Child Protection Policy - Signs of Abuse

 Signs Of Abuse

There are many situations where child abuse of an emotional, neglectful, physical or sexual nature can occur. Children who have suffered or are suffering from abuse may not readily disclose or wish to talk about their experiences. Where abuse is alleged, the disclosure may take place in any setting and it may be forthright, or occur in the context of a general conversation. Alternatively, you may suspect a child is being abused.

While child abuse, alleged or suspected, can be an unpleasant and overwhelming issue to deal with, it must always be remembered that the child or young person is the victim.

Definitions of Abuse

For the purpose of the Policy and Procedures adopted by FHMI in protecting children from harm and abuse, a child will be defined as a "child or young person under the age of 18", as specified in the Children Order 1995 and Article 1 Of the UNCRC.

Abusers are potentially any adult although there is evidence to suggest older children have also the same potential to abuse. Bearing this in mind, abuse should be a major concern for all staff, volunteers and members of FHMI.

There are four categories of abuse, the definitions of which are based upon those contained within the Guidance and Regulations, Vol.6. "Co-operating To Protect Children", Children (NI) Order 1995 and "Setting the Standard - A Common Approach to Child Protection for International NGOs" published by Tearfund and the NSPCC. These are:

Neglect: The actual or likely persistent or significant neglect of a child from exposure to any kind of danger, including cold or starvation, or persistent failure to carry out important aspects of care, resulting in the significant impairment of the child's health or development, including non - organic failure to thrive.

Physical Abuse: Actual or likely deliberate physical injury to a child, or wilful or neglectful failure to prevent physical injury or suffering to a child. This includes hitting or smacking Children with any implement. All disciplinary measures/sanctions must be non-violent as stated in Article 19 of the UNCRC..

Sexual Abuse: Actual or likely exploitation of a child. The involvement of children and adolescents in sexual activities they do not truly comprehend, to which they are unable to give informed consent or that violate the social taboos of family roles.

Emotional Abuse: Actual or likely persistent or significant emotional ill- treatment or rejection resulting in severe adverse effects on the emotional, physical and / or behavioural development of a child. All abuse involves some emotional ill-treatment. Persistent humiliation of a child would also come under this section.

Suspicion of abuse

Suspicion of abuse is difficult for untrained personnel to detect.

You must be:

  • Vigilant and observe any physical injuries such as bruising, changes in a child's behaviour or emotional state for which there appears to be no apparent reason (see Appendix 1 as a general guide).

  • Take written notes detailing your observations, including the day(s), time(s) and place where your suspicion was alerted.

In a case of suspected abuse, there are no definitive guidelines for recognising the signs and/or symptoms. It must be remembered more than one type of abuse may be taking place or has occurred, therefore, a child may show a combination of signs and symptoms from one or more of the categories listed.

There are various ways in which you may become aware of the actual or likely occurrence of abuse:

  • a child may tell you

  • someone else may tell you that a child has told them or that they strongly believe a child has been or is being abused

  • a child may show some signs of physical injury for which there appears to be no satisfactory explanation

  • a child's behaviour may indicate to you that it is likely that he or she is being abused

  • something about a person's behaviour or the way he/she relates to a child alerts you

  • Your awareness of or suspicion about abuse may come about as a result of something disclosed to you by a third party who suspects or has been told of the abuse

  • You suspect an inappropriate or harmful relationship between an adult and a child