MumsnetGuestBlogs (MNHQ) Thu 12-Sep-13 10:09:25

Guest blog: "it must be mandatory for school staff to report suspected child abuse"

In August, the mother and stepfather of Daniel Pelka were given 30-year sentences for his murder (warning: distressing content). During the trial it emerged that school staff had noticed some of his injuries - but had not taken the actions necessary to save his life.

In this guest blog, Paula Barrow explains why she is campaigning for 'Daniel's Law', which would make it a legal requirement of anyone working with children in the UK to report suspected or known abuse to the local authority or the police.

Do you agree that reporting child abuse should be mandatory? Let us know what you think on the thread below.

Paula Barrow

Campaigner for 'Daniel's Law'

Posted on: Thu 12-Sep-13 10:09:25

(53 comments )

Lead photo

Daniel Pelka was subjected to "a campaign of cruelty", according to Mrs Justice Cox

I first heard Daniel's story as it flickered across the news. I was making tea for my two children, aged 7 and 5; the radio was on in the kitchen and we were listening to Steve Wright when we heard the headline report. Wide-eyed, my little girl queried whether what she'd just heard could really be true... that a four-year-old school-boy had been starved and beaten, and was now dead. Before I could answer, she went on to ask why his teachers hadn't helped him.

I couldn't put Daniel's story out of my mind. I was shaken by the sketchy details I'd heard; it seemed impossible to believe that a child of school age - who was in regular contact with teachers, school staff and other adults - should have suffered in this way, over a period of months. But he did and the circumstances surrounding Daniel's harrowing story are disturbingly reminiscent of other appalling cases of child abuse in recent years, in which we learn that people in responsible positions could have intervened, but failed to take the necessary action to save a child's life.

I was perplexed by the nagging question of accountability - why did no one seem to be held responsible for not having helped Daniel? I wrote to opinion writers and editors, to my MP and other MPs, to government offices; I went right to the top and wrote to the Prime Minister. But no one replied to me except for an officer in the Department for Education who said I could be certain of a serious case review.

I think I probably assumed it was the law for people working with children to report abuse until the details of Daniel's case made it plain that it wasn't. Looking into it, I found that many countries do have such laws, particularly with regard to safeguarding children - Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the USA and now the Republic of Ireland (following a recent referendum), to name but a few - and that this number is growing all the time.

The circumstances surrounding Daniel's harrowing story are disturbingly reminiscent of other appalling cases of child abuse in recent years, in which we learn that people in responsible positions could have intervened, but failed to take the necessary action to save a child's life.


Those countries with mandatory reporting laws seldom prosecute anyone - but the deterrent or preventative effect is significant, as is the clarity of requirement. Current Department of Education guidance on how to deal with child abuse is 13 pages long, and full of the word should - leaving any final decision rather open to individual interpretation. In recent weeks, as part of my campaign research, I've seen letters from schools asking government for precise instruction (as opposed to guidance) so that staff have the confidence to take the action necessary to help a child in distress.

It's all very well talking about moral responsibility and professional duty of care, but teachers can find themselves in really difficult situations when confronted with child abuse; they need to be fully supported to press their worries home... no matter what the cost. Faced with an angry parent or a doubting colleague, staff can fail to act because they worry about being wrong, being ostracised, being put out of a job even. A new law requiring the mandatory reporting of child abuse would take away that burden of responsibility - anyone working with children would be obliged to report abuse by law. A subtle difference, perhaps, but one thing is certain sooner or later, another child's life will depend on it.

I launched my petition for Daniel's Law the night before Magdelena Luczak and Mariusz Krezolekwere were sentenced, when Daniel's name was trending in search engines and media interest was at a peak; The Coventry Telegraph ran a story almost immediately and there has been regional coverage in Manchester too (where I live); I was interviewed on BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshires breakfast show earlier this week. I set up a Facebook page because people asked for one and I learned fast on Twitter - in fact, I was so keen at the beginning that I was almost struck off for too many unsolicited tweets (I'm still not entirely sure what I did, no one I asked had ever heard of such a thing!).

