Safe guarding children policy summary

The purpose of this policy is to help Abacus Childcare staff, know what to do if they think a child in their care may be being abused or is likely to be abused. This policy is intended to complement the book “What to do if you are worried a child is being abused”.

We commit to acting in the child’s best interest, when dealing with any safe guarding issues.

By producing this policy we aim to help all Abacus Childcare Staff understand some of the warning signs that a child may be being abused and to know what to do if they have concerns about a child’s welfare.

All those who come into contact with children and families, including people who do not have a specific role in relation to safe guarding children, have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Definition of child abuse

Child abuse consists of anything, which individuals, institutions or processes do or fail to do, which directly or indirectly harms children or damages their prospect of a safe and healthy development – The national commission of enquiry into the prevention of child abuse. 1996.

Significant harm

Significant harm is based on the severity and extent of the harm, the duration and frequency of abuse and neglect and the extent of the premeditation. There is no specific definition for significant harm but these criteria will be used to determine the level of harm involved. This harm will also include ‘the impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another’ – the children’s act 1989 – amendment in 2002.

On deciding significant harm the local authority will make enquiries as to whether or not intervention is needed for the family.

Child in need

Children who are ‘in need’ under the children act 1989, are those whose ‘vulnerability is such that they are unlikely to reach or maintain a satisfactory level of health or development, or their health and development will be significantly impaired, without the provision of services’.

How children can be abused

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, such as failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, or neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

Physical abuse
This may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child, including by fabricating the symptoms of, or deliberating causing, ill health to a child.

Sexual abuse
Involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Emotional abuse
Is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development? It may involve conveying to the children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person, age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children, causing children frequently to feel frightened, or the exploitation or corruption of children.

Recognizing or suspecting that a child is being abused may be stressful and upsetting. It is easy for people to believe that it couldn’t happen to children for whom they care.

Children are harmed in all sorts of families and in most instances the person causing the harm is well known to them.

Recognising signs and indicators of possible abuse

The important thing to remember when you think you may see signs or indicators of abuse are to record it, get as much information as possible without leading the conversations, and record the information as clearly and accurately as possible.

Remember it is not our responsibility to decide if a child is being abused; it is your responsibility to raise cause for concern and to refer on.

How abuse or possible abuse may come to the attention of staff:

  • Through direct observation of the children they care for
  • Seeing unusual marks or unexplained bruising on a child they care for
  • Seeing significant changes in a child’s behaviour
  • Deterioration in their general well being
  • Neglect of a child
  • Comments children make during play or directly telling someone
  • From an outside agency, such as social services
  • Through a telephone call
  • A letter
  • A fax
  • An e-mail

Any information about the possible abuse of a child received by staff, regardless of the source, must be acted upon without delay.

What happens next?

  • Any signs or symptoms of possible abuse will be recorded
  • The incident will be discussed with the main care (Note this step will be missed out if the signs and symptoms causing concern indicate possible sexual abuse)
  • Record all information gathered during above communication (parents/main carer will have access to these records)
  • If cause for concern remains the matter will be reported to the local Safeguarding Children Team for further investigation
  • The safeguarding of the child is paramount


All staff will under go appropriate training in Safe Guarding Children issues. Priority will be given to the settings safe-guarding children officer and to those with no safe guarding children training.


The confidentiality policy of the setting will be maintained.