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6. Responding to abuse

If a child has a physical injury or symptom of neglect:

* Contact your line manager/church leader immediately, (in children's work at your

Church this will be {named leaders}....................................................)

  • speak with the parent and suggest medical help/attention is sought for the child. The doctor will then initiate further action, if necessary. Alternatively, encourage the parent to seek help from the Social Services Department.
  • if a parent is unwilling to seek help, then offer to go with them. If they still fail to act you may need to seek help yourself, i.e. via Social Services.
  • where emergency medical attention is necessary then this should, of course, be sought immediately, informing the doctor of any suspicions you may have.

If there are allegations of sexual abuse:

  • contact your line manager/church leader immediately or contact Social Services or the Police direct for advice. Do not speak to the parent (or anyone else) if there is a possibility that they could be involved. The fact that you may feel the child's story is unlikely must not prevent appropriate action being taken. For example, a child may say that he/she has been abused by an older young person. In reality, the perpetrator could be a parent or close relative, but naming another person may be the only way in which this child can seek help.
  • It is the responsibility of the church worker to pass on the possibility of abuse to the Social Services Department. The role of the church is essentially collecting and clarifying the precise details of the allegation and providing the information to the Social Services Department, whose task it is to investigate the allegation.

Further guidance in responding to abuse:

Whilst the church worker will normally consult with their line manager/church leader before reporting incidents/suspicions of child abuse to the Social Services Department, the absence of the line managers should not delay referral to the Social Services Department. Exceptionally, should there be any disagreement between the worker and line manager as to the appropriateness of such a referral, the church worker nevertheless retains the right as a member of the public to report serious matters to the Social Services Department.

All children's workers should be aware that any allegations or suspicions are covered by pastoral confidentiality, and that therefore church members have no rights to this information. The sharing of information is therefore limited to a "Need to Know" basis. This will protect the interests of all the parties concerned.

N.B. - Church leaders will often experience difficulty in making appropriate judgements. Professionals (e.g.. Family doctors) are advised that they should discuss their suspicions with a specialist colleague first, with a view to then informing the statutory agencies. Similarly, (.............) Church leaders will seek the advice of the PCCA on how to handle such disclosures and avail themselves of the follow up support, provided by the PCCA, at each stage of the process.

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