Most importantly, I now have the signatures and support of a number of MPs - a couple of whom are of Shadow Ministers - there will be a debate in the Commons on child protection this week in which parliamentary supporters intend speaking out for Daniel's Law and I will deliver my petition (currently approaching 15,000 signatures) to Downing Street around the time Daniel's serious case review reports.

Many people have lost faith in the serious case review process and we can only hope the Coventry serious report is bold enough to make some radical recommendations for future safeguarding, including mandatory reporting. In 2003, the Climbie Inquiry advised that teachers, doctors, other professionals must communicate concerns and share information - yet here we are 10 years later, considering once again how to make that vital communication happen. Making reporting child abuse the law for those who work with children has got to be a good place to start.

People signing this campaign include abuse lawyers and specialist charities, teachers, health workers and nurses who consider it would help both staff and children to make reporting abuse a legal obligation of course, lots of parents and other interested people are also supporting, many are shocked to discover such a law is not already in place.

Nick Clegg said at the time of Daniel's trial "Clearly people must have seen something was wrong with this boy, I think his death should be on all of our consciences."

There is a window of opportunity to campaign for change right now. If youd like to see a change in the law, please sign, tweet and share, tell everyone you know... do whatever you can to support the campaign for Daniel's Law.

By Paula Barrow

Twitter: @paulabarrow

KB02 Thu 12-Sep-13 11:30:39

Signed

Tee2072 Thu 12-Sep-13 12:25:03

I'm stunned that it is not mandatory, perhaps because I grew up in the US where it is mandatory and because when my son started at his school I was handed a thick booklet of their CP policy including the reporting of suspected abuse.

I wonder if the law is different in NI?

In any case, we definitely need the mandate.

Ilovemyrabbits Thu 12-Sep-13 13:24:04

Having undergone safeguarding training I thought it was a legal obligation to report suspected abuse or to highlight signs that may indicate difficulties within the family. It seems, however, that I confused a responsibility with a legal compulsion. At the school I work with I believe we are very attentive when it comes to reporting issues. It's clear that this child was failed, however, and there should be some kind of redress if schools and nurseries are not compelled to report problems or potential issues that they see.

Oblomov Thu 12-Sep-13 14:03:31

This case is a copy of Baby P.
Total negligence. By so many peoe. and he just slips through the net.SS closed the case. School nurse visited twice. Nurse refers to Paed, but appt cancelled.

I can't see how we get around this. Or rather it appears that we have learnt nothing from Baby P case.

ReallyTired Thu 12-Sep-13 14:33:28

I don't think that making it "mandatory" for school staff to report child abuse would help save lives. All the schools I have worked in have had a strong child protection policy. It is very easy for someone who is inexperienced to get things wrong and make a child protection issue far worse.

Child protection is a complex area and often professionals with degrees in child protection make mistakes. I think its unreasonable to criminalise school staff for getting it wrong. It is hard for a chidl protection officer to know when to make a referal to SS. Our county has external support for schools when faced with such issues.

Certainly I don't want some nutcase TA/ parent helper ruining an innocent family's life by reporting them to social services because they disagree with the family's parenting philosophy. If social workers are investigating innocent families then they have less time to visit the baby P families. Social workers have limited time and it needs to be targetted on helping families who need it.

MobileKeysPurse Thu 12-Sep-13 15:05:21

Realytired

We were an innocent family investigated by SS, from school. It was a catalogue of errors by many professionals that brought the school to see me as someone I was not. Medical neglegance, followed by Police, then CAFCASS messing up on various things, me being a victim of DV. Malicious allegations by an ex. It took years and loads of work from me to sort the mess out. SS were not impressed with the referrals to them, they sat in court and told CAFCASS it was a waste of their time, they told the school they were having their time wasted on this so wanted us all to meet to clear up the continual referrals from school for what were untreated physical medical issues due to medical neglect from medics the children had and not what school were trying to make out was me being someone I am not.

reallyslummymummy Thu 12-Sep-13 17:28:09

Completely fair that there is a legal requirement. My only reservation is that in everything there will be mistakes in judgement on both sides. It would be hard to enforce and it would concern me if innocent people came under scrutiny by teachers who actually did not know what they were looking for.

tethersend Thu 12-Sep-13 17:32:19

Mandatory reporting is one of the steps which need to be taken to address the detection of child abuse in schools.

