Harmful sexual behaviour by children and young people: Expert Group report

This report sets out proposals from the Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People to improve prevention and early intervention in response to harmful sexual behaviour involving children and young people.

Annex H: Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC)

Most children and young people get all the help and support they need from their parents or carers, wider family and community but sometimes, perhaps unexpectedly, they may need a bit of extra help which is why GIRFEC includes all children and young people - because it is impossible to predict if or when any child or young person may need that extra help.

Since 2006 the GIRFEC approach has been at the heart of all the policies of Scottish Government and it aims to ensure that all children get the right help at the right time from the right people:

  • child-focused - it ensures the child or young person - and their family - is at the center of decision-making and the support available to them.
  • based on an understanding of the wellbeing of a child in their current situation - it takes into consideration the wider influences on a child or young person and their developmental needs when thinking about their wellbeing, so that the right support can be offered.
  • based on tackling needs early - it aims to ensure needs are identified as early as possible to avoid bigger concerns or problems developing.
  • requires joined-up working - it is about children, young people, parents and carers, and the services they need working together in a coordinated way to meet the specific needs and improve their wellbeing.

GIRFEC's purpose is to support children and young people so that they can grow up feeling loved, safe and respected and realise their full potential. It identifies 8 factors, referred to by their initial letters 'SHANARRI', confirming that at home, in school or the wider community, every child and young person should be: Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, Included.

The GIRFEC approach can connect principled practice in investigative phases within an inter-agency ethos of care and protection, so that:

Safety: has primacy. Perceived risks are explicitly assessed and addressed at every stage in care and transition planning with the child or young person and those professionals and family members significant to them.

Wellbeing: the child or young person's needs are central. Gaps, losses, past trauma and harm receive recognition and response at a pace and in a manner that is attuned to each individual. Wellbeing indicators provide a foundation for holistic assessment, planning and support.

Voice: the child or young person's experience, views, wishes and feelings are heard in daily life and in all decisions taken about their care.

Strengths: the potential and resilience of each child or young person is appreciated and nurtured. Relationships and connections with resources for the child or young person that are latent in the family and community are promoted and supported.

Teamwork: all professionals work to achieve partnership between those that care for and those that have responsibilities towards the child or young person.

Co-ordination: a social worker who is lead professional co-ordinates assessment and planning before, during and for a sufficient period following a phase of secure care; and commits to regular and reliable direct contact with the child or young person.

Continuity: significant relationships in the child and young person's life are recognised and valued. Consideration is given to sufficient continuity of professional relationships. Action is taken to sustain those personal relationships which will support positive transitions.

Flexibility: a spectrum of care options may include birth family and wider kinship care; foster and residential care; or supported accommodation. These options are evolved within a workforce which may have distinct roles and specialisms but also has a generic knowledge base. There is a need for inter-agency understanding about pathways to emotional security in living and relationship beyond the current home base or placement.

Professional development: supervision encourages reflective practice. Training opportunities develop knowledge and skills that enhance resilience, communication and relationship-based practice with children and families in crisis, facing multiple challenges.

Mapping: professional and service development may be supported by a strategic map of resource options; and accessible sources for approved methods and applicable learning from research and inspection findings.


Email: Child_Protection@gov.scot

Back to top