Safeguarding children - information for parents and carers

Safeguarding children - information for parents and carers

This part of the website is for ‘parents’ and ‘carers’, including anyone with parental responsibility.

Parental responsibility for safeguarding

Parental Responsibility means all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which a parent has by law in relation to a child. This diminishes as the child acquires sufficient understanding to make his or her own decisions.

Who holds parental responsibility?
A child’s mother always holds Parental Responsibility, as does the father if married to the mother. Parental responsibility can be acquired by Court Order, for example a Residence Order or Special Guardianship Order. As well as an unmarried father, a step parent or a parents civil partner can apply for a Parental Responsibility Order under section 4 of the Children Act 1989, children’s relatives, friends and neighbours who need information or advice.
Safeguarding children
The safety and welfare of children – or safeguarding – is everyone’s business. Safeguarding means protecting children from physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect. It also means helping children to grow up into confident, healthy and happy adults.

Most children generally enjoy happy childhood experiences within their own family. Unfortunately for some, this is not the case. During difficult family times, everyone who knows the child must do the best they can to keep them safe and protect them from future harm.
Concerned about a child?
If you are suspicious or have any concerns that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. Significant Harm is any Physical, Sexual, or Emotional Abuse, Neglect, accident or injury that is sufficiently serious to adversely affect progress and enjoyment of life. Harm is defined as the ill treatment or impairment of health and development, including any form of mistreatment or abuse,

If you have concerns about the safety of welfare of a child, speak to someone immediately:

Worried about a child - report your concerns

Emergency: If a child is in immediate danger or left alone, you should contact the police or call an ambulance on 999.
 
You can report abuse and neglect by completing the form at the links below, or you can contact us on 01670 536400 during office hours, or 0345 6005252 out of hours
 
 
 
 
Non-emergency: 

If this is a new contact then please ring:-

First Contact : 01670 536400 or send a written referral to: childrenstriage@northumberland.gov.uk
 
If you know a child already has a social worker then contact the social workers telephone number or ring First Contact.
 
For the 14+ Team please ring 01670 622930
 
Opening Times:
Monday to Thursday 8.30am – 5pm and Friday 8.30am – 4.30pm
 
Out of Hours 
All calls outside these hours please ring 0345 6005252

Early Help Assessments

To make a referral to the Early Help Hubs please send your referral to :- earlyinterventionhub@northumberland.gov.uk   

For enquiries about completion or registrations of Early Help Assessments please contact: 01670 536400
 
If you are a professional who works with children, you should first discuss your concern with your manager or designated professional. If there are still concerns you should contact the numbers above.
  • Alternatively call the NSPCC 24 hour child protection helpline on 0808 800 5000
Worried about reporting a safeguarding issue?
Same people feel anxious about making a referral about a child to social workers. It is always best to get advice and be wrong than do nothing and allow a child to be harmed or further mistreated or abused.

Talking through your concerns can help clarify whether there is something to be worried about. Don't think 'what if I am wrong?' Think, 'what if I am right?'

All concerns are treated seriously and in confidence. Your name will not be given to anyone else without permission. 

What is abuse?

Child abuse is any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm.

Types of abuse
Being mistreated or abused (sometimes called ‘Significant Harm) Significant Harm is any Physical, Sexual, or Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Accident or Injury that is sufficiently serious to adversely affect progress and enjoyment of life.

Harm is defined as the ill treatment or impairment of health and development‘) is defined as Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse, Neglect or Emotional Abuse.


Cartoon fist
Physical Abuse
When an adult deliberately hurts a child, such as hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, drowning or suffocating.
 

Cartoon child alone in a house
Neglect
Where a child is not being looked after properly, for example, not getting enough to eat or being left alone in dangerous situations.
 

Speech bubble showing punctuation
Bullying
E.g. calling names, damaging property, stealing, spreading rumours, cyberbullying, hurting, getting people into trouble
 

An eye crying
Emotional Abuse
This would happen, for instance, when a child is all the time being unfairly blamed for everything, or told they are stupid and made to feel unhappy.
 

