Safeguarding Policy

Safeguarding Policy 1/12/17


Section 1. Implementation and Monitoring

1.1 Key information

1.2 Definitions of abuse

1.3 Other recognised categories of abuse

1.4 Confidentiality and Appropriate Disclosure of Information

Section 2. Protecting Children and Young People – What we do – information for all staff

2.1 Policies according to work site

2.2 Sex and relationships and the law

2.3 Recognising Abuse

2.4 What to do if Abuse is Disclosed

2.5 What to do if Abuse is Suspected

2.6 What to do if the child/young person denies there is any problem

2.7 What to do if it is an emergency

Section 3. Working with Children and Young People

3.1 Recognising inappropriate behaviour in staff, volunteers and other adults

3.2 If a Staff Allegation is made, or you Suspect a Member of Staff or Volunteer of Abuse or Inappropriate Behaviour

3.3 Support to Staff and Volunteers

3.4 Recruitment and employment of Staff and Volunteers

3.5 Staff Behaviour

3.6 Whistleblowing


A Female Genital Mutilation

B Bristol Reporting

C Reporting agencies for other areas

D Further Information

E Fraser Guidelines & Bichard Checklist

F Sexual activity in young people aged 18 and under, age guidelines

G Young people’s frequently asked questions

H Safeguarding Procedures flow diagram


The Real Period Project CIC (RPP) considers that the welfare of the child or young person (YP) is paramount and it is the duty of members, staff and volunteers under HM Government’s Working Together to Safeguard children 2015 to implement this policy, and to ensure that it has in place appropriate procedures to safeguard the wellbeing of children and young people and protect them from abuse

Section 1. Implementation and Monitoring

1.1 Key information:


  • RPP’s designated Child Protection Officer (CPO) is Emily Stewart.  The CPO coordinates child protection issues and liaises with external agencies (eg Social Care, the LSCB and Ofsted)


  • The Designated Senior (CPO) must attend an inter-agency child protection training course, to be updated at least every 2 years
  • All staff and volunteers are to undertake child protection training and this to be updated every 3 years. There will be an annual update for all staff to keep practice updated, run by senior staff. The CP policy must be part of the induction for all staff and volunteers
  • The Project will review this policy annually, to ensure it is being implemented
  • If the CPO is uncertain about concerns about a child, consultation with Early Help should take place
1.2 Definitions of Abuse:

Child abuse is any action by another person – adult or child – that causes significant harm to a child.

The 1989 Children Act recognises four categories of abuse:

1.1.1 Physical Abuse – actual or likely physical injury to a child, or failure to prevent physical injury. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of or deliberately induces illness in a child.

1.1.2 Sexual Abuse -involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. Sexual abuse also includes non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at or in the production of sexual images. Sexual abuse also includes non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at or in the production of sexual images.

1.1.3 Emotional Abuse – severe or persistent emotional ill treatment or rejection likely to cause adverse effect on the emotional and behavioural development of a child. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

1.1.4 Neglect – the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, or the failure to protect a child from exposure to any kind of danger, resulting in the significant impairment of a child’s health or development, including failure to thrive.

1.3 Other recognised categories of abuse:

1.3.1 Historical Abuse – There may be occasions when a child/YP will disclose abuse (either sexual, physical, emotional or neglect) which occurred in the past.  This information needs to be treated in exactly the same way as a disclosure of current child abuse. The reason for this is that the abuser may still represent a risk to children now.

1.3.2 Domestic Abuse – Staff may be working with children/YP experiencing violence at home. Children/YP experiencing this may demonstrate many of the symptoms listed in section A.  Staff will need to treat them sensitively, record their concerns and consider informing First Response.

1.3.3 Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – Female circumcision is illegal in the UK (Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003) and it is an offence to take UK nationals, permanent or habitual UK residents to carry out FGM abroad, or to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad, even in countries where the practice is legal. All agencies have a statutory responsibility to safeguard children from being abused through FGM. For signs of risk, see Appendix A

1.4 Confidentiality and Appropriate Disclosure of Information

1.4.1 Confidentiality is crucial to all our relationships, but the welfare of the child/YP is paramount. The law does not allow anyone to keep concerns relating to abuse to themselves. Therefore, confidentiality may not be maintained if the withholding of information will prejudice the welfare of the child/YP.

