Bereavement can have a significant impact on a person’s emotional wellbeing and mental health.

In most cases, children, young people and the adults around them are able to manage their experience of bereavement where the school system provides thoughtful and contingent support. With a clear narrative for events and careful support, most children, young people and adults can make sense of their experience of loss. In some cases, particularly where the bereavement event might be unexpected or traumatic, the loss can have a significant effect on emotional wellbeing and mental health.

Research shows that mental health disorders are more prevalent in children who have been bereaved. A study published by National Children’s Bureau concluded that bereaved children were approximately one-and-a-half times more likely than other children to be diagnosed with any mental disorder. A fact-sheet from the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice cites a range of research about the impact of bereavement:

Research indicates that young people involved in offending are more likely to experience multiple, traumatic or parental bereavements than the general adolescent population (Vaswani,2008). In turn, traumatic and multiple bereavements are linked with a significantly increased risk of depression; and comorbidity (Dowdney, 2000); as well as negative outcomes in relation to education; self-esteem and risk-taking behaviour (Ribbens McCarthy, 2005).

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Breast ironing 

Breast Ironing refers to the practice of massaging or pounding young girls’ breasts with heated objects to suppress or reverse the growth of breasts. A range of objects used may be used including stones, hammers and spatulas that have been heated. The practice has been documented primarily in Cameroon, but is also practiced in Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Togo, Benin, and Guinea. Cases have been found in the UK, particularly London and Birmingham.

Breast ironing is often performed by mothers or female relatives of victims. It is, wrongly, thought that performing breast ironing will protect their girls from rape, unwanted sexual advances, early sex, and pregnancies, all of which they fear would result from the appearance that a girl has reached the age of puberty. The practice is most likely to occur and the start of/during puberty.

Currently, awareness of and knowledge about the practice is at a low level amongst professionals including the police and education.

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Bullying behaviours are unacceptable. Bullying undermines confidence and causes misery and distress. It can affect a child or young person’s attendance and progress at school. It can also have a detrimental impact on a child’s mental health. Fear, isolation, anxiety and diminished self-esteem can lead to self-harm, depression and suicidal thoughts or actions. Research has shown that children who are bullied and/or bully others are more likely to suffer from mental health issues.

The rise of cyberbullying is a frequent cause of emotional disturbance in children and young people. Cyberbullying is insidious; technology enables perpetrators to have the power to reach their targets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There is growing evidence of the lasting impact of childhood bullying. A recent study by the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College, London concluded that children who are bullied, particularly those who are frequently bullied, are at risk of a range of poor outcomes into adulthood and middle age.

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Child Abduction

Child abduction is the act of taking a child away from their family, carer or person who has lawful control of the child without consent or lawful justification. Abduction can happen when a child is taken away, sent away or detained.

Child abduction can be committed by parents or other family members; by people known but not related to the victim, such as neighbours, friends and acquaintances; and by strangers.

The Office for National Statistics identifies 4/5 of child abductions recorded by the police as being perpetrated by someone known to the child, whilst 1/5 is not. In 2013/14 police forces in England and Wales recorded 569 offences of child abduction (Office for National Statistics, 2014).

However, many incidents – including abductions by a parent, someone known to the victim and strangers – are not reported to the police.

Four times as many attempted abductions by a stranger (186 in 2011/12) are recorded by police than completed abductions. Nearly two-thirds involved a perpetrator in a vehicle. Whilst most children suffered no injury, nearly half the victims were grabbed, dragged or held by the offender.

Three-quarters of children abducted (or attempted to be abducted) by a stranger are girls. Victims of attempted stranger abduction have an average age of 11 years. Victims of completed abduction (with a clear sexual motive) have an average age of 14 years.

Information taken from

Child on Child Abuse

Child on Child abuse refers to a broad range of behaviours spanning a number of specific safeguarding issues. Its breadth is exemplified by the definition adopted by Dr C. Firmin, University of Bedfordshire:

Physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse, and coercive control, exercised within young people’s relationships.

The following statistics highlight the extent of this issue:

  • One in five girls in England suffered physical violence from their boyfriend

  • More than four in ten teenage schoolgirls aged between 13 and 17 in England have experienced sexual coercion.