Exclamation point 
Sexual Abuse
An example of sexual abuse would be where a child has been forced to take part in sexual activities or in the taking of abusive images or photos.
 

A cartoon house with a crack
Domestic Violence
When one adult in a family or relationship threatens, bullies or hurts another family member e.g. physically, psychologically, emotionally, sexually or financially.

Guidance on parenting issues

As parents and carers you have a huge responsibility in keeping your children safe and ensuring their well-being. Sometimes we all need help and advice on the challenges parenting raises. Different issues arise depending on the age of your children.

With this in mind Northumberland has produced a guide which may help you in understanding your children and parenting.

Stranger danger

Useful top tips from Kidscape; a UK wide charity that provides resources to keep children safe from harm . These top tips are designed to help us talk with confidence with our children about keeping themselves safe when out in public.

Who’s who?
A stranger is anyone that your child doesn’t know or doesn’t know very well. It’s both common and dangerous for your child to think that ‘strangers’ look scary or sinister, like villains in films or cartoons. In a recent survey the majority of children aged five to eight thought this.

Play a game with your child and ask them to draw a stranger, it will help you reinforce that a stranger can look like anyone. Tell your child that they won’t be able to tell if a stranger is nice or not, so all strangers should be treated in the same way. 
Don’t go – say no!
If your child is approached by a stranger, encourage them to raise the alarm by saying ‘NO’ ’to draw attention. They should not be scared to do this and be told that it is the right thing to do. For children aged three to four, be careful not to scare them too much but start with “there are bad people so it’s very important you never…”

All children should ask for help from other adults. Teach them to look out for people in uniforms such as police officers, or teachers and traffic wardens if they’re at the school gates. Teach your child this basic slogan, ‘DON’T GO, SAY NO’. 
Plan ahead
As obvious as it seems, please stress to your child that they should NEVER talk to a stranger, NEVER accept gifts or sweets, and NEVER walk off or get into a car with one. This is important if your child is aged 5 to 8 as they are at their most vulnerable. This situation might arise if you are late collecting them from school for example, so agree a plan with your child that they know you will stick to if you are late. For example, teach them that you would only ever send a teacher from their school or a friend’s parent that they recognise to collect them if you aren’t able to. Give your child your home, work and mobile numbers so they can reach you at all times, especially if they’re aged around 9 to 11, as they will be spending more time on their own. 
Time to teach
Tell your child that even if they are not sure if someone is a stranger they should always behave in the same way and not take risks. Teach them stock phrases to help give them confidence. For example: A child, offered money or sweets, should respond, “No thank you. Please leave me alone”. It’s important children don't think that talking to a stranger is ok if they're with a friend. Teach them they should only talk to someone they don't know if you are there by their side.

One way you can prepare your child is by practice scenarios. Try playing a game called, 'What if?’ Discussing and thinking about what to do, is often more helpful than having the 'right' answers. Ask them what to do if a stranger approaches them to help reinforce the advice ‘DON’T GO, SAY NO’ By practising these strategies in a fun way, your child will be as equipped as possible should difficult situations arise. It's important to have this conversation regularly, especially with young children so make time every 3 to 4 months. Remember ‘DON’T GO, SAY NO’ 

Legal highs

Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s safe.

Young people in Northumberland have helped to produce an information leaflet which busts some of the myths around so-called legal highs. To find out more click here

Are you worried about your child’s drug and alcohol use?
Don’t think you have to face it on your own. Sorted can offer information and advice if you’re worried about a child and think they may have a drug, alcohol or solvent related problem.
Support
You can telephone the Sorted office on 01670 500150 and speak to a worker.
 
You may also find the following links and downloads useful:

Talk to Frank
Helpline: 0800 77 66 00
talktofrank.com
How do I know if I’ve got a problem?
Offers free confidential drugs information and advice 24 hours a day
 
Action on Addiction
Helpline: 0845 126 4130
actiononaddiction.org.uk
Provides help and information to families and individuals who are worried about alcohol or drug misuse problems.
 
Addaction
addaction.org.uk
Working solely in the field of drug and alcohol treatment, includes specialist services for young people and access to local projects.
 