1.4.2 All young people need to be aware that absolute confidentiality cannot

always be guaranteed. A professional will seek advice on sharing information if there are child protection concerns. Work needs to take place so young people are clear about what confidentiality and safeguarding means. Further discussions may need to take place with young people so that they have a full understanding of the service they receive.

1.4.2 All information that has been collected on any child/YP will be kept locked and secure and access will be limited to the appropriate staff, management and relevant agencies.  

1.4.3 In the event of an investigation it is essential that no information on child protection concerns relating to a child/YP are disclosed inappropriately.  Any such leaks could have serious consequences for both the child/YP concerned and any investigation.

1.4.4 If uncertain about what information may be shared, take advice or refer to Bristol’s Information Sharing protocol. (Please see Appendix D for link, or Appendix C for other areas)

1.4.5 Whilst parents / carers have the right to see any records kept on their child, this might not always be appropriate and should not put the child/YP or yourself at risk.  

1.4.6 It is very important that only those who need to know, actually know, to avoid rumour and gossip that could affect the child/YP, parent / carer and the group.

Section 2. Protecting Children and Young People – What we do – information for all staff

The nature of our work at RPP is varied, occurring both independently, and inside organisational settings such as schools and youth groups. As well as some ongoing sessions we also deliver one off or short workshops, and may not have the opportunity to build relationships with children and young people and therefore be alert to changes in behaviour. RPP will still respond to any concerns or disclosures children/YP make.

See Appendix H for procedure flow diagram

2.1 Policies according to work site

Outside agencies based in schools or other settings are normally bound by the host policies whilst on their premises. However work practice outside of school is guided by our own organisational policies. If in any doubt, professionals should confirm procedures with the CPO.

2.2 Sex and relationships and the law

Due to the nature of RPP’s work we may have conversations with young people about sex and relationships, both as part of our teaching content, and in the course of holding sessions.

2.2.1 The Sexual Offences Act 2003

This Act covers not only health professionals, but anyone who acts to

protect a child, for example teachers, Connexions personal advisers, youth

professionals, social care practitioners and parents/carers. It applies to

supporting young people under 16

2.2.2 The Act states that a person is not guilty of aiding, abetting or committing a

sexual offence against a child, where they are acting for the purpose of:

  • protecting a child from pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection
  • protecting the physical safety of a child
  • promoting a child’s emotional wellbeing by giving advice.

2.2.3 The aim of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 is to protect the safety and rights of young people. It is not intended to be used to prosecute mutually agreed teenage sexual activity between two young people of a similar age. When working with young people under 16 in the area of sex and relationships, it is regarded as good practice to refer to the Fraser Guidelines and Bichard guidelines (see Appendix E)

2.2.4 The Sexual Offences Act 2003 recognises that whilst mutually agreed non-

exploitative sexual activity between teenagers does take place, this in itself does not necessitate sharing this information with parents/carers, police or other agencies. Professionals are also able to offer confidential advice to young people, including under 16s

See Appendix F for further information about sexual activity for all ages of YP under 18, & Appendix G for sample questions & responses

2.3 Recognising Abuse

2.3.1 Recognising abuse is one of the first steps in protecting children and young people. There could be signs or behaviour that make you feel concerned.  All staff should be alert to the following types of behaviour in the children/YP:

  • Becoming excessively aggressive, withdrawn or clingy
  • Seeming to be keeping a secret
  • Significant changes in child/YP’s behaviour
  • Deterioration in child/YP’s well-being
  • Unexplained bruising, marks or signs of possible abuse or neglect
  • Any bruising on a non-mobile baby
  • Unreasonable fear of certain people or places
  • Acting out in an inappropriate way,  perhaps with adults, other children, toys or objects
  • Child/YP’s comments which give cause for concern, e.g.: inconsistent explanations of bruising, injuries or burns
  • Self-harm
  • Sexually explicit language or actions
  • Are upset, withdrawn or angry after using the internet or texting
  • Child/YP who goes missing, particularly on repeat occasions


2.3.2 If, in the course of work on sexual health issues, you become concerned that a young person could be in an abusive relationship or subject to sexual exploitation this must be reported.

