National guidance for child protection in Scotland 2021

This guidance describes the responsibilities and expectations for all involved in protecting children and will support the care and protection of children.

Appendix A: Glossary of terms

Advocacy: A term used within different contexts in this Guidance. Listening to a child, or an adult who cares for the child and working out with them how to represent their views, experiences and needs within assessment, planning and decision-making processes. The terms of some forms of advocacy are provided for in statute.

Care and Risk Management (CARM): Processes which are applied when a child between the ages of 12 and 17 has been involved in behaviours which could cause serious harm to others. This includes sexual or violent behaviour which may cause serious harm. CARM processes are also applicable when an escalation of behaviours suggests that an incident of a seriously harmful nature may be imminent.

Chief Officers Group: The collective expression for the Local Police Commander and Chief Executives of the local authority and NHS Board in each local area. Chief Officers are individually and collectively responsible for the leadership, direction and scrutiny of their respective child protection services and their Child Protection Committees.

Child: Child protection processes within this Guidance relate to unborn babies and children and young people under the age of 18 years. (Part 1 seeks to summarise some of the relevant legal definitions of 'child' in Scotland, and the applicability of legislation relating to the protection of young adults).

Child abuse and child neglect: Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse a child by inflicting, or by failing to prevent, harm to a child:

  • emotional abuse is persistent emotional neglect or ill treatment of a child causing severe and lasting adverse effects on the child's emotional development. 'Persistent' means there is a continuous or intermittent pattern which has caused, or is likely to cause, significant harm
  • neglect consists in persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, which is likely to result in the serious impairment of the child's health or development. There can also be single instances of neglectful behaviour that cause significant harm. Neglect can arise in the context of systemic stresses such as poverty, and is an indicator of support needs
  • physical abuse is the causing of physical harm to a child or young person
  • child sexual abuse is an act that involves a child under 16 in any activity for the sexual gratification of another, whether or not it is claimed that the child either consented or assented. For those who may be victims of sexual offences aged 16-17, child protection procedures should be considered; and must be applied when there is concern child about sexual exploitation or trafficking

Child's plan/Child Protection Plan: Where those working with the child and family have evidence to indicate that support across services may be required to meet the child's wellbeing needs, a child's plan is drawn up to co‑ordinate a single plan of action. This should be managed and reviewed through a single planning process, including a single meeting structure, even if the child is involved in several processes. The child's plan will incorporate a Child Protection Plan if the criteria for registration are met, namely risk of significant harm requiring a multi-agency plan. The Child Protection Plan must focus on actions to reduce risk.

Child protection: The processes involved in consideration, assessment and planning of required action, together with the actions themselves, where there are concerns that a child may be at risk of harm from abuse, neglect or exploitation:

  • child protection guidance provides overall direction for agencies and professional disciplines where there are concerns that a child may be at risk of harm
  • child protection procedures are initiated when police, social work or health professionals determine that a child may have been abused or may be at risk of significant harm, and when an inter-agency referral discussion (see below) takes place

Child Protection Planning Meeting: A multi-disciplinary meeting, formerly termed a Child Protection Case Conference. Involvement of child and relevant family members should be supported. The purpose of the meeting is to consider and agree an assessment of risk and form a plan of required action to protect a child or young person. Participants are those persons essential to the Child Protection Plan.

Child Protection Committee: The locally-based, inter-agency strategic partnership responsible for child protection policy and practice across the public, private and Third Sectors. Working on behalf of Chief Officers, its role is to provide individual and collective leadership and direction for the management of child protection services in its area.

child protection register: All local authorities are responsible for maintaining a central register, known as the child protection register as described in Part 1 of this Guidance. This is a list of all children, including unborn babies, who are subject to a Child Protection Plan.

Core Group: A group of identified practitioners, and child/family including the lead professional, who liaise regularly between Child Protection Planning Meetings to ensure that actions are being progressed and to monitor risk. This may be a smaller group than the team around the Child, involving those practitioners with direct and regular engagement.

Disabled children: A term used in this Guidance and in Scottish Government policy documents to reflect a social model of disability in which the barriers created by society are recognised as a cause of disadvantage and exclusion, rather than the impairment itself. (p7. A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People.) It is the right of individuals, families and groups to use terms which feel acceptable to them, such as 'children with disabilities'.

Domestic abuse: Domestic abuse is a form of violence, committed predominantly by men, predominantly towards women. It is any form of physical, verbal, sexual, psychological or financial abuse which might amount to criminal conduct and takes place within the context of a relationship between partners (married, cohabiting, civil partnership or otherwise), or ex-partners. Abuse may include controlling, isolating, degrading, threatening and humiliating behaviour. It may be committed in the home or elsewhere; and may include online activity. The offence of abusive behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner is defined in section 1 of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018.

Harm: Impairment of the health or development of the child, including, for example, impairment suffered as a result of seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another. Risk in this context refers to the probability of harm given the presence of adverse factors in a child's life. There is no statutory definition or uniform defining criterion for significant harm, which refers to serious interruption, change or damage to a child's physical, emotional, intellectual or behavioural health and development.

Inter-agency referral discussion (IRD): The start of the formal process of information sharing, assessment, analysis and decision-making following reported concern about abuse or neglect of a child or young person under the age of 18 years, in relation to familial and non-familial concerns. This may include discussion of concern relating to siblings or other children within the same context, and can refer to an unborn baby that may be exposed to current or future risk.

Joint Investigative Interviews (JII): These are formal interviews of children conducted by trained police officers and social workers where there is a concern that a child is a victim of, or witness to, criminal conduct, and where there is information to suggest that the child has been or is being abused or neglected, or may be at risk of significant harm.

Lead professional: The social worker who leads and co‑ordinates the multi-disciplinary child protection assessment, and oversees implementation of actions to protect the child.

My World Triangle: Within the GIRFEC National Practice Model, the My World Triangle is a starting point for considering what risks might be present in a child's life. The Triangle focuses attention on the three dimensions of a child's world: the child, their family, and their wider environment.

Named person: A core component of the GIRFEC approach, this is a professional point of contact within universal services, if a child, young person or their parents need information, advice or help. Local arrangements and the term used to describe this role or function may vary from area to area.

Notification of Concern: Where concerns about possible harm to a child arise, these should always be shared with the appropriate agency (normally police or social work) so that staff responsible for investigating the circumstances can determine whether that harm is significant. Where a practitioner has a concern about a child's wellbeing, this can be shared with a named person (or equivalent) where this has been discussed with the family.

Parents and carers: A 'parent' is someone who is the legal mother or father of the child, whether genetic or not. This is subject to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, which sets out which persons are to be treated as the parents of a child conceived through assisted reproduction. A 'carer' is someone other than a parent who is looking after a child.

Resilience: This refers to positive adaptation despite serious adversities and threats to a child's development. Within the GIRFEC National Practice Model, the resilience matrix is a tool which promotes consideration of the dynamic interaction of stresses and protective factors in the child's world.

Team around the child: Those practitioners who support the child and family, and are likely to be participants at a child's plan meeting.

Wellbeing Indicators: A holistic and rights informed framework, within the GIRFEC National Practice Model, which outlines a child's wellbeing needs under eight headings: safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included.



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