Community for recovery
Helpline: 01785 810762
Text: 07973 887693
communityforrecovery.org
Get Help
Community for recovery has been set up by Re-Solv and Solve It, who are the two UK agencies that work to prevent solvent abuse (officially known as ‘volatile substance abuse or ‘VSA’) and support all those whose lives are affected by it. Solvent abuse is rarely talked about. It has a much lower profile than other, illicit drugs. As a result, those affected by if often feel lonely or isolated – but please don’t suffer alone. We hope that this website will bring people together to build a Community that helps and supports all its members on their individual journeys to recovery.
 
UK Drug Rehab
Help & Advice: 0800 0241 495
uk-rehab.com
UK Rehab Helper was established with one goal: to offer impartial and independent advice and support to addicts and their families and friends. We work with a wide network of UK rehab treatment centres and detox centres to ensure that our clients undergo the safest detoxification and attend the best supported alcohol and drug rehabilitation programmes. Includes NHS and private treatments.
 
DrugFAM
Helpline: 0300 888 3853 (9am-5pm Mon - Fri)
drugfam.co.uk
DrugFAM supports families affected by a loved one’s use of drugs or alcohol. Whilst we work with individual family members and carers rather than the user, we focus on ‘whole family recovery’ and our aim is a positive outcome for everyone including those misusing drugs or alcohol. We pride ourselves on being able to offer our families or carers a flexible range of support to meet their needs. We believe our approach has enormous benefits in terms of physical and emotional wellbeing for individuals as well as improving lives for troubled families.
 
Adfam National
adfam.org.uk
National charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol and is a leading agency in substance related family work including database of local support groups that helps families hear about and talk to people who understand their situation.
 
Release
Helpline: 0845 4500 215
release.org.uk
Provides a range of services dedicated to meeting the health, welfare and legal needs of drugs users and those who live and work with them.
The drugs team provides help, advice, information, support and referral to people affected directly and indirectly by drug use.
 
Amy Winehouse Foundation
amywinehousefoundation.org
Resilience Programme for Schools
The Amy Winehouse Foundation works to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people. We also aim to support, inform and inspire vulnerable and disadvantaged young people to help them reach their full potential.
 
For local services and advice contact
Sorted Northumberland

Keeping babies safe

Sadly, during the past three years, across the North East of England, there have been infant deaths attributed to parents co-sleeping with their babies and other causal factors (i.e. babies sleeping on the sofa, parental alcohol behaviours).

All of these infant deaths could probably have been prevented through ‘Safer Sleeping’. All local safeguarding children boards are actively campaigning to reach practitioners and parents about the potential risks of sleeping with babies. To increase awareness we are promoting the use of the lullaby trust leaflet on ‘safer sleeping’ to parents and professionals.

Download:

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby where no cause is found. While SIDS is rare, it can still happen and there are steps parents can take to help reduce the chance of this tragedy occurring.
Quick tips for safer sleep
Although it is not yet known how to completely prevent Sudden Infant Deaths (sometimes called Cot Death), it is possible to significantly lower the chances of it happening by following this advice. You should try to follow the advice for all sleep periods where possible, not just at night.
Things you can do
  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep;
  • Keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth;
  • Place your baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months;
  • Breastfeed your baby, if you can;
  • Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition.
Things to avoid
  • Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby;
  • Don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby if you smoke, drink or take drugs or are extremely tired, if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth-weight;
  • Avoid letting your baby get too hot;
  • Don’t cover your baby’s face or head while sleeping or use loose bedding.
Resources
Source and for further advice visit: The Lullaby Trust website
Download the Easy Read Card produced by the Lullaby Trust:
Safer sleep for babies – Easy read card (English)
Safe sleep for babies – Easy Read card (Lithuanian)
Safe sleep for babies – Easy Read card (Polish)
Safe sleep for babies – Easy Read card (Urdu)
Safe sleep for babies – Easy Read card (Punjabi)
Safe sleep for babies – Easy Read card (Latvian)
Safe sleep for babies – Easy Read card (Czech)
 
Additional factsheets available
Back to Sleep
Smoking
Bed Sharing
Breastfeeding
Mattresses, Bedding and Cots
 
Please note these factsheets are designed to support key advice from The Lullaby Trust and do not go into detail about the research behind the advice. The Evidence Base goes into detail about the research into SIDS that has informed the advice from The Lullaby Trust.
Never shake a baby This leaflet has been developed following a case review carried out by NSCB and are now given to parents attending clinics. Click on the link to open.

