Safeguarding Children and Young People
All NHS service and commissioned services have a key role to play in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of unborn babies, children and young people. This is a statutory duty under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 and in accordance with government guidance in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013. In this guidance children are defined as those under the age of 18 years. NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Groups (SCCG) is committed to all policies, procedures and practice which safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people through their commissioning and partnership functions.
SCCG has designated professionals who lead on issues of safeguarding children across Sheffield Health economy and ensure there are performance and assurance controls in place for healthcare providers.
Under the UN Convention on Rights of the Child - 1989, Children have a right to have their best interests as the primary concern when decisions are being made about them (Article 3)
They also have a right under the UN Convention to:
- Life and health development (Article 6)
- Be protected from hurt and mistreatment, physically or mentally (Article 19)
- Be properly care for and protected from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents and anyone else who looks after them (Article 19)
- Be protected from activity which takes advantage of them and could harm their welfare and development including sexual exploitation, sale and trafficking (Article 36)
All staff who come into contact with children and young people including staff working primarily with adults who have dependent children have a minimum responsibility to recognise what constitutes child abuse and know how to act when they have concerns about the welfare of a child or a young person.
Child Abuse is a form of maltreatment. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family, or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by others (e.g. via the internet). They may be abused by an adult or adults or another child or children. There are 4 categories of abuse which are defined in Working Together to Safeguard Children (DoE 2013) as:
Physical Abuse – May involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child.
Emotional Abuse – The persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or “making fun” of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions which are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyber bullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Sexual Abuse - Involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving high levels of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetration (e.g. rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing or touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
Neglect - Is the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and / or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of a child's health and development. Neglect of an unborn baby can occur as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to
- provide adequate food, clothing or shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
- protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
- ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
- ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
The following Safeguarding Children Guidance has been developed to inform and support the CCG and its staff and any Health Services that have been commissioned by the CCG including what you should do if you are concerned about a child or young person.