Staff need comprehensive training not just on the signs of abuse, but on how abusers can cover abuse and use close relationships with staff to do so. This is simply not covered in enough depth in current CP training.

Offred Thu 12-Sep-13 18:49:38

Absolutely opposed to this.

Don't believe it will help.

Believe what it will do is further over stretch the services and I think it is shocking that people may be criminalised for failing to do something which apparently becomes right only with hindsight.

Offred Thu 12-Sep-13 18:51:06

Absolutely opposed to this.

Don't believe it will help.

Believe what it will do is further over stretch the services and I think it is shocking that people may be criminalised for failing to do something which apparently becomes right only with hindsight.

I agree that with legal compulsion there must be training. I'm not sure, though, how it would work in practice.

Claudiecat Thu 12-Sep-13 19:12:52

How do you know the professionals involved didn't report it? No abuser is going to walk around saying yes I am abusing my child, I own up to it. They are extremely clever at covering up.

ReallyTired Thu 12-Sep-13 19:33:44

Two afternoons child protection training is not enough to responsible in a criminal sense for spotting and reporting child abuse. The baby P case is different, it is fair to chastise people who have studied child protection to degree level for not spotting child abuse.

I am horrified to think that a level 1 TA might be criminalised for failing to act.

tethersend Thu 12-Sep-13 20:00:00

Also, essentially, we need an adequately funded service which can investigate reports of abuse.

Children's services are currently so over stretched that any increase in reports of abuse will floor them. This does not mean that mandatory reporting is a bad idea, just that more funding is needed.

paramjitkamal1 Thu 12-Sep-13 21:03:25

I have also signed this petition and totally agree that there needs to be a legal requirement esp. in schools and will help child abuse 'detection'.. Daniel Pelka was a sad and horrific case and I believe had mandatory reporting been in place it could have made a difference. We definitely need this mandated...

Kidsareinbed Thu 12-Sep-13 21:13:26

I think there has been some misunderstanding here, this isn't about accounting anyone to blame nor is it about criminalising people for failing to do something. It's about new legislation which will enable staff who work with children to report any concerns they may have around a child. It removes any hesitation, any doubt, that they may have, that might stop them from reporting.

If people who work with children are legally obliged to report any worries or suspicions, it will empower them to act, which could save a child's life. They will no longer need to worry about what to do if they are wrong or being labelled as interfering. It will be their duty, by law, to report any suspicions.

It is our responsibility to give every child a chance at the best opportunities in life, the best chance of having a good life. They only get ONE chance. It's a no brainer to introduce this legislation, which may save a child's life, may save a child from being mistreated. And it doesn't matter in the slightest how much paperwork this creates.

There are too many cases like Daniel's in the news, it is our duty to do everything in our power to change this.

1grinkle Thu 12-Sep-13 21:15:22

The bottom line is that at least 2 children have lost their lives (Baby P & Daniel Pelka) because the system failed them. Clearly something has to change to better protect vulnerable children! School staff would not be "criminalised" for getting it wrong - on the contrary instead of the fear of reprisal leading to hesitation to report they will be supported and have clear instruction on what steps to take and when. It is not about blame, it is about making sure this does not happen again.

