Bitesize Guides A - E


Adults who Pose a Risk to Children

Professionals from all agencies have a responsibility to pass information to Children's Social Care when they become aware of potential child abusers having contact with children. They also have a responsibility to participate fully in any investigation or enquiry led by Children's Social Care.

Children's Social Care will consider the appropriateness of holding a Child Protection Conference and/or legal proceedings if identified risks warrant such action.

The terms ‘Schedule One Offender’ and ‘Schedule One Offence’ have been commonly used for anyone convicted of an offence against a child listed in Schedule One of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.  However, a conviction for an offence in Schedule One does not trigger any statutory requirement in relation to child protection issues; inclusion within the definition of Schedule One Offender was determined solely by the age of the victim and the offence for which the offender was sentenced, and not by an assessment of future risk of harm to children. For this reason, the terms Schedule One offence and Schedule One Offender are no longer used and have been replaced by references to ‘Risk to Children Offenders’. This clearly indicates that the person has been identified as presenting a risk, or potential risk, to children. 

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Animal Abuse Links to safeguarding children

Animal abuse is defined as intentional harm of animals, including wilful neglect, inflicting injury, pain, distress or the malicious killing of animals. There is increasing evidence of links between abuse of children, vulnerable adults and animals.

In addition, a child displaying intentional cruelty to animals could indicate that the child has been a victim of neglect and/or abuse themselves. In some circumstances, acts of animal cruelty may be used to control and intimidate adults and children into being silent about their own abuse.

Professionals in all agencies should be aware that if serious animal abuse occurs within a household there may be an increased likelihood of family violence and an increased risk of abuse to children within the family such that it could constitute significant harm.

Significant harm is defined as a situation where a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, a degree of physical, sexual and/or emotional harm (through abuse or neglect) which is so harmful that there needs to be a compulsory intervention by child protection agencies into the life of the child and their family.

Professionals working with children should:

  • Be observant about the care and treatment of family pets and other animals whilst carrying out assessments;
  • Ensure that assessments consider the needs and the risk of harm to children and animals within the family;
  • Ensure that safety planning with victims of domestic violence considers the safety of children and animals within the family;

When a referral is made to Children’s Social Care the name of the RSPCA inspector should not be given to the family unless this has been agreed between the two agencies as essential for evidential reasons. The reason for this is that the RSPCA inspector may need to do repeat visits to the household to monitor an animal’s welfare.

To report animal cruelty, request assistance or express a concern about animal welfare, call the RSPCA’s national cruelty and advice line: 0870 5555 999.

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Armed Forces

Young people under 18 may be in the armed forces as recruits or as trainees, or may be the dependants of a service family. The life of a service family differs in many respects from that of a family in civilian life, particularly for those stationed overseas, or on bases and garrisons in the UK. The services support the movement of the family in response to service commitments. The frequency and location of such moves make it essential that the service authorities are aware of any concerns regarding safeguarding and promoting the welfare of a child from a military family. The armed forces are fully committed to co-operating with statutory and other agencies in supporting families in this situation, and have procedures to help safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

There is a higher proportion of children who are care leavers (from the local authority care system) who have joined the armed forces compared with the general population.  These children may still have the right to support from local authority social care workers.

Social work services are available within the forces, as follows:

In the Royal Navy (RN) this is provided by the Naval Personal and Family Service (NPFS) and the Royal Marines Welfare Service;

In the army this is provided by the Army Welfare Service (AWS)

In the Royal Air Force by the Soldiers’ Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association-Forces Help (SSAFAFH).


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An adult begging for money may have a child with them whose role is to evoke public sympathy.  A child may also beg alone or appear to be doing so. Consideration of the needs of the child should include their age, the degree of adult supervision, time of day etc.

Activities such as ‘penny for the guy’ ‘trick or treat’ or carol singing are not normally regarded as begging if arrangements are age appropriate and effectively supervised.

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Blood-borne viruses

A child exposed to blood-borne viruses, can be at risk of significant harm. The main child protection issues likely to arise with blood-borne viruses are:

  • When a mother who is known to be HIV positive refuses to accept treatment for herself in pregnancy and/or for the baby following delivery
  • When a mother who is known to be HIV positive insists on breastfeeding her baby against medical advice
  • Where a child is thought to have a blood-borne disease and their parents refuse to agree to medical testing and/or treatment
  • Where a child is on the appropriate treatment, but medication is given inconsistently or stopped altogether and there is a danger of resistance developing
  • Where a child has been sexually abused and the abuser is thought to be infected with a blood-borne disease (in these cases, HIV testing should be considered)
  • Where a child has been exposed to contaminated needles and syringes. 

