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Safeguarding is at the heart of what we do. We take every opportunity to safeguard and protect those at risk of abuse / neglect. Our core values mean that any member of staff who comes into contact with a child, young person or adult at risk of abuse / neglect, has a responsibility to promote their welfare and keep them safe.
In order to fulfil our safeguarding duty we work very closely with our partners in social care and the police. This helps us to identify and minimise the risks to vulnerable children, young people and adults who may come to harm as a result of abuse and neglect.
Abuse of adults and children has many common features but it is easier to understand if we think about these types of abuse separately.
What is a child?
A child is anyone aged up to 18 years.
What is child abuse / neglect?
This as an action by another person – adult / child – which causes significant harm to a child. It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but it can just as often be about lack of love, care and attention. It is known that neglect, whatever form it takes, can be just as damaging to a child as physical abuse (NSPCC).
Child abuse also includes the impact of domestic abuse, and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
A common process that we should all be aware of is 'grooming'. Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purpose of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, trafficking or radicalisation. Children and young people can be groomed online or face to face, by a stranger or by someone they know e.g. a family member, friend or professional (NSPCC).
What should you do if you suspect child abuse / neglect?
If you are worried about a baby, child or young person you can report your concerns to North Somerset Children’s Social Care. Call 01275 888808 or out of hours 01454 615165. If you are concerned about the immediate welfare of a child then you should contact the police via 999.
There are a number of appropriate help lines which you may also find useful such as Childline.
What is an adult at risk?
An adult at risk is someone who is 18 years old and has care and support needs who may, or may not, be getting formal help and support. These adults may be experiencing, or be at risk of, abuse or neglect and due to their care and support needs may be unable to protect themselves.
Who abuses adults?
Anyone can be an abuser. This includes relatives, partners, people paid to provide care and services, volunteers, neighbours, friends, strangers and other service users. Most abusers are close to the adult and they are often loved and trusted by them. However, some people will deliberately abuse adults they see as an easy target such as the elderly or people with learning disabilities.
What types of abuse are there?
The following is a brief list and gives an indication of the types of abuse someone may suffer:
- Physical abuse such as misusing medication, restraint, force feeding, failing to provide physical care, physical injury
- Domestic violence can include, but is not limited to, coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat or physical / sexual violence), psychological / sexual / physical / emotional abuse (Women’s Aid).
- Sexual abuse. This includes rape or sexual assault / acts to which the individual has not consented.
- Psychological abuse. This includes humiliating the person or blaming / controlling behaviour towards them.
- Financial or material abuse such as fraud, pressure in connection with wills, inheritance.
- Discriminatory abuse where individuals receive maltreatment because of e.g. sexuality, race, disability.
- Modern slavery can include victims who have been brought from overseas / vulnerable people in the UK who are forced to work against their will.
- Organisational abuse. This abuse occurs within a residential / care home / hospital or care service setting.
- Neglect and acts of omission where medical or physical needs are ignored or necessities for life e.g. food / warmth may be withheld.
- Self-neglect. This is a complex set of behaviours where an individual may chose to neglect their own basic, health and care needs.
This is not an exhaustive list; it is often difficult to put abuse under a particular heading.
What should you do about abuse / neglect?
You may be being abused yourself and want it to stop or you may be concerned about someone you know. They may have told you something, or you may have seen or heard something that makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy.
It is important that we look out for vulnerable adults in our community and offer them the protection they need. If you are concerned about an adult who may be at risk of being ill-treated, neglected or at risk of harm then you can refer your concerns to Care Connect, call 01275 888801 or out of hours 01454 615165.
If a serious physical or sexual assault has taken place and the adult is at immediate risk the call the Police on 999. You can report any criminal offence by calling 101.
Support from other organisations
The NSPCC specialise in child protection and the prevention of cruelty to children. The NSPCC can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, text on 88858 or called on 0808 800 5000. Click the logo to visit the website.
Childline is a free counselling service for children and young people aged 19 and below provided by the NSPCC. Click the logo to visit the website or call 0800 1111.
Are you aware of someone who has done something online that has made you, a child or young person you know feel worried or unsafe? Report this to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, click the logo to do this.
The Silver Line is a free, confidential helpline which provides information, friendship and advice to older people. It's open 24 hours a day, every day. Call 0800 470 8090 or click the logo to visit the website.
Contact A Family is a national charity which provides advice, information and support to all families with disabled children regardless of disability. Call 0808 808 3555 or click the logo to visit the website.