The comment that reads "Certainly I don't want some nutcase TA/Parent helper ruining an innocent family's life by reporting them to SS because they disagree with the family parenting philosophy" Is a very rash comment clearly made by someone who does not understand the whole concept of what is being proposed. Of course a great deal of thought will need to go into the logistics and way it is set up. Mistakes are made now to innocent families - what this law is trying to achieve is protection - in the first instance to the children who can't protect themselves but also to the Professionals who at the moment are unsure of when and how to act for the very reason of blaming innocent people. This law is not creating that problem it will be making something clear, concise and universally accepted and will give protection to all.

Remarks about overstreching the services are irrelevant, if a law is passed then a structure will be set up to cope with the process and nobody will be "Criminalised for failing to do something which only seems right in hindsight" another rash comment!

So to the negative reviewers I ask what are the alternatives? Do we sit back and watch it happen again? What would you suggest?? Something must be done, it has been proven in many other Countries - so why not here!!

ReallyTired Thu 12-Sep-13 21:36:56

Anyone can report a family to social services. In a school setting there is proceedure for dealing with child protection concerns. It is easier to make a situation worse if you don't know what you are doing.

For example if you suspect abuse then you need to be very careful how you question a child. Otherwise you can make a court case fall apart.

"Something must be done, it has been proven in many other Countries - so why not here!!"

Is there evidence that other countries have fewer tragedies than the UK? Our schools, social workers and health visitors do a damn good job. It doesn't get into the newpapers when some TA spots something wrong, goes to the child protection officer refers the matter to social services and the child is rescued.

If a well meaning school employee follows child protection protocal then the matter is dealt by people who know what they are doing. I feel that rather than criminalising people who make mistakes, its better to actually spend the money on more social workers and better child protection training.

Most school staff deeply care about the children. They don't need the threat of criminal proceedings to make them report an incidence of child abuse.

Offred Thu 12-Sep-13 21:44:07

I suggest people get a grip and realise that children will always be abused and killed and there is nothing we can do to stop this.

Practical solutions would be to completely ban physical punishment which is shown to reduce child deaths at the hands of their parents. Put money into support structures and early interventions which help prevent escalation. Also create a greater respect for children and families in our society to start with, too much treating them like property and stigmatising families and parents if you ask me.

Offred Thu 12-Sep-13 21:47:01

I don't see what basis there is that this wouldn't result in punishing people who were trying to help or some people being falsely accused either. If it won't end up with both those things happening then it is ineffective and worthless isnt it because of the nature of the proposed change to encourage increases reactionary reporting without better support or education and at the threat of punishment.

heygirl0001 Thu 12-Sep-13 22:23:27

Making it mandatory to report abuse and neglect means the news gets to the professionals who can really assess whether there is a case. It is not then for school to keep considering is this abuse? Is this neglect? Experts in child protection would be able to recognise quickly the cases that need urgent attention or just support with the child.
It is a completely separate issue but the headteacher at Daniel's school was in his early thirties when this was going on. I can't help thinking at that age you just cannot have the experience to recognise neglect, disbelieve a parent and query a child's injuries.
Daniel is all I can think about. While staff at his school returned daily to their lives he returned daily to the hell we now read about. This month he should have started in Year 2. Instead he has just been buried a year and a half after dying. The unbearable thing is a system to protect him exists but it is clear it needs changing. His suffering must not be in vain and if the only tribute is that the law is changed to make reporting mandatory then that will be something. He deserves to be recognised for his suffering.

Lilyching Thu 12-Sep-13 22:34:20

As has been said in the guest blog above, the simple fact is that Department of Education guidelines are just that - guidelines - and as such are open to subjective interpretation by both institutions and individuals. All that is being asked in this petition is for these often confusing guidelines to be enshrined in law so that the guidance would become a legal obligation, removing any doubt or hesitation and supporting teachers and other individuals to report suspected abuse appropriately in often very difficult circumstances, with the full support of the law behind them. I am at a loss to understand how this could be considered a bad thing! Almost 45,000 people have already signed the petition; there is a depth of feeling in this country following the death of Daniel Pelka under such harrowing circumstances that something should and must be done to try to prevent such a thing happening again. I think the proposals put forward in this petition go a long way towards achieving that goal and I urge everyone to consider signing for the sake of all vulnerable children in our country.

