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This National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day, SSS Learning is raising awareness of the many types of child sexual exploitation (CSE) uncovered and investigated every day in the UK. We urge government and the public sector to make stronger recommendations concerning the depth and frequency of safeguarding training for frontline professionals tasked with protecting children and young people.
Our big message on this important day, is this: “knowledge is power – frontline professionals need better access to training and resources to stay on top of the latest legislation updates, support and intervention techniques.”
CSE is a type of sexual abuse, which can be a violent as well as degrading experience, requiring sound knowledge and expertise by professionals to identify those at risk and/or support victims.
In the case of sexting and use of modern technology, CSE does not always involve physical contact. According to figures released by the Labour Party, sexting; sharing of sexually explicit images, photos or messages by under 16s, rose by an astonishing 1204% in two years. Whilst much is being done in schools to empower young people to keep themselves safe and develop proficient ICT and mobile phone usage policies, staff must also be trained to spot signs of certain behaviours to identify children at risk of this form of abuse outside the school gates. New sexting guidance for schools was released by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety last September to support educators.
Witnessing high profile CSE cases such as former Crewe Alex youth coach Barry Bennell, now charged with 20 counts of suspected abuse, and former independent school teacher Patrick Marshall, it is clear that child abuse is very much part of the national consciousness and public debate in Britain right now. To stop this legacy continuing, more must be done to ensure that teachers, doctors, nurses and voluntary workers clearly understand their legal responsibility and acquire the expertise to deliver appropriate services.
The world of legislative protection for young people is continuously evolving in line with case learnings and outcomes. For example, the Department for Education has released updates to its ‘Working together to safeguard children (Sep 2016)’ statutory guidance and “Child sexual exploitation: definition and guide for practitioners” (Feb 2017) which impacts upon the CSE legal requirements placed upon schools. It is essential that any frontline professional trained before these dates, understand the latest requirements they are required toembed in everyday safeguarding practice.
The more we learn from cases; historic and current, the stronger the case becomes for safeguarding to be firmly embedded in CPD. Whilst public sector officials are wrestling with budget uncertainties and pressure to cut training reserves, the fact that over 57,000 children are currently identified as needing protection from abuse in the UK, is a stark reminder of the situation we are dealing with. Furthermore, it is estimated that, for every child identified as needing protection from abuse, another eight are suffering abuse.
In the current financial climate, ensuring your staff are one hundred percent up-to-date might feel daunting, however by changing our approach to safeguarding training and using modern approaches it is achievable. Supported by a quality safeguarding partner, you will be alerted to changes in legislation and guidance and provided with updated resources to share with staff.
Here’s a useful checklist for senior frontline professionals tasked with procuring CSE training. The content should:
During National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day we’ll be sharing the great work being done to promote awareness. Please let us know what you’re doing to mark this important initiative via Twitter, or Facebook.
Here are just some of the great campaigns running:
Enfield residents urged to spot signs of child sexual exploitation (via Enfield Today)
Councillors in South Tyneside backing campaign to raise awareness of child exploitation (via ITV.com) Isle of White Local Safeguarding Children’s Board joins the fight against child sexual exploitation (via On the Wight)
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This International Women’s Day (8th March 2017) we’re celebrating a woman’s right to choose and raising awareness of Forced Marriage; an extreme violation of human rights taking place to women and girls in Britain.
The 1,220 possible cases reported in 2015 indicate a downward trend continues, however, authorities say the real number of this ‘hidden’ abuse is to likely be higher. In light of this let’s lift the lid on some of the disturbing facts, warning signs and legal implications related to this form of child abuse, in a bid to demonstrate a greater need for investment in education and training and a more proactive approach to prevent it happening to more girls.
The physical and emotional scars girls experience in a Forced Marriage last a lifetime, and as with all safeguarding issues, prevention is by far the most effective strategy.
A criminal offence in England and Wales since June 2014, forced marriage is the process of using violence, threats, or any other form of coercion to force another into marriage. Often confused with Arranged Marriage, whereby both spouses consent to their marriage, Forced Marriage is a hidden practice and many cases are unreported. Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to 7 years in prison. The civil law in England and Wales was also strengthened in 2014 by making the breach of a Forced Marriage Protection Order a criminal offence.
Women, men and children are at risk of Forced Marriage regardless of age or background. Research reflects that there is no predisposed group at risk, however often lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender people may be forced into marriage to protect family honour. Also persons with a learning or physical disability are also at risk by being forced into a marriage in order to provide them with a carer.
