Bitesize Guides F - L


Fabricated or induced illness (FII)

FII involves a well child being presented by a parent/carer as ill, or a disabled child being presented with more significant problems than he/she has in reality. This may result in extensive, unnecessary medical procedures and investigations being carried out in order to establish the underlying causes for the reported signs and symptoms. The child may also have treatments prescribed, investigations or operations which are unnecessary. These interventions can result in children spending long periods of time in hospital and some, by their nature, may also place the child at risk of suffering from harm (physical illness, disability or even death).

FII can also lead to emotional difficulties for the child and confusion over their own health status. Professionals need to focus on the impact of FII on the child’s health and development – this is crucial to ensure an appropriate safeguarding response.

Other terms are sometimes used to describe FII, some of which are out of date or used predominantly in other countries (e.g. Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy).

Detailed local CYSCB FII Guidance (PDF) and FII Chronology (Word document)

Back to Bitesize Guides Menu 


Fire setting

Fire play and fire setting behaviour by a child must always be taken seriously, because it can put a child and others at risk of significant harm, possible injury or death.

When a child sets fires, it may indicate that they are at risk of, or experiencing, serious mental or emotional harm. Consideration should be given to early help  and/or making an enquiry to Children’s Social Care and the police.

Several factors may lead to fire setting:

  • Curiosity;
  • A cry for help;
  • Lack of parental control;
  • Serious emotional disturbance, which may be related to abuse and neglect.

The North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is available by referral from the family or professionals to work with children. The scheme takes an educational approach with children and their parents, and can help identify the cause of the behaviour. It works across the spectrum from curiosity fire play in young children to arson in older children.

 Back to Bitesize Guides Menu


Forced marriage

In forced marriage one, or both, spouses do not consent to the marriage and some element of duress is involved.  Duress includes both physical and emotional pressure.

There is a distinction between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. The tradition of arranged marriages has operated successfully within many communities and many countries for a very long time.  In arranged marriages, the families of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage but the choice of whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with the young people.


A free e-learning course is available here. The course raises awareness, challenges perceptions and gives information about the correct actions to take should you suspect someone is at risk.

Information about a possible or actual forced marriage may come from the child/young person concerned or a friend or relative.  It may also become apparent in relation to other family issues, such as domestic abuse, self-harm, teenage pregnancy, child abuse or neglect, family conflict or when a child/young person has gone missing.

Any practitioner from any agency who has reason to believe that a child/young person may be at risk of forced marriage, or has been subject to forced marriage, whether or not the child/young person is thought currently to be in this country, should refer to Children’s Social Care or the Police. Check the Concerned about a Child page.

Useful Links

The Forced Marriage Unit provides advice on stopping forced marriages.

Childline has further advice.

Karma Nirvana is an award winning British charity supporting victims for 25 years

Child Helpline International has international phone numbers for getting help.

See also Honor Based Violence below

Back to Bitesize Guides Menu


Foreign exchange visits

Children on foreign exchange visits and in some language schools stay with families selected by the school (or hosting organisation) in the host country and are vulnerable for reasons comparable to others living away from home. These children are entitled to the same safeguarding protection as any other child.

Most exchanges last less than 28 days so the assessment and supervision that would apply if the child was privately fostered are not applicable. Schools should conduct assessments of the host family and  the host family could be asked to give consent for checks of the local children and family social care service database, and also for checks with other local agencies (for example with GPs).

In the event that a pupil’s host family has been the subject of s47 enquiries, unless or until there is a satisfactory resolution of concerns, the family should be regarded by the UK school as unsuitable to receive or continue hosting a pupil from an overseas school.

UK schools and agencies should take reasonable steps to ensure that a comparable approach is taken by relevant schools abroad.

Back to Bitesize Guides Menu


Foster care

When a child is being placed with foster carers, prior to placement (or as soon as possible) foster carers will have been provided with full information about the foster child and his/her family, including details of abuse or possible abuse, in order to allow them to make informed decisions about the appropriateness of the placement.