Responding to the risks

In circumstances where children and parents share concerns about blood borne viruses such as hepatitis and HIV, the reasons should be sensitively explored. If a child’s concerns arise because they have suffered abuse, they may need time to make a full disclosure. Counselling should be provided as appropriate to anyone deciding whether or not to be tested for blood-borne viruses such as HIV.  

Where a professional is concerned that a child may have been placed at risk of HIV or hepatitis B, an informed decision must be made about whether to raise this with the child or parent/s.

Agencies have a duty to ensure the confidentiality of all parties. However, they also have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Exceptionally, information may be shared with other agencies if:

  • The disclosure of information would be in the best interests of the child or protect an individual at risk of infection;
  • The professionals/agencies receiving the information are aware of its confidential nature and are able to maintain the confidence.

The child or family’s wishes with regard to confidentiality may only be overruled if:

  • The child is at risk of significant harm if a disclosure is not made;
  • There is a legal requirement for information to be disclosed;
  • There is an ongoing police investigation, which makes disclosure important in order to prevent others being put at risk. In these circumstances, legal advice should be sought.

If it is considered necessary to go against the wishes of the child or parents, the worker must:

  • Consult with their manager;
  • Provide the child and/or family with a full written explanation of the reason for overruling their wishes.

Sometimes a perpetrator may be known to be HIV positive or to be suffering from, or a carrier of, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. If the welfare of the child could benefit, it may be appropriate to consider sharing this information even if the abuser will not give consent.

In the above circumstances, professionals must seek specialist and legal advice without initially revealing the person concerned. If the final decision is to reveal the person’s status, this should be recorded in the child’s case record and a full written explanation should be given to the abuser, explaining what is to be shared and why.  

Advice, support and guidance - Professionals in all agencies can contact local family clinics, the genitourinary clinic or lead officers within their own agencies for specialist advice and support.

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Boarding school

The welfare and safety of children living in boarding school should be promoted and provided for in line with the relevant national minimum standards  All commissioners and providers of services for children living in boarding schools are responsible for ensuring that the children are safeguarded.

The standards for children living in boarding school include that boarding school staff are trained in all aspects of safeguarding children, are alert to children’s vulnerabilities and risks of harm, and knowledgeable about how to implement safeguarding children procedures including safe recruitment processes.


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Bullying and Cyber Bullying

Bullying is deliberately hurtful behaviour, usually repeated over a period of time, where it is difficult for the victims to defend themselves. The damage inflicted by bullying is often underestimated. It can cause considerable distress to children, to the extent that it affects their health and development and can be a source of significant harm, including self-harm and suicide.

Bullying can include emotional and/or physical harm to such a degree that it constitutes significant harm.
The main types of bullying are:

  • Physical abuse (e.g. hitting, kicking, stabbing and setting alight), including filming with mobile telephones and theft (commonly of mobile telephones);
  • Verbal or mobile phone/online/social media abuse (e.g. racist, sexist or homophobic name-calling or threats) – this type of non-physical bullying may include sexual harassment and the use of visual images; emotional abuse (e.g. isolating an individual from the group or emotional blackmail).

As the use of mobile phones and internet technology has increased, so has the misuse of the technology to bully. Current research in this area indicates that cyber bullying is a feature in many young people’s lives. Some features of cyber bullying are different from other forms of bullying:

  • 24/7 and the invasion of home and personal space;
  • The audience can be large and reached rapidly;
  • The worry of content resurfacing can make it difficult for targets to move on;
  • People who cyber bully may attempt to remain anonymous;
  • The profile of the bully and target – it can take place between peers, between generations, involve teachers as targets and bystanders become accessories to bullying by passing on images;
  • Some instances are known to be unintentional (something sent as a joke can be deeply upsetting) and there is a lack of awareness of the consequences

There is no single solution to the problem of cyber bullying. There are however five key areas for agencies that work with children and young people to address to put in place an effective prevention plan:

  • Understanding and talking about cyber bullying;
  • Updating policies and procedures;
  • Clarify reporting of incidents and support those who report;
  • Promote the positive use of technology;
  • Evaluate the impact of prevention activities – e.g., young people and parent/carer satisfaction surveys

The following external websites provide further information and guidance. They are regularly updated.  (for parents/carers and adults)    (for reporting illegal images and content)  (for all children and young people and their parents/carers. It also links with the CEOP (Child Exploitation and On-Line Protection Centre).  (for ages 5-17)  (for year 1 and 2 and is part of the thinkuknow website)  (for adults)

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Children from Abroad

Children or young people who arrive to be with carers who are not their parents and children or young people who are unaccompanied should be assessed as a matter of urgency, as they may be very geographically mobile and as a result their vulnerabilities may be greater.