The motives for Forced Marriage are vast, transcending race, religion, communities and cultures. As the practice is so hidden (almost 80% of incidents reported in 2015 were from professionals, colleagues, friends or family, and only a small proportion from victims themselves), often victims come to the attention of multi-agency professionals in other ways, so it is imperative that all professionals working within statutory agencies are made aware of their responsibilities and obligations when they come across potential or actual Forced Marriage cases. One example is the “one chance” rule. The “one chance” rule highlights the urgent need to offer support on first contact with a potential or actual victim to safeguard them from harm or life threatening scenarios.
Here are just some of the potential indicators of risk:
If a frontline professional suspects or knows someone may or has been taken abroad to be forced into marriage they should contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) as a matter of urgency. For victims taken abroad, HM Government has made a welcomed move this year to support under 18s who get into difficulty abroad, abolishing the requirement for them to pay for, or seek a loan to cover their repatriation. British 16 and 17 year-olds who get into difficulty abroad will no longer have to reimburse the government the costs of their journey home, it has been announced. The department announced it would be reviewing this policy after the Guardian detailed the case of a 17-year-old British girl who arrived at the UK embassy in Islamabad in 2014, seeking help to escape a Forced Marriage. At SSS Learning, we would implore the Foreign Office to cover repatriation of British women of any age who are escaping Forced Marriage.
Victims who have fled a Forced Marriage remain vulnerable. When supporting victims, sharing information and record keeping, multi-agency professionals should be keenly aware of preserving confidentiality and be aware of the lengths families will go to trace the victim. If a family manages to trace a victim, they often subject them to violence and abuse and in some cases resort to murder under the claim of so called Honour Killing.
Information on Forced Marriage is becoming more widely available, however, multi-agency training is vital to ensure that it remains firmly on the safeguarding radar.
Contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or you need help leaving a marriage you’ve been forced into: email@example.com / Telephone: 020 7008 0151 / From overseas: +44 (0)20 7008 0151.
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Sam Preston, safeguarding specialist, urges government to focus on CPD and reformed systems to enable teaching professionals to protect Britain’s children and young people from abuse.
Failed succession planning and increased workloads have led to ongoing depleting skill sets now at a critical level. As the recent HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Commons Select Committee reports evidence, we are losing vital skills and expertise from two of Britain’s most important safeguarding bodies at a rapid rate, negatively impacting on service provision. Our protectors; teachers and the police are stretched to capacity, resulting in greater safeguarding risks than ever before. Today’s HMIC official warning states that a third of police services are rationing services, resulting in too long response rates for high risk calls including domestic violence and where children are at risk. Shortages of detectives in forces, 700 in the Met alone, mean that a detective has to manage in excess of 20 cases at any one time, an unacceptable workload, resulting in ill health and many experienced colleagues leaving the service. Despite the contraindicators of evidenced based research, officers are carrying out investigations without having completed specialist training. This includes rape and complex crime cases.
The recent report from the Commons Education Select Committee, evidences how HM Government has not only missed recruitment targets for five years in a row, but further suggests that recruitment of new teachers to address shortages will not address the need for improvement in service delivery. There has been little focus on retaining teachers with the skills and expertise, also essential to solve shortages, whose experience is critical if we are to effectively safeguarding children. Child protection, Child Sexual Exploitation, FGM, Prevent Duty, ‘Forced Marriage’; the safeguarding arena is vast and complex. We need policy to support the retention of experienced teachers who can utilise and extend their safeguarding expertise through ongoing CPD.
“Government must focus on the development and CPD needs of existing teachers, and invest in their careers. Safeguarding is a complex subject area, and relies upon continuous CPD and training to ensure schools understanding modern day safeguarding issues and comply with Department for Education and Ofsted Common Inspection requirements.”
Neil Carmichael echoes this sentiment in his recent post for the Times Educational Supplement CPD can power respect for the whole profession. The Education Committee Chair implores government to give teachers access to high-quality development throughout their careers to solve Britain’s recruitment and retention crisis. Recruitment may fill positions however, inexperience increases the risk of child abuse being undetected and impacts on the effectiveness of our educational system to prevent, intervene and support victims. If we lose experienced teachers, we lose not only the CPD investment schools and academies have made, but also damage our defences against child abuse.