2.3.3 The following should be considered as risk factors:

  • age or power imbalances
  • overt aggression
  • coercion or bribery
  • the misuse of substances as a disinhibitor
  • whether the child/YP’s own behaviour, because of the misuse of substances places him/her at risk so that he/she is unable to make an informed choice about any activity
  • Whether any attempts to secure secrecy have been made by the sexual partner, beyond what would be considered usual in a teenage relationship
  • whether the child/YP denies, minimises or accepts concerns
  • whether the child/YP talks about other ‘boyfriends’
  • whether the methods used are consistent with grooming

2.3.4 If the young person is under 13, they are deemed, in law, to be unable to give informed consent to sexual activity. In the case of suspected or disclosed sexual activity therefore, a full assessment must be undertaken and advice or guidance should be obtained from the organisation’s child protection lead, the designated/named clinician, social worker or line manager. All actions or non actions taken by the professional MUST BE RECORDED and the reasons clearly stated.

2.3.5 Staff should be equally vigilant regarding signs relating to disabled children/YP and not automatically assume that any of the above relates to their impairment

2.3.6 Not all concerns about children or young people relate to abuse, there may well be other explanations.  It is important to keep an open mind and consider what you know about the child and their circumstances

2.3.7 If you are worried, it is not your responsibility to investigate and decide if it is abuse.  It is your responsibility to act on your concerns and do something about it.  

See Appendix E for Fraser Guidelines & Bichard Checklist

2.4 What to do if Abuse is Disclosed

RPP is committed to ensuring that it meets its responsibilities in respect of child protection by treating any allegation seriously and sensitively.

2.4.1 What to do in the moment:

  • Stay calm
  • Listen to what the child/YP is actually saying
  • Reassure them that they have done the right thing by telling you
  • Ask Open questions, e.g.: Can you tell me why you are upset? Can you tell me what is frightening you? Can you tell me why you don’t want to go home today? Open questions enable you to gain information and clarification
  • Don’t ask leading questions. This could lead a child/YP to say something or agree with you wrongly. A closed question is: Are you afraid to go visit your Uncle in case he tries to kiss you?
  • Do not ask the child/YP to repeat what they have they told you, for another worker or facilitator; as if the matter is to be investigated further it will be done so by trained professionals
  • Efforts should be made to obtain the young person’s consent before passing on information about them. If consent is not obtained, the young person should still be informed about why information is being passed on, how it will be recorded and who will have access to it (see 2.2)
  • Do not promise the child/YP that this information can be kept secret, as subsequent disclosure could then lead to the child/YP feeling betrayed
  • If appropriate explain to the child/YP who you are going to tell and why. If they asks what might happen next, it is ok to say that you don’t know, but that you can be there to support them if they want

2.4.2 What to do as soon as possible afterwards:

  • Make a note of any conversations with the child/YP, trying to make these as detailed as possible, including when and where the conversations took place.  Draw a diagram, if appropriate, to show the position of any bruises or marks the child/YP shows you, trying to indicate the size, shape and colour
  • Record as soon as possible and use the actual words used by the child/YP
  • Keep all records factual.  Be aware of not making assumptions interpretations of what the child/YP is telling you. Store all records securely
  • Discuss your concerns with the CPO. If the allegations implicate the CPO, the concerns should be discussed with one of the other Directors. This must be reported as soon as possible to the LADO. (See details in the Staff allegations section)
  • If appropriate, inform parents / carers that you are going to report your suspicions / concerns. This might not always be possible and should not put the child/YP or yourself at risk. When you report an incident, First Response/duty officer will ask you if the parent / carer has been informed. If they haven’t, they will want to know the reasons why

