If you suspect a child or young person is being abused or neglected, you should record any details or information that could be risk of harm indicators. This is any information or circumstances that have led you to believe that a child or young person is in danger of being harmed. It is important that the information is detailed, recorded clearly and accurately, and that the report contains everything required. This information should be kept confidential and not shared with anyone other than your supervisor/manager and the authorities.
What you should record when reporting child abuse:
- Any signs or symptoms of different types of abuse, such as physical, sexual, psychological and neglect – make sure you give detailed descriptions of anything you have noticed or know about, and any comments from the child about cuts and bruises they have etc. (refer to criteria 1.1 for signs and symptoms of abuse).
- Any disclosures from the child – if a child reports to you that they have been abused you should make sure you write exactly what they have said and the date and time of the disclosure, so you don’t get any of the details wrong and report anything inaccurately.
- Write down any questions and answers from conversations you have had with the child – this will show the information-gathering technique you used when talking to them to make sure it was appropriate and to see if the answers are reliable enough.
- Detailed descriptions of any injuries or illnesses the child has that are believed to be caused by the abuse or neglect.
- Describe any behavioural problems the child has that you have experienced when they have been in your care.
- State whether you believe the child is in danger and whether the abuse is ongoing.
- You may also need to record details about the child’s family – any history you know about them, living situations, health problems and addictions etc.
- Details of the suspected abuser if you know who it could be.
When working with children and young people you have a duty of care to them so it is important to be alert and look out for any signs or symptoms that could indicate that they have been harmed. Noticing these signs and symptoms early and taking the appropriate course of action could prevent any further harm to the child in the future. The list below is not exhaustive but these are the common risk of harm indicators that you may notice.
It is important to look out for:
- Physical signs of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect – if you notice any marks or cuts on the child that they can’t explain, or the story is not believable
- Behavioural signs of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect – if they seem to be behaving unusually or in a disruptive way
- Disclosures by the child or young person – anything they report to you should be written down in detail and reported further to your supervisor/manager and the relevant authorities.
It is important to remember that not all indicators are due to abuse or neglect. For example, other issues such as witnessing a traumatic event, health problems and behavioural problems can also seriously affect a child or young person and these should be reported to other relevant organisations that can help them.
Your job would be to notify the relevant authorities, and once any incidents of child abuse have been reported, it will be the child protection worker who will do the interviewing and risk assessment by going through the information that has been gathered, and they will determine whether or not there is a risk of harm to the child.
Modified from source: http://www.secasa.com.au/pages/defining-and-identifying-child-abuse/indicators-of-harm/. Accessed on 18/10/2016.