One area that is particularly concerning, is the traditional model of training used by schools and academies. As Keeping Children Safe in Education (2016) evidences, to create a robust and efficient approach to safeguarding, all staff must be sufficiently trained and equipped in an ongoing basis with the latest knowledge and legislation. As schools and academies now recruit throughout the academic year, how can they meet this requirement and be confident that, at any given time, every single member of staff is sufficiently trained? Annual ‘all together’ sessional INSET just isn’t going to suffice, and this is where cracks in best practice can appear. Newly qualified teachers represent the next generation of teaching in our society. There is no doubt that they are enthusiastic, eager and committed, however, child protection skills are developed by both training and practice experience. Therefore, it is questionable to place this grave responsibility on them with little more than access to policy, briefings and limited mentoring of more experienced staff. Training models, including induction processes, urgently need to be restructured not only to protect children but to protect staff and their organisations. Put simply, if we are to learn lessons from serious case reviews, doing what we‘ve always done does not lead to improvement.
As we have seen over the last 20 years, the safeguarding remit is extending and is likely to become more challenging than ever. As former Chief Constable for Northumbria Sue Sim stated we cannot afford to continue working in “splendid isolation”. Now is the time to take on board these external findings, rethink the functionality of systems within all our professional organisations and boldly consider change.Fewer teachers and police officers increasing workloads mean that the ever-increasing safeguarding remit is likely to become more challenging than ever. We must focus investment on new models to support professionals or we run the risk of a practice lottery. A lottery that could cost children their lives.
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“If we can stamp out childhood abuse and neglect, we give young people a greater chance of cutting the cycle of self-harm and injury and give them a voice”, says safeguarding specialist Sam Preston this Self-Injury/Harm Awareness Day…
The link between abuse and neglect during childhood and self-harming behaviour as an adult has long been researched and founded. However, just last year, the number of children in England and Wales being hospitalised due to self-harm has risen sharply, highlighting a serious need for early intervention. This Self-Injury/Harm Awareness Day, we ask the big question: who will speak up for children and young people silenced by abuse?
Nearly 19,000 children were treated in hospital for self-harm last year, representing a 14 percent increase in cases over the past three years. Those aged between 13 and 17 were identified as highest risk by the NSPCC. Whilst different issues have linked to this rise, including social pressures and the rise of social network usage, the fundamental issue of abuse, whether that be bullying by peers, through to serious child protection issues, is still a large influence in those that go on to self-harm. The fact that we are seeing children as young as 12 taking such violent and drastic steps to alleviate their emotional pain and suffering is an urgent call to action.
One area that we deal with in our training courses, is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM); a practice which leaves far more than physical scars on its victims. Girls as young as three years-old are subjected to this brutal practice and thus, there are strong links to a multitude of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. Sadly, for some, self-harm is the release they use to deal with this drastic form of child abuse. As FGM is a cultural issue, it is not typically viewed as an abuse issue by the victim’s family, so it really is down to frontline professionals in our schools, doctor’s surgeries and hospitals to identify and report it.
Children and adults alike, often try to keep self-harm a secret because of shame or fear of discovery and typically, it is often down to close family and friends to notice it and open discussion. However, for many children who have gone on to self-harm due to abuse, it could be family or a friend that’s still responsible for that abuse. So, what more can be done to help those silenced by abuse to find their voice and open up about self-harm? This is where frontline professionals play an increasingly important role. Doctors, nurses, teachers together with voluntary workers are now legally bound to support, intervene and report suspected cases of abuse in the UK. In many cases, it’s their vigilance that is helping to protect so many children and young people, and for some, to cut the cycle of self-harm by helping them to open up about the problem.
To support young people, we must acknowledge that self-harm is a symptom rather than the core problem. It masks underlying emotional and psychological trauma and our strategies must take this into account. Effective safeguarding practice across the public sector is central to this strategy. A greater investment in quality, individual training for front-line professionals across all modern-day safeguarding issues which may be impacting upon a person’s mental health and wellbeing is critical. The deeper we can understand abuse and neglect cases and intervene early, the greater chance we have of reducing levels of self-harm amongst young people.
This Self-Injury/Harm Awareness Day we commend the thousands of frontline professionals working tirelessly to protect children and young people in Britain in a bid to provide a voice for those that are silenced.
Posted by SSS
SSS Learning’s safeguarding services and expertise have received a new industry accolade – approval from the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), the trade association for the world’s leading educational suppliers.
