In accordance with the United Convention for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, a child is anyone under 18 years of age. This definition is recognised internationally as identifying a population who are particularly vulnerable and require additional safeguards to protect their rights.
The definition of a child for the purposes of Safeguarding and child protection should not be confused with the legal definition of a child or age limits set out in other relevant laws. The fact that a person under the age of 18 may have reached the age of majority, age of sexual consent, voting age or such like does not alter their inherent vulnerability as a child.
A young person is aged 16-17. A term used interchangeably with child, this may include young volunteers, ambassadors, or work placements under the age of 18.
We are safeguarding when we take all reasonable steps to prevent harm, particularly sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment from occurring; to protect people, especially vulnerable groups from that harm; and to respond appropriately when harm does occur. Safeguarding applies consistently and without exception across all our programmes. It requires us to proactively identify, prevent and protect against all risks of harm, exploitation, and abuse. If harm occurs, we must have accountable and transparent systems for response, reporting and learning from incidents. Our safeguarding procedures must be survivor-centred, and protect those accused of causing harm, until proven guilty. This is in line with a human-rights based approach for all.
Safeguarding is the process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development. This includes the set of policies, procedures, and practices that we employ to ensure that the University is a child-safe organisation.
‘Child Protection’ is an element of safeguarding. If we have a concern that a child or young person has been harmed, or is at risk of significant harm then we have mandatory procedures to escalate a concern. We work with Local Authority and Government agencies.
Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. It constitutes anything which individuals, institutions or processes do, or fail to do, which directly or indirectly harms children or damages their prospect of safe and healthy development into adulthood. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child or young person by inflicting, or by failing to act to prevent significant harm.
Abuse can happen anywhere and at any time, but research shows that the perpetrators of abuse are likely to be known and trusted by the child. A child or young person may be abused within a family or in an institutional setting. They may be abused by an adult(s) or by another child / children (this is also known as peer-on-peer abuse) and by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger. These actions may occur face-to-face, on or off campus, including via digital or online methods. Abuse can take place online, or technology may be used to facilitate offline abuse.
Main categories of Child Abuse
We refer to NSPCC published definitions and signs of child abuse.
Violence towards or the use of physical force that causes actual, or likely physical injury or suffering e.g. hitting, shaking, burning, female genital mutilation, torture, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to an individual. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.
A form of abuse which may involve the persistent emotional maltreatment of an individual, such as, to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on emotional development. Behaviour which attacks a child’s self-esteem. This may involve conveying that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving a child or adult at risk the opportunity to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child or adult at risk’s developmental capability as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning or preventing the individual participating in normal social interaction. It may involve any humiliating or degrading treatment such as name calling, constant criticism, belittling, serious bullying (including cyber bullying), causing individuals to frequently feel frightened or in danger, persistent shaming, solitary confinement and isolation, exploitation or corruption.
Persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, for example by failing to provide adequate food, clothing and/or shelter; failing to prevent harm; inappropriate attention; failing to ensure adequate supervision; lack of safety or exposure to undue cold or unnecessary risk of injury, or failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment which is likely to result in the serious impairment of health or development. It may also include neglect of basic emotional needs.
Using a child for sexual stimulation or gratification. All forms of sexual violence, including incest, early and forced marriage, and sexual slavery. Child sexual abuse also may include indecent touching or exposure, using sexually explicit language towards a child and showing children pornographic material. A form of abuse involving forcing or enticing a child, young person, or adult at risk to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether the individual is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing, and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at pornographic material, watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways. Sexual abuse can take place online, and technology can be used to facilitate offline abuse. While sexual abuse is predominantly perpetrated by adult males, women and other children can also commit acts of sexual abuse.
Children in exploitative situations and relationships receive something such as gifts, money, or affection as a result of performing sexual activities or others performing sexual activities on them. Sexual Exploitation is any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially, or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.