1grinkle Thu 12-Sep-13 22:38:23

hmmm........... "I suggest people get a grip and realise that children will always be abused and killed and there is nothing we can do to stop this" You are correct in that statement - there will always be abuse and murder in the world, we can't stop that. However, if you read the case of Daniel Pelka you will see that a Teaching Assistant did voice concerns, hesitation and fear of reprisal meant it was too late to save him. Had it been law then he would have been saved - 1 life saved !!!! Worth it or not??

How would you go about your suggestion of banning physical punishment? - you admit that there is nothing we can do to stop abuse and killing of children, how would you police your idea?

When you "suggest people get a grip" that is exactly what the people who have started this campaign are trying to do - they must have been moved to try and make changes to save lives. Putting work into trying to find an answer and your comments basically insinuating that there is no point because children will always be abused and killed so lets not bother and even try to save 1 child are at the very least flippant and at worst monstrous. Innefective and worthless are not words to describe something that has been proved in other Countries - they are words to describe someone who has no comprehension of the full facts!!

1grinkle Thu 12-Sep-13 22:50:04

I agree that our Schools, Health Visitors and Social Workers do a damn good job, often under a great deal of pressure. I truly believe that this law would help them and indeed there has been a great deal of support from that sector.

I also agree it would have to be very carefully thought out in order that it supports and protects all parties. We can't go on reading about these hideous cases without trying to learn lessons and acting accordingly.

nicoleno5 Thu 12-Sep-13 23:49:44

Nothing rang truer than the final comment that there is a window of opportunity to make these changes - and it is open right now. We owe it to both the children and those who work with them to make these essential shifts in attitude and change policy.

Offred Fri 13-Sep-13 06:58:52

There is plenty of evidence for an outright ban on physical punishment being the single most important thing in reducing child abuse. Our government has been urged numerous times to implement one and won't.

I'm not sure this would have made any difference to Daniel pelka because by all accounts the problem was that the staff didnt believe he was being abused on the whole, his mother had given credible cover stories. I think a law to report all suspected child abuse that caused all children with medical problems to have their families investigated would be horrendous.

Whatever the guidelines say, whatever the law says there are always going to be judgement calls involved in this and the services are always going to get it wrong. Particularly nasty and clever abusers will always get through whatever system there is. I simply don't see that there is any evidence to support this will do anything other than increase pressure on services and create suspicion amongst parents which will alienate them from seeking help at an early stage. It is a bad plan and there are better things.

Offred Fri 13-Sep-13 07:26:19

I think we need lots of changes btw, just not this one.

BlackberrySeason Fri 13-Sep-13 07:38:40

I am absolutely horrified by this case too but do not want a change in the law.

What needs to be focused on is that children are all our responsibility. EVERYONE should be looking out for children and reporting if there are clear signs of abuse. IMHO many are now do frightened of being accused of undue interest in children that normal contact with children by third party adults is undermined and people are less likely to report.

My DH was in a position recently where a small child (around 4) who was unable to use a particular piece of playground equipment was crying and calling out that that needed a carry down as they were stuck v high up and might fall. No sign of mum and dad. He helped of course, but told me he was v nervous as he did it sad

Offred Fri 13-Sep-13 08:01:20

I mean we see threads all the time where people are already worrying about getting help from services which have increasingly become like police agencies as a result of what I feel is child abuse hysteria. What has happened as a consequence of this shift from support to police and a result of cuts in services and shifts in education, meaning staff are able to be less qualified, is simply that there is no no support and very little early intervention, that services are already overstretched and failing and I think it is this toxic combination we need to address as well as social attitudes to the raising of children and the economics of raising a family:

Claudiecat Fri 13-Sep-13 09:19:22

I've read the comments so far and again I'll reiterate - what makes you think that concerns aren't reported? Also I'm at a loss as to what the age of the headteacher has to do with the outcome. Is there a set age where you suddenly become more aware of signs of abuse? How do you know the headteacher's teaching background, career or training? Ludicrous!