Working with over 100,000 frontline professionals to safeguard children and young people, SSS Learning meets the stringent business criteria and BESA Code of Practice to ensure that school and academy buyers have complete confidence in the goods and services they purchase.
In a time of budget uncertainty across the public sector, it is vital that schools and academies are working with assured suppliers. BESA represents members from across the UK educational suppliers sector, including manufacturers and distributors of equipment, materials, books, consumables, furniture, ICT hardware and EdTech to the education market.
Jon Case, CEO of SSS Learning said: “As an organisation serving the education sector, we deliver upon the core business principles of safety, reliability and value for money. Becoming a BESA member provides added security and peace of mind to customers and will enable us to broaden our services to help teachers protect many thousands more children and young people from abuse and neglect.”
SSS Learning delivers high quality, individual online safeguarding training covering a broad spectrum of issues, from child protection and child sexual exploitation (CSE), to Prevent Duty (radicalisation and extremism) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). For more information, please visit www.ssscpd.co.uk/education. You can also follow the SSS Learning community on Twitter and Facebook.
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On International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM 2017, we ask the big question: is this really a British priority?
Over 130 million girls and women globally have experienced some form of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM); an extreme type of child abuse affecting girls as young as three years-old. But, as estimated statistics show, it mostly happens to girls outside the UK, so should this be a British priority?
“You wouldn’t look the other way at knife or gun crime, and FGM is no different. It’s a violent crime, an abuse and defilement of human rights resulting in long standing physical and emotional difficulties. Shockingly, an estimated 5,700 UK resident girls and young women have been cut so clearly FGM remains a British safeguarding priority”
- Sam Preston, e-learning & training director, SSS Learning Ltd.
Classed as an honour-based crime, whereby acts of violence are committed to protect the perceived reputation and / or beliefs of the family or community, FGM isn’t right and certainly isn’t legal. Violence against women committed in the name of “honour” is a growing problem in Britain with UK police forces reporting 11,744 honour based crimes between 2010 and 2014. These figures include FGM abuse.
In most European countries, HBV is almost entirely associated with immigrant communities maintaining the tribal or cultural values of the country of origin. Research indicates that HBV is more prevalent in first-generation immigrant populations, which highlights the importance of greater integration of minority communities as key to reducing this violence.
From a child protection perspective, the known statistics are largely unhelpful; every girl living in the UK should be protected from abuse. As frontline professionals, it’s our legal duty to report all suspected cases to the police.
“You wouldn’t look the other way at knife or gun crime, and FGM is no different.”
Amongst the vast research and projects being conducted globally, it is encouraging to see fantastic new work being done in the UK and Ireland. Just this month, ActionAid Ireland has launched new research as part of its its AFTER (Against Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting Through Empowerment and Rejection) project to empower women in Ireland to reject FGM, whilst rights-based group Oxford Against Cutting is releasing its ‘Are You Ready to Know?’ film, documenting the impact of FGM on our women. Great things are also happening across Europe as we saw BanFGM take place in Rome last week. The conference drew together campaign groups, United Nations (UN) officials and government ministers to discuss how to end the practice and called for attention to be focused beyond Africa.
Whilst work around the world focuses on discouragement of FGM in practicising communities, the challenge in the UK is altogether different. Here, we must focus efforts on training our frontline professionals to proficiently spot the warning signs and intervene early, before British girls undergo FGM. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for daughters to report their families to the authorities, this is something that will just never happen.
“If FGM practitioners and communities are to be brought to prosecution under UK child protection law, we must arm teachers, doctors, nurses and voluntary sector workers with the right training to embed this concern in the child protection remit.”
- Sam Preston, e-learning & training director, SSS Learning Ltd.
FGM is ILLEGAL in Britain and has been since 1985 - that’s the bottom line. Interestingly, during ActionAid Ireland’s AFTER research last year, it was discovered that less than 1 in 5 women’s health service providers were aware that FGM is also illegal in Ireland and less than 30% of the participants had received some training on FGM as part of general trainings on violence against women.
So, what can be done in times of austerity and budget uncertainty here in the UK? If the latest news is anything to go by, then reform is much needed - just this month we’ve witnessed the closure of a top London FGM clinic, with Ealing Council citing budget constraints as the key deciding factor. The Acton African Well Woman Centre has helped over 1000 women deal with the trauma of FGM.
