Child protection

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By Karen Harteducational writer

The importance of effective early intervention is crucial in protecting children in our care

Child with teddy bear

In this article:

Everyone is familiar with the upsetting and worrying stories of child abuse in Early Years settings that have been recently reported in the media. Although these developments have caused us all to be extra vigilant with consideration to those entrusted with the care of our children, and rightly so, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that such cases of child abuse in preschool settings are extremely rare.

Child abuse; the term used when an adult harms a child or young person under the age of eighteen, is not only about physical or sexual harm; persistent belittling can erode a child’s self-esteem and confidence, leaving deep emotional scars that are hard to heal and, in many cases, last well into adulthood, too.

Spotting an abuser

There is no easy way to identify someone who poses a threat to children. People who abuse children are often skilled at keeping things secret. There are, however, warning signs to look out for, these include:

A person who:
  • Repeatedly provides or promises a child or children treats, such as presents, money, holidays or special outings.
  • Prefers to spend their time with the more vulnerable children in a group, such as a quiet or lonely child or a child with special needs.
  • Avoids working alongside other adults, if possible.
  • Organises outings with children to private locations, such as their home.
  • Encourages age-inappropriate behaviour in children, such as drinking alcohol, or inappropriate language, perhaps of a sexual nature.
  • Shows discrepancies or vagueness in work history.
  • Shares and/or encourages secretive behaviour around children.
  • Pays particular attention to one child or a small group of children.
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