Best Practice

Safeguarding: What are the early signs of abuse or neglect?

Most schools are clear about those signs of abuse and neglect that should lead to a referral. But what about the first warning signs that something needs further investigation? NICE has released draft guidance to help schools and other services know what these are. Suzanne O’Connell takes a look

The guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are intended to help practitioners recognise and respond to indicators of abuse and neglect. The full draft is a long document of 581 pages, but a summary version is also available and at 43 pages is far more accessible.

The drafts are intended for practitioners working across the services including health and social care. Some of the assessment, early help and response guidance is not directly applicable to schools. However, the information about the indicators you might look out for is useful to share.

The guidance is based on the premise that children and young people can find it difficult to tell someone about what they are experiencing and in some cases may not want other people to know. However, the presence of abuse and neglect can be detected indirectly through the child’s behaviour and appearance.

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