2.4.3 Follow Up:

  • If possible, you, or the CPO, will report this information to an appropriate agency. In Bristol, mostly this will be First Response (see Appendix B for contact details). You can contact First Response by phone or if it is at the Early Help level, by using the online Request for Help form (see link in Appendix D). For other areas outside Bristol, see Appendix C
  • In Bristol, First Response will assess your call and pass you onto an appropriate agency. This will be Social Care if it is a Child Protection issue or Early Help if the concern is at a lower level but a multiagency response is needed. First Response may also signpost to other services or even ask you to plan to support the child at the lowest level. Please see Appendix C for other areas and follow their protocol
  • Once the referral has been made, if appropriate, you can tell the child/YP what is going to happen and what to expect.
2.5 What to do if Abuse is Suspected

2.5.1 If any signs or symptoms lead you to feel concerned that a child/YP may be being abused or neglected, or if a child/YP discloses information that gives you cause for concern, it is important that you record these (what, when & where) and share these concerns with the CPO.

2.5.2 Ensure in all workshops & sessions that confidentiality is explained at the beginning of the session, clearly stating that if anyone says anything that gives you cause for concern for their, or someone else’s safety, that you will talk to them on their own and decide with them on a course of action

2.5.3 In the case of one-off sessions where you are working alone, if you are concerned about something a child/YP has said or indicated during a session, ensure that you do speak to them alone, and once you have asked them about your concerns, explain clearly what you will do. This could be talking to their parent or someone else they trust, referral to First Response (see Appendix B for Bristol, or C in other areas), &/or giving the child/YP details of who they can go to for support

2.5.4 Decide on a plan of action (relevant for all cases, with notes for one-off sessions:

  • Ongoing observation of the child/YP noting any further concerns
    • NB in one-off sessions ensure you have spoken to the CPO &/or an adult responsible for the child/YP about your concerns
  • Discussion with other staff involved to gain further information they may have
  • Discussion with parents/carers to establish if there might be reasons for the child/YP’s behaviour /actions
  • Keep an open mind and avoid assumptions about the source of the harm

2.5.5 If you or the CPO is uncertain about whether the concern is reportable, call the Early Help Team for advice (or relevant agency for your area – see Appendix C)

2.5.6 If First Response has been contacted and they pass you to Children’s’ Social Care, they should let you know that they are responding to what you have told them. It is unlikely that you will be told what action has been taken unless it has implications for the setting.  If you have not heard from the Social Care team, it may be appropriate to contact them to ensure that the details you gave them have been taken into consideration and acted upon

2.6 What to do if the child/young person denies there is any problem


  • Reassure them that it is ok to talk to someone if they are worried about something, or if the situation does become a problem, and that they can do this at any time
  • Give details of local agencies that they could approach for support/advice (see Appendix B, C & D)
  • Ask if there is any adult they know and trust that they can talk to
  • Always be clear and encouraging that it’s fine for them to talk to someone about this
  • Keep a clear record of your observations and what was discussed with the child, and any subsequent discussions

2.7 What to do if it is an emergency

2.7.1 If you think a child/YP is in immediate danger you should telephone the police on 999. In all other circumstances you need to refer the matter to First Response (or other relevant agency for your area – see Appendix C) and follow the procedure described in Part B section 1 above.

2.7.2 In a medical emergency your first action may need to be one of the following:


  • Telephone for an ambulance, or,
  • Ask the parent to take the child/YP to the hospital at once, or,
  • Take the child/YP yourself


2.7.3 The child/YP is the legal responsibility of the parent/carer and they must be involved as soon as practical, unless to do so would put the child/YP at immediate risk of harm. Having taken the necessary emergency action it is important that you make immediate contact with First Response. If it is out of office hours, contact the Emergency duty team.

Section 3. Working with Children and Young People

3.1 Recognising inappropriate behaviour in staff, volunteers and other adults.

3.1.1 There is no guaranteed way to identify a person who will harm children. However, there are possible warning signs. These may include:

  • Paying an excessive amount of attention to a child or groups of children, providing presents, money or having favourites
  • Seeking out vulnerable children, e.g. disabled children
  • Trying to spend time alone with a particular child or group of children on a regular basis
  • Making inappropriate sexual comments
  • Sharing inappropriate images
  • Being vague about where they have worked or when they have been employed
  • Encouraging secretiveness

There may be other sources of concern; this is not a conclusive list. If you are concerned about another staff member or volunteer’s behaviour you need to pass this on to the CPO.

