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4.3 Children and Young People who Display Sexually Inappropriate and Harmful Behaviour

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This is a comprehensive chapter which deals with inappropriate and harmful sexual behaviour by children, drawing upon research and practice. Research has identified this behaviour has received poor attention and priority on a multi-agency basis and there has been a low reaction when there has been resistance by the young person and/or family. This is an area where all agencies working with children need to ensure there is a carefully and balanced response with regard to ‘experimentation’, ‘inappropriate’ and ‘harmful’ behaviours – and also acknowledges that this itself is sometimes difficult to judge.

The chapter references some useful assessment tools to use and assist in decision-making.

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Sexual Exploitation: Multi Agency Strategy, Protocol and Practice Guidance

Working with Young People Engaged in Sexual Activity

Strategy Discussions/Meetings and Section 47 Enquiries as Part of Social Work Assessment of Needs and Strengths

Note:

The revision of this procedure was recommended from a Critical Incident Review undertaken by the Wirral Safeguarding Children Board in 2014. The Restorative Practice Team liaised with several Children’s Services departments and other Merseyside Youth Offending Teams during the review, in particular Wirral Children and Young People’s Department Specialist Services, Targeted Services and WSCB, as well as Knowsley and Manchester LSCB.

The proposal has been developed using the findings from the review and the Knowsley LSCB revised Protocol and the existing Protocol in place in Greater Manchester Borough Council with support from Steve Bore, Children’s Service Manager, Barnardo’s Safer Futures.

This policy and procedure document is to be presented at the Wirral LSBC Board for approval.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was significantly updated in March 2016 and should be re-read.


Contents

Policy

  1. Introduction and Key Principles
  2. What is Sexually Harmful Behaviour?
  3. Denial Used as a Coping Mechanism
  4. Practice Standards

Procedure

  1. Initial Procedure – Disclosure, Strategy and Single Assessment
  2. Child Protection Case Conferences
  3. Child in Need Process
  4. Children Under 10 Years Old
  5. Risk Management in Schools and the Wider Community
  6. Home Safety Planning
  7. Transition
  8. Child Looked After – Confidentiality in Placement
  9. Moving Out of Borough
  10. Complaints Procedures
  11. References

    Appendix A: Brook Traffic Light Tool

    Appendix B: Useful References for Supervision of Social Workers

    Appendix C: Sexually Harmful Behaviour Service Referral Form

    Appendix D: Youth Justice Risk of Serious Harm Guidance – Managing Risk in the Community

    Appendix E: Report Template

    Appendix F: Home Safety Plan


1. Introduction

1.1

Children and young people can exhibit sexually harmful behaviour towards other children and adults. This document aims to clarify:

  • Definition of sexually harmful behaviour;
  • Identification when sexual behaviour by children and young people should be considered harmful and when it can be considered in the context of normal behaviours;
  • A consistent response to sexually inappropriate and harmful behaviour;
  • The key factors in undertaking an assessment;
  • The risk management process;
  • Methods of working with children and young people who display sexually harmful or inappropriate behaviours;
  • The training and Supervision required when dealing with sexually harmful behaviour.
1.2

The existing multi-agency response to sexually harmful behaviour was established in line with Working Together to Safeguard Children 2010 (archived) which stated that in relation to children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour that:

  • There should be a co-ordinated approach on the part of youth justice, Children’s Social Care, education (including educational psychology), health (including Child and Adolescent Mental Health agencies) and police;
  • LSCB and Youth Offending Services should ensure that there is a clear operational procedure within which assessment, decision making, and case management should take place. Neither child welfare nor criminal justice agencies should embark on a course of action that has implications for the other without appropriate consultation.
1.3

Furthermore Working Together 2015 states that:

“Research has shown that taking a systematic approach to enquiries using a conceptual model is the best way to deliver a comprehensive assessment for children.”
1.4

The Criminal Justice Joint Inspection “Examining Multi-Agency Responses to Children and Young People who Sexually Offend” (February 2013) highlighted that:

  • Cases were slow to get to Court, and took an average eight months between disclosure and sentence, resulting in lengthy periods when little or no work was done with the young person;
  • Neither potential risk of harm to others nor their safeguarding needs were sufficiently assessed or managed as little consideration was given to where these children and young people ‘fitted’ into children’s social care services, or why they had committed the offence, especially when the sexual harmful behaviour was denied;
  • Lack of persistence to engage parents/carers when they failed to co-operate;
  • Much work was characterised by poor communication between the relevant agencies, with inadequate assessment and joint planning;
  • Many young people had complex and multiple needs and positive examples of holistic interventions to address these delivered by a range of agencies were rare;
  • Once these children had been picked up by the justice system, their chances for rehabilitation improved from child focused YOT practice;
  • Assessments generally lacked analysis of the underlying reasons and workers were unclear how to approach risk assessment or management where offences were being denied;
  • Lack of confidence to address sexually harmful behaviour or understanding of risk factors linked to insufficient training received by social workers;
  • Standards of management oversight and supervision varied considerably, with insufficient challenge to the quality and appropriateness of interventions; and
  • Despite some successful outcomes, there was little evidence of routine evaluation at a strategic level of the quality and effectiveness of multi-agency work.
1.5

Further support for early recognition and intervention came from Chief Inspector of Probation, Liz Calderbank, who reported on behalf of all inspectorates:

“The behaviour of this small but significant group of children and young people can be extremely damaging, often involving other children as victims. Yet the evidence from our inspection is that these children and young people do respond to intervention from youth offending teams and can be prevented from re-offending before developing entrenched patterns of behaviour”