We believe that high quality e-learning is an effective solution, replacing cost prohibitive face-to-face training and embedding informed practice across the public sector. Our online training courses alone have already helped over 100,000 frontline professionals to become individually certified in the latest child protection issues. In addition, where prevention is too late, our training also ensures professionals are properly equipped to support FGM victims. A key point addressed in the Government’s ‘Ending Violence against Women and Girls Strategy 2016 - 2020’ is that, in order to tackle violence against women and girls, it must be everybody’s business. From health providers to law enforcement, educationalists, employers, friends and family we all need to be equipped to play our part.
UNICEF says that as many as 30 million girls could be cut in the next decade - let’s work together to address this and do our part in ensuring British women do not contribute to this figure!
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting or FGM/C refers to all procedures that involve partial or total destruction of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. In some countries around the world, mainly in Africa, FGM/C is a harmful cultural practice and an extreme form of sanctioned violence and discrimination against women.
Posted by Sam Preston
The safety and welfare of British children could become high risk, as SENCos, amongst many vital support staff roles are axed in a bid to batten down the hatches. According to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the recent freeze on school funding has led to more than a quarter of the 1300 schools it surveyed being prepared to make cuts in teachers and support staff.
In a time of austerity, where schools are losing vital safeguarding expertise with, in some cases, even part-time support staff are being drafted in, the question is what can be done to ensure that the remaining staff are proficiently trained in child protection?
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Dave Hill, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services for 2016-17, shared his hope for the care system in 2017, quoting a much needed shift in how we invest our money, with an even stronger emphasis placed on early help. He went on to highlight how, in some councils, out of necessity, limited resources are used on high-end services – “firefighting&rdquot; rather than investing in preventative services. Frontline professionals in schools have a vital role to play here, with secondary school students spending over 700 hours each year under their care.
Now, for those teachers and support staff that do weather the storm, workload is inevitably going to rise. Safeguarding relies upon extreme vigilance and regular communication between staff and agencies and as resource pressures set in, where is this going to come from? Just this week, BBC News reported that support staff in Scotland’s schools are feeling exhausted, undervalued and stressed, according to Unison. The trade union said over 1800 jobs supporting teachers in schools had gone since 2010 which is having a direct impact on the workload of those remaining in post.
And finally, to the Department for Education, where the answer to the budget cut conundrum is to cut mainstream school “workforces” by £1.7bn over the next three years, I ask this: Where is the time and money going to come from to ensure the stalwarts still in post are properly trained and have the expertise to protect Britain’s children?
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Schools and nurseries can now deliver the highest quality safeguarding training to meet statutory and Ofsted inspection requirements, whilst making vast cost savings with SSS Learning’s new e-learning courses, debuting at the Education Show 2017 (stand H81).
Developed as a ‘much needed’ catalyst for change in safeguarding training, the concise courses are fully CPD-accredited and certify individual educators, replacing ‘often insufficient or costly’ traditional group training methods.
Already used by over 60,000 frontline professionals to help protect children and young people from a broad spectrum of issues, the courses cover a broad spectrum of issues; from child protection and child sexual exploitation (CSE), to forced marriage and honour based violence, prevent duty (radicalisation and extremism) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The updated DFE (2016) Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance emphasises the importance of regular updates and annual Safeguarding / Child Protection training. Under the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework, safeguarding remains a limiting judgement. SSS Learning's secure online CPD accredited safeguarding courses enable schools and academies to meet this remit.
Sam Preston, eLearning and Training Director, SSS Learning said: “Our individual, online courses can be completed anytime, anywhere. All you need is an internet connection, enabling staff to fit training in around their busy schedules. Each engaging training video can be viewed individually, or even as a group during INSET and then every participant must log-on and complete the assessment. This ensures that every single member of staff is individually certified. Historically, most tutor-led, group training is delivered by INSET sessions on-site which is can be problematic. Fixed session INSET relies on the provider having the specialist area skillset which may not be setting or inspection requirement specific, individual learning outcomes cannot be not fully evaluated and those absent or staff recruited post INSET have to wait for refresher training which may be as long as a year later.
“As the courses are delivered online, SSS Learning has achieved significant cost savings for schools. The organisation utilises the very latest e-Learning technologies and techniques, using combined animation and video to produce high-quality online training courses engaging every learner. Individual progress can be monitored through the administration portal enabling leaders to monitor and ensure learning is secure.”