Child sexual exploitation

Sexual exploitation is a horrific form of sexual abuse that affects thousands of children and young people every year in the UK. It can happen to any young person from any background and affects boys and young men as well as girls and young women.

Many victims of child sexual exploitation have been groomed by an abusing adult, who will befriend them and make them feel special by buying gifts or giving them lots of attention. Victims are targeted both in person and online.

Some young people may be more vulnerable to exploitation. In particular, those having difficulties at home, those truanting or excluded from school, those who regularly go missing from home or care, or those in care.

What are the signs?
Children and young people who are victims of this form of sexual abuse often do not recognise they are being exploited. However, there are a number of signs that could indicate a child is being groomed for sexual exploitation and, as a parent or carer; you have an important role in recognising them and protecting children.
These signs include:
  • Going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
  • Regularly missing school or not taking part in education
  • Appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions
  • Associating with other young people involved in exploitation
  • Having older boyfriends and girlfriends
  • Suffering from sexually transmitted infections
  • Mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing
  • Drug and alcohol misuse
  • Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour 
What can I do as a parent or carer?
Discussing the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships with children and young people is really important in helping highlight potential risks to them.
There are also practical steps you can take, such as:
  • Stay alert to changes in behaviour or any physical signs of abuse, e.g. bruising
  • Be aware of new, unexplained gifts or possessions, e.g. mobile phones, and carefully monitor any instances of staying out late or not returning home
  • Exercise caution around older friends your child may have, or relationships with other young people where there appears to be a power imbalance
  • Make sure you understand the risks associated with your child being online and put measures in place to minimise them 
Contact and resources

If you have concerns about a child speak to someone immediately

Worried about a child - report your concerns

Emergency: If a child is in immediate danger or left alone, you should contact the police or call an ambulance on 999.
 
You can report abuse and neglect by completing the form at the links below, or you can contact us on 01670 536400 during office hours, or 0345 6005252 out of hours
 
 
 
 
 
Non-emergency: 

If this is a new contact then please ring:-

First Contact : 01670 536400 or send a written referral to: childrenstriage@northumberland.gov.uk
 
If you know a child already has a social worker then contact the social workers telephone number or ring First Contact.
 
For the 14+ Team please ring 01670 622930
 
Opening Times:
Monday to Thursday 8.30am – 5pm and Friday 8.30am – 4.30pm
 
Out of Hours 
All calls outside these hours please ring 0345 6005252

Early Help Assessments

To make a referral to the Early Help Hubs please send your referral to :- earlyinterventionhub@northumberland.gov.uk   

For enquiries about completion or registrations of Early Help Assessments please contact: 01670 536400
 
Please click here to view a map that provides the details of boundaries of the locality teams 
If you are a professional who works with children, you should first discuss your concern with your manager or designated professional. If there are still concerns you should contact the numbers above.
  • Alternatively call the NSPCC 24 hour child protection helpline on 0808 800 5000

 
Further information

Basic awareness training for parents and carers
It is often hard to tell the difference between difficult teenage behaviour and the signs of sexual exploitation. The more information you have about the dangers and risks that children may face the better equipped you’ll be to keep them safe.
  • Register for this free online course here.
Please note that NSCB does not endorse these sites and takes no responsibility for the contents therein. These links are given for information only.

Other Resources:
Barnardos
NSPCC

Bullying

'Bullying won't stop unless you tell some who can help.'

"They stir things up so people don't want to be my friend. I'm depressed, annoyed, stressed and keep breaking down in tears. I feel like I'm about to fall apart" - boy aged 13

Bullies are very cunning and are expert at getting away with it.

