Every child has the right to be protected from abuse, harm and exploitation. For some of our children this unfortunately doesn't happen. Children who are being harmed rely on adults to:
- notice when something might be wrong
- do something about it.
Share any concerns that you may have with us.
Signs that might indicate abuse
Abuse of children can be physical, emotional and sexual. Children who experience abuse may display behaviour which causes concerns. This could range from being distressed to showing physical signs of abuse. A child may tell you information about themselves, or others, that causes you concern. It is important to share any concerns so that families can get the help they need.
Sometimes it might be an adult’s behaviour which makes you worry about a child. You might:
- notice an adult caring for a child when they have been misusing drugs and/or alcohol
- be concerned about the way an adult behaves towards a child, maybe swearing and frightening the child
- be aware of violence in households where children live.
All these can have an impact on a child and potentially place them at risk of harm.
What do we mean by risk?
Risk means the probability of something that could have a negative impact on a child's wellbeing. This could be any person or issue which may pose a threat to the healthy development of the child or young person. This may be by adults doing, or not doing, something which could result in harm to the child.
Who works to protect children?
Everyone has a responsibility to protect children from harm. In some cases this will mean a range of agencies working with the child and their families to promote their welfare.
I am concerned about a child’s wellbeing
If you have a concern that a child is suffering from, or at risk from, any harm you should contact:
- your nearest Health and Social Care Partnership office during working hours
- our out of hours service on 0800 328 7758 outwith these times
- if the child is in immediate danger contact the police by telephoning 101 or in an emergency 999.
We know that people worry about whether or not to share their concerns. They worry about whether they might be wrong, they think that it is not their business and they worry about making things worse. Remember that, families can't get the help they need unless someone shares their concerns.
You can report your concerns anonymously, but we may need to ask you for more information so it would help if you provided contact details. The family of the child will not be given your details unless you agree.
Report concerns as a practitioner
Practitioners working in all services across North Ayrshire should follow their child protection procedures. If you have any concerns at all, it is essential you share your observations quickly with your line manager and put your concerns in writing. Don't delay if the person you normally report to isn't available. The quicker information is shared, and help provided, the less likelihood there is of things worsening.
What will happen after I report my concerns?
We record all concerns shared about children. We check the information with other services involved with the family. All information is treated seriously. We will take the action that best meets the needs of the child. We try hard to work in partnership with parents so that families can stay together.
Action we might take includes:
- urgent action to secure the safety of a child through temporary placement in residential or foster care
- providing help to a family under stress (such as childcare)
- referring a family to another agency
- undertaking a formal child protection investigation, either on a single agency basis, or jointly with the police
- recording the concern but taking no further action.
In some instances legal measures may be considered, such as a Child Assessment Order, or referring a child to the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration.
Child Protection Conference
If there are concerns that a child is at risk of significant harm an initial child protection conference may be convened. This brings together practitioners who have had contact with the child and their family such as:
- social workers
- nursery staff
- youth workers
- health visitors
Children and young people will be invited when appropriate.
The Child Protection Register
If a child is at risk of significant harm, the Child Protection Conference may decide to place the child's name on the Child Protection Register. This is accessible by agencies and indicates ongoing concerns in relation to the care and wellbeing of a child. A coordinated child protection plan will be implemented to reduce the risks to the child. This is monitored regularly. A review child protection conference will be held every 3 months to ensure risk is reducing. Once the risk has reduced sufficiently, the child's name will be removed from the register.
Children can be placed on the Child Protection Register before they are born, this is known as a pre-birth registration.
Child Protection Orders
If it is believed that a child may be in immediate danger or at risk of significant harm, the Health and Social Care Partnership, or another organisation, may apply to the sheriff for a Child Protection Order.
If an application is successful, the sheriff can order that the child is removed from their home to a safe place, or prevent the removal of the child, for example from a hospital or from their grandparent's home. The sheriff can attach conditions to the order to ensure the protection of the child, for example a condition that they have no contact with a particular named person or that the child must have a medical examination. Matters will then be brought before the Children's Hearing to consider further legal measures required to protect the child.
In situations where it is perceived that an identified adult may pose a significant risk to a child, application can be made for an exclusion order. This requires the person suspected of harming the child to be removed from the family home.
The North Ayrshire Child Protection Committee
It is the role of the North Ayrshire Child Protection Committee to ensure that all partners work together to protect children from harm and keep them safe.
The North Ayrshire Child Protection Committee website contains information, advice and guidance.
Read the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland.