Recognising and responding to child abuse

1. Background

1.1 RNIB Three Spiresbelieves that the welfare of children is paramount, and that they have the right to be protected from abuse regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or beliefs. This procedure must be followed when there are concerns that a child has been abused or neglected.

2. Recognising child abuse

2.2 It is not always easy to recognise when a child is being abused and often there will be other explanations for the signs you may see and interpret as indicators of abuse. However, abuse can cause long term damage to a child and therefore if you do have concerns you must raise them as soon as possible.

There are four main types of abuse:

Physical Abuse

2.3 Includes hitting, shaking, kicking, punching, scalding, suffocating, biting, burning, pinching, female genital mutilation, applying undue force and giving harmful substances such as drugs, alcohol or poison. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately causes ill health to a child.

2.4 Signs that may indicate physical abuse has taken place:

  • Bruises, broken bones and black eyes
  • Any injury for which there is no adequate explanation
  • Burns of any shape or size
  • Any bruising that looks like finger or hand marks
  • Any bite marks
  • Injuries which are untreated or inadequately treated
  • Bladder or menstrual problems
  • Partial or total removal of external female genitalia.

Emotional abuse

2.5 Includes the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the Childs emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitations of explorations and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying, causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill-treatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

2.6 Signs that may indicate that emotional abuse has taken place:

  • Self harm such as overdosing or cutting and scratching parts of the body
  • Attempted suicide
  • Children who show high levels of anxiety, withdrawal or unhappiness
  • Excessive bedwetting, overeating, rocking and head banging.

Sexual abuse

2.7 Involves forcing, pressurising or enticing any child or young person to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative (e.g. rape, buggery or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

2.8 Signs that may indicate that sexual abuse has taken place:

  • Pain, itching, bruising or bleeding in the genital or anal areas
  • Pain in the stomach or discomfort when walking or standing
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Urinary tract infections of genital discharge
  • Refusal to attend school or usual social activities
  • Standard of schoolwork declines and child seems to be having difficulty concentrating
  • Use of inappropriate sexually explicit language or behaviour
  • A child referring to adults or young people who give them special attention or who they have a ‘secret’ friendship with.


2.9 Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and / or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:

  • Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter including exclusion from home or abandonment
  • Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger
  • Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of adequate care-givers)
  • Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment
  • It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to a child’s basic emotional needs.

2.10 Signs that may indicate that a child is being neglected:

  • Underweight and / or very small for age group
  • Inadequate clothing which may be dirty or damaged and offers no protection from the weather
  • Conditions of home is squalid, unhygienic or dangerous
  • Constantly tired or lacking in energy.

3. Initial reporting of child abuse concerns

3.1. All child abuse concerns must be reported immediately to the Three Spires Safeguarding Lead on duty.

3.2. If you feel you cannot report your concern to the person responsible for safeguarding in your service then you can email the RNIB Group Safeguarding and Compliance Manager at

3.3. The Safeguarding Lead must immediately carry out initial fact finding as described in section 5 of this procedure and if following that there remains a child abuse concern report externally to Coventry’s children’s team by telephoning 024 7678 8555. This referral must be confirmed in writing by completing the common referral form which can be found on the Coventry safeguarding webpage.

3.4. The Safeguarding Lead must decide at this point if there is a requirement to report concerns to Ofsted, families, social workers, sponsoring authorities, commissioners and make referrals as required.

3.5. An RNIB accident / incident form MUST be completed for all child abuse concerns / incidents.If you do not have access to this you must email

4. Immediate action to safeguard children

4.1. If there is any possibility that a child may be in immediate danger you must act without delay. If the Safeguarding Lead or the RNIB Group Safeguarding and compliance manager are not contactable you must call the police or social services who can respond on an emergency basis even outside of normal office hours.

5. Initial fact finding

5.1. It will be necessary to gather some initial facts to inform external agencies decision making. It is very important to remember that any allegations concerning child abuse can result in criminal proceedings and as such you should only ask questions to clarify essential basic information. Do not probe for more information or ask any other questions or disclose details of the allegation to anyone else – even if the allegations involve them. Do not talk to the person you think is responsible for the harm as this might put you at risk and given them the opportunity to hide evidence.

5.2. Reassure the child that they are right to raise the issue and that they are in no way to blame. Explain what you are going to do with the information and reassure them that their concerns will be taken seriously and will be dealt with promptly. Do not promise ‘not to tell anyone’ or say ‘you’ll keep it a secret’.

5.3. Complete a written record of what you have seen / heard ensuring that you make a clear distinction between what is fact and opinion. It is important to try and include as much detail as possible particularly about the child or young person such as, full name, date of birth (if known), address, language of the child and remember to include parent / carer details if you know them, then sign and date the record.

6. Identifying an investigating officer

6.1. Coventry safeguarding board will be responsible for identifying the investigating officer and the method of investigation if the referral is accepted.

6.2. The recognising and responding to low level safeguarding concerns procedure must be followed if a referral is passed back to the school for investigation

7. Action following conclusion of investigation

7.1. The Safeguarding Lead must inform all relevant parties of the outcome as applicable; this may include the young person, Ofsted, families, sponsoring authorities, commissioners, social workers.

7.2. Copies of all investigation records must be sent to the RNIB Group Safeguarding and Compliance manager.

7.3. The Safeguarding Lead must ensure that any action required arising out of investigations is carried out within the timescales identified.

7.4. If a member of staff, volunteer, or governor is dismissed or removed from the school the Safeguarding Lead must consider if there is a requirement to make a referral to the Independent Safeguarding Authority or other professional bodies such as the nursing and midwifery council.

7.5. Where Safeguarding Leads decide that a referral is necessary they should ensure that the relevant paperwork is completed and signed by Sally Harvey.

7.6. A copy of all referral paperwork must be sent to the RNIB Group Safeguarding and Compliance Manager.

8. Internal reporting and monitoring

8.1. All incidents / concerns will be logged on the safeguarding incident log and will be shared with the RNIB Places senior leadership team.

8.2. The RNIB Group Safeguarding Lead, Managing Director RNIB Places, will review incidents weekly and arrange the referral of any incident which meets the Charity Commissions referral guidance.

8.3. Safeguarding incidents / concerns and their management will be reported on quarterly to RNIB Places senior leadership team meetings and twice yearly to RNIB Places Board.

8.4. All incidents will be reported to and discussed at RNIB Three Spires quarterly safeguarding meeting

9. Raising your concerns at a higher level / externally

9.1. If you are not satisfied that your concerns have been dealt with appropriately you should in the first instance raise the matter with a higher level manager or the RNIB Group Safeguarding and compliance manager.

9.2. If you continue to be dissatisfied you may contact the following agencies in your area:

  • Coventry Children’s Team – 024 7678 8555
  • Police – Emergency 999 – Non emergency 101
  • Ofsted – 0300 123 3159
  • NSPCC helpline - 0808 800 5000
  • Childline - 0800 1111

10. Additional information

  • Safeguarding Policy
  • Recognising and responding to low level safeguarding concerns
  • Disciplinary Policy
  • Whistle Blowing Policy
  • Problem solving procedures for volunteers
  • Prevention Standards
  • Keeping Children Safe in Education, July 2015
  • Working together to safeguard children, March 2015

11. Version control

Reviewed/Updated / Date / Amendments/Changes
Created / 15th September 2015 / To replace current safeguarding policy