In Dundee everyone whose job it is to work with children has rules, called Child Protection Instruction that they must stick to when they are worried that a child might be being abused, or if they have been told about abuse. This means that whoever you choose to talk about any abuse, they will know what they have to do, and should be able to tell you.
Not everything you choose to talk to workers about has to be shared, but if you are telling about abuse then this can’t be confidential (a secret) and it will be shared with others whose job it is to help children who are being abused or neglected.
- When I Tell What Then?
When you tell, (sometimes called disclosing abuse) the person who you are talking to will listen carefully to what you are saying. They will make some notes to make sure they are getting it right and not missing out important things you are saying. They might ask a few questions just to make sure they have it right, but the rules say they should not ask lots of questions, as there are specially trained social workers and police who will do this later.
- Checking it all Out – A Child Protection investigation
The person you talk to will get in touch with the police and a social worker to let them know what is happening to you. There is usually then a meeting between police, social workers and others who probably know you well, like school staff and health people. They will decide what needs to be done next to hear more about what is happening and to make sure you are safe.
Most of the time this will mean that a social worker and police officer will want to talk to you more about what is happening to you. This gets called a Joint Interview – that just means police and social worker do it together. The social worker and police have extra training in ways to help you explain in your own words what might be happening to you. So the police and social worker can really listen to you, and not be distracted by writing things, the interview will be recorded on DVD in a room especially for this at a place called Seymour House. You will be told all about recording by them and you will be asked if you agree. The DVD will be kept safe in a locked cupboard and only a few people who need to see it, can. Only you, the social worker and police are allowed into the interview room. We know that it can feel scary and odd talking to people you don’t know, or might not know us well and so they will try to help you relax a bit before you need to talk about the things that are worrying you.
Usually your parents or the person who looks after you will be told that there is going to be an interview but maybe not exactly why. They can come to Seymour House and wait in the family room until the interview is finished. The person you have said is abusing you will not be allowed to come to Seymour House.
- Making Sure you are Safe – Making plans
The most important thing is to make sure you are safe. If you have told that the person hurting you lives in your house then there needs to be a plan that means they cannot abuse you. Mostly that would mean that person is asked to move out of the house at least while police and social workers find out more about what has been going on and can make plans. Sometimes, if the person you have said is abusing you is the only adult in your house you might have to live somewhere else for a time. Social Workers will always check out if there are other people in your family that you can safely stay with. If this is not possible, you may stay with foster carers while work is done with your family to help make it a safe place for you. No one wants you to be apart from your family for very long and everyone whose job it is to help keep you safe – social workers, teachers, police, health people and your family will all be told they’ve to work together to find ways to sort out what is wrong so you can safely live with them.
- Getting Everyone Working Together – Child Protection Case Conferences
A first step in getting all these people together will probably be what is called a Child Protection Case Conference. That is a big meeting where all the peoples whose job it is to keep you safe get together with you and your family to talk about what has gone wrong and what needs to be done to sort it. We know how hard it might be for you to speak up in a big meeting of people you might not know well, so you will have a chance to have a “Buddy” at the meeting to help you speak up, or say what you want to say. If you really did not want to go to this case Conference, your Buddy still can and say in your words what you want people there to know. This case Conference needs to decide if what has been happening to you means that you are not very safe at home and that this need to be recorded on a special register, called the Child Protection Register. This register is a way of making people who work with you aware they need to pay special attention to you.
- Child protection Register
If your name does go on this Register, there will be a plan made with you, your family, social workers, teachers and anyone who works closely with your family. This plan will be about all the things that need to change so you are safe and your name can be taken off the Register. Everyone, including you and your parents’ or carer, in this group of people will be given jobs they have to do that will help sort things out. This group gets called a Core Group.
While your name is on the Child Protection Register you will have a social worker who will see you at least every couple of weeks. They will want to see you with your family but also on your own. You should talk with them about how things are for you, good things and bad.
After your name has been on the Register for three months. There will be another Child Protection Case Conference to check if the plan is working. If it has worked well your name may come off the Register. You will still have a social worker for another few months just to make sure things don’t go wrong again. If the plan has not gone as well as it should have, your name may stay on the Register for longer. The core group will still meet and make a new plan. The next Child Protection Case Conference will be in six months. You will always be able to have your Buddy at meetings.
None of the things that happen after you have told about abuse are a punishment for you or your family. There are lots of people whose job it is to work with you and your family to help, even with very difficult problems, to try to make things better for all the family and to help keep you safe.