3.2 If a Staff Allegation is made, or you Suspect a Member of Staff or Volunteer of Abuse or Inappropriate Behaviour:

3.2.1 If it appears that a staff member or volunteer has:

  • behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child, or,
  • possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child, or,
  • behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates he or she may pose a risk of harm to children

3.2.2 Then these procedures must be followed:

  • Record your concerns and report them to the CPO
  • It may be clear in some cases, where a child has been injured and/or there is clear evidence of significant harm or risk of significant harm, that an immediate referral must be made to the police, First Response (if in Bristol, for other agencies see Appendix C) or emergency services. In addition:
  • The Child Protection Officer must then contact the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) WITHIN 1 WORKING DAY of receiving the report of an allegation.

Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for Bristol

Telephone: 0117 903 7795 or Work Mobile: 07795 091020

(For other areas, see Appendix C)

  • The setting should then follow the LADO’s advice on how to deal with allegations against staff
  • The setting should take advice from the LADO on how and when to inform the parents of the child
  • If the concern is regarding the CPO, the above procedure will be followed but the report will be made to one of the other Directors.
3.3 Support to Staff and Volunteers

3.3.1 The management committee will fully support all members of staff in following this procedure. Following an allegation or investigation:

  • Staff and volunteers who work with issues of child protection may themselves need support in dealing with the emotional distress this can cause. They can talk to the CPO and any of the appropriate agencies listed in Appendix B (or Appendix C for other areas)
  • Staff, volunteers or management members may also be subject to allegations of abusing children in relation to their work for the setting. While support will be offered to these individuals by the setting, we will ensure that the agency dealing with the matter is given all assistance in pursuing any investigation and the LADO will be informed. The disciplinary procedure may be implemented.
3.4 Recruitment and employment of Staff and Volunteers

3.4.1 We acknowledge that paedophiles and those that pose a threat to children may be attracted to employment that allows them access to children and young people.  As part of this policy we will ensure that people working with the children are safe to do so.

3.4.2 We will ensure:

  • All staff (including RPP’s Directors) and volunteers will be checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service on joining the scheme, to be renewed every 3 years
  • All people connected with RPP must declare all convictions/cautions incurred since DBS disclosure which may affect their suitability to work with children
  • All people connected with RPP must declare their disqualification status and that of other persons living or working in their household
  • Two references will be taken up prior to appointment for new staff and volunteers and a medical reference may also be required
  • The selection and interview procedure will be adhered to. This must include a full employment history, qualifications, interview and identity checks
  • RPP will also meet its responsibilities under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 which includes a duty to make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service where a member of staff is dismissed (or would have been had the person not left the setting first) because they have harmed a child or put a child at risk of harm.

3.5 Staff Behaviour

3.5.1 All staff, volunteers and Directors within the Project recognise that they need to conduct themselves in an appropriate, open and transparent way to ensure a safer environment for all.

3.5.2 In addition we will use “Guidance for Safer Working Practice for those working with children and young people in education settings,” as a tool to develop setting specific guidance on behaviour for staff and volunteers.

3.6 Whistleblowing

3.6.1 We have a separate whistle blowing procedure so serious and or systemic concerns about senior staff or management may be reported to more senior member of staff/management or to an appropriate external organisation if necessary. Allegations about specific staff members should be dealt with in line with the staff allegation section earlier in this document.


Many thanks to the following:

  • BAND (Bristol Association for Neighbourhood Daycare) sample policies
  • Bristol Youth Links Sex & Relationships Policy & Practice Guidelines 2011


Appendix A

Female Genital Mutilation

Some signs that MAY indicate a girl is at risk of FGM include:

  • Parents requesting an extended leave from school on top of school holidays
  • If a girl comes from a country that has high prevalence of FGM
  • Mother and other siblings have already undergone FGM
  • Child may indicate that they are going for a special event

Consider whether any other indicators exist that suggest FGM may have or has already taken place, for example:

  • The child has changed in behaviour after a prolonged absence from the setting
  • The child has health problems, particularly bladder or menstrual problems;
  • The child has difficulty walking, sitting or standing and may appear to be uncomfortable.

