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I'm the designated safeguarding lead (DSL) at a primary school. I'm fairly new to the role and would appreciate any tips or advice on the following concern raised by a member of the senior leadership team (SLT). A young man in our year 1 class always smells strongly of cigarette smoke. We don't have any concerns that it is more than that, just the smell and the possible effects it is having on him (nothing as yet)..... we have no evidence that adults are smoking around him in a vehicle ( now illegal in UK under 18). So in my view there is not a lot I can do about this. We have worked hard to build the relationship up with this parent and I believe if I challenge her that her child smells it would damage what we have so far achieved. Don't get me wrong, if there were avenues I could go down to support her I would challenge her, however there is nothing statutory that is available to support my concerns and she is not breaking any law. Any advice on next steps, of any would be appreciated. TIA
Are there any other agencies involved with the family? Sometimes a small concern can be part of a bigger picture and it is so useful for agencies to work together.
No lorisparkle there isn't. There really isn't any other concerns around the family other than the smell of cigarette smoke and the potential affects this could be having on him. He is a little boy who is on my SEN register, so I've worked with mum over time to allow her to recognise he is experiencing some difficulties and may need some additional intervention to support him. This is real progress as she can be quite evasive. I have ruled out hearing difficulties in the past which could have given me a route in re: the effects of smoking around your child, but thankfully that came back clear. I'm just concerned that if I raise it with her then the defences will come up again and I'll lose the progress we have made so far regarding his SEN. I just don't want to overlook potential support for this little boy as he dosent know any better.
Unfortunately there is very little you can do. We had a child who used to come in smelling very strongly of weed but because we had no direct evidence of it being smoked by his parents or in the house there was nothing that could be done.
There are probably more children whose parents smoke around their children but hide it better. It's not illegal so you can't really expect anything to happen unless they choose to stop.
I would say giving information about the ‘young man’ on a public forum is probably not part of your safeguarding training.
A social worker told me that a parent smoking weed was acceptable, they would only be concerned if cocaine was involved
Apparently, smoking weed is so common locally they don't consider it a safeguarding issue!
Smelling of smoke isn’t going to meet the thresholds for MASH to get involved. Maybe down load your authorities thresholds, highlight anything relevant and give to your senior management.
I don't think its appropriate for you to be asking on a public forum. Surely there are more appropriate ways for you to seek advice if you're concerned about a child in your role. Is there no-one else at your school who has had safeguarding training? Is there a governor responsible for safeguarding? Could the local authority or a charity which provides safeguarding advice such as NSPCC not help?
They say they are the designated lead so they should have received the highest level training and be the one that others go to for advice. To be frank if you referred a child who smelt of cigarette smoke to ss or as a mash referral you would be very politely told to monitor and be laughed at as soon as you are out of the room or off the phone.
I don’t mean to be harsh but we have children living with worse every day from abuse to neglect and we fight for them but get nothing and nowhere. If this parent accepts help and wants to stop then great but really this is not a safeguarding issue. Look at sen provision to meet needs but don’t think there will be much advice or support from mash on this.
You have remember that this can be as simple as parents wash his uniform each night, put it on an airer to dry in the kitchen, and they smoke in there, and no where else in the home. Therefore the uniform will stink of smoke. You can't jump to conclusions. As others have said, be careful about what you are posting on a public forum- you take this to the family, and mum and/or dad could well have read this!
Smokers often really aren’t aware how much they smell. His mum probably really can’t smell it herself
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