Deciding if a concern is a child protection issue
If a child or young person displays inappropriate or harmful behaviour, you should inform your nominated child protection lead.
> Find out more about recognising and responding to abuse
Your organisation's nominated child protection lead should decide what action to take, in consultation with:
- the person who is responsible for the supervision or pastoral care of the children involved
- the senior manager, governor and/or trustee responsible for safeguarding
- any other agencies you know are working with the child
- the local child protection services as necessary.
When an allegation is a child protection concern
An allegation becomes a child protection concern when:
- the behaviour involves sexual assault or physical assault
- the child who has experienced the abusive behaviour has suffered significant harm
- the behaviour forms part of a pattern of concerning behaviour by the child or young person who is being abusive
- the child carrying out the abuse is displaying sexualised behaviour
- you are concerned that the child carrying out the abuse may be doing so because they have experienced abuse themselves.
It is also a child protection concern when there's a significant difference of power between the child who is displaying abusive behaviour and the person being abused, for example when:
- there's an age difference of more than two years
- there's a significant difference in terms of size or level of ability
- the child displaying abusive behaviour holds a position of power (such as being a helper, volunteer or informal leader)
- the child being abused is significantly more vulnerable than the other child or young person.
If a young person in your organisation has been involved in sexting (sharing nude images), there are extra factors to consider.
> Read about responding to incidents involving sexting
When you're not sure
If you aren't sure whether you need to have a child protection response, you can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Our trained professionals will talk through your concerns with you, give you expert advice and take action to protect the child as appropriate. This may include making a referral to the local authority.
You should also discuss the matter with your local authority child protection services.
If you think a child is in immediate danger, contact the police on 999. If you're worried about a child but they are not in immediate danger, you should share your concerns.
- Follow your organisational child protection procedures. Organisations that work with children and families must have safeguarding policies and procedures in place.
- Report to the police as appropriate (for example, if an allegation of physical or sexual assault or a sexual offence is made). This should happen alongside a making a referral to children’s social care, following local authority guidelines.
- Contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or by emailing email@example.com. Our trained professionals will talk through your concerns with you and give you expert advice.
- Contact the Report Abuse in Education helpline if you work in a school setting on 0800 136 663 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Contact your local child protection services. Their contact details can be found on the website for the local authority the child lives in.
If statutory agencies are investigating and assessing the situation you should stay in contact with them and share all relevant information with multi-agency partners.
> Find out about the best practice for multi-agency working