“We were therefore very concerned to find that a sizeable number of cases had been referred on previous occasions to Children’s Social Care services but the significance of their sexual behaviour was either not recognised or dismissed, representing a lost opportunity both for the children and young people and their potential victims”
1.6

The Criminal Justice Joint Inspection contains a number of recommendations for local authorities, some of which include:

  • All agencies should from disclosure to the end of sentence, actively contribute to timely information sharing and assessment to both inform decision making and where appropriate, deliver interventions so that further incidents of sexual harmful behaviour can be prevented at the earliest possible stage;
  • Local Safeguarding Boards should ensure that in the Early Help Strategy the needs of children and young people who display, or are likely to develop sexually harmful behaviour are identified and recognised, and that they are provided with help and intervention at the earliest possible opportunity; and
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of the multi-agency response to such children and young people in their area, particularly including the identification of such cases, joint assessments and the interventions to them and their families and, where appropriate, their victims.
1.7

Key Principles to guide the work with children and young people who exhibit sexually harmful behaviour:

  • Work with children and young people who abuse others must recognise that such children are likely to have considerable needs themselves, and should be treated as children in need of help or protection and that they also pose a risk of harm to other children and young people;
  • The needs of children and young people who abuse others should be considered separately from their victims;
  • Young people who sexually harm others have a right to be consulted and involved in all matters and decisions that affect their lives. Their parents have a right to information, respect and participation in matters that affect their family;
  • Considerable diversity exists among children and young people who display sexually harmful behaviours. This diversity applies to their backgrounds and experiences, the motivations and the meaning of their behaviours;
  • A number of factors indicate higher risk and for this reason a multi-agency assessment should be carried out in each case, appreciating these children may have considerable unmet needs, as well as specific needs arising from their behaviour;
  • Cognitive behavioural interventions, relapse prevention work and involvement of significant others such as parents/carers are effective alongside increasing resilience factors and reducing negative factors in a young person’s life.
1.8

Research evidences (Hackett 2001) that young people who commit sexual offences are not a homogenous group and this form of behaviour indicates a level of complexity from an emotional, cognitive and behavioural perspective. There is no one single factor or experience which leads to the development of sexually harmful behaviour in a young person. Indeed it is common for a combination of factors which contributes to the development of the behaviour for example:

  • Personal abuse history;
  • Attachment difficulties/deficits;
  • Family dynamics including being given too much responsibility;
  • Deficits in social skills and low self esteem;
  • Lack of sexual knowledge;
  • Socialisation difficulties.
1.9 Evidence suggests that children and young people who display sexually harmful behaviour towards others may have suffered considerable disruption in their lives, been exposed to violence within the family, may have witnessed or been subjected to abuse, have problems with their educational and/or social development and may have committed other offences. Often the demonstration of sexually harmful behaviours is a means of communicating there is some form of unmet needs and/or distress. Such young people are likely to be children in need and some in addition will be suffering or be at risk of Significant Harm and may themselves be in need of protection. Children and young people who display sexually harmful behaviour are often emotionally immature and cannot be treated the same way as adults. Young people are still developing their sexual feelings and understanding. Early intervention can assist this development and channel it in a positive way.
1.10 There has been a broad shift in focus within research, as it has become increasingly clear that confrontational and punitive methods which were traditionally used in treating adult sex offenders have been rejected in the adolescent field. In their place has emerged a strong call for the notion of child-focused and holistic interventions, treating the whole child, not solely the issues specific to the offending behaviour. Children who display sexually harmful behaviours are first and foremost children and should not be regarded as mini sex offenders. (Hackett et al, 2003)
1.11 Research in Practice “Research Review: Children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours” (2014). Written by international expert Professor Simon Hackett, the Review provides leaders in safeguarding and Child Protection with essential evidence for developing strategy and services in this challenging area. Professor Hackett said: “Knowledge has developed steadily about children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours over the last two decades. It’s now time to take stock of what’s been learnt. It’s a complex problem that carries with it immense stigma for children and their families. We need a balanced approach to this issue that recognises both the risks and needs of children presenting with harmful sexual behaviours.”


2. What is Sexually Harmful Behaviour?

2.1

Sexually harmful behaviour is any behaviour of a sexual nature that takes place when:

  • There is no informed consent by the victim; and/or
  • The young person has allegedly displayed a Sexually Harmful Behavioural threat (verbal, physical or emotional) to coerce, threaten or intimidate the victim.
2.2 To give consent to sex or a sexual act a person must be 16 years old or over, understand, and be able to make a choice or change their mind. If a young person is under the age of 13 years, under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 they cannot legally consent to any form of sexual activity. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 reinforces that, whilst mutually agreed, non-exploitative sexual activity between teenagers does take place and that often no harm comes from it, the age of consent should still remain at 16 years. This acknowledges that this group is still vulnerable, even when they do not view themselves as such. An assessment should be completed which should take into consideration the young person’s competency to give consent, and the nature of the relationship. Consideration must be given to age, maturity, developmental stages, functioning and experience and also the awareness of the potential consequences of their act.
2.3 In respect of sexual behaviours, there are sometimes difficulties in distinguishing between normal childhood sexual development and experimentation, and sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviour. The indicators below should be used as a guide only. Sometimes expert professional judgement may be needed within the context of knowledge of sexually harmful behaviours and normal child sexual development. It is also important to not over-react to the presenting behaviour as this can have long term consequences for the child (i.e. becoming ashamed about their sexuality or closing down opportunities for them to develop).
 