The Children’s social care team will liaise with the Paediatric services where it is believed that FGM has already taken place to ensure that a Medical Assessment takes place.

If you are concerned that a girl is at risk of FGM or believe that FGM has already taken place, this is a child protection issue and must be documented and reported to First Response and/or the police.

For more information on this topic, see the online South West Child Protection Procedures, NSPCC or locally BAWA. Contact details in the appendix.

Appendix B

Bristol Reporting

Referral Agencies:


  • First Response – 0117 9036444  (all Bristol)


The place to call if you are concerned about a child or young person or think they need some help. Calls to First Response may result in direct referral to a Social Work Team or to Early Help and/or advice and guidance being given about services to help families.


  • Early Help: North 0117 352 1499; East / Central 0117 941 5886 ; South 0117 903 7770

  • Disabled Children Team (all Bristol) – Tel: 0117 9038250

  • Emergency Duty Team /Out of Office Hours Tel: 01454 615 165

  • Police:  Non emergency – Tel: 101 Emergency – Tel: 999


  • On-Call Consultant Paediatrician (via BRI Switchboard) 0117 923 0000 – non-mobile babies


For Staff Allegations Contact:


  • Local Area Designated Officer – Telephone 0117 903 7795, Work mobile: 07795 091020
  • Registered providers must inform Ofsted of any allegations of serious harm or abuse as soon as reasonably practicable, but at the latest within 14 days of the allegations being made.
  • Ofsted Compliance and Investigation Team (For reporting any Child Protection concerns).-Tel: 0300 123 1231
  • Ofsted Whistleblowing hotline – 0300 123 3155



Support and advice


  • Childline -Tel: 0800 1111 (open 24 hours)


    • National Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) -Tel: 0800 800 500
    • NSPCC Whistleblowing hotline – 0800 0280 285


  • Bristol Safeguarding Children Board (training) –Tel: 0117 3532505
  • Channel info:



Appendix C

Reporting agencies for other areas (listed alphabetically – will be added as we work in each new area)

Gloucestershire Youth Support Team – Advice and support for young people in Stroud area

Access this team:

  • In person, at any of the Youth Support Team centres around the county
  • By telephone, on 01452 426900
  • By writing to the Youth Support Team, 92-96 Westgate Street, Gloucester, GL1 2PE
  • By emailing
  • Via the website

Appendix D

Further Information

South West Child Protection Procedures – provide detailed online information on all aspects of child protection, e.g : Staff allegations  –

“Addendum to the Multi Agency Guidance for Injuries in Non- Mobile babies”

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015

First Response online Request for Help form- (Please note you cannot print off a copy of this form, so keep a record of the information sent)  Do not send any child or family details by unsecured email.

Guidance for safer working practice for those working with children and young people in education settings

Sharing information on children. A guide for people working with children, young people and their families (2007)

BSCB “Guidance on the transfer of a child protection safeguarding file to another educational setting”

Prevent Duty Guidance for England and Wales

EYFS Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements – Child Protection

Further support & advice:


  • Childline -Tel: 0800 1111 (open 24 hours)


    • National Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) -Tel: 0800 800 500
    • NSPCC Whistleblowing hotline – 0800 0280 285




Fraser Guidelines & Bichard Checklist

Fraser guidelines were issued by Lord Fraser in 1985, following the House of

Lords’ ruling in the case of Victoria Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area

Health Authority. They are known as the ‘Fraser Guidelines’ and apply to doctors

and health care staff in England and Wales, but have been used to guide all

professionals in their work with young people under 16.


The Department of Health issued a circular on Family Planning (1986) in

response to the Gillick case. It gave guidance to doctors and health professionals

on providing advice and treatment to young people under 16 years of age.


The Bichard checklist came from the Bichard inquiry 2004 into the death of

Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells. The ‘Bichard Checklist’ is one of the

recommendations from the inquiry and is used to check whether agencies should

be sharing information with the police or social services.