For further information, please visit the team on stand H81 at the Education Show (16th – 18th March 2017, NEC Birmingham), visit the web site at www.ssslearning.co.uk or call 029 2059 7000. You can also follow us on Twitter (@SSSLearning), Facebook (facebook.com/SSSLearning) or connect with us on LinkedIn.
Posted by Sam Preston
Aisha* is seven years-old and like many children her age, is excited about the presents and parties most of us look forward to at Christmas here in the UK. However, for Aisha, her ‘special party’ involves traveling abroad to be brutally mutilated to ‘fit in’ with her family’s culture.
This Christmas, girls as young as three years-old are at risk of being subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as their families make the trip during the extended school break. Over 5,700 British girls were subjected to this abuse just last year.
This form of abuse is most common in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, however it is happening both here in the UK as well as abroad. If a girl is British born, she is protected under our law, and FGM is illegal whether it’s conducted here or abroad.
Carried out as a cultural ‘rite of passage’, girls are subjected to intense physical and emotional pain as they fall victim to one of four types of FGM, all resulting in the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. Carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts, the health implications of FGM are both immediate and long-term, affecting sex, relationships, childbirth and mental wellbeing throughout a woman’s life. Sadly, families who support the practice of FGM don’t think of it as abuse so it’s up to us as frontline professionals to support and protect these young girls.
As the Christmas break approaches, it is vital that health, education and voluntary sector professionals are properly trained and extra vigilant. The Christmas holidays is a prime time for FGM to take place, as this allows more time for them to “heal” before they return to school. Teachers, doctors and nurses should listen out for certain terminology such as cutting, sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, amongst others, or that young girls are being taken abroad for a ‘special party’.
If FGM is suspected, even if it’s not recently, all frontline professionals are legally obligated to report it to the police. There are now severe penalties for carrying out or facilitating FGM to be carried out, including taking a girl abroad for the procedure. In addition, if anyone (including teachers) is found guilty of failing to protect a girl from FGM, they can face up to seven years in prison.
In an education and societal system which promotes women’s rights, aims to blast the glass ceiling and help our young women excel in a plethora of career options including science and engineering, such deep-rooted inequality and discrimination has no place in the UK. If we unite as frontline professionals, the fight to end FGM is within our grasp!
If you suspect that FGM might take place, it is imperative that you follow the correct safeguarding and reporting procedures. The new statutory requirements for all professionals in relation to the reporting of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) introduced last October are available online here.
Posted by Sam Preston
Whilst Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) has been firmly embedded in the safeguarding remit for schools and academies through legislative and inspection frameworks, the allegation of abuse made by former England international football player Paul Stewart now casts the spotlight on other organisations working with and supporting children and young people. In a BBC interview yesterday, Mr Stewart described how abuse of young boys training to become footballers was not uncommon, alleging he himself had been a victim over a four year period by a club coach. He stated that “the sport could face allegations on the scale of the Jimmy Savile scandal”. Within 24 hours of this statement four more footballers have spoken out about historical child abuse connected with the sport. Ex-Crewe player Andy Woodward has described having experienced abuse by former coach and football scout Barry Bennell who, in 1998, was sentenced to nine years in prison after admitting to sexual offences involving six boys.
Power and control are the powerful grooming mediums CSE perpetrators skilfully use to manipulate and dominate children. It is easy to see how young boys dreaming of a football career in a competitive environment could be vulnerable to such perpetrators, adults they believe are key to making their dream a reality. Whilst these allegations place scrutiny on the world of football, it would be naïve to believe this is the only sport where children are vulnerable.
Current legislation to protect children and young people only places demands for comprehensive safeguarding arrangements on those working within education, health and social care. Safeguarding children within sport and leisure activities is at the discretion of the organisation or club, there are no inspection frameworks to measure quality or performance. Most clubs / organisations now carry out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) vetting checks however this is only a small part of the safeguarding agenda. Such checks will only prevent those legally prohibited or who have previous convictions from working with children. They provide no safeguarding measure against the perpetrator unknown to the police or state.
We need to widen the scope to protect children involved in sport and leisure activities at all levels. To do this effectively requires robust safeguarding policy and protocols, routinely audited to make sure they are transferred into everyday practice. All adults involved in the delivery and support of such services must have access to high quality, accredited training to enable a culture of collective responsibility. Only then will we foster the vigilance needed to protect and keep children safe.