A Continuum of Sexual Behaviours from Healthy to Harmful

2.4 Like all forms of human development, sexual development begins at birth. It includes not only the physical changes that occur as children grow, but also the sexual knowledge and beliefs they come to learn and the behaviours they show. There are a range of healthy sexual behaviours at each stage of a child’s development. However, not all sexual behaviours displayed by children or young people are healthy; some are harmful and some fall within a mid-range (inappropriate) which are not the most concerning but can cause an issue or develop into harmful behaviours. The term inappropriate is used to indicate that the behaviour is problematic. A guide to determining healthy to harmful behaviours within developmental age ranges is Brook Sexual Behaviours Traffic Light Tool (www.brook.org.uk) (See Appendix A: Brook Traffic Light Tool). This tool offers an innovative resource to help professionals who work with children and young people to identify, assess and respond appropriately to sexual behaviours.
2.5

A guide overview reference to the continuum of sexual behaviours is:

Healthy sexual behaviours Inappropriate sexual behaviours Harmful sexual behaviours

Mutual;

Consensual;

Exploratory and age appropriate;

No intent to cause harm;

Fun, humorous;

No power differential between participants;

Developmentally expected.

Displaying behaviours not age appropriate - e.g. invasion of personal space, sexual swear words in very young children;

Some ‘one off’ incidents of low-key behaviours such as touching over clothing;

Incidents where there is peer pressure to engage in the behaviour e.g. touching someone’s breast, exposure of bottom;

Behaviours are spontaneous rather than planned;

There are other balancing factors such as lack of intent to cause harm, or level of understanding in the young person about the behaviours, or some remorse;

Verbal, physical, or cyber/virtual sexual bullying involving aggression

Accessing exploitative or violent pornography;

Parental concern and interested in supporting the child to change;

Consent issues may be unclear.

Not age appropriate;

Elements of planning secrecy or force;

Elements of impulsivity;

Sexual activity with family members;

Preoccupation with sex, which interferes with daily function;

Power differentials between young people involved such as size status and strength;

Sexual degradation/humiliation of self or others;

Targeted children feel fear, anxiety, discomfort;

Negative feelings are expressed by the young person when carrying out the behaviour e.g. aggression;

The young person does not take responsibility for the behaviour and blames others or feels a strong sense of grievance;

Incidents are increasing in frequency and the young person’s interest in them is disproportionate to other aspects of their life;

Exposing genitals or masturbating in public;

Genital injury to self or others;

Sexual contact with animals; and

The viewing, ownership, making or distribution of indecent images of children.
2.6 Alongside sexually harmful/inappropriate behaviours there are often more complex behaviours evident such as conduct disorder, problems with anger management, PTSD, anxiety, clingy, aggression, disruption, poor peer relationships. Abuse, trauma, poor attachments with parents and siblings, little empathy, disrupted patterns of care and loss of a significant person and lack of role models are often features within harmful sexual behaviours. Specialist sexually harmful research and assessment tools will also highlight particular features within sexual harmful behaviours that will increase risk factors (e.g. behaviour committed in a public place, stalking, recent mood swings).


3. Denial Used as a Coping Mechanism

3.1

Children and young people who deny an allegation of sexually harmful behaviour do so for a multitude of reasons, some of which are:

  • They are innocent;
  • It is a normal response to a challenge, specifically if it relates to something that is wrong and socially unacceptable so it is used as a coping mechanism as they fear the reaction of others; or
  • They are being advised by a solicitor to not discuss the allegation or minimise their involvement due to lack of evidence within police interviews or court proceedings.
3.2 Clinicians had previously noted the existence of denial as a risk factor and often professionals deemed the young person’s risk to be higher because denial is present. However, research has found that denial and minimisation have no relationship with sexual recidivism (Worling 2002 quoted by Hackett 2004). Children and young people who deny their involvement in sexual offences even following conviction use denial as a coping mechanism. Denial or other types of coping mechanisms such as justification, minimising, or blaming others etc. is used as a means to protect themselves. These are normal responses especially in children when they have done something wrong. Given the serious nature of the behaviour it is completely understandable that these coping mechanisms will be present.


4. Practice Standards

4.1 It is integral that children and young people who display sexual harmful behaviours are assessed by qualified Social Workers via a Single Assessment. The Specialist Sexually Harmful Behaviour (SHB) Worker should also be a qualified Social Worker with specialist assessment and intervention training. Children’s Social Workers and Youth Offending Service (YOS) Workers who co-work with the specialist worker need to be highly skilled in completing assessments, as well as trained in completing specialised sexual harmful behaviour assessments and interventions. They require a broad knowledge base of what works with children and young person who display sexually harmful behaviours, including an increased understanding on attachment, trauma, and the effects of child abuse on development. Suggested training for workers (Appendix B: Useful References for Supervision of Social Workers).
4.2 It is also essential those line managers who will supervise the Specialist SHB worker, Social Workers, and YOS workers completing such assessments and interventions, and the Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO) who chair associated Child Protection Case Conferences are adequately trained. Their training should include all SHB training such workers have received as well as addition training in managing and supervising staff working with people who sexually harm. Suggested training and further reading for supervision (Appendix B: Useful References for Supervision of Social Workers).
4.3 There are other training courses available in relation to Sexually Harmful Behaviours for residential, foster care and educational settings. These need to be considered if the child or young person is within that particular setting. Police, Education and Family Intervention Services should also receive training appropriate to their learning needs and this procedure.
4.4 Social workers completing assessments and intervention will require ongoing support in addition to their supervision. A regular professional development workshop where cases can be discussed and ideas for intervention are shared is integral to effective assessments and interventions. These workshops should include more experienced social workers and consultations with specialist sexual harmful agencies. Additional benefits from this workshop will be that key learning points on assessment and interventions will also benefit other types of work in their own agencies.
4.5 A strengths model and a focus on resilience in work with young people and their families are required within all assessments and interventions. Research highlights that assessments and interventions need to focus not just on young person’s problematic behaviours or deficits, but also on developing their strengths and developmental competencies (Gilgun et al, 1999 quoted by Hackett 2004). The aim of resilience based approaches to practice would be to develop the young person and families strengths and this will naturally lower risk factors. This clearly can be achieved even whilst the young person may be on police bail and the offence cannot be discussed; building upon skills, self esteem, and goal setting abilities.


