Specific Safeguarding Information

Unfortunately, modern society and the online world present several challenges when it comes to keeping our young people safe.  The following information is intended to help parents, carers and students raise their awareness about specific areas of safeguarding that affect young people in society.  Each section provides information about the issues and what to look out for if you have concerns.  If you would like to discuss a concern or have any questions, please contact a member of the safeguard team.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Child sexual exploitation - Kent Fire and Rescue Service

What is it?
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of child sexual abuse that occurs where an individual or group coerce, manipulate or deceive a child into sexual activity in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator.  

What do I need to know?
CSE can involve violent, humiliating and degrading sexual assaults, but does not always involve physical contact and can happen online. For example, young people may be persuaded or forced to share sexually explicit images of themselves, have sexual conversations by text, or take part in sexual activities using a webcam.

Children or young people who are being sexually exploited may not understand that they are being abused. They often trust their abuser and may be tricked into believing they are in a loving, consensual relationship.

What are the potential indicators?
Indicators of sexual exploitation can include a child:

  • Appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions
  • Associating with other young people involved in exploitation
  • Having older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • Suffering from sexually transmitted infections or becoming pregnant
  • Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour
  • Suffering from changes in emotional wellbeing
  • Misusing drugs and/or alcohol
  • Going missing for periods of time, or regularly coming home late
  • Regularly missing school or education, or not taking part in education

Child Criminal Exploitation

Child Criminal Exploitation – what are the signs? Child Criminal  Exploitation – what are the signs?

What is it?
Child Criminal exploitation is where an individual or group take advantage of a person under the age of 18 and draw them into criminal activity. Often referred to as ‘County Lines’.

What do I need to know?
County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas within the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.

Drugs – County lines commonly involves the illegal distribution and dealing of seriously dangerous drugs from one city/town to another. The most common drugs involved are heroin and cocaine (crack and powder), but also MDMA, cannabis, amphetamines and spice.

Violence – Gangs sometimes use violence to threaten children and young people when recruiting them. Gangs also violently assault children and young people working for them if they find their drugs or money to be missing.  Weapons such as firearms, knives, bats, acid are sometimes used to make violent threats.

Exploitation – Gangs recruit and use children and young people to move drugs and money for them. Children as young as 11 years old are recruited, often using social media. They are exploited and forced to carry drugs between locations, usually on trains or coaches. They are also forced to sell drugs to local users.

Sexual Exploitation – Young girls are often groomed and forced into relationships with gang members and are made to perform sexual acts.

What are the potential indicators?
A young person’s involvement in county lines activity often leaves signs. A person might exhibit some of these signs, either as a member or as an associate of a gang dealing drugs.

  • Are they always going missing from school or their home?
  • Are they travelling alone to places far away from home?
  • Do they suddenly have lots of money/lots of new clothes/new mobile phones?
  • Are they receiving much more calls or texts than usual?
  • Are they carrying or selling drugs?
  • Are they carrying weapons or know people that have access to weapons?
  • Are they in a relationship with or hanging out with someone/people that are older and controlling?
  • Do they have unexplained injuries?
  • Do they seem very reserved or seem like they have something to hide?
  • Do they seem scared?
  • Are they self-harming?

Terms often linked with county lines:
Cuckooing -Cuckooing is when drug gangs take over the home of a vulnerable person through violence and intimidation, using it as their base for selling/manufacturing drugs.

Signs of cuckooing:

  • An increase in people coming and going
  • An increase in cars or bikes outside
  • Litter outside
  • Signs of drugs use
  • You haven’t seen the person who lives there recently or when you have, they have been anxious or distracted. 

Going Country – This is the most popular term that describes County Lines activity. It can also mean the act of travelling to another city/town to deliver drugs or money.

Trapping – The act of selling drugs. Trapping can refer to the act of moving drugs from one town to another or the act of selling drugs in one.

Trap House – A building used as a base from where drugs are sold (or sometimes manufactured). These houses usually are occupied by someone (usually adult drug users) but sometimes young people are forced to stay in trap houses.

Trap Line – This refers to when someone owns a mobile phone specifically for the purpose of running and selling of drugs.


Self Harm Cycle - Fegans

What is it?
Self harm refers to people deliberately hurting their bodies. Common types of self harm among young people include cutting (e.g. cutting the skin on arms, wrists or thighs), burning the skin, picking at wounds or scars, self hitting, or deliberately overdosing on medication, drugs or other substances that cause harm.

What do I need to know?
Most self harm is in response to intense emotional pain or a sense of being overwhelmed by negative feelings, thoughts or memories. For some young people it may seem there is no other way of dealing with what is going on, or expressing what they are feeling. Self harm may offer temporary relief but it does not help a person to overcome a problem over time.

Some people are more likely to self harm than others, including those who have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse or have a mental health problem such as depression. It is usually a build up of negative, stressful life events rather than one event that triggers self harm in young people.

There is an overlap between self harm and thinking about suicide however not everyone who self harms is suicidal. Sometimes people do very risky things and accidentally die or seriously injure themselves as a result of their self harm.