We all know that bullying goes on in and out of school, and parents, carers, teachers and other professionals have a duty to take action is they suspect or discover that child(ren) are being bullied.

What does bullying include?
  • People calling you names
  • Making things up to get you into trouble
  • Hitting, pinching, biting, pushing and shoving
  • Taking things away from you
  • Damaging your belongings
  • Stealing your money
  • Taking your friends away from you
  • Cyberbullying
  • Spreading rumours
  • Threats and intimidation
  • Making silent or abusive phone calls
  • Bullies can also frighten you so that you don't want to go to school, so that you pretend to be ill to avoid them
Bullying can affect anyone at any point in their lives. It may be at school, at college, in the workplace or even at home.
Parents, carers, teachers and other professionals have a duty to take action if they suspect or discover that child(ren) are being bullied.
Useful leaflets and links
  • Bullying at School – The Law
  • Red Balloon – For children who have been bullied, this centre will provide education and support (Tel: 01223 357714)
  • Kidscape – Provides useful information to help you combat bullying and keep your children safe.
  • Bullying UK – Provides help and reliable information on a variety of bullying issues.
  • Beatbullying – Works with children and young people across the UK to provide them with all important opportunities to make positive and lasting changes to their lives and outlook.
  • The Antibullying Network
  • Childline - http://www.childline.org.uk - Here there is brilliant web information and a telephone helpline with advice for young people about tackling bullying and other issues
  • need2know - relationships - http://www.need2know.co.uk/relationships/bullying - Good, clear advice and stories from young people about how they tackled bullying. Includes info on cyber-bullying.
  • Kidscape - http://www.kidscape.org.uk - information and support about preventing bullying and child abuse, including a helpline, confidence-building courses, booklets and literature, child safety training and FAQs.

Water safety for children and young people

During the school holidays, and in particular in hot weather, increasing numbers of children put themselves at risk of drowning. On average 40-50 children drown per year in the UK. To keep your children safe, when they are in, on or beside water, make sure they always follow the Water Safety Code.

Also available to download: water safety for children and young people 

The dangers of water include:
  • it is very cold
  • there may be hidden currents
  • it can be difficult to get out (steep slimy banks)
  • it can be deep
  • there may be hidden rubbish, e.g. shopping trolleys, broken glass
  • there are no lifeguards
  • it is difficult to estimate depth
  • it may be polluted and may make you ill
Water may look safe, but it can be dangerous. Learn to spot and keep away from dangers. They may be strong swimmers in a warm indoor pool, but that does not mean that they will be able to swim in cold water.
Take safety advice
Special flags and notices may warn of danger. Know what the signs mean.
Teach your children the water safety signs and the flags they should look out for on the beach.
Go together
Children should always go with an adult, not by themselves.

An adult can point out dangers or help if somebody gets into trouble.
Learn how to help
You may be able to help yourself and others if you know what to do in an emergency.
If you see someone in difficulty, tell somebody, preferably a Lifeguard if there is one nearby, or go to the nearest telephone, dial 999, ask for the Police at inland water sites and the Coastguard at the beach.

Find out about rescue methods.
Further information and resources

Guide to the child protection system

A child protection enquiry has to be started if someone believes your child may be being harmed or is at risk of being harmed. The local council must by law make enquiries in these situations.

What is a child protection enquiry?
A social worker will talk to all professionals who know your child and family. This may include teachers, health visitors, doctors or any other professional involved with the family. If the concern is that your child has been abused or a crime has occurred then the police will also be involved.

A social worker will talk to you about what you believe to have happened and why there are concerns about your child. You will be asked your views on what has happened.

If your child is believed to have an injury or to have been sexually abused, the social worker and the police may want a medical examination to take place. This will help find out how your child was hurt and make sure they receive medical help.

If your child is old enough the social worker will want to talk to them to hear their views and feelings about what has happened, and if a crime is thought to have been committed the police may want to record the interview using a video.
What happens after a child protection enquiry?
The law says that those working with families must try to help children and their families stay together wherever possible. However, the law also says that children must be kept safe.

