Safeguarding Children

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Safeguarding Children

Postby Nelly » Tue Dec 20, 2016 10:38 am

Apologies if this has been discussed before, but I didn't find anything in the search.

I was recently presented with a hypothetical situation about an assessment with a child who stated they have been abused by someone and didn't want their mum to know (mum wasn't the abuser). I wasn't sure what safeguarding guidelines say about whether or not to inform the parent.

I understand that confidentiality should be explained in advance and if the child is deemed to be risk (which is clear in this situation) then confidentiality would need to be broken and appropriate help sought... but if someone under 18 years does not want it discussed with their parent, is it appropriate to respect their wish.

If anyone who works with children could shed some light on this, it would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Safeguarding Children

Postby Alexander » Sat Dec 31, 2016 12:44 pm

It depends on the age of the child, the risks involved and what can be done to protect the child. If the child is 16 or older they are assumed to have competence to consent to see a psychologist and normal client confidentiality rules apply. If the child is 15 or younger, they must demonstrate Gillick competence to consent. Demonstrating competence involves the child showing they understand the information that is being provided to them and the implications of their decision. It is similar in nature to a Mental Capacity Act assessment but without the requirement to demonstrate the ability to remember or communicate information. If the child demonstrates Gillick competence they are able to provide independent consent and normal client confidentiality rules apply.

If the child has demonstrated Gillick competency and says they do not want to disclose the abuse to their parents, you need to consider whether withholding that information from the parents has any effect on the risks posed to the child. For example, if the abuser was actually mum's partner - who lives with the child - sharing the disclosure with mum may help to reduce the risks posed to the disclosing child. Therefore there may be a strong reason to share the information with mum.

In many situations, sharing the information with a parent could reduce the risks and should be considered. Ideally, I would talk to the child about why they were reluctant to disclose the information with their parent(s). If you can work together to overcome those barriers to disclosure so that the child themselves can disclose, that would be ideal. This assumes that the parent is sufficiently caring, stable and resilient to be able to deal with the disclosure.

In sum, if they are competent and it has no effect on the risks posed to them, you would not have to disclose to mum. If they aren't competent or sharing the information with mum might reduce the risks (which is likely) then you should disclose. As always, be fully transparent with the child about your legal duties and your intentions. Involve them as fully as possible.

And, most importantly, whatever the child's wishes, you must share the disclosure with your supervisor, safeguarding and/or the Police.
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Re: Safeguarding Children

Postby Nelly » Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:51 pm

Alexander wrote:It depends on the age of the child, the risks involved and what can be done to protect the child. If the child is 16 or older they are assumed to have competence to consent to see a psychologist and normal client confidentiality rules apply. If the child is 15 or younger, they must demonstrate Gillick competence to consent. Demonstrating competence involves the child showing they understand the information that is being provided to them and the implications of their decision. It is similar in nature to a Mental Capacity Act assessment but without the requirement to demonstrate the ability to remember or communicate information. If the child demonstrates Gillick competence they are able to provide independent consent and normal client confidentiality rules apply.

If the child has demonstrated Gillick competency and says they do not want to disclose the abuse to their parents, you need to consider whether withholding that information from the parents has any effect on the risks posed to the child. For example, if the abuser was actually mum's partner - who lives with the child - sharing the disclosure with mum may help to reduce the risks posed to the disclosing child. Therefore there may be a strong reason to share the information with mum.

In many situations, sharing the information with a parent could reduce the risks and should be considered. Ideally, I would talk to the child about why they were reluctant to disclose the information with their parent(s). If you can work together to overcome those barriers to disclosure so that the child themselves can disclose, that would be ideal. This assumes that the parent is sufficiently caring, stable and resilient to be able to deal with the disclosure.

In sum, if they are competent and it has no effect on the risks posed to them, you would not have to disclose to mum. If they aren't competent or sharing the information with mum might reduce the risks (which is likely) then you should disclose. As always, be fully transparent with the child about your legal duties and your intentions. Involve them as fully as possible.

And, most importantly, whatever the child's wishes, you must share the disclosure with your supervisor, safeguarding and/or the Police.


Thanks for the reply... you've actually highlighted a few things that hadn't crossed my mind, so thank you.
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Re: Safeguarding Children

Postby BenJMan » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:54 am

Alexander wrote:If the child has demonstrated Gillick competency and says they do not want to disclose the abuse to their parents, you need to consider whether withholding that information from the parents has any effect on the risks posed to the child. For example, if the abuser was actually mum's partner - who lives with the child - sharing the disclosure with mum may help to reduce the risks posed to the disclosing child. Therefore there may be a strong reason to share the information with mum.


Just to add there are procedures and bodies in place for deciding when you can disclose against a young person's wishes. Alexander mentioned Safeguarding etc, there is always the nominated Caldicott Guardian for cases like this, they should be the main point of contact for helping to make these decisions. There is at least one CG in every NHS trust.

Additionally the reverse risk needs to be considered, does disclosing to the mother (in the above example) potentially put the child at further risk rather than less, could the mother fail to protect or have already been aware but chosen not to act, we have to consider the unknown and the possible in risk evaluations.

This is brief and helpful:

https://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/fi ... 0FINAL.pdf
I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people ~ Maya Angelou.
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Re: Safeguarding Children

Postby TaraS » Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:06 am

Its really worth speaking to your supervisor and safeguarding officer. Not all disclosures of historical abuse need to be reported but would depend on a range of risk factors and your orgs policies.

Theres no leeway with current risk to child regardless of ask. That has to be reported. But you still cant promise that parents will not find out. Different organisations like the police and social services will have different policies and its likely the parent would actually find out. So we can never promise secrecy. Id probably suggest that it would be a good idea to let the parent know - besides which (at least mine) ethical guidelines require that all effort is made to avoid a forced disclosure.
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