FRASER GUIDELINES – can you give

contraceptive and sexual health advice

and information to under 16 year olds

without parental consent?

BICHARD checklist – should you tell

the police and social services?

Are you satisfied that:

• The young person can

understand the advice and has

sufficient maturity to understand

what is involved in terms of the

moral, social and emotional


• You can’t persuade the young

person to inform their parents,

nor allow you to inform their

parents that contraceptive

advice is being sought?

• The young person would be

very likely to begin or to

continue having sexual

intercourse with or without

contraceptive treatment?

• Without contraceptive treatment

the young person’s physical or

mental health or both would be

likely to suffer?

• The young person’s best

interests require the

professional to give advice

without parental consent?

Do any of the following apply?

• Age or power imbalances?

• Overt aggression?

• Coercion or bribery?

• The misuse of substances as a


• Does the child’s own behaviour,

because of the misuse of

substances, place him/her at risk

so that he/she is unable to make

an informed choice about any


• Has any attempt to secure

secrecy been made by the

sexual partner, beyond what

would be considered usual in a

teenage relationship?

• Is the sexual partner is known by

one of the agencies (e.g.


• Does the child deny, minimise or

accept concerns?

• Are the methods used are

consistent with grooming?



Sexual activity in young people aged 18 and under – guidelines for each age

Extract from the South West Regional Child Protection Procedures


Young people under the age of 13

In law (Sexual Offences Act 2003) children under 13 are deemed to be unable to

give informed consent to sexual activity, so professionals working with such

children need to ensure that they have taken all reasonable steps to protect the

child’s welfare and prevent them from harm, and that they have operated within

the guidance issued by their organisation.


In all cases where the sexually active young person is under the age of 13, a full

assessment must be undertaken. Advice or guidance should be obtained from

the organisation’s Child Protection lead, the Designated/Named clinician, or line



Although each case must be assessed individually, any sexual offence involving

a child under 13 is very serious and should be taken to indicate a risk of

significant harm and in most cases this will lead to a referral to Children’s Social

Care in line with LSCB child protection procedures. A strategy discussion with the

police and other agencies will be held. In order for this to be meaningful, the

young person will need to be identified, as will their sexual partner if details are



All actions taken by the professional MUST BE RECORDED and the rationale for

these actions clearly given.


A decision not to refer can only be made following a case discussion with the

nominated lead for child protection within the professional’s employing

organisation. When a referral is not made, the professional and agency

concerned is fully accountable for the decision and a good standard of record

keeping must be made, including the reasons for not making a referral.

When a girl under 13 is found to be pregnant, whether or not she intends to

proceed with the pregnancy, a referral to Children’s Social Care must be made

following LSCB child protection procedures and a strategy discussion with the

police and other agencies will be held. At this stage a multi agency support

package should be formulated.


Young people aged 13, 14 and 15

This difference in procedure reflects the position that, whilst sexual activity under

16 remains illegal, young people under the age of 13 are not competent to give

consent to such sexual activity.


The Sexual Offences Act 2003 reinforces that, whilst mutually agreed, non-

exploitative sexual activity between teenagers does take place and that often no harm comes from it, the age of consent is 16 years. This acknowledges that this

group of young people is still vulnerable, even when they do not view themselves

as such.


Sexually active young people in this age group will still have to have their needs

assessed using this protocol. Discussion with Children’s Social Care will depend

on the level of risk/need assessed by those working with the young person.


Within this age range the presumption will be that the younger the child or the

wider the age gap, the stronger the presumption that sexual activity is a matter of



Cases of concern will be discussed with the agency’s nominated child protection

lead and subsequently with other agencies. Where there is reasonable cause to

suspect that significant harm to the child has occurred, or might occur, the case

will be referred to Children’s Social Care under LSCB procedures and a strategy

meeting, to include the referrer, will be held to discuss next steps.


All cases will be carefully documented including where a decision is taken not to

share information.