5. Initial Procedure – Disclosure, Strategy and Single Assessment

  Click here to view Flowchart of Procedures for Young People Displaying Sexual Behaviour.
 

Disclosure

5.1 Any child, young person or adult who discloses that he/she has been the victim of sexually inappropriate/harmful behaviour by a child or young person under 18 must trigger a full investigation in line with Wirral Local Safeguarding procedures, (see Strategy Discussions/Meetings and Section 47 Enquiries as Part of Social Work Assessment of Needs and Strengths Procedure). If either the victim or the young person who has allegedly displayed sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviour is an out of borough child or young person then Wirral Social Care will inform the relevant local authority. Where the victim is either at the current time or time of the offence an adult, the police will lead the investigation. If deemed reasonable and proportionate, Police can consider putting as a condition of Police Bail for the young person to engage with Health and Social Care. If the victim and the young person who has allegedly displayed sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviour are under the age of 18 the following must take place:
 

Strategy

5.2 A Strategy Discussion involving the Police, Schools, Health, Social care, YOS and any other professional involved with either child or young person must take place within 24 hours of disclosure. The aim of the strategy discussion is to agree how and who will interview both the victim and young person who has allegedly displayed sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviour and how the investigation will be managed, and what immediate steps need to be taken to protect both the victim and any other young children or young people the young person who has allegedly displayed such behaviour may have contact with. A Section 47 investigation must always be undertaken, this includes statutory checks with all agencies and establishing whether either the young person who has allegedly displayed the behaviour or the victim should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan.
5.3 Social Care to complete a Social Work led Single Assessment of the young person who has allegedly displayed sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviour and the victim. Ideally the single assessment of each child should be completed by different social workers. If two teams are dealing with the investigation, team managers must agree at the strategy discussion which team is responsible for leading on the management of risk.
 

Single Assessment

5.4 The single assessment of the victim must include an interview which must assess to what level the victim understood what has happened and to what degree he/she gave informed consent. Level of maturity must be assessed in all cases, particularly relevant to cases where there is an age disparity between the victim and the young person who has allegedly displayed sexually harmful behaviour. Details should also be provided with any information about a physical or Learning Disability. Any interview with the victim must only be completed after consultation with the Police and not prior to any conclusion of any criminal proceedings. If interviews have already been completed by the Police then the Social Worker should ensure that the victim is not subjected to repeat questioning.
5.5 The Police may need to complete interviews in line with Achieving Best Evidence Guidance and they will need to provide full details to Children’s Services about the interviews that have taken place.
5.6 The assessment should look at the risk the young person who has allegedly displayed sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviour continues to pose to the victim and the protective factors in place to ensure the victim’s safety.
5.7 The single assessment of the young person must cover any history of concerning behaviour, the nature, extent and context of abusive behaviour and the outcome of any previous agency involvement. This should result in a multi-agency Chronology. The assessment must consider the child or young person’s development, parental/carer’s needs and parenting capacity, family and environmental factors, including details of siblings or young people who are in the home and the protective factors that have been put in place. A detailed family history, including details of any sexually inappropriate behaviours and whether there is any suggestion that the child or young person has been a victim of any form of abuse including sexually inappropriate/harmful behaviour. Consideration needs to be given to expert professional opinion of the behaviour where appropriate.
5.8 The assessment needs to include details of any needs that the child or young person has and the extent of the understanding of the inappropriate sexual behaviour and their intended outcomes. Any protective factors must be clearly identified and a risk assessment completed.
5.9 The child or young person may be interviewed by the Police and he/she will require an Appropriate Adult to be present during the interview and any subsequent interviews. It is recommended in such sensitive cases that this is a trained Appropriate Adult from the local Youth Offending Service or Emergency Duty Team.


6. Child Protection Case Conferences

6.1 Where the victim and child or young person who has allegedly displayed sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviour are members of the same family an Initial Case Conference needs to be held within 15 days of the initial or most recent strategy discussion. This conference is to focus on the protection of the victim. Any other children in the family must also be the subject of a Section 47 investigation and their needs considered within the Child Protection Conference. The Child Protection Case Conference should be chaired by an IRO.
6.2 In the event the child is under age 10 or the Single Assessment identifies that the young person who has displayed sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviour is considered to be at risk of Significant Harm then his/her needs should also be identified and considered as part of the Child Protection Conference Process. All agencies will contribute to the risk assessment and the child protection (CP) process by providing relevant information. They will share information and draw up a risk management plan and ensure that all members of the meeting are aware of their responsibilities. This process has a dual role in protecting the young person from risk whilst managing any risk they pose to others. A decision will also need be made at the CP conference regarding the appropriateness of a specialist sexually harmful behaviour assessment and the identification of the co-worker, usually the lead agency, such as the social worker.


7. Child in Need Process

7.1 Where the young person is over the age of 10 and there is no identified significant risk of harm towards the young person who has displayed sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviour there is no reason to hold a child protection conference. If the Single Assessment concludes that a multi-agency approach is required or further specialist sexually harmful behaviour assessment &/or intervention is needed, then the Child in Need (CIN) process should be followed with a Child In Need Plan. The CIN Meetings should be chaired by a Special Worker, due to the nature of the behaviour and the CIN process should remain open until the SHB assessment and any associated intervention has been completed and reduced risk.
 