If there is an indication that a child or young person has come from overseas and is in the care of an adult who is not the parent, or one whose relationship is uncertain, a referral must be made to Children’s Social Care immediately.  Consideration may be required in terms of possible trafficking and private fostering arrangements.

Whatever the status of a child or family in relation to immigration legislation, the responsibilities to children and young people in terms of their health, education, welfare and of safeguarding are the same as for any other child.  Any practitioner coming into contact with a family from overseas should satisfy themselves that contact has been made with appropriate health and education services for the children or young people. If not, appropriate referrals should be made.  As professionals continue to be involved with families, the children and young people should be seen and their views sought.

Children and young people who arrive in the UK alone or who are left at the point of entry by an agent are particularly vulnerable to commercial, domestic or sexual exploitation.  A consultation with the police and Children’s Social Care is appropriate in these cases.

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Criminal injuries compensation

Children who are victims of offences of violence (whether committed within or outside the family) may be entitled to criminal injuries compensation, whether or not there has been a prosecution or conviction and even where there is no physical injury as in cases of sexual assault. A claim on behalf of a child/young person under 18 years of age should normally be made by a person with parental responsibility.

Further information about Criminal Injuries Compensation


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Custodial settings (children visiting)

If a prisoner wishes to apply to have child contact, the enquiring prison officer will provide an application form for the prisoner to complete. A separate request must be made for contact with each individual child. It is possible that a request for contact could be made by a parent or from the child directly. If such a request is received, the prisoner will be informed and asked if they wish to submit a request for contact.

When a prison establishment contacts Children’s Social Care as part of the multi-agency assessment it may become apparent that a child is looked after by the local authority. In such cases, the local authority’s view of the appropriateness of contact must be obtained in writing. The test is always whether contact is in the child’s best interest.

NICCO - National Information Centre on Children of Offenders supports all professionals to work with offenders’ children and their families

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Disabled children

Disabled children may be particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect  for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Having fewer outside contacts than other children;
  • Receiving intimate personal care possibly from a number of carers which may increase their exposure to abusive behaviour and make it more difficult to set and maintain physical boundaries;
  • Having an impaired capacity to resist or avoid abuse;
  • Being more vulnerable to abuse by their peers and especially vulnerable to bullying;
  • Being inhibited about complaining due to fear of losing services.

In addition to increased risk factors, disabled children may have communication difficulties which make it difficult to tell others what is happening to them.  Adults, including professionals assessing their needs and caring for them may concentrate on the child’s special needs and overlook signs and symptoms which may suggest that the child is being maltreated.  Often, signs indicating maltreatment may be attributed to the disability.

A professional who has a concern for a disabled child must consider:

  • The child’s communication needs and how she/he will communicate effectively with the child;
  • What information in relation to the child’s disability and special needs the professional requires in order to assess risk of abuse;
  • What resources the professional requires in order to undertake an informed assessment;
  • Any specialist advice the professional needs.

Where there is a concern for a disabled child who is already subject to a care plan, for example in receipt of short break care, those professionals assessing the concern and those who are responsible for coordinating and delivering the plan must work closely together to ensure that the child’s needs are met in a holistic way.

Where child protection issues are considered in regard to a child with disabilities, there must be involvement by key professionals who know the child well, including those who have a comprehensive understanding of the child’s disability, method of communication, and any associated medical condition.

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E Safety

As technology develops, the internet can be accessed through various devises including mobile phones, text messaging, mobile camera phones as well as computers and games consoles. As a result, the internet has become a significant tool in the distribution of indecent photographs and videos of children and young people.

Internet chat rooms, forums and bulletin boards are used as a means of contacting children with a view to grooming them for inappropriate or abusive relationships which may include requests to make or transmit pornographic images of themselves or to perform sexual acts live in front of a web cam. Contacts made initially in a chat room are likely to be carried on via email, instant messaging services, mobile phone and text messaging. There is a growing cause for concern about the exposure of children to inappropriate material via interactive communication technology e.g. adult pornography and extreme forms of obscene material.

A new offence of sexual communication with a child was introduced in  April 2017 Groomers face up to two years in prison and will be automatically placed on the sex offenders register Groomers who target children through mobile phones and social media now face 2 years in prison, after a new government law came into force today.

Taking, making, sharing and possessing indecent images and pseudo-photographs of people under 18 is illegal.   This can include:

  • photos
  • videos
  • tracings and derivatives of a photograph
  • data that can be converted into a photograph

Government guidance for young people

ThinkUKnow - new online safety Video Game - Band Runner

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