TheFallenNinja Fri 13-Sep-13 09:29:06

I think the misunderstanding is that there is a safety net to slip through.

Currently only when concerns are raised through locally decided channels with dubious audit trails does anything actually begin to slowly happen.

Factor in the all too common and tired cry of overworked social workers then the net becomes smaller, add in the cry of personal privacy, the risk of misreporting and trial by media/blogger and forum it becomes smaller still.

Consider litigious parents, teachers, unions and professional bodies and again it gets smaller.

Throw in politicisation of all the above and what do we have? We have nothing.

There is no safety net and to believe otherwise is folly.

The obstacles in acting on the abusers are huge and presently insurmountable.

I'll bet my life that today, right now in this country there are teachers or doctors who absolutely know of a child who is being seriously abused but choose not to act upon it because of the above.

halfpint76 Fri 13-Sep-13 09:52:05

I've been following this case alot as it literally broke my heart to hear what Daniel suffered.

I spent a lot of time considering whether to sign this petition though as, like others, I wondered if the focus should have been elsewhere. I don't have direct experience of CP issues but I get a sense there is a need for improving child protection training (within schools, for SWs, health professionals, police etc); a need to make it easier to register concerns and for concerns to be communicated and accessible across these professional disciplines; campaigning for more resources so local authorities can better support SWs so that they don't have unmanageable case loads and basically less judicial bureacracy so that vulnerable children are the priority first and foremost.

I did sign the petition in the end because I hope if nothing else it will continue the dialogue about where we are failing. We obviously don't hear enough about when these cases are handled well and where children are properly protected. But, in Daniels case, something failed drastically, that's one too many and just not good enough.

I really hope Paula, you get alot of press coverage for this and that the government make tangible, effective changes to how we protect vulnerable children based on your campaign. I really admire what you are doing greatly. Good luck!

Offred Fri 13-Sep-13 12:02:59

There is a safety net, it is being scuppered by cuts and increasing mistrust due to the shift from support to policing.

Familes that need help should have been involved in the system for a long time before they get to this stage. They should be on a CAF and should have been pointed towards CAF or places like women's aid at a very early stage ideally before any abuse happens.

purpleroses Fri 13-Sep-13 12:08:51

My concern would be that a teacher or someone could be put off mentioning some (probably minor) concerns to another teacher, or the head of the school because of fears that once they've done that there would be no option but to report to social services. The teacher would therefore pretend they hadn't noticed something instead.

Many times, it would only be a combination of things (such as bruises, things the child has said, things the sibling has said, etc) that all add up to a need to raise a concern. But the people who know these different bits of information need to be able to speak to each other freely. In the large majority of cases the concerns might be alleviated by talking to others, and hence taken no further. A culture where people fear they'd be breaking the law by doing this could mean a culture where people fear to raise fears. Better to keep silent and then noone can accuse you of having not reported your concerns.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Fri 13-Sep-13 12:19:12

I'm confused. OK, my child protection training was a while ago now, but I thought it was every adults responsibility (in law) to report abuse to the appropriate person.

How the feck do you prove someone did k ow something and didn't say?

hapivibe Fri 13-Sep-13 12:21:11

Hi there I think there are some valid points made in this discussion and my view is that I cannot believe that what is reported to have happened to Daniel happened in front of people's eyes. He was starving and the school did not check up on the reported eating disorder. They should have asked the parents for medical confirmation of this. A blind eye must have been turned and people must have thought that it would turn out ok and someone would do something about it. Everyone who notices something needs to be legally obliged to report it inorder to save lives of children. I really don't want anything like this to happen again but it will unless it is made the law to report abuse.