Young people aged 16, 17 and 18

Although sexual activity in itself is not an offence over the age of 16, young

people under the age of 18 are still entitled to protection under the Children Act



Consideration should be given to issues of sexual exploitation through

prostitution and abuse of power in circumstances outlined above. Young people,

of course, can still be subject to offences of rape and assault and the

circumstances of an incident may need to be explored with a young person.

Young people over the age of 16 and under the age of 18 are not deemed able to

give consent if the sexual activity is with an adult in a position of trust or a family

member as defined by Section 27 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.


Where it is believed by the practitioner that a young person is suffering or at risk

of significant harm referral to Children’s Social Care, under LSCB child protection

procedures, should be made.



Young people’s frequently asked questions


  1. a) Will you keep this confidential?

I will not tell anyone or repeat anything that you’ve told me if you don’t want me to

even to your parents and/or carers. The only exception to this would be if you told

me something that makes me think that you or another young person is at

serious risk of immediate harm. I would try to put you in touch with services that

can help. Then I might need to break your confidentiality in order to protect you or

another young person but I would always tell you if this was going to happen. I

would always encourage you to talk to your parents or carers if you felt able to do



  1. b) My boyfriend/girlfriend is pressurising me to have sex. What should I


Deciding whether you’re ready to have sex is a big decision. You’re the only one

who can – and should – make it. A lot of people look back on their first sexual

experience and have regrets that it wasn’t how they imagined it would be.


When’s the right time? Although there is a legal age of consent, that’s not

necessarily the perfect age for you to start having sex. And there are no rules

about how long you have to be going out with someone before you do it. Being

ready happens at different times for everyone, but having sex because your

friends are pressuring you is a bad call.


Saying no: you might feel awkward saying no – but going through with it because

you’re too polite to say no could be a big mistake. If you’ve got any doubts at all,

or you feel under pressure, put the brakes on and talk about your feelings.


Saying yes: if you think the time’s right, the first time will be loads more special if

you talk about it with your girlfriend/ boyfriend first. Tell them how you’d like it to

happen and talk about contraception together. Look on the 4YP Bristol website

for more information.


  1. c) What should I do if the condom splits?

Whether you didn’t use protection at all, the condom split or you forgot to take

your pill, if you’ve had unprotected sex you are still at risk of pregnancy and STIs.

The best thing to do is to act fast. The sooner you act the less likely you are to

get pregnant, or pass on any infections you may have picked up, to someone



To avoid unplanned pregnancy, a girl can take either the emergency

contraceptive pill (up to 72 hours/three days later) or have an IUD coil fitted (up to

120 hours/five days later). You should continue to use condoms if you are having

sex, until your next period if you are on the normal pill.


If you have sex without a condom, or if the condom breaks, you are also at risk of

catching an STI. If this happens and you are worried you might have picked

something up, you can get confidential help and advice in your local area, as well

as free testing for STIs.


If you are having sex, you shouldn’t rely on emergency contraception to stop you

getting pregnant. There are lots of options you can choose from to make sure you

are always protected — so talk to a nurse or doctor about what contraception is

right for you. Remember that condoms are the best way to protect you from

pregnancy and STI’s. Look on the 4yp Bristol website for more information.


  1. d) Will the chemist/pharmacist give me the emergency pill if I am under 16?

Yes. Most pharmacies in Bristol provide emergency contraception free to under

25s, including those under 16. You need to ring them first to make sure they

offer the service and that the pharmacist who is trained to do this is there at the

time you need them. If you are under 16 you can go to a Young Person’s Clinic

(the list is on, your doctor or nurse, or an NHS Walk in



  1. e) Will the chemist/pharmacist inform my parents/carers?

No, you have a right to confidential advice and treatment (also see question a)


  1. f) What should I do if I think I may be pregnant?
  2. The first thing to do is find out for sure and the sooner you do that the better,

so act quickly and take a pregnancy test. If you are pregnant, it’s good to have as

many options as possible. And the earlier you find out, the more options you



There are lots of places you can go for a free pregnancy test and confidential

advice. Remember you can always ask for a female member of staff if that would

make you feel more comfortable. Look on the 4yp Bristol website for more




Safeguarding Procedures flow diagram