How can I help a young person who self-harms?
The best way to help someone is to provide support and encourage them to ask for professional help. Be as open with the person as possible and try to make them feel safe to discuss their feelings. Remain calm while recognising they might feel ashamed of their actions and worry about your judgements. Do not try to make ultimatums or force the person to stop, this could make things worse.

Domestic Abuse

Help Project

What is it?
Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people in a relationship. It can seriously harm young people and witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse.

What do I need to know?
The impact of domestic abuse involving children can come in many forms including physical, sexual, emotional, economic, isolation or threats. These impacts could be directly on the children or between adults in the house that is witnessed by the children. Domestic abuse can occur in the home, over the internet, over the phone and can often continue after a relationship has ended.

What are the potential indicators?

  • Unexplained absences or lateness – either from staying at home to protect their parent or hide their injuries, or because they are prevented from attending school;
  • Children and young people attending school when ill rather than staying at home;
  • Children and young people not completing their homework, or making constant excuses, because of what is happening at home;
  • Children and young people who are constantly tired, on edge and unable to concentrate through disturbed sleep or worrying about what is happening at home;
  • Children and young people displaying difficulties in their cognitive and school performance;
  • Children and young people whose behaviour and personality changes dramatically;
  • Children and young people who become quiet and withdrawn and have difficulty in developing positive peer relations;
  • Children and young people displaying disruptive behaviour or acting out violent thoughts with little empathy for victims;
  • Children and young people who are no trouble at all.

Online Safety

The internet is a wonderful place to learn, shop, play games and communicate with friends and family. In fact, online activity has now become a normal part of day to day life within most households. Unfortunately, there are also risks associated with online activity that pose harm to all users, including children and young people. Key concerns include: predators seeking out the vulnerable with ill intent; hackers and identity thieves; trolls and cyberbullies. Therefore, in order for us all to become safer online, it’s important for schools, parents/carers and children to be aware of potential dangers and understand how to safeguard against them and how to report and address concerns when they arise. We continue to prioritise keeping our school communities safe online and full details of our commitment in this area can be found in our e-safety policy. If you have any concerns about your child relating to online safety, please contact the school’s safeguarding team for support and signposting to additional help.

There are lots of resources available with specialist advice and support and a comprehensive list of recommended resources can be found in our e-safety policy. However it can often be difficult to know where to start. In our experience, it is usually with a conversation with children. The resource right from National Online Safety details some of the points you may wish to consider before doing so. We appreciate that children and young people are often more knowledgeable or able online users than adults, by virtue of the world in which we now live, so this may help to navigate some of the key considerations. The NSPCC Share Aware parents’ guide has also been produced to help you keep your child safe online and their Net Aware tool is a guide to apps, games and social media, providing an overview of how safe they are.

Parental Controls

The government has encouraged Internet Service Providers to help parents easily filter content. Switch on family friendly filters to help prevent age-inappropriate content being accessed on devices in your home. Parental controls put you in control of what your child can see. Internet Matters has step by step guides on how to set these up. Alternatively the NSPCC offers similar advice.

Specific safeguarding risks associated with the use of technology

Cyberbullying is any form of bullying which takes place online or through smartphones and tablets or computers, on social networking sites, messaging apps, gaming sites and chat rooms such as Facebook, XBox Live, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and any other such platform. There are many different forms of this type of bullying including: harassment; denigration; flaming; impersonation; outing and trickery; cyber stalking; and exclusion. This type of behaviour can also be threatening and involve blackmail and grooming. You can find more information at Bullying UK. This behaviour is not acceptable within our schools and details of our response to incidents of cyberbullying, and all other forms of peer on peer abuse, can be found within the schools safeguarding policy.

Online Radicalisation
Online Radicalisation

Although rare, online activity and feelings of stress and isolation may be exploited by online groomers to target vulnerable children and young people – including extremist influences seeking to radicalise vulnerable people. Extremists promote hateful views, for example through conspiracy theories blaming a particular group for the coronavirus, or through spreading misinformation about these groups’ responses to it. Issues including Black Lives Matter, and prior to this Brexit, are also being manipulated by extremists to suit their own agendas. Online exploitation is often hard to recognise. Sometimes there are clear warning signs; in other cases the changes are less obvious. Although some of these traits may be quite common among teenagers, taken together they could indicate that your child may need help. The Let’s Talk About It website lists some of these signs.

Online Sexual Abuse
Online Sexual Abuse

A ‘groomer’ is someone who makes an emotional connection with someone online or in person to fulfil an ulterior motive which is often sexual. Children are commonly preyed upon online in this way and can subsequently become engaged in sexual conversations online or by text messages, sending nude images of themselves more commonly referred to as ‘sexting’, sending sexual videos of themselves or performing a sexual act live on webcam. In some cases this culminates in actual physical contact with the groomer then arranging to meet up with children in person. These ‘groomers’ can be of any age, gender, sexual orientation, race or religious background and rarely provide honest details to the child speaking to them.

