You will need to develop particular skills for use in situations where
abuse is suspected and where it is confirmed.
Children may tell you or show you they are being abused, so you will
need to handle disclosure. You may also observe and monitor abused
This may involve recording your findings for...
referral to other agencies and professionals
liaison with staff, parents and carers.
Working with abused children will also involve...
helping to alleviate the effects of abuse and managing difficult behaviour
having regular contact with families, including those members who committ
To practice in a professional way it is essential to...
recognise your own reaction to child abuse issues
put the needs of children and their families before your own needs
acknowledge the physical and emotional stress of working in these situations
make provision to receive support
form good working relationships with staff team members
talk about and share your feelings with appropriate people.
Many of the skills required in these situations can be learned and developed
during practice, supervised by experienced professionals.
Dealing With Disclosure
In any day-care setting, it is possible that children will tell you they are
being abused; in other words they will disclose and report child abuse, in a full and open way.
Alternatively they may, through words or behaviour, hint that abuse may have
taken place; in other words they will disclose in a partial, hidden or indirect
This may happen at inappropriate or pressured times and in awkward situations.
You will need to be prepared to respond sensitively and appropriately, both
immediately, at initial disclosure, and later on.
Responding to Disclosure
It is not possible to say exactly what you should do when children tell you
they have been, or are being abused. The points below are only guidelines.
You need to draw on your communication skills and adapt your approach according
to the age and stage of development of the child.
Listen and be prepared to spend time and not hurry the child. Use active listening
skills. Do not interrogate them and avoid using questions beginning why? how?
when? where? or who?
Do not ask leading questions, putting words into children's mouths, for example
'This person abused you, then?
Reassure them truthfully. Tell them they are not odd or unique; you believe them;
you are glad they told you; it is not their fault; they were brave to tell;
you are sorry it happened.
Find out what they are afraid of, so you know how best to help. They may have
been threatened about telling.
Be prepared to record what the child tells you, as soon as possible (within 24
hours), comprehensively, accurately and legibly, with the date of the disclosure.
Let the child know why you are going to tell someone else.
Consult your senior (designated person), your agency's guidelines, or if you are
working in isolation, for example nannying, an appropriate professional you think
will be able to help. This may be a social worker, a health visitor, a police
officer, or an NSPCC child protection officer.
Seek support with your personal emotional reactions and needs from an appropriate
colleague or professional.
All observations and assessments, including for example percentile charts, need to
be recorded regularly and accurately, and dated in order to provide documented
evidence for all those involved with the child.
Do not attempt to deal with the issue by yourself. Disclosure is a beginning, but
by itself will not prevent further abuse.
The Child-Care Worker's Role
Observation, Monitoring And Recording
In order to recognise and understand the
effects of abuse, skills in observation, monitoring and recording are
These skills, useful in the early recognition of abuse, can also be used to
monitor progress or regression in each aspect of children's development.
Careful monitoring can highlight the long-term effects of abuse on individual
children, and enable staff to work out plans to alleviate these effects and to
monitor their success.
Monitoring is particularly important where progress is slow or erratic, and it
is easy to think no progress has been made. It is also important in cases where re-abuse is suspected.
Referral And Liaison
Child abuse should never be dealt with exclusively by one person.
highlight the importance of inter-agency co-operation and the need for different
professionals to work closely together.
In your establishment you need to know...
the designated person responsible for child abuse
who you are directly responsible to
the roles and responsibilities of the team of people involved with the child, and when
to refer to other professionals inside and outside the establishment.
Team work involves liaison, sharing of information and planning. The following guidelines
are important when providing information to other professionals about child abuse...
Information should be relevant, accurate and up-to-date.
It should also be within your role and responsibility to supply, and provided within agreed
boundaries of confidentiality and according to the procedures of the work setting.
Requests for reports on incidents, disclosures or suspicions of child abuse should be
Reports should clearly distinguish between directly observed evidence, information gathered
from reliable sources and opinion.
It should be presented to the appropriate person in the form and at the time requested.
It is very important that the report remains confidential and is stored securely.
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