  • The rates of violence were higher for girls in England than in other countries.

  • Nearly half-48% of girls reported instances of emotional and online abuse from their partners.

  • Over a third of young boys in England admitted watching porn and held negative attitudes towards women

Child Sexual Exploitation

What is CSE?

Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities. Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the Internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain. In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.

Contextual Safeguarding

Safeguarding incidents and/or behaviours can be associated with factors outside the school or college and/or can occur between children outside the school or college. All staff, especially the designated safeguarding lead should be considering the contest within which such incidents and/or behaviours occur. This is known as contextual safeguarding, which simply means assessments of children should consider whether wider environmental factors are present in a child’s life that are a threat to their safety and/or welfare.

County Lines

Many street gangs are involved with the supply of drugs. This can be a way that gangs make money. Dealing in drugs, like running a business has many different roles and levels of people controlling the entire operation. County lines (also known as ‘going country’) are a tactic used by individuals, or more commonly by OCGs to establish a drug dealing operation in an area outside of their usual localities. This typically involves gangs moving their operations from large urban cities out into more remote rural areas – particularly coastal towns, market towns, or commuter towns close to large cities.

Criminal exploitation of children is a geographically widespread form of harm that is a typical feature of county lines criminal activity: drug networks or gangs groom and exploit children and young people to carry drugs and money from urban areas to suburban and rural areas, market and seaside towns. Key to identifying potential involvement in county lines are missing episodes, when the victim may have been trafficked for the purpose of transporting drugs and a referral to the national referral mechanism should be considered. Like other forms of abuse and exploitation, county lines exploitation:

  • can affect any child or young person (male or female) under the age of 18 years;

  • can affect any vulnerable adult over the age of 18 years;

  • can still be exploitation even if the activity appears consensual;

  • can involve force and/or enticement-based methods of compliance and is often accompanied by violence or threats of violence;

  • can be perpetrated by individuals or groups, males or females, and young people or adults; and

  • is typified by some form of power imbalance in favour of those perpetrating the
    exploitation. Whilst age may be the most obvious, this power imbalance can
    also be due to a range of other factors including gender, cognitive ability,
    physical strength, status, and access to economic or other resources.

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Domestic Abuse (including domestic violence)

What is domestic abuse?

The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • Psychological

  • Physical

  • Sexual

  • Financial

  • Emotional

The NSPCC identifies the behaviours that may constitute domestic abuse:

  • sexual abuse and rape;

  • punching, kicking, cutting, hitting with an object;

  • withholding money or preventing someone from earning money;

  • taking control over aspects of someone’s everyday life, which can include where they go and what they wear;

  • not letting someone leave the house;

  • reading emails, text messages or letters; or

  • threatening to kill or harm them, a partner, another family member or pet.

They also highlight the fact that witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse and that children whose lives are touched it are likely to be experiencing other types of abuse too.

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Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a criminal offence – it is child abuse and a form of violence against women and girls, and therefore should be treated as such. Cases should be dealt with as part of existing structures, policies and procedures on child protection and adult safeguarding. There are, however, particular characteristics of FGM that front-line professionals should be aware of to ensure that they can provide appropriate protection and support to those affected.

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Forced Marriage

A forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage but are coerced into it. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure. In cases of vulnerable adults who lack the capacity to consent to marriage, coercion is not required for a marriage to be forced.

Forcing someone to marry is a criminal offence. It is child abuse, domestic abuse and a form of violence against women and men; it should form part of existing child and adult protection structures, policies and procedures.

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Gender Based Violence Against Women & Girls

Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is the term given to all forms of violence and abuse experienced disproportionately by women and girls, or experienced by them because of their gender, including rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, FGM and sexual harassment.

The United Nations defines it as:

‘Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life’

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Inappropriate Sexualised Behaviour

Sexual exploration and play is a natural part of childhood sexual development, and helps children to develop physically and emotionally. Throughout their development, every child will express themselves sexually in different ways.

A child’s behaviour will depend on their age and circumstances. The NSPCC website describes the behaviours typical of each developmental stage. It is normal to see a child exhibiting behaviour that is slightly more or less mature for their age.

