M2 Explain how practitioners can take steps to protect themselves in relation to safeguarding practice in a work setting

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M2 Explain how practitioners can take steps to protect themselves in relation to safeguarding practice in a work setting


It is important for workers to behave and act in a way that does not put them in any danger of being accused of being unprofessional or indeed of carrying out abuse. Child abuse does occur in childcare settings, but thankfully not that often. For example, the story about child abuse at a Plymouth nursery in 2009 made parents of young children very worried about the safety of their children when in the care of childcare workers, and the report of a child drowning on a school trip increased anxiety in teachers with many choosing not to participate in school trips for fear of disciplinary action and even going to jail. Getting the balance between providing high quality care and staying free from false allegations of misconduct can be quite difficult. However, post Plymouth, many child care settings have tightened up the guidelines of what is allowed when working with children. Furthermore, several high profile deaths, such as Victoria Climbie, have resulted in legislative change and statutory guidance issued by government. Practitioners must be aware of statutory laws and guidance as well as that issued by individual organisations when working with children and young people and protecting themselves from allegations of abuse and misconduct.


First, it is against the law to use physical punishment when disciplining children. To avoid any type of misunderstandings a professional working with older children and young people may best avoid any type of physical contact whatsoever. During an interview the safeguarding officer at my college informed our health and social care group that staff are advised never to touch a child who is behaving badly and to use the behaviour system where the pastoral staff are called for assistance. Furthermore, if a child decides not to wait for the pastoral staff to arrive and to walk out of the classroom, staff are advised not to block the young person’s pathway. This way a young person will find it harder to make an allegation that they had been physically assaulted. It is also best to try not to be on your own with a child, and other students and adults can act as valuable witnesses if any allegations are made.

When working with pre-school children, practitioners will have to have a certain amount of contact with the children but high profile cases such as Vanessa George who carried out the abuse at the nursery in Plymouth, have resulted in many childcare settings introducing policies on what is ‘appropriate touch’. For example, personal care, such as changing nappies is an everyday part of the role of a nursery nurse but it is important that the worker follows the procedures of the workplace so that they are not open to any false allegations by an increasing suspicious public. It is standard for care settings to discuss and agree with parents and carers personal care procedures and to confirm agreement with a written plan which is signed by the parents and carers and reviewed on a regular basis. It is also important to record when intimate care has been given, stating the date, time, person who carried out the task and the reason why. This could then be used to demonstrate that proper procedures had been followed in the event of any incident or complaint.

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The undertaking of personal care is also a time when workers may notice signs that the child is being abused, such as bruising and even discharges. The worker has a duty of care to report any signs of abuse or they could be accused of being neglectful. They can protect themselves from this by following the setting’s procedures and records of what the practitioner has seen may even be needed as evidence in court. A practitioner who fails to comply with this duty of care is leaving themselves in a vulnerable position which could lead to disciplinary action and ...

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