Child in Need Meetings (CIN) & Managing Risk

7.2 A CIN meeting process focuses on both the management of risk and vulnerabilities and any other identified needs of the child or young person who has allegedly displayed sexually harmful behaviours. Issues for consideration are the risks he/she poses within their family, school and wider community.
7.3

The CIN meeting must also take place within 15 working days of the initial or most recent strategy discussion. This meeting will be chaired by a Social Worker. The people who need to be invited are:

  • The child or young person and his/her parent and/or carer;
  • The Police;
  • School / College;
  • Health;
  • Youth Offending Service (Team Manager &/or Specialist SHB Worker);
  • Any other services involved; such as Family Intervention Service, Youth & Play Service, CAMHS etc.
7.4 The social worker will provide a report for the meeting that summarises the nature of the disclosure, the strategy discussion, and the progress of the single assessment to date and the current risk management plan. The Police will provide information relating to the progress of the investigation to date and any current Bail conditions. All agencies will contribute to the risk assessment by providing relevant information.
7.5 The CIN meeting will share information and draw up a risk management plan and ensure that all members of the meeting are aware of their responsibilities. A decision will also be made at the CIN meeting regarding the appropriateness of a specialist sexually harmful behaviour assessment and the identification of the co-worker, usually the lead agency, such as the social worker.
 

AIM and other Specialist Assessments

7.6 The Specialist Sexually Harmful Behaviour Service can be accessed using the referral form in Appendix C: Sexually Harmful Behaviour Service Referral Form. This will initiate an AIM (Assessment, Intervention and Moving On) assessment, which will identify if further intervention is required. The AIM is an actuarial assessment tool that is used to assess young people who commit sexual offences and indicates what level of risk management/supervision will be required. This tool also highlights what are the individual concerns and strengths across four domains; these include sexual and non-sexual harmful behaviour, developmental characteristics, family and environmental. In cases where the child or young person presents with learning difficulties then other specialist assessment tools need to be explored. The co-workers who will assist the specialist SHB worker in the assessment will need to have been identified at the CP or CIN meeting and noted in the referral form to ensure work is completed promptly. This would normally be a worker from the lead agency, which at the early stages would be a Social Worker. However, at later decision making stages such as pre-sentence report or sentence stages, this maybe an allocated YOS worker (See 7.19 – 7.26).
7.7 In cases where the police are continuing to investigate the complaint it would not be appropriate to discuss the current allegation until this investigation and any subsequent criminal proceedings have been completed. In these particular circumstances consideration needs to be given to the complexity of the case and whether further assessment is required to explore parenting capacity/needs, developmental, family and environmental factors whilst the investigation is ongoing. An intervention plan for the whole family including a ‘keep safe plan’ needs to be agreed based upon current assessment information at the initial CP or CIN meetings. A keep safe plan is a plan completed with the young person and parents on how they plan to keep themselves safe from any further allegations of sexually harmful behaviour until work is completed. It is important to include parents/carers goals as part of the intervention plan based upon assessed needs to ensure a ‘Think Family’ approach and uphold their responsibilities towards risk management.
7.8 Further assessments that are useful at this stage would be a full health screening and speech and language assessment. A high percentage of children and young people who display sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviours have some form of learning needs which may be one of the underlying reasons for their behaviours. If Special Educational Needs (SEN) have already been identified it is imperative that this information is used to analyse information within assessments.
 

Risk Level

7.9 The CP or CIN meeting must also agree what risk level the child or young person currently presents. When considering harm related behaviour this needs to include both behaviour that has actually resulted in serious harm to others and behaviour were there was a real possibility of such harm occurring. Issues also need to be considered such as his/her intentions to cause harm to obtain a much fuller picture of the risk that s/he may present. In reaching a judgement about the risk level, the main factors to be considered is the likelihood of the behaviour occurring, and the imminence of the behaviour and the impact of the behaviour. Youth Justice Board Risk of Serious Harm guidance – (Appendix D: Youth Justice Risk of Serious Harm Guidance – Managing Risk in the Community) gives clear guidance on identification of the risk of serious harm a young person poses and should assist in assessments and action plans.
7.10

The following Risk Assessment Guidance may also assist Social Workers to inform and complete the Single Assessment and identify the risk levels alongside departmental service guidance.

This guidance provides clear risk assessment principles which explore the analysis required between Risk, Vulnerability and Protective Factors and offers the following definitions of risk levels which have been slightly altered to reflect sexually inappropriate/harmful behaviours:
 
Risk Protective
Risks

Low Risk Medium Risk High Risk

There are a significant number of protective factors identified within the risk assessment;

The nature of the sexual inappropriate behaviour is not deemed significant;

The child or young person is not evidencing any sign of impact;

The parents are able to acknowledge the risks identified, and are willing to work towards or have already eliminated the difficulties, therefore the likelihood of any further sexual inappropriate / harmful behaviour is low;

Universal services could offer support or short term family support is required;

Low level of risk of sexual harmful behaviour would be addressed via the provision of services.

The risk factors and protective factors identified within the risk assessment are balanced;

The nature of the sexual inappropriate/ harmful behaviour is of a concern;

The child or young person is showing evidence of impact, or professionals involved have noted a change in the child or young person’s behaviour;

The parents appear ambivalent and are not engaging in a meaningful way;

 

The likelihood of the risk continuing is felt to be unsure;

Ongoing Children’s Social Care is required and further assessment should be undertaken with consideration regarding the provision of services;

Medium risk may impact on the child or young person’s ability to remain with their parent or carer and their wellbeing would be affected without professional support. Requires an assessed programme of support provided by providers with particular skills in meeting higher levels of additional needs.