Posted by Sam Preston
This International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25th November 2016), I want to commend the tireless work our frontline professionals across education, healthcare and the voluntary sector are doing every single day to help protect Britain’s young girls from child abuse. To do this effectively though requires investment in individualised training readily available to all.
This year, we are focusing on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), an extreme form of violence against young girls’ way before womanhood is even on the horizon. Whilst to some it may appear to be an issue affecting distant parts of the world, the harsh reality is, that just last year 5,700 British girls as young as three years-old suffered this violation of human rights at the hands of ‘cultural beliefs’. It is every girl’s birth rite to grow up in a safe environment and enter womanhood free from abuse. Whilst our education, healthcare and voluntary sector workers strive to provide united protection, there is still much to be done to end FGM for Britons, let alone globally.
We believe that high quality e-learning provides the much needed investment injection to equip individual teachers, nurses, GPs, care workers and voluntary sector staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to identify and support young girls at risk. In addition, where prevention is too late, training can also ensure professionals are equipped to support FGM victims. A key point addressed in the Government’s ‘Ending Violence against Women and Girls Strategy 2016 - 2020’ is that in order to tackle violence against women and girls, it must be everybody’s business. From health providers to law enforcement, educationalists, employers, friends and family we all need to play our part.
The report also emphasises the action needed to allow women to disclose violence as part of their everyday interactions so that we can support earlier identification and intervention to stop violence and abuse from escalating to critical levels.
Significant new legislation such as the Home Office Affairs Committee this autumn is now in place and s pecific offences related to failing to protect from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), however, the training I see as a safeguarding specialist, particularly in schools, demonstrates a need for a serious shake-up. Currently, there’s no official guidance or advice on methods of training, simply that it must take place annually. Educators play such an important role in child protection, should we not be approaching it in the same way as CRB checks, or even the driving test? Shouldn’t every single teacher/support staff member be individually trained, assessed and certified?
To gather large groups of teaching staff together all on one day, once a year, to complete safeguarding training, usually conducted on an INSET day is no mean feat. People may be absent and like new staff members joining during the year, have to wait until the next planned session. Training in large groups makes it difficult to assess individual learning outcomes. In any group of people, there will be a varied range of prior knowledge, those more confident to participate and then there are those inhibited by informal hierarchies who are more comfortable sitting back and observing. How can we be sure in group training that every single person leaves the session competent and confident to deal with modern safeguarding issues? Whilst individual face-to-face training is unfeasible financially, e-learning is playing a key role in safeguarding training. Online learning anytime, anywhere is a mantra we advocate as educationalists, and this is making a huge impact in teacher training across many disciplines.
We’re already working with over 60,000 people to protect children and young people from abuse and in the next 12 months we aim to add thousands to this number so that by International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2017, thousands more girls are protected, enabling them to achieve their full potential unhindered by abuse.
Posted by Sam Preston
Following recent criticism in the handling of child missing cases and aspects of the serial killer Stephen Port investigation, today has seen further pressure on police forces to improve their child protection arrangements following the damming findings of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary on the London Metropolitan police’s performance in dealing with child sexual abuse.
Inspectors findings revealed that in over 75% of cases reviewed, practice was judged to be inadequate or in need of improvement. Much of the report focused on failings in leadership and management together with a lack of information sharing (internally and externally) however, the most worrying aspect revealed by the report is that staff, including child sexual exploitation officers, had not received any CSE training.
In a statement responding to the findings, the Met reassured the public that officers were “dedicated to protecting vulnerable young people” but, whilst no one would challenge the Met’s commitment to protect vulnerable children, surely high quality CSE training is a key priority to enable best practice.
In response, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has stated the report findings are “simply unacceptable and things must change” and plans to improve the service with “a new independent group of child protection experts”. Whilst this response is welcomed and will no doubt inform improvement, it falls short from addressing the key issue, that of failure to invest in high quality CSE cpd training for Met officers.
As we have seen in education, health and social care settings, without this investment practice will simply not improve and children will remain at risk.
Posted by SSS
There has been much media comment on this week’s BBC2 Savile documentary, where Louis Theroux bravely reflected on his much publicised previous contact and friendship with Jimmy Savile. Filmed nearly five years after Savile’s death, Theroux set out to explore how someone so much in public eye could dupe those around him. Whilst it is understandable that the victims he preyed upon felt unable to expose the true Savile, it would be naïve to believe that his colleagues, friends and associates had no concerns over his behaviour. Indeed, as the footage from the first Theroux documentary revealed he blatantly displayed inappropriate behaviour in public settings which was not questioned or challenged.
