“Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart [by hating it and feeling that it is wrong] and that is the weakest of faith (Muslim)
Children experiencing distress or abuse will often seek to disclose their abuse where they feel most safe, trusted and listened to. It is not unusual for children to choose staff members who are not directly involved in teaching such as care takers and teaching assistants. This is because they may be perceived as having less authority and thus less intimidating. It is important all Madrassah staff have undergone Level 1 Child Safeguarding Training, are familiar with the Madrassah’s Child Protection Policy and are aware of how to report abuse.
Should a child indicate abuse or disclose harm to any staff member, it is important to remember that your role is to recognise and refer abuse, not to investigate.
Not investigating does not mean that the staff member receiving the concern cannot ask any questions. However, careful thought needs to be given to how and what questions are to be asked, avoiding anything that can be interpreted as ‘leading’ the child or suggesting a specific course of events. The basic rule of thumb, is that staff should ONLY ask enough questions of the child to clarify whether there is a child protection concern. Once the child has clarified they are at harm or risk no further questions are required.
What do I do if I suspect a pupil is being abused?
You do not need evidence to report abuse. If you suspect abuse but are not certain, you MUST still report it to the designated child protection officer for further investigation.
- Know your Madrassah policies – Know who to report suspected abuse to in your Madrassah and how it will be dealt with.
- Don’t Second-Guess Yourself – You can never be 100% certain about abuse, unless you witness it. However, even if you simply suspect a problem, you must report it for investigation. You can clarify in your report that you suspect abuse, but are not certain. The family will not know who filed it.
- Keep a Watchful Eye on Your Pupil – If you suspect that one of your pupils is in a vulnerable situation, pay special attention to his/her behaviour, needs, and work. Keep a written record for evidence if possible.
- Remain Committed to Protecting Children – Do not allow the difficult process to deter you from protecting children in the future. It is your legal responsibility, and as a Madrassah teacher or staff member, the pupils you teach are an amaanah (trust). Remember as a Muslim you have an Islamic and legal obligation to protect those in your care.
How do I approach a Madrassah pupil who I suspect is being abused?
It can be difficult to talk to the pupil because they may be afraid to disclose the abuse. It is not necessary to approach the child but if you choose to, here are a few tips
- To tell the child that you are concerned that they are looking unhappy, angry or withdrawn or that you have noticed a bruise, burn or cut etc.
- To ask them if there is anything they want to tell you.
- Do not pressure or force the pupil to talk to you.
- Reassure the pupil you can be approached if he/she needs to talk later.
What to do if a pupil discloses abuse?
If a Madrassah pupil tells you they are being abused, although, it can be extremely distressing, there are essential guidelines Madrassah staff must follow.
If the pupil does disclose:
- Do actively listen to the pupil
- Do express your belief that the pupil is telling the truth
- Do use the pupil’s language and vocabulary when reporting it to the designated child protection officer
- Do reassure the pupil that to disclose was the right thing to do
- Do emphasise it was not their fault
- Do tell the pupil that you will do your best to support and protect them
- Do indicate that you will have to pass on the information you are given
- Don’t look or act shocked or distressed
- Don’t make any judgmental statement
- Don’t make promises eg. promising not to tell anyone
- Don’t ask questions, just listen
- Don’t seek details beyond those the pupil freely wants to tell you. Your role is to listen to the pupil, not to conduct an investigation
- Don’t involve anyone else in the conversation
Online Safeguarding Resources:
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) – //www.nspcc.org.uk/
Keeping Children Safe March 2015 Document –
Safe Network – //www.safenetwork.org.uk/
Safeguarding in Schools – //www.safeguardinginschools.co.uk/
Child Protection in Sport Unit – //thecpsu.org.uk/
Creative Education – www.creativeeducation.co.uk