Taken from

The NSPCC have recently published a Harmful Sexual Behaviour Framework: An evidence-informed operational framework for children and young people displaying harmful sexual behaviours (PDF) which uses the following definition:

“Sexual behaviours expressed by children and young people under the age of 18 years old that are developmentally inappropriate, may be harmful towards self or others, or be abusive towards another child, young person or adult.”

Knife Crime, Gangs & Violent Behaviour

The vast majority of young people are not involved in gangs, guns or knife crime and want nothing to do with them. However, the behaviour of the small number of young people who are involved has a significant impact on communities, on their families and associates, as well as themselves.

There are many and complex reasons as to why people join gangs. It could be for status, to feel a sense of belonging, to make money, to earn respect, for protection from other gangs due to exploitation by an Organised Crime Group (OCG).

A gang could simply be a group of friends that all like doing the same things. The word takes on a new meaning when a group of friends gets involved in criminal activity.

Although it is not illegal to be a member of a gang much of the activity that criminal street gangs get caught up in is. If caught committing an offence they could end up with a longer sentence just for being part of a gang. There are many different and complex reasons as to why people join gangs. It could be for status, to feel a sense of belonging, to make money, to earn respect, for protection from other gangs or due to exploitation by an Organised Crime Group (OCG).

Preventing Radicalisation and Extremism

Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism. There is no single way of identifying an individual who is likely to be susceptible to an extremist ideologyIt can happen in many different ways and settings. Specific background factors may contribute to vulnerability which are often combined with specific influences such as family, friends or online, and with specific needs for which an extremist or terrorist group may appear to provide an answer. The internet and the use of social media in particular has become a major factor in the radicalisation of young people.

Extremism is vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. This also includes calls for the death of members of the British armed forces, whether in this country or overseas.

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The NSPCC defines ‘sexting’ as the exchange of self-generated sexually explicit images, through mobile picture messages or webcams over the internet.

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Trafficking & Modern Slavery

Trafficking children is:

“recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring and/;or receipt of a child for the purposes of exploitation”

Article 3c of the United Nations Palermo Protocol 2000

Human trafficking is the movement of a person from one place to another

  • into condition conditions of exploitation

  • using deception, coercion, the abuse of power or the abuse of someone’s vulnerability

Examples of exploitation for which people may be trafficked include:

  • Criminal – cannabis cultivation, shoplifting, petty crime, fraud (benefits/identity thefts/NHS fraud, forced and sham marriages

  • Sexual – including commercial sexual exploitation such as prostitution, pornography, lap dancing and stripping

  • Labour – factory, agricultural, food industry, care work, hospitality industry and construction

  • Domestic Servitude – housework, cooking, childcare

  • Organ removal

Slavery is:

  • Where ownership is exercised over a person

  • If they are forced or compelled to work

  • Bought and sold as property

  • Have restrictions placed on their movement through mental or physical threat.

Modern slavery is:

“an umbrella term, encompassing slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. Victims of modern slavery are unable to leave their situation of exploitation, controlled by threats, punishment, violence, coercion and deception. Slavery violates human rights, denying people of their right to life.”

Independent Modern Slavery Commissioner

Young Carers

What is a young carer?

Young carers are children and young people who often take on practical and/or emotional caring responsibilities that would normally be expected of an adult.

Young carers often take on practical and/or emotional caring responsibilities that would normally be expected of an adult. The tasks undertaken can vary according to the nature of the illness or disability, the level and frequency of need for care and the structure of the family as a whole.

A young carer may do some or all of the following:

  • Practical tasks, such as cooking, housework and shopping.

  • Physical care, such as lifting, helping a parent on stairs or with physiotherapy.

  • Personal care, such as dressing, washing, helping with toileting needs.

  • Managing the family budget, collecting benefits and prescriptions.

  • Administering medication.

  • Looking after or “parenting” younger siblings.

  • Emotional support.

  • Interpreting, due to a hearing or speech impairment or because English is not the family’s first language.

Some young carers may undertake high levels of care, whereas for others it may be frequent low levels of care. Either can impact heavily on a child or young person.

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