All children placed with foster carers will have a Social Worker who is required to see children in foster care on their own (taking appropriate account of the child’s wishes and feelings).

Back to Bitesize Guides Menu



Harbourers of Missing Children and Young People

Certain individuals allow young people to stay at their homes without informing the parent or carer of the young person.  They either directly or indirectly encourage them to go missing and to stay away from their carers.  This can lead to an increase in the number of individuals who are reported as missing or unauthorised absence. Some of these individuals actually target these young people for the purpose of grooming or exploiting them. 

Harbouring is a police matter and any suspicions of harbouring should be reported to the police directly or by using the North Yorkshire Police Partnership Information Sharing Form available on this page under "Useful Documents".

Back to Bitesize Guides Menu  



Harming others

The harm caused to children by the harmful and bullying behaviour of other children can be significant. This may involve single incidents or ongoing physical, sexual or emotional (including verbal) harm perpetrated by a single child or by groups or gangs of children. In addition, children of both genders can direct physical, sexual or emotional violence towards their parents, siblings and/or partner. Such abuse should be subject to the same safeguarding children procedures as apply in respect of children being abused by an adult.

Children who harm others may have considerable needs themselves.  Evidence suggests these children may have suffered significant disruption in their lives, been exposed to violence within the family, may have witnessed or been subject to physical or sexual abuse, have problems in their educational development and may have committed other offences.

Professionals must base their decision on whether behaviour directed at another child should be categorised as harmful or not on the circumstances of each case. An discussion with the safeguarding lead in the organisation and then with Children’s Social Care should be sought.

Back to Bitesize Guides Menu  


Historical Abuse Allegations

When an adult makes a disclosure to a professional that s/he suffered abuse as a child, the professional to whom the disclosure is made should:

  • Clarify whether there are any child/ren who may currently be at risk from the alleged perpetrator;
  • Ascertain whether the adult is aware of the alleged perpetrator’s recent or current whereabouts and any contact the alleged perpetrator may have with children;
  • Advise the adult to make a formal complaint to the police (that there is a possibility that a person who has previously abused a child will have continued and may still be doing so);
  • Offer the adult support in making a formal complaint to the police;
  • Provide information about relevant services.

Where it is believed that the alleged perpetrator has contact with a child a referral should be made to Children’s Social Care so that information can be gathered and a decision can be made whether to apply child protection procedures in respect of the child/ren with whom the alleged perpetrator has contact.

Where an adult making a disclosure chooses not to make a formal complaint to the police, the adult should be advised of the possible to risk to children. The adult should be advised that, the alleged perpetrator has contact with a child, the information will be shared and a referral made to Children’s Social Care. If the adult wishes for his/her identity to remain anonymous this must be respected, however, they should also be asked if they would be willing to talk with a representative of Children’s Social Care to enable them to seek to safeguard any other child who may be at risk.

Where the professional remains concerned about issues in relation of consent and confidentiality s/he should liaise with his/her manager or designated safeguarding lead.

Any historical abuse allegation from a child/young person is to be treated as if it is recent in terms of appropriate response to the child and their needs. In relation to the alleged perpetrator and other children who may be at risk, the same principles as above apply.

Useful Websites:

NSPCC Support for Adults Abused as Children

National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC)

Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse - Truth Project IICSA

Survive - Support for survivors of rape and sexual abuse in North Yorkshire

Back to Bitesize Guides Menu 


Home education

The law allows parents of children in England and Wales to educate their child however they wish. The local authority has limited powers to intervene or even to be informed about this. If a parent never registers their child at a school, they are not obliged to inform the local authority.

If a parent registers their child at an independent sector school and then withdraws their child from school to educate them at home, they are not obliged to inform the local authority. Nor is the independent school obliged to inform the local authority. Independent schools however in York and North Yorkshire are recommended to inform the local authority who will support them in attempting to locate the child.