In most circumstances parents are helped to look after their child safely and the child remains at home. Occasionally the risk of a child being hurt is too great and it may be necessary to find somewhere else for the child to stay, if possible with another family member.

Alternatively, the person who may hurt the child could be asked to leave the family home. If a child cannot remain at home then it may be necessary to apply to court for an order to remove the child so that the child can go to a foster carer or a residential home. At this point you would be advised to contact a solicitor to advise you.

If a child is thought to be at risk but this can be managed by the child remaining at home a child protection conference may be called.
What is a child protection conference?
A child protection conference is a meeting to talk about a child who may have been harmed or is at risk of being harmed. This meeting could involve teachers, doctors, health visitors, school nurses, police, probation officers and social workers.

As parents/carers you would also be invited and supported to attend and if your child is old enough to understand the process they may also attend. If you have any speech or hearing difficulties or if you need an interpreter arrangements will be made to support you so that you can fully participate in the conference.

The chairperson will meet with you before the conference starts. They will talk to you about what will happen and answer any questions you might have.

At the meeting reports from professionals involved with your family will be read and discussed, and information will be shared about the concerns for your child. Professionals at the meeting will decide whether they believe your child is at risk of harm. You will be asked for your views and the views of your child, where old enough, will also be heard at the conference.

If it is decided that your child is at risk of harm the meeting will discuss how best your child can be protected and what can be done to support your child and your family. This will then become the child protection plan.
What is a child protection plan?
The purpose of a child protection plan is to ensure that everyone is clear what help and support will be provided, by whom and when.

This will include expectations of you as parent/carers to work with the professionals, participate in the plan, and make any changes and improvements so that your child is safe and well cared for. Your child's health, development and general welfare will be regularly checked.

The plan will be reviewed after three months and then at six monthly intervals. The child protection plan will remain in place until it is believed that your child is no longer at risk of harm.

 
Complaints
If you feel the child protection enquiry or the child protection conference was not conducted fairly there is a complaints procedure Your social worker will be able to provide you with further information if required.

Helping children stay safe online

Information for parents on carers about online safety.

Internet and mobile phones
The internet offers children access to information, communication with their friends and opportunities for exploring the wider world. Children get a lot of benefit from being online. However they should have parental supervision and good advice to make sure their experiences are happy and safe.
Resources
Parents and carers need to be aware of problems that can arise, such as bullying and grooming, and know what to do. Here are some useful links that will provide appropriate information to help you in guiding your children. A beginners guide to using the internet with interactive tutorials about all aspects of computer and internet use, getting started on social networks, privacy and safety online. Kidsmart is an award winning practical internet safety programme website for schools, young people, parents, and agencies, produced by the children's internet charity Childnet International. This link will take you to practical advice and support on how to help your children use the internet and new technology in safe and responsible ways. General advice on safe social networking. Advice from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre. Understanding the internet and what the risks are of grooming, mobiles, gaming, social networking and chat. The award-winning charity Bullying Online was founded in 1999 by journalist Liz Carnell from Harrogate and her son John, as a direct result of their experience of dealing with school bullying. Childnet’s mission is to work in partnership with others around the world to help make the internet a great and safe place for children. A booklet for parents on all types of chat from instant messaging and chat rooms to mobile phones.
  • For more information
For more advice on using social networking sites safely, visit the ThinkuKnow site. 
Or visit the social networking sites’ own online safety pages:

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined as “all procedures (not operations) which involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons” (World Health Organisation, 1996)

