Why it is Vital to Record all Child Protection Concerns

In this blog, we discuss the difference between proactive and reactive child protection procedures and why it is vital to record and manage all manners of safeguarding concerns within your organisation.

Best Practice when Recording 

When recording and managing child protection concerns within your school or college, it can be tempting to only record the serious issues that warrant contacting an external agency such as An Garda Síochána or Tusla. However, best practice in child protection or safeguarding procedures is to record everything that may be a concern to members of staff, parents or even to other students. 

Even if nothing comes from the concern it is vital to have a record of all pastoral and safeguarding concerns that are occurring within your organisation. 

We recommend recording all of the following concerns in your safeguarding system to name a few, this is by no means an exhaustive list: 

  • Bullying 
  • Peer-on-peer or child-on-child abuse 
  • Allegations of assault 
  • Signs of neglect and abuse 
  • Low-level concerns about staff members 
  • Allegations against staff members  
  • Mental health concerns 
  • Online concerns 
  • Self-harm concerns 
  • Stress and anxiety 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Peer pressure 
  • Welfare and wellbeing concerns 

Even if the concern seems minimal it is better to have a record of it, than not report and record it at all.  

The Pieces of the Puzzle  

Seemingly small details may seem insignificant when viewed as a one-off concern, but when joined together in one digital chronology, it is possible for the safeguarding lead to see that there is a bigger issue.  

For example, a child coming to school without a coat in winter may not seem like a big concern; however, that same child may also not have their lunch, or the gym equipment, may have shoes with holes in them or never hand in their homework. All these concerns point to that child being neglected, but if no one records the individual concerns then we have no way of seeing the bigger picture of what is happening in that child’s life.  

Therefore, it is extremely important for staff to record everything they see that concerns them as it can help to see the bigger picture and determine if the issue needs to be addressed further.  

Spot Patterns and Trends  

When you start to record every concern, you can then start to spot patterns and trends in the safeguarding and child protection concerns within your organisation. A series of concerns recorded within the same area of your school could point toward a potential area where bullying is occurring. Likewise, a rise in concerns about students’ anxiety levels during the exam period every year could indicate a pattern of several students struggling with exam pressures. 

Once you have this data and can examine it critically you can then start to put strategies in place to prevent future concerns from occurring. A school can hold more assemblies in the lead-up to exams to offer students more support and reduce the number of concerns. An area in which several bullying concerns are reported can have more staff stationed there during breaks to stop this behaviour from continuing. 

Proactive vs Reactive 

When you can analyse the data and start making these changes you are moving away from reactive safeguarding to a proactive safeguarding strategy.  This empowers your staff and the entire organisation to look ahead and pre-empt concerns before they even begin. This gives you more control over how you manage the concerns within your organisation and gives your staff the peace of mind that they are following a secure, effective process when managing concerns. 

With this information it makes it easier for the senior leadership team to delegate resources, purchase training and share the data and the findings with the Board of Management and the Inspectorate. This step towards a proactive safeguarding approach also shows that the safeguarding culture within your organisation is robust, deterring inappropriate people from applying for positions within your organisation and demonstrating to other schools that your establishment's child protection policy and procedures are world-class.  

Posted Date

6th September 2022

Georgia Latief
Marketing Content Manager

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