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Dealing with disclosures during disussions in lessons

Lessons that include social and emotional aspects of their online lives can often, by their very nature, open children and young people up in terms of what they reveal to you and their peers, particularly if you have created a supportive environment for those conversations to happen.

 Occasionally, you may hear information that gives you cause for concern over a child’s safety or well-being; in these cases you have a professional duty of care to intervene in a way that supports the child. 

“Disclosures” can be indicators of underlying risk and, as with any safeguarding issue, need to follow due process, not only to protect the child but to ensure the school meets its safeguarding obligation.

Procedure may vary depending on country or region; however, the following list may provide some key points in managing a disclosure from a child or young person

(adapted from Kent CC UK Education Safeguarding Team UK)

A. Remember that the child’s welfare and interests must be the paramount consideration at all times. 

B. Listen carefully and actively to the child. At this stage there is no necessity to ask questions. Let the child guide the pace.

C. Do not show shock at what you are hearing. This may discourage the child from continuing the disclosure. 

D. Do not investigate. If you need to clarify what is being said and whether the child is at risk, ask open questions but only to the point of clarifi cation being achieved. Avoid the question ‘why?’ as this can imply guilt / responsibility on the child. 

E. Stay calm and reassure the child that s/he has done the right thing in talking to you. 

F. Never promise to keep a secret or confidentiality. You have a duty to ensure the information is passed on to the relevant authority in order to keep the child safe. Make sure the child understands what will happen next with his/her information. 

G. Record factually what the child has told you / what you have observed ASAP.

H. If you have seen bruising or an injury, use a body map to record details.

I. Inform your School Leader or Child Protection Lead as soon as possible. 

J. All information should remain confidential to those who ‘need to know’. 

K. Maintain contact with the child. The child has trusted you enough to ‘tell’,and will need to know that s/he is not rejected as a result and may need continued support.

L. Ensure that you have support for yourself in managing the information you have received