Once a child sends someone sexual photos or videos of themselves, they lose control over what happens to them. The other person may end up sharing them with other people who might then keep sharing them. Someone could even use these images to blackmail a child. For example, they may say that they’ll post them online if they don’t keep sending more images. Similarly, when children have relationships with one another and engage in sharing of sexualised images, upon the relationship ending threats can also be made to leak these images to peers and this is referred to as ‘revenge porn’. Further information and advice can be accessed on the ThinkUKnow website.

Reporting Concerns

If you are experiencing any issues or concerns online or are worried about a child or young person, you must seek help immediately. Depending on the type of issue you need support with you may need to contact different providers. 

Sexting or Youth Produced Sexual Imagery

What is it?
The creation, sharing and possession of sexual images of people under the age of 18 by students.  Producing, receiving and distributing photos of this nature is illegal.  Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College has clear procedures for dealing with sexting incidents which is informed by the UKCCIS guidance, more information can be found in our safeguarding policy.

What do I need to know?
Youth produced sexual imagery is defined as:

  • A person under the age of 18 creates and shares sexual imagery of themselves with a peer under the age of 18
  • A person under the age of 18 shares sexual imagery created by another person under the age of 18 with a peer under the age of 18 or an adult
  • A person under the age of 18 is in possession of sexual imagery created by another person under the age of 18

What are the potential indicators?

  • Change in school performance / lack of concentration
  • Sudden or noticeable changes in behaviour
  • Changes in peer group / social isolation
  • Increased secrecy over mobile phone
  • Drop in attendance / refusal to attend school

Mental Health & Wellbeing

5 Ways to Mental Well-being | St Francis C of E Primary School

What is it?
“Mental health is defined as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his own community”.  (World Health Organisation)

What do I need to know?
All young people will experience regular worries, this is perfectly normal and is not something to be concerned about.  If a student does express that they are worried about something then often the best remedy is a chat with a loved one or friend.  However, if any worries are more persistent and cause the student to be stressed or sad over a period of several days or reoccur regularly then it is possible that they may need some additional support to deal with the source of their anxiety.

Anxiety is an emotional state commonly caused by the perception of real or perceived danger that threatens the security of an individual.  If this becomes persistent and the student is experiencing severe anxiety symptoms with irrational fears that significantly impair normal function then they may have developed an anxiety disorder.

Some young people use self-harm as a mechanism to cope with distressing thoughts or feelings.  This can give temporary relief; however, the underlying caused is not addressed then this will lead to a build-up of grief and shame which may lead to further self-harm. If you come across a young person who has self-harmed do not react or look shocked, this could amplify any feeling of shame and make the experience worse.

What are the potential indicators?
A person may be experiencing anxiety if they are experiencing palpitations, pounding heart or rapid heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, feeling of shortness of breath or smothering sensations, feeling dizzy, light-headed or faint.

A person may be feeling depressed if they are feeling sad or have a low mood that is not improving, have a loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed show changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting, have trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, have a loss of energy or increased fatigue.

Peer on Peer Abuse

How to Deal With Bullies: A Guide for Parents | Parents

What is it?
Peer on peer abuse is any form of physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse and coercive control, exercised between children and within children’s relationships (both intimate and non-intimate)

What do I need to know?
Peer on peer abuse can take many forms including:

  • bullying (including cyber-bullying)
  • relationship abuse and domestic violence
  • child sexual exploitation
  • youth and serious youth violence
  • harmful sexual behaviour (including sexting & upskirting – see separate sections)
  • gender based violence
  • we never accept abuse as ‘banter’

What are the potential indicators?
Signs that a child may be suffering from peer on per abuse can often overlap with indicators of other forms of abuse:

  • Failure to attend school, disengaging from lessons or a change in performance
  • Physical injury
  • Experiencing difficulties with mental health and/ or emotional wellbeing
  • Becoming withdrawn /shy; experiencing headaches, stomach aches, anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares or lack of sleep
  • Broader changes in behaviour including alcohol or substance misuse
  • Changes in appearance / acting in an age inappropriate way
  • Abusive behaviour towards others

Radicalisation – The Prevent Agenda

Data science for a better world | BBVA

The Prevent Lead at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College is Mr G McClarey and Miss K Mason. If you have any questions about our approach to The Prevent Agenda or what it is then he will be happy to discuss

What is the Prevent Strategy?

Prevent is a government strategy designed to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorist or extremist causes.

How does the Prevent Strategy Apply to Schools?

From July 2015 all schools (as well as other organisations) have a duty to safeguard children from radicalisation and extremism. This means we have a responsibility to protect children from extremist and violent views the same way we protect them from drugs or gang violence. Importantly, we can provide a safe place for students to discuss these issues so they better understand how to protect themselves.

What Does This Mean In Practice?

Many of the things we already do in school to help children become positive, happy members of society also contribute to the Prevent strategy.

These include:

  • Exploring other cultures and religions and promoting diversity.
  • Challenging prejudices and racist comments.
  • Developing critical thinking skills and a strong, positive self-identity.
  • Promoting the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students, as well as British values such as democracy.

We will also protect children from the risk of radicalisation, for example by using filters on the internet to make sure that they cannot access extremist and terrorist material or by vetting visitors who come into school to work with students.