The risk factors outweigh the protective factors, or no protective factors can be identified;

The nature of the sexual harmful behaviour is of significant concern;

The child is showing clear evidence of impact;

Professionals involved are identifying clear concerns;

Parents have failed to engage or dismiss the concerns, risks or sexual harmful behaviour identified;

There is clear evidence that the child or young person is at risk, actual harm has taken place and the likelihood of sexual harmful behaviour continuing is high (potential could happen at any time and the impact would be serious);

Consideration should be given as to whether children or young person should remain within the current placement and whether alternative care arrangements are required.

High risk – Action should be taken in the near future and the young person will require additional supervision and monitoring. Children and young people with complex needs which require an assessed programme of specialist services.
 

Monitoring Risk during AIM Assessment & Intervention

7.11 Following the initial CP or CIN meeting the first review of the young person’s risk must take place no later than 12 weeks after the initial meeting. However, in cases where the young person is deemed to be a High risk of harm to others, the risk level should be reviewed on a monthly basis.
7.12 If the allegation is No Further Action (NFA) by the Police due to insufficient evidence to charge, however, there are concerns in relation to the alleged behaviours then parents and the young person should remain within the CP or CIN process whilst an AIM 2 or equivalent assessment is completed. Assessment workers will present a report (See Appendix E: Report Template) which should include findings and recommendations to subsequent meetings. The meeting will consider whether any alterations are needed to the risk management plan and whether any further assessments are required. In the event of an AIM 2 or equivalent assessment identifying further work then an intervention plan for the whole family needs to be agreed and workers should be agreed at the CP/CP meeting to ensure work is completed promptly. It is good practice for the co-workers to complete the assessment and any associated intervention work with the Specialist SHB worker. In more complex cases a referral needs to be made to internal or external specialist providers.
7.13 Encouraging engagement with the AIM programme of work requires the social worker to possess high motivational skills. The young person and parents/carers should be made aware of the positives of engaging in an assessment and intervention as the aim is to keep their young person safe from any further allegations. The benefits of the CIN process should be explained thoroughly as being an opportunity to access agencies required, address any concerns, encourage strengths within the family and/or to educate their child to prevent any further allegations.
7.14 If parents or young people are refusing to engage with professionals, then their reasons need to be explored and a decision needs to be made at a CIN meeting on whether the case is closed or child protection procedures are required.
7.15 In the event that the police investigation is still ongoing then the CP or CIN will review the agreed family intervention plan including the ‘keep safe plan’ and make any additional amendments, if required. Social Care will remain the lead agency whilst the young person is on Police or Court Bail. If the young person is made subject to Bail Supervision or Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Bail conditions then YOS will report into the CP/CIN process.
7.16 Further CP / CIN meetings will be needed to identify the progress of the AIM work, this should be held no later than 12 weeks after the previous meeting but more frequently for high risk of serious harm cases. Subsequent review meetings must take place as a minimum every 12 weeks, until there is evidence that specialist SHB work has been completed and the risk has reduced.
7.17 Throughout the assessment and intervention phase the young person should remain in the CP or CIN arena. They may reduce from Child Protection to Section 17 Child In Need but during any AIM assessment and intervention they must remain as a Child in Need, as agreed by Wirral Safeguarding Children's Board.
7.18 The CIN meeting process can only be ceased when there is evidence that work has been completed, a reduction in the risk of sexually harmful behaviour is evident and an understanding by all agencies of their role in ensuring that the child or young person remains at a low risk of repeating the behaviour. There must be a clear exit strategy in place for ongoing support, following the Targeted Services Step Down process including identification of Lead Professional in the Team Around the Family arena.
 

Young Person who is convicted of a Sexual Offence

7.19 In the event that the young person is found guilty or pleads guilty to a sexual offence then a six week court adjournment needs to be requested to enable a specialist sexually harmful assessment to be completed. For young people subject to a remand to Youth Detention Accommodation consideration will need to be given to the completion of the assessment. Ideally this should be completed before sentence; however, the location of the secure establishment could make this problematic.
7.20 In the event of a guilty plea where the young person is highly likely to receive a custodial sentence then an urgent professionals meeting should be convened to discuss whether a custodial facility or other community provision would be best to meet the young person’s risk levels and needs. If it is decided that risk can be managed within the community, however, a therapeutic placement will be required then there needs to be a clear definition of the roles of the agencies involved and a clear shared understanding of the type of placement required. Timescales for these enquires and the final decision will have been dictated by the Court as the date when the Pre-Sentence Report needs to be lodged.
7.21 Once the young person has been sentenced they will be assessed for risk of serious harm. If they are classed as High or Very High risk of serious harm then a statutory YOS Risk Management Meeting (RMM) must take place within 15 working days of sentence. The YOS worker will provide a report for the meeting that summaries the findings from the ASSET and Risk of Serious Harm (ROSH) assessment and a YOS Risk Management Plan can be created. The young person may already be within a CP or CIN process and the YOS RMM can run separately to these as a statutory requirement by the Youth Justice Board. However if these meetings are able to run in conjunction with each other it is essential that the Chair of the CP or CIN meeting ensure that the YOS statutory risk management element is incorporated into the meetings, as the risk level and risk management plan must be reviewed regularly for such risk of serious harm cases. If the CP or CIN meetings are unable to ensure the importance of these statutory duties placed on YOS in managing risk, then separate RMM multi agency meetings will need to be called by YOS, attended by all relevant agencies and Chaired by a YOS Team Manager. The timescales for the RMM are identified within the YOS Risk and Vulnerability management process.
7.22 In the event that an AIM or equivalent specialist assessment has not already been completed for sentence then assessment co-workers from YOS or social care will need to be identified.
7.23 If an AIM or equivalent assessment has been completed then the RMM should look at the findings and recommendations of those assessments and a YOS Intervention & risk management plan, for the whole family including a “keep safe” plan, needs to be agreed.
7.24 The first review of the Risk Management Plan must take place no later than 12 weeks after the first RMM following sentence, depending on the assessed level of risk using the Youth Justice Board Asset and Risk of Serious Harm assessment (ROSH). Each review meeting will consider whether any alterations are needed to the risk management plan.
7.25 If the young person were to receive a custodial sentence then the secure establishment the young person is placed in should be responsible for delivering the assessment and intervention. However, if the secure estate has not met this requirement during the custodial period of the sentence then this should be included in pre-release plans and incorporated, where appropriate, into the young person’s notice of supervision/licence conditions. A YOS RMM must take place within 15 working days of release. The YOS worker will provide a report for the meeting that summarises the finding from any Specialist Assessment, ASSET and Risk of Serious Harm (ROSH) assessment and the current Risk Management Plan.
7.26 YOS must follow Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) for young people who fall within the MAPPA categories, including sexual offences. This process will override any existing YOS RMM processes. In such cases the YOS Case Manager will make a MAPPA referral and MAPPA will oversee multi-agency actions and risk management. MAPPA meetings will be Chaired by Merseyside Police due to the nature of the offending and the risk management levels.