Offred Fri 13-Sep-13 12:22:38

Teachers have a duty of care to students etc it isn't quite the same as it being illegal not to report IYSWIM.

givemeaboost Fri 13-Sep-13 12:24:08

Communication between people is the absolute key here I believe and have direct experience of this both in the past and very recently.

when SS are called out to see a child, whatever the outcome- eg even if the case is then closed, the info should be shared as standard with school/dr and any others in contact with the child.

I had to report some serious abuse recently, SS went in, did initial assessment then promptly closed the case. as the family relocated im now left wondering whether to write an anon letter to the school as I suspect they have no idea about concerns for the child or that potentially the child is at risk.

I also think there needs to be more "surprise" when it comes to SS meetings- when abuse is suspected I don't believe making an appt to go see the child and parents is the way to go at all - any abuser with any sense will just clean the house and make sure the child is clean etc so no problems would be immediately visible, giving SS a false sense of this child is ok. Id like to see more follow up with children that have been seen by SS and then had their case closed, Id also like clearer guidelines/rules for putting children on the "at risk register"

Offred Fri 13-Sep-13 12:27:55

As far as I can see it is highly likely that Daniel Pelka would still have died no matter whether it was made a legal requirement or not. The mother was committed to both the abuse, which seems instigated and led by her partner, and to comprehensively manipulating the school. This would have happened no matter what the law was, a change in the law would simply change how she manipulated the law.

givemeaboost Fri 13-Sep-13 12:32:29

^ but the school made bad judgment calls- if they had checked with Drs when the mum had said about the eating disorder-and found that infact he did not have one, that may of been the simple call that could've saved his life- action (I hope) would have been taken once they realised she was starving him and would've prompted more thorough investigation.

Offred Fri 13-Sep-13 12:38:33

As I said before judgement calls will still be involved whether it is required that you report or not.

mamasin Fri 13-Sep-13 15:47:11

I support the call for change. Though I don't live in the UK, my experience is that just some school staff are appropriately aware of their responsibilities in recording, dealing and escalating issues. I echo the poster who said we all have a responsibility towards children, whether neighbours or professionals. Something, evenjust one thing positive must come out of beautiful Daniel's passing.

juneau Fri 13-Sep-13 17:34:09

Signed. Such an appalling, heart-breaking story. I find it incredible that this little boy, who was going to school five days a week, presumably doing PE and getting changed in front of his teachers, emaciated and bruised, rummaging in bins around the school for food, didn't arouse the alarm and suspicion of anyone who cared enough to report their worries. As we apparently live in a society where people have to be legally compelled to have compassion and to open their eyes, this petition is urgently needed. Bravo Paula Barrow for actually doing something, rather than just being appalled and feeling helpless, like me.

Havea0 Fri 13-Sep-13 19:21:26

Signed. Normally when I read threads of this sort of nature, I tend to back away.
And initially I did. But then I thought some more. You are talking about people who work with children. They should already be trained in this, so for them then not to report it is bad practice.
Obviously they should talk it their concerns with the boss or leader first. But if two or people agree, then it should be reported. It stops the looking the other way mentality, or the it is nothing to do with me mentality that is surprisingly rife in the general public.

MrsDeVere Fri 13-Sep-13 19:51:18

I am confused
I understood that anyone working with children had a duty to report safeguarding concerns?

I work with children and my training says it is. I have no choice. If I have concerns I HAVE to take them further.

Anyone with training will have this drummed into them. Drummed into them to such an extent there is the danger of inexperienced workers being over zealous.

As many parents of children with disabilities will tell you.

medhandthekiddiesvtheworld Fri 13-Sep-13 20:45:46

They did report, one of the teachers was so concerned she phoned SS and the GP, it was not the failure of the school that led to this,

As someone who has been involved with SS from a victim perspective, they couldnt have cared less about us - the abandoned us and hung us out to dry.

And why?? Because they are so bloody under resourced, they have no workers, they don't have the resource to care, they cannot cope with the cases they have.

