Recognising the signs of harm in children or young people
Everybody who works or has contact with children, young people, parents, carers and other adults who have contact with children should be able to recognise, and know how to act upon, when a child's health or development is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm.
The harm or possible harm of a child or young person may come to your attention in a number of ways -
Information given by the child, their friends, a family member or close associate
When a child makes a disclosure of harm it is important that, as far as possible, the following basic principles are adhered to -
- listen to what the child has to say with an open mind
- never stop a child who is freely recalling significant events
- do not ask probing or leading questions designed to get the child to reveal more
- never promise the child that what they have told you can be kept secret. Explain that you have a responsibility to report what the child has said to someone else
- make a note of the discussion, taking care to record the timing, setting and people present, as well as what was said
- do not ask a child to write a statement
Record all subsequent events up to the time of the substantive interview. Wherever possible attempt to record what the child said verbatim.
The child's behaviour
- it has become significantly different from the child's usual behaviour
- it is significantly different from the behaviour of their peers
- it is bizarre or unusual
- it involves the child ‘acting out’ a harmful situation in their play
An injury which arouses suspicion
An injury may arouse suspicion because -
- it does not make sense when compared with the explanation given
- the explanations differ depending on who is giving them (for example differing explanations from the parent, carer and child)
- the child appears anxious and evasive when asked about the injury
Suspicion being raised
When a number of factors occur over time, for example, the child fails to progress and thrive in contrast to their peers without explanation.
Contact with a person known to pose a risk to children
A child or young person has contact with an individual who has been identified as posing a ‘risk to children’ as defined by the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
This can be someone who has been convicted of an offence listed in schedule one of the Children and Young Person’s Act 1933 (Sexual Offences Act 2003), or someone who has been identified as continuing to present a risk to children.
The unborn child
A parent’s behaviour before the birth of a child may indicate the likelihood of significant harm to an unborn child, for example substance misuse, domestic violence or previous children removed.
Guidance and procedures
For guidelines and procedures about recognising the specific signs of harm please visit our procedures and guidance manual (link opens in a new window)
If you are concerned that a child or young person might have suffered, or be at risk of suffering from, significant harm please contact -
- The Early Help and Safeguarding Hub on 01482 448 879
- The Emergency Duty Team on 01482 300 304 (out of normal office hours)
Threshold of Need Framework and Guidance
Hull's Threshold and Need Framework and Guidance has been designed to assist all those whose work brings them into contact with children, young people and their families (including an unborn child) to identify the most appropriate level of support required to ensure that children are kept safe and grow up in circumstances that allow them to achieve their best outcomes.
Threshold of Need Framework and Guidance (link opens in a new window)
Threshold Indicator Windscreen - Appendix 1 (link opens in a new window)