8.Children Under 10 Years Old

8.1 A child under 10 years of age cannot be investigated by the police as they are under the age of criminal responsibility. This means that the responsibility for the investigation lies with Children Services. A strategy discussion should take place and a Section 47 investigation should be undertaken. A single assessment should then take place and consider factors of age, understanding and whether any force or intimidation was used. A child displaying sexually harmful behaviour is clearly indicating an unmet need or a level of distress which needs careful consideration as to the background to the behaviour and consideration of family history and dynamics and environmental factors when completing the single assessment.
8.2 It must be identified whether there is a need to hold a Child Protection Conference or a Child in need meeting. Consideration should be given as to whether the child should attend at these meetings and should be whether an AIM for children under 10 years should be completed, and if so the child should remain in CP or CIN processes until completion.


9. Risk Management in Schools and the Wider Community

9.1 Any child with sexually harmful behaviour continues to be entitled to an education. The need to ensure that the young people within the school community are protected and the child or young person is protected from any bullying as a result of the behaviour provides serious challenges. The CP / CIN meetings will also assist with formulating a school risk management plan.
9.2 Supervision in the community is a more complex issue and the responsibility falls on the parents and/or care givers to ensure that the young person is not placed in a situation where they are at risk of further inappropriate/harmful behaviour. If the young person is going to attend a youth club or other social activity then this needs to be discussed with the social worker and this needs to be incorporated in the risk assessment and ‘keep safe’ plan.
9.3 If the wider community are aware of the sexual behaviour then this could result in retaliation. The family and young person may need support to manage this risk and may need support from housing to aid a house move. At the earliest opportunity the family need to be spoken to about who they discuss the behaviour with to ensure that the risk of the wider community retaliating is reduced.


10. Home Safety Planning

10.1

It is possible that a decision will need to be made to remove a young person from the family home as a protective measure for siblings. If a decision is made that the young person can remain at home a Home Safety Plan should be undertaken by the professionals involved to provide some rules and guidelines about what is permissible. It should also be completed in any other setting where a young person is placed – whether that is in a residential setting or a foster placement or with other family members.

It should include as a minimum:

  • A realistic level of supervision that must be provided;
  • The living environment is free from confusing sexual behaviour and information i.e. DVDs magazines, language, behaviour;
  • Sleeping arrangements need to be considered including making arrangements with extended family members;
  • Clear rules on nudity/privacy;
  • State of dress around the house;
  • Limitations on play fighting.
10.2 Further details about Home Safety planning (See Appendix F: Home Safety Plan) have been taken from guidance from Safer Futures Barnardos Specialist Home Safety Guidance.


11. Transition

11.1 When young people move to college prior to their 18th birthday then the college concerned needs to be invited to the CP / CIN meetings. This is because it is the college’s responsibility to ensure the safety of other young people who attend the college. (This would usually be the safe guarding lead within the college).
11.2 lf the young person applies to college, the application form will ask about criminal convictions. The young person may no longer be subject to CP / CIN processes having completed sexually harmful behaviour work and the risk reduced. They may have completed their sentence and no longer be open to YOS. However parents and young people must be made aware that they must disclose unspent convictions and offer sufficient information to the college concerned to ensure that they are able to complete a risk assessment and ensure that appropriate safeguards are put in place.


12. Child Looked After - Confidentiality in Placement

12.1 Where a child looked after has been involved in an investigation into sexually harmful behaviour, all children in placement must be interviewed (this includes the foster carers own children). All carers must be made aware of the concerns and be fully involved in any assessment, risk management plan and subsequent CP / CIN process.
12.2 The strategy discussion must consider the risk of the young person remaining in his/her current placement. Any new carer must be informed of the disclosure and the risk management plan.
12.3 Social workers must consult with their managers regarding informing parents of any disclosure in a foster care or residential setting where their child has not been the victim.
12.4 If a child looked after is subject to YOS RMM and LAC Reviews, these meetings need to be kept separate due to their different functions. It is best practice to reduce duplication and to ensure consistency so in some cases the risk management part could take place following a LAC review.


13. Moving Out of Borough

13.1 At any stage a child or young person moves out of the borough and is not deemed a child looked after, the Social Worker must complete a referral and a full hand over of the case to the relevant Local Authority.


14. Complaints Procedure

14.1 If a complaint is made against a specific worker then the agency complaints procedure should be followed. If a complaint is made regarding the sexually harmful behaviour process, the Safeguarding Boards complaints procedures should be applied.


15. References

AIM U12’s Assessment and Intervention Manual

Revised AIM2 (2012) Assessment Manual

Brook Sexual Behaviours Traffic Light Tool. www.brook.org.uk

Gilgun et al, 1999 quoted by Hackett, S. 2004 ‘What works for children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours?’ Andrew Haig & Associates

Hackett, Simon (2001) Facing the Future

Hackett, Simon (2004) ‘What works for children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours?’ Andrew Haig & Associates

Sexual Offences Act 2003

The Joint Inspection by HMI Probation, Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales, Care Quality Commission, Estyn, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, HMI Constabulary, HMI Prisons and Ofsted. February 2013

The Munro Review of Child Protection Interim Report: The Child’s Journey also includes the ACPO statement of Risk Principles.

Worling, 2002, quoted in Hackett, S. 2004 ‘What works for children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours’? Andrew Haig & Associates

Working Together to Safeguard Children (DfES 2010)

Working Together to Safeguard Children (DfES 2013)

Youth Justice Board Risk of Serious Harm Guidance.


Appendix A: Brook Traffic Light Tool

Click here to view Appendix A: Brook Traffic Light Tool.


Appendix B: Useful References for Supervision of Social Workers

Suggested training for all social workers who will be required to complete assessments and interventions are:

  • Barnardos Safer Futures – Understanding Sexually Harmful Behaviours (SHB);
  • Lucy Faithful courses on SHB;
  • AIM - Working with Families of Young People Who Display SHB AIM2 - Initial Assessment for Adolescents Who Display SHB;
  • AIM - Interventions with adolescents who display SHB;
  • Other courses available in relation to: Good Lives Model, Resilience and strengths based approaches, understanding Trauma, Attachment, and effects of child abuse;
  • Training will also be required on motivational interviewing to enable a social worker to engage young people and their families on a voluntary basis if required.

Suggested additional training for all line managers and IRO:

  • Training from the above section plus;
  • AIM - Managing and Supervising Staff working with people who sexually harm.

Useful References for Supervision of Social Workers:

Tony Morrison, Staff Supervision in Social Care, 2003, Pavillion.

Kolb, DA (1984) Experimental Learning. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Children’s Workforce Development Council (2007) Providing Effective Supervision: A workforce development tool, including a unit of competence and supporting guidance. Available on Children’s Workforce Development Council website.

Munro, Eileen (1999) Common Errors of Reasoning in Child Protection Work Child Abuse & Neglect 23 (8) p.745-758 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Bradon et al (2008) Analysing chid deaths and serious injury through abuse and neglect: what we can learn? A biennial analysis of serious case reviews 2003-2005, DCSF

Reder, P & Duncorn, S (2003) Understanding Communication in child Protection Networks. Child Abuse Review Vol. 12:82-100

Munro, E (2002) Effective Child Protection. Sage Publications

Turney, D. (2010) Analysis and Critical Thinking in Assessment. Research in Practice. Dartington, 2010

Dazell, R. & Sawyer, E (2009) Putting Analysis into Assessment: Undertaking Assessment of Need. NCB.


Appendix C: Sexually Harmful Behaviour Service Referral Form

Click here to view Appendix C: Sexually Harmful Behaviour Service Referral Form.


Appendix D: Youth Justice Board Risk of Serious Harm Guidance

Types of Risk Outcome

It is important to distinguish between the following types of possible outcomes:

  • Re-offending – the likelihood that an individual will commit further offences;
  • Vulnerability – the risk that a young person might be harmed in some way, either through their own behaviour or because of the actions or omissions of others;
  • Serious harm to others – the risk that a young person might inflict serious harm on other people (e.g. serious violent or sexual offences).

Serious Harm to Others

The definition of serious harm is as follows:

Serious harm means death or injury (either physical or psychological) which is life threatening and / or traumatic and from which recovery is expected to be difficult, incomplete or impossible”.

Levels of Risk: Vulnerability and Serious Harm to Others

As well as the nature of young people’s potential risk of harm to others, or to themselves, it is important to consider the level of risk. How likely is it that an identified problematic behaviour or situation will occur? How soon is this likely to happen? What would be the consequences? How serious would the impact be?

The following definitions and categories are useful in helping to determine appropriate responses to assessed risk of serious harm to others:

  • Low risk of serious harm – no evidence at present to indicate likelihood of serious harmful behaviour in future. No specific risk management work needed;
  • Medium risk of serious harm – some risk identified but the young person is unlikely to cause serious harm unless circumstances change. Relevant issues can be addressed as part of the normal supervision process;
  • High risk of serious harm – risk of harm identified. The potential event could happen any time and the impact would be serious. Action should be taken in the near future and the case will need additional supervision and monitoring (e.g. local registration, oversight by middle/senior management);
  • Very high risk of serious harm – imminent risk of harm identified. The young person will commit the behaviour in question as soon as they are able to or as soon as an opportunity arises, and the impact would be serious. Immediate action is required and is likely to involve intensive multi-agency support and surveillance.


Appendix E: Report Template

Click here to view Appendix E: Report Template.


Appendix F: Home Safety Plan

Click here to view Appendix F: Home Safety Plan.

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