Before we have a campaign like this, we need a campaign to make sure front line services are properly funded, because until they are - these things will continue to happen, over and over again.

medhandthekiddiesvtheworld Fri 13-Sep-13 20:46:52

You only need to read ALL the press reports to know his teachers tried, the mother told the school staff he had an eating disorder.

medhandthekiddiesvtheworld Fri 13-Sep-13 20:50:34

I'm sorry to make a third post, has anyone stopped to consider the impact on already over stretched services that extra reporting will bring. It wont work, because the back services are already not their, and that is why poor, poor Daniel died, not because his teachers did not care enough.

jjohnsonvanessa Sat 14-Sep-13 09:41:55

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

bombaybaby45 Sat 14-Sep-13 12:58:17

Ilovemyrabbits, I am interested to hear that you have received safeguarding training because, in the three years that I was a SENCo in a primary school in Surrey, I never received any and so neither would any other SENCo have done. I have signed the Change.org petition calling for mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse. I see this as enabling legislation designed to support professionals in the jobs they are paid to do, not as a means of criminalising teachers, social workers and other caring professionals who come into daily contact with children. It is a sad state of affairs when it needs a law to support whistle-blowers and take them out of the category of "interfering busybodies", "snoopers", "nosey neighbours" and the like! If a "Daniel's Law" were to be brought in, industrial-strength training would need to follow for all categories of people who have the care of children. Why are teachers not issued with even a tick list of suspicious symptoms : bruising, child not given adequate food in lunchbox, frequent absence, tearfulness, flinching when touched (Daniel exhibited all these symptoms) - I could go on. If such a list of suspicious symptoms existed while I was working, I never saw it. The Children's Society launched a tookkit this week and has also launched a campaign called "Say something if you see something" which I hope will catch on. We just cannot go on with hearing about these traumatic cases and being left feeling helpless in the face of them.

Ilovemyrabbits Sun 15-Sep-13 19:39:31

Every member of staff in school, including the lunchtime supervisors has to be included in safeguard training and it takes place once every 3 years. The notes on safeguarding are part of the induction pack we get when we join the school. The whole school knows what to look for and all staff are told to talk to the SENCO or the Head/Deputy Head if they have any doubts at all about a child. The SENCO or Deputy Head/Head will then take the enquiry forwards. Everything is documented and followed through. I have a child at the school and am/have always been happy that the pastoral care of kids is put first for all pupils. As an employee I feel obligated to talk to the SEN team if I have any worries at all, be it behavioural quirks or physical indicators of abuse. I'm the lowest level TA in school and I feel confident that I know what to look for. (I have trained to NVQ Level 3 and am looking to train as a teacher, but I think most of our TAs know this).

bombaybaby45 Mon 16-Sep-13 12:32:58

Ilovemyrabbits, it seems that the picture on the training of staff in the recognition of symptoms of child abuse and what to do about it when it is noticed is very patchy. It needs to be all staff, everywhere, not just some staff here and there. It occurs to me to ask myself what I would have done if I had reported suspicions of child cruelty to the Head but then felt that action was not happening or not happening fast enough? I hope I would have had the courage to phone the NSPCC and report the details to them. As things stand at the moment, this would be considered highly unprofessional, but if a "Daniel's Law" were to be brought in, I would be protected by it. I am on tenterhooks to know what the Serious Case Review is going to say.

juneau Tue 17-Sep-13 09:32:16

According to the reports today (again, utterly heart-breaking), the teachers DID report the bruises, concerns about his weight, his scavenging in bins, etc, and the head teacher failed to pursue it aggressively. SS also apparently 'closed the file' on Daniel about six months before his death, despite knowing there was alcoholism, drug use and domestic violence in the household. Yet again, a systematic failure - agencies getting involved, but no joined-up reporting. SS, police, school, doctors all aware of massive problems with this little boy and his family, yet nothing was done. I agree that budgets for SS and child-protection must be ring-fenced if we're to have a chance of stopping this kind of thing in future. It's Baby P all over again and Victoria Climbie - and how many years ago was that???

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now