But that is the MO of the abuser. They are coercive, exert control and have the ability to manipulate those around them to believe challenge unthinkable. Even an investigative reporter of Theroux’s calibre was, as a victim described, “hoodwinked”.
What this documentary demonstrates is that, without a sense of collective responsibility and sharing of information, working in silos enables perpetrators to exploit. As many child abuse cases have shown, infrastructures for multi-agency information sharing are still not robust. Current models must be further developed to enable everyone to feel confident in reacting to child abuse. Only then will we move away from a blame culture, which impacts negatively on information sharing, to clear accountability.
Sadly, even though Dame Janet Smith’s report revealed 72 people were sexually abused by Saville whilst he was employed by the BBC, there will be no criminal investigation of the damming and disturbing evidence of his victims and they are left to come to terms with this. Although clearly disturbed by his own failure to question Savile’s behaviour sixteen years ago, one must praise Theroux for the honesty portrayed in his new documentary. Like many people left in a similar situation he will undoubtedly continue to ask himself should I have done more?
Posted by SSS
UK teachers are now being trained individually online how to identify those at risk or suffering from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and protect Britain’s young girls from extreme child abuse.
Developed by SSS Learning as a ‘much needed’ catalyst for change in safeguarding training the hour-long course is fully CPD-accredited and certifies individual educators, replacing ‘often insufficient’ traditional group training methods.
“Performed both in the UK and abroad on girls as young as three years old, FGM is a complex, cross-cultural issue which requires a thorough understanding of its origins, forms and how to efficiently identify those at risk” says SSS Learning Director Sam Preston.
As a former local authority child protection expert, Sam feels, when planning training it is vital “to consider that members of staff in all likelihood will have varied levels of understanding of the topic which may also include knowledge which is not evidence based, making individual assessment critical to ensure that the desired learning outcomes are properly understood.”
Historically, most training is delivered by INSET sessions on-site which is problematic. It relies on the provider having the specialist area skillset which may not be setting or inspection requirement specific, learning is not fully evaluated and those absent or staff recruited post INSET have to wait for refresher training which may be as long as a year later.
New statutory requirements for all professionals in relation to the reporting of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) were introduced in October 2015. By completing this module, teachers will gain the latest information on this topic, legislative requirements and a clear understanding of their role in supporting those affected and reporting pathways.
The course also meets the Department for Education (DfE) 2016 Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance which emphasizes the importance of regular updates and annual safeguarding / child protection training.
Sam adds: “Fundamentally, FGM is child abuse under UK law, and it is our mandatory duty to safeguard both those we deem vulnerable, and those where intervention has been too late. This new course will help every educator play an ever vital role in our cross-disciplinary approach to FGM child protection.”
The organisation works with over 60,000 frontline professionals across the education, healthcare & third/voluntary sectors.
Posted by Sam Preston
Whilst the recommendations of the Home Office Affairs Committee on FGM released today are welcomed, in reality how practically can we expect rapid progress within educational settings? As the report correctly identifies, FGM is child abuse and should be a key area of safeguarding for all frontline practitioners. However, in my experience as a safeguarding advisor the quality and current level of training inadequately prepares teachers and support staff to fulfil their FGM prevention, awareness reporting roles. In fact, I have never visited a school where the impact of FGM training has been assessed or evaluated in practice.
The call yet again for PSHE to be made a statutory part of the curriculum and include discussing FGM with pupils will require teachers to have a sound knowledge base together with transferable practice skills when FGM concerns are raised. The only way this can be achieved is by access to high quality training where learning is firmly embedded. I believe it is time to revisit traditional training models in schools and academies. Currently, training is delivered by INSET sessions on-site which is problematic. It relies on the provider having the specialist area skillset which may not be setting or inspection requirement specific, learning is not fully evaluated and those absent have to wait for refresher training which may be as long as a year later. Surely e-learning has a key role to play to reassure leadership that all new staff are trained as part of their induction and existing staff gain secure subject knowledge. This offers the opportunity for any further training to be setting specific, where bespoke protocols can be developed by informed staff.
On the BBC today Naz Shah MP, a member of the FGM Home Affairs Committee, stated frontline practitioners should lose their jobs if they fail to report FGM but perhaps her attention would be better focused on how we enable them to deliver a very full safeguarding remit.