If the parent registers their child at a state school and then withdraws their child to educate them at home, they are not obliged to inform the local authority. However, they are obliged to inform the state school, which in turn is obliged to inform the local authority within two weeks of removing the child from the school roll. Parents should be encouraged to ask the new school to confirm the child’s attendance when they start and if this is not forthcoming within two weeks, the local authority will follow internal missing from school procedures.

Where the local authority is informed of a parent’s desire to educate their child at home, they have limited powers but the parent is required to assure them about the nature and quality of the education they are giving to the child.

However, there may be circumstances where the parent is seeking to avoid agency intervention in the child’s life to conceal abuse or neglect or where, however well meaning, their desire to educate their child at home may give rise to general concerns about the child’s welfare. In these circumstances, it may be necessary for assessment to be carried out into whether the child’s needs are being met or whether they are at risk of significant harm.

Back to Bitesize Guides Menu


Honour based violence

Honour based violence is the term used to describe murders in the name of so-called honour, sometimes called ‘honour killings’. These are murders in which predominantly women are killed for perceived immoral behaviour, which is deemed to have breached the honour code of a family or community, causing shame.

Professionals should respond in a similar way to cases of honour violence as with domestic violence and forced marriage (i.e. in facilitating disclosure, developing individual safety plans, ensuring the child’s safety by according them confidentiality in relation to the rest of the family, completing individual risk assessments etc).

Honour based violence cuts across all cultures and communities. Murders in the name of ‘so-called honour’ are often the culmination of a series of events over a period of time and are planned. There tends to be a degree of premeditation, family conspiracy and a belief that the victim deserved to die. Victims are sometimes persuaded to return to their country of origin under false pretences, when in fact the intention could be to kill them.

Children sometimes truant from school to obtain relief from being policed at home by relatives. They can feel isolated from their family and social networks and become depressed, which can on some occasions lead to self-harm or suicide.

Families may feel shame long after the incident that brought about dishonour occurred, and therefore the risk of harm to a child can persist. This means that the young person’s new boy/girlfriend, baby (if pregnancy caused the family to feel ‘shame’), associates or siblings may be at risk of harm.

When receiving a disclosure from a child, professionals should recognise the seriousness and immediacy of the risk of harm.

For a child to report to any agency that they have fears of honour based violence in respect of themselves or a family member requires a lot of courage, and trust that the professional and agency they disclose to will respond appropriately. Specifically, under no circumstances should the agency allow the child’s family or social network to find out about the disclosure, so as not to put the child at further risk of harm.

Authorities in some countries may support the practice of honour-based violence, and the child may be concerned that other agencies share this view, or that they will be returned to their family. The child may be carrying guilt about their rejection of cultural or family expectations. Furthermore, their immigration status may be dependent on their family, which could be used to dissuade them from seeking assistance.

Where a child discloses fear of honour based violence the professional response should include:

  • Seeing the child immediately in a secure and private place;
  • Seeing the child on their own;
  • Explaining to the child the limits of confidentiality;
  • Asking direct questions to gather enough information to make a referral to Children’s Social Care and the police, including recording the child’s wishes;
  • Encouraging and/or helping the child to complete a personal risk assessment
  • Developing an emergency safety plan with the child;
  • Agreeing a means of discreet future contact with the child;
  • Explaining that a referral to Children’s Social Care and the police will be made
  • Record all discussions and decisions (including rationale if no decision is made to refer to Children’s Social Care).

Professionals should not approach the family or community leaders, share any information with them or attempt any form of mediation. In particular, members of the local community should not be used as interpreters.

All multi-agency discussions should recognise the police responsibility to initiate and undertake a criminal investigation as appropriate.
Multi-agency planning should consider the need for providing suitable safe accommodation for the child, as appropriate.
If a child is taken abroad, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office may assist in repatriating them to the UK.

The charity Karma Nirvana has a new website for survivors of honour based violence.

Child Helpline International has international phone numbers for getting help.

See also Forced Marriage above


Back to Bitesize Guides Menu  

Hospital or receiving hospital services

Children who are in hospital or receiving other hospital services should have their overall welfare safeguarded and promoted in the same manner as all other children. Hospitals should take all reasonable steps to ensure that children are cared for in secure children’s wards and are provided with suitable adult supervision and care. Wherever possible, children should be consulted about where they would prefer to stay in hospital and their views should be taken into account and respected.

York Teaching Hospital’s Child Protection Statement and Policy.

Back to Bitesize Guides Menu


Interpreters, signers or others with special communication skills

All agencies need to ensure that practitioners are enabled to communicate fully with parents and children.
It is helpful, at the start of an intervention, to establish the communication needs of the child, parents and other significant family members. Relevant specialists may need to be consulted, e.g. a speech and language therapist, teacher of hearing impaired children, paediatrician etc.

The use of accredited interpreters, signers or others with special communication skills must be considered whenever undertaking an assessment or enquiries involving children and/or family members:

  • For whom English is not the first language (even if reasonably fluent in English, the option of an interpreter should be available when dealing with sensitive issues);
  • With a hearing or visual impairment;
  • Whose disability impairs speech;
  • With learning difficulties;
  • With a specific language or communication disorder;
  • With severe emotional and behavioural difficulties;
  • Whose primary form of communication is not speech.

Family members and children should not be used as interpreters within interviews although can be used to arrange appointments and establish communication needs.

Interpreters used for assessment and child protection work should have been subject to references and DBS checks. Wherever possible, they should be used to interpret their own first language. There should be a written agreement regarding confidentiality.

Interpreters are expected to have undertaken relevant child protection training and this should be ascertained.

Best practice would be to meet first with the interpreter to explain the nature of the assessment/enquiries and clarify:

  • The interpreter’s role in translating direct communications between professionals and family members;
  • The need to avoid acting as a representative of the family;
  • When the interpreter is required to translate everything that is said and when to summarise;
  • That the interpreter is prepared to translate the exact words that are likely to be used – especially critical for sexual abuse;
  • When the interpreter will explain any cultural issues that might be overlooked (usually at the end of the interview, unless any issue is impeding the interview);
  • The interpreter’s availability to interpret at other interviews and meetings.

Back to Bitesize Guides Menu


Lack of parental control

When a child is brought to the attention of the police or the wider community because of their behaviour, this may be an indication of vulnerability, poor supervision or neglect in its wider sense. It is important to consider whether these are children in need and to offer them assistance and services that reflect their needs. This should be done on a multi-agency basis either at early help level or in consultation with Children’s Social Care.

Back to Bitesize Guides Menu


Left Alone

When a child is not ready to be left alone, it can be a sad, lonely, frightening and potentially dangerous experience. There are many possible risks, both physical and emotional, which could affect the child.

There is no rule in law that specifies the age at which it is legal to leave children alone. The NSPCC advise that most children under 13 are not mature enough to cope in an emergency, and should not be left alone for more than a very short while.

NSPCC Advice on leaving children alone.  

While this recommendation does not have the force of law, it is suggested as a minimum age. Children need a certain level of maturity to be safely left on their own.  Babies and young children should never be left alone in the home, whether they are asleep or awake, not even for a very short time.

If a practitioner has reason to believe that a young child/ren is home alone, they are expected to use their judgement and respond, depending on the circumstances. There should have been sufficient attempts to rouse the parent/carer and, for example, a check that the parent is not in the back garden.
The practitioner should attempt to contact the parent immediately, by mobile phone, or other responsible family member. If for example the parent is at a neighbour’s and has left a child/ren alone, it should be made clear that the parent is to return immediately. The practitioner should discuss with the parent, after their return to the home and ascertaining that the child/ren are ok, the seriousness of leaving a child alone.

If it is not possible to find out quickly where the parent is and for them to return to the home and there is concern about a child’s immediate safety, the police are to be contacted as they have a duty to take urgent protective action.

In all situations, the practitioner should remain at the home or outside the home if there is no access, until the parent returns or other action is taken, such as through the police.

If necessary, the practitioner should seek immediate advice from their manager and/or the designated safeguarding lead.

Back to Bitesize Guides Menu