safeguarding Poster


Appendix 3.1
Statutory Definitions of Abuse (Children)

Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm.

Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting; by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger. They may be abused by an adult or adults or another child or children.

Child protection legislation throughout the UK is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Each nation within the UK has incorporated the convention within its legislation and guidance.


The four definitions of abuse below operate in England based on the government guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children (2010)’.

What is abuse and neglect?

Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger for example, via the internet. They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children.

Physical abuse

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 or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development.

It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate.

It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed 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.

It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

Sexual abuse

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 (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching 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 also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.


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 abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer 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); or
  • ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

Appendix 3 .2
Signs of Possible Abuse (children & young people)

The following signs could be indicators that abuse has taken place but should be considered in context of the child’s whole life.


Injuries not consistent with the explanation given for them

Injuries that occur in places not normally exposed to falls, rough games, etc.

Injuries that have not received medical attention

Reluctance to change for, or participate in, games or swimming

Repeated urinary infections or unexplained tummy pains

Bruises on babies, bites, burns, fractures etc. which do not have an accidental explanation*

Cuts/scratches/substance abuse*


Any allegations made concerning sexual abuse

Excessive preoccupation with sexual matters and detailed knowledge of adult sexual behaviour

Age-inappropriate sexual activity through words, play or drawing

Child who is sexually provocative or seductive with adults

Inappropriate bed-sharing arrangements at home

Severe sleep disturbances with fears, phobias, vivid dreams or nightmares, sometimes with overt or veiled sexual connotations

Eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia*


Changes or regression in mood or behaviour, particularly where a child withdraws or becomes clinging.

Depression, aggression, extreme anxiety.

Nervousness, frozen watchfulness

Obsessions or phobias

Sudden under-achievement or lack of concentration

Inappropriate relationships with peers and/or adults

Attention-seeking behaviour

Persistent tiredness

Running away/stealing/lying


Under nourishment, failure to grow, constant hunger, stealing or gorging food, Untreated illnesses,

Inadequate care, etc.

*These indicate the possibility that a child or young person is self-harming.  Approximately 20,000 are treated in accident and emergency departments in the UK each year.

Self-harm (including eating disorders)

National Statistics (2001) report that according to parents, about one in fifty of 11 – 15 year olds have tried to harm, hurt or kill themselves (the highest rate being among 13 – 15 year old girls).  Among 5 – 10 year olds, just over one in 100 have tried to harm, hurt or kill themselves.

The incidence of self-harm was greater for those children and young people coping with stressful life events such as:

  • Separation of parents, serious illness, death of parent or close relative
  • An increase in the parent’s mental health problems
  • An increase in the degree of family discord
  • An increase in the frequency of punishment

A study (March 2003), commissioned by the Samaritans, found young people more likely to harm themselves if they had friends who had already done so.
In total, more than 6,000 pupils aged 15 and 16 were quizzed from 41 schools across England.  They were asked about suicidal thoughts and self-harming behaviour.

The survey found that:

  • Young people who harm themselves often have difficulty coping with everyday problems
  • Rather than employing positive strategies such as talking to someone about the situation, they were more likely to blame themselves, sit in their room or drink alcohol
  • Only 20% of those who self-harmed felt they could speak to a teacher about something that was really bothering them
  • People who self-harm were shown by the survey to be more anxious, depressed and to have lower self-esteem than those who do not

The two most common reasons for self-harm are, ‘To find relief from a terrible state of mind’ and ‘because I wanted to die’.

The Samaritans is one organisation that runs courses for those interested in developing skills in helping people who self-harm.