What is FGM?
FGM is abuse of the human rights of girls and women and is therefore a child protection issue. It is illegal in the UK to subject a child to female genital mutilation (FGM) or to take a child abroad to undergo FGM.
  • 20,000 girls under the age of 15 at risk of FGM every year
  • The maximum sentence of years in prison for carrying out FGM or helping it to take place is 14 years
If you suspect that any girl in Northumberland is at immediate risk of being subjected to any form of FGM you must take action to report it immediately by contacting the police on 999.
 FGM constitutes child abuse and causes physical, psychological and sexual harm.
Indicators that a girl may be at risk of FGM
  • She has a parent from a practising community.
  • She and her family have a low integration into a community.
  • The mother or any sisters have experienced FGM.
  • She is withdrawn from PSHE.
  • She has talked about, or you know about the arrival of a female family elder.
  • She talks about it to other children.
  • She refers to a ‘special procedure’ or ‘special occasion’ or ‘becoming a woman’.
  • She is out of the country for a prolonged period.
  • She is taking a long holiday to her country of origin or another country where the practice is prevalent. (Parents may talk about it too).
Indicators that a girl has experienced FGM
  • A girl has problems walking/standing/sitting.
  • She spends a lot of time in the bathroom/toilet.
  • She has bladder or menstrual problems.
  • She has prolonged or repeated absences from school.
  • She has a reluctance to undergo medical examinations.
To read detailed procedures, go to NSCB Female Genital Mutilation.
Training and resources
More information on training on FGM is available from the Home Office free online training which can be accessed at https://www.fgmelearning.co.uk/

National FGM resources
There is a helpline operated by the NSPCC, available 365 days a year and 24 hours a day, specialising in responses to FGM. It is staffed by specially trained child protection helpline counsellors who can offer advice, information and assistance to professionals and members of the public.

Tel: 0800 028 3550
Email: fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse (also called domestic violence) is a crime and a major social problem affecting many families. In 90% of reported domestic violence incidents, children have either been present in the same or a nearby room.

The government, in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, defines domestic violence as ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are, or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexual orientation’.

Family members includes mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, and grandparents, whether directly related, in-laws or stepfamily.

How does it affect children?
  • Domestic violence may teach children to use violence.
  • Violence can affect children in serious and long-lasting ways.
  • Where there is domestic violence there is often child abuse.
  • Children will often blame themselves for domestic violence.
  • Alcohol misuse is very common contributing factor when violence occurs in families.
  • Pregnant women are more vulnerable to domestic violence.
Children, who witness, intervene or hear incidents are affected in many ways. What can be guaranteed is that children do hear, they do see and they are aware of abuse in the family. Children will learn how to behave from examples parents set for them. Domestic violence teaches children negative things about relationships and how to deal with people. For instance:
  • It can teach them that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict.
  • They learn how to keep secrets.
  • They learn to mistrust those close to them and that children are responsible and to blame for violence, especially if violence erupts after an argument about the children.
Many people find it difficult to understand why people remain in or return to abusive violent situations. A combination of fear, love, the risk of homelessness and financial issues can make it very difficult for partners with children to leave and some may not want to.

Children are affected in many ways by abuse, even after a short time. These effects include: feeling frightened, becoming withdrawn, bedwetting, running away, aggressiveness, behavioural difficulties, problems with school, poor concentration and emotional turmoil.

The longer children are exposed to abuse, the more severe the effects on them are. These can include:
  • a lack of respect for the non-violent parent
  • loss of self-confidence, which will affect their ability to form relationships in the future
  • being over-protective of parent
  • loss of childhood
  • problems at school
  • running away 
What can I do?
Domestic violence is a crime. Never hesitate to call the police who have specialist domestic violence officers trained to help you and put you in touch with other agencies who can help you with safety planning, housing issues, drug or alcohol problems or give details of solicitors who can assist you with the legal side of things.
Northumbria Police can be contacted on 999.

Other useful links

Private fostering

Northumberland County Council is asking for anyone who is involved in or aware of a privately arranged care situation for any child living in Northumberland, to encourage the carer and / or parent to come forward and contact their local district office.

This plea comes with the ongoing national campaign Somebody Else’s Child, which is run by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).

The campaign aims to raise awareness of private fostering, in particular the charity BAAF is targeting professionals working with children, particularly teachers.

There are many situations where people, for a whole range of reasons and with the best of intentions, are doing someone else a favour and having their child live with them. What they often do not realise is that, where the child is staying for 28 days of more, as part of protecting our children in the community, they have a legal responsibility to inform the local council.