Dealing with disclosures
Guiding principles for all staff and volunteers for dealing with disclosures
The seven R’s –
- Listen to what is being said, without displaying shock or disbelief
- Accept what is said and take it seriously
- Make a note of what has been said as soon as practicable
- Reassure the pupil, but only as far as is honest and reliable
- Do not make promises you may not be able to keep, eg: “I’ll stay with you”, or “everything will be alright now” or “I’ll keep this confidential”
- Do reassure, eg: you could say “I believe you”, “I am glad you came to me”, “I am sorry this has happened”, “We are going to do something together to get help”
- Respond to the pupil only as far as is necessary for you to establish whether or not you need to refer this matter, but do not interrogate for full details
- Do not ask ‘leading’ questions, eg: ‘Did he touch your private parts?’ or ‘Did she hurt you?’. Such questions may invalidate your evidence (and the child’s) in any later court proceedings.
- Instead, make use of open ended questions which offers the child the opportunity to provide more information about an event in a way that is not leading, suggestive or putting them under pressure. Open questions may use how? When? Who? Where?
- Questions beginning with the phrases ‘tell me’, ‘describe’ or ‘explain’ are useful:
- Tell me what happened, tell me who was there
- Explain what you mean when you say
- Describe the place to me
- Do not criticise the alleged perpetrator; the pupil may care about him/her, and reconciliation may be possible.
- Do not ask the pupil to repeat it all for another member of staff. Explain what you have to do next and whom you have to talk to. Reassure the pupil that it will be a senior member of staff
- Share concerns with the designated safeguarding lead (DSL) as soon as possible. If you are unable to contact your designated safeguarding lead, deputy designated safeguarding lead, or most senior member of staff, and the child is at risk of immediate harm, contact MASH on 0121 788 4333
- If you are dissatisfied with the response from the DSL or children’s social work, you should ask for the decision to be reconsidered, giving your reasons for this.
- A formal referral or any urgent medical treatment must not be delayed by the unavailability of designated staff
- If possible make some very brief notes at the time and write them up as soon as possible. Keep your original notes on file.
- Any member of staff receiving a disclosure of abuse from a child or young person, or noticing signs or symptoms of possible abuse in a child or young person, will make a written record within the hour recording the disclosure using the child’s own words, what was said or seen and the location both of the abuse and the disclosure.
- Record the date, time, place, persons present and noticeable nonverbal behaviour, and the words used by the child. If the child uses sexual ‘pet’ words, record the actual words used, rather than translating them into proper words.
- A record of a concern, suspicion or allegation should be made at the time of or as soon as possible after the event. Dates and times of events should be recorded as accurately as possible, together with a note of when the record was made. (See appendix 6 model pro forma.)
- Record facts and observable things, rather than your ‘interpretations’ or ‘assumptions’
- A record should be made of any visible marks, bruising or injuries to a child that give cause for concern. This may be completed on a body map. (See Appendix 7). The child should not be examined intimately or pictures taken of any injuries / marks.
- All records must be signed and dated clearly with the name of the signatory clearly printed.
- Children MUST NOT be asked to make a written statement themselves or to sign any records.
- All records of a child protection nature (handwritten or typed) are passed to the DSL.
- Support the child: listen, reassure, and be available
- Complete confidentiality is essential. Share your knowledge only with appropriate professional colleagues
- Try to get some support for yourself if you need it
- Has the action taken provided good outcomes for the child?
- Did the procedure work?
- Were any deficiencies or weaknesses identified in the procedure? Have these been remedied?
- Is further training required?
Updates and changes
These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information. Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.