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Sharing Concerns

Woodcraft Folk recognises that it can be difficult for people who have concerns about the safety and wellbeing of a child to seek help. You may be worried in case you are wrong or do not know what to do for the best, but it is important to share your concerns to ensure the child gets any help or support they might need.

Making a referral is the best way to support the child; by sharing your concerns you can:

  • Quickly alleviate your fears by finding out additional information that explains what you have observed
  • Increase the support available to the child and their family
  • Put a stop to abuse

Who should I discuss my concerns with?

The first point of contact for any concerns about a child or young person should normally be your Local Safeguarding Lead. If your concern relates to your Local Safeguarding Lead you should contact Woodcraft Folk’s Lead Safeguarding Officer by emailing or calling 020 8126 8307.

If you are unsure about whether to share a concern, you can seek advice or reassurance your group co-ordinator or via the NSPCC helpline (0808 800 5000)

If you believe that a child or young person is in immediate danger, you should contact local children’s social care, or call 999 for the police, as these agencies can remove a child to a place of safety.

What happens next?

Local Safeguarding Leads will share safeguarding concerns with Woodcraft Folk’s Lead Safeguarding Officer. This may result in an agreement to monitor the situation for a period of time, a referral to the relevant Safeguarding Children’s Board or Child Protection Team, or reporting a possible offence to police. If the concerns relate to concerns about another volunteer, a recommendation for additional training, or a risk assessment of their continued involvement in Woodcraft Folk’s activities may also follow.

What to look for

A concern should be raised if is believed that any of the following are happening or have happened to a child:

  • Neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse

These types of abuse can often overlap, so in some cases a child may suffer from more than one type of abuse.

Recognising Abuse

Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. 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 a stranger. They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children.

It is important to note that some children may demonstrate some of the above indicators of abuse – it does not automatically mean they are being abused. If a child demonstrates a number of different indicators, and particularly if their behaviour changes, please refer.


Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy, for example 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 and 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)
  • Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs

Indicators include:

  • Slow growth and development
  • Chronic nappy rash
  • Cold and puffy hands and feet
  • Child’s basic needs consistently not met e.g. food, warmth, clothing, hygiene, safety, affection, stimulation
  • Situations where young children are left alone without a carer
  • Children deliberately exposed to grave risks
  • Parents/carers fail or refuse to seek medical advice, therapeutic input or medical treatment

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, 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 or, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.

Indicators include:

  • Multiple or repetitive bruising/scratches of different ages
  • Fingertip bruising
  • Grip/slap marks
  • Bite marks
  • Unconscious child-may have been poisoned/is bleeding internally
  • Injuries/fractures in children who are not mobile
  • Allegedly unnoticed fractures in children – fractures cause pain
  • Inappropriate clothing – used to cover up bruises

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is 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 children that they are worthless or unloved, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that 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 ill-treatment of another. It may also involve serious 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.

Indicators include:

  • Lack of self-esteem, identify and positive self-image
  • Withdrawn aggressive behaviour, self-harm, mutilation, substance misuse, suicide attempts
  • Eating disorders
  • Children who appear to be unused to praise or encouragement
  • Children who are rejected by a parent/carer/sibling
  • Experiencing bullying at school, in the community, by another family member
  • Experiencing racism or other discrimination such as in connection to appearance, gender, sexuality, disability etc.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative (e.g. rape, buggery or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual online images, watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Indicators include:

  • Sexual acts
  • Excessive sexual play and masturbation
  • Sexually transmitted disease
  • Pregnancy, especially concealed
  • Witnessing sexual acts
  • Self-harm/substance misuse/suicide attempts
  • Eating disorders
  • Nightmares/disturbed sleep
  • Wetting/soling etc.
  • Significant changes to behaviour/personality
  • Persistent offending, non-school attendance, running away

Approval Date: June 2021

Review Date: June 2024


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