Safeguarding is about the steps you should take to prevent a child coming into harm. However, safeguarding information tends to be about what you should do. There isn’t enough information about what you shouldn’t do.
It’s so easy to make an error that worsens a situation. Without the information, how are you to know?
This is why we’ve compiled a list of the ‘don’ts’ of safeguarding!
Lead the conversation
You shouldn’t take over the discourse if a child discloses something of concern – let them talk.
Confiding is a big step for a child to take. They’re trying to regain their control, so let them have control!
When you’re worried about a child’s wellbeing it’s understandably tempting to push for information.
However, you should bear in mind how frightening disclosing this information could be for a child. Taking over the conversation could scare them into silence again.
Exaggerate the description
We’re human. We can be guilty of exaggerating, and often unknowingly.
Tell the facts as they are if you’re raising a cause for concern with your designated safeguarding officer. Telling an exaggerated series of events could land you in trouble. It could cause the child further distress when the issue is raised, too.
This is a serious issue, not a story to entertain or shock.
So, in yours and the child’s best interest, be as honest as possible.
Allow emotions to interfere
This links to the previous point closely.
Teachers teach because they care. It’s hard to not let emotions come out when a child makes an upsetting disclosure or you suspect something is amiss.
Emotions are for the child to express, not you.
It’s scary enough telling an adult, so don’t make it even scarier by looking shocked, upset or angry.
You are in a position of trust and you need to remember that.
Assuming is dangerous.
A child having a bruise from falling over in the playground isn’t necessarily neglect, but a child having a bruise may also be a cause for concern.
Don’t assume; get facts.
If you assume the situation is graver than the child expresses or that they are lying, then that’s your interpretation.
Let the professionals figure out the details. You’re a teacher, not an investigator.
Make promises you can’t deliver
A child who is a victim of neglect is probably used to having people they trust let them down. Don’t become another one of them.
You can allow a professional service to remove them from a dangerous situation. You aren’t in a position to promise that, though.
Allow the child to think you won’t tell anyone what they’ve said
A child must trust you if they talk to you about the troubles they are facing.
They may also be scared about their abuser finding out and beg you to not tell anyone.
As hard as it may be, you cannot and must not promise them that you won’t tell anyone.
You should make it clear to the child that anything you’re concerned about will have to disclosed to another adult, but that the situation will be handled carefully. You need to make it known that it’s in their best interest for someone else to know in order to help them.
Involve personal experience
People often use their own experiences to make others feel better when they’re in a difficult situation.
It may sound blunt, but this isn’t about you.
Keep the focus on the child.
Confront the adults in question
This is a danger to both you and the child.
Confronting an abuser is only to be done by a trained professional, not you.
Your job is to be a person of trust who makes the child feel safe enough to disclose their worries.
It’s not your place to confront anyone about this. Follow your safeguarding process and tell the designated safeguarding officer in your school about what has been talked about.
Make the young person feel guilty
It isn’t inconvenient for a child to disclose information to you, so don’t make them feel that way.
Of course you’ll need to take time out of your day to go and meet with someone to discuss what has been brought up, but that’s a small price to pay for a child’s wellbeing.
It’s important to not make them feel like they’re trying to tarnish someone’s reputation, or say something along the lines of: ‘Do you understand the gravity of what you’re saying?’
Your position is not to judge.
Don’t just solely focus on what you should be doing if a situation arises. Have a quick think about the errors you could accidentally make.