Children and young people who abuse others should be held responsible for their abusive behaviour, whilst being identified and responded to in a way that meets their needs as well as protecting others. They are likely to be children in need, and some will, in addition, be suffering – or be at risk of – significant harm, and may themselves be in need of protection.
When abuse of a child/ren is alleged to have been carried out by another child or young person the Safeguarding Children Procedures should be followed for both the victim(s) and the alleged perpetrator.
On receipt of a referral regarding a child or young person who is alleged to be an abuser Children’s Social Care will allocate the case to a social worker who is not involved with any of the child victim(s) and separate strategy discussion/meetings will be held to plan separately for the suspected abuser and the subject(s) of the abuse.
An initial child protection case conference in respect of the alleged abuser should only be convened when that child or young person is considered to be personally at risk of significant harm i.e. they have been, or are likely to continue to be, a victim of abuse.
In other circumstances (including risk of retribution from others), multi agency planning for the alleged abuser should take place within a child in need meeting to consider:
- the incident(s),
- the police investigation,
- the most appropriate course of action within the youth justice system if the child is above the age of criminal responsibility
- management of risk
- management of the alleged abuser
- what plan should be put in place to address the alleged abuser’s needs This meeting will usually take place after the initial assessment of the referral and should be convened within 10 working days of the referral. The meeting will be chaired by the relevant Children’s Social Care Team Manager.
Attendance will be expected from representatives of relevant agencies involved e.g. Health, Education Services, Youth Offending Service, Probation Service and the Police.
At the meeting relevant information gathered about the child or young person and their family will be shared in order to manage issues of immediate risk posed to others as a consequence of the abusive behaviour. Issues such as the young person’s level of understanding of the alleged incident(s), as well as the response of their family or carers to the allegations should be considered. Possible adjustments to accommodation arrangements, education and immediate supervision should be considered.
A detailed assessment will usually be jointly undertaken by the allocated Children’s Social Care social worker and the Youth Offending Service worker, following the guidance contained within the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families and ASSET, the assessment tool for Youth Offending Service workers.
The detailed assessment should consider:
- the nature and extent of the abusive behaviours. In respect of sexual abuse, there are sometimes perceived to be difficulties in distinguishing between normal childhood sexual development and experimentation and sexually inappropriate or aggressive behaviour. Expert professional judgement may be needed, within the context of knowledge about normal child sexuality;
- the context of the abusive behaviours;
- the child’s development, and family and social circumstances;
- the child’s need for services, specifically focusing on the child’s harmful behaviour as well as other significant needs; and
- the risks to self and others, including other children in the household, extended family, school, peer group or wider social network. This risk is likely to be present unless the opportunity for further abuse is ended, the young person has acknowledged the abusive behaviour and accepted responsibility and there is agreement by the young abuser and his or her family to work with relevant agencies to address the problem.
If information arises during the detailed multi agency assessment which indicates the alleged abuser is suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm, an initial child protection conference should then be convened.
A multi agency planning child in need meeting should also be convened for children with inappropriate sexual or very violent behaviour who are re-entering the community following a custodial sentence or time in secure accommodation, or who move into the local authority area.
Where a child who has been convicted of sexual offences involving the abuse of other children is released into the community, the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements must be invoked.
GOOD PRACTICE GUIDANCE:-
- Where there is a non-resolvable conflict of interest, the needs of the victim will take precedence.
- In the majority of situations it would not be safe for the perpetrator and the victim to remain living in the same house