What is child abuse?
Child abuse is any action by another person—adult or child—that causes significant harm to a child. It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can just as often be about a lack of love, care and attention. We know that neglect, whatever form it takes, can be just as damaging to a child as physical abuse.
An abused child will often experience more than one type of abuse, as well as other difficulties in their lives. It often happens over a period of time, rather than being a one-off event. And it can increasingly happen online.
The signs of child abuse aren't always obvious, and a child might not tell anyone what's happening to them. Children might be scared that the abuser will find out, and worried that the abuse will get worse. Or they might think that there’s no-one they can tell or that they won’t be believed. Sometimes, children don't even realise that what's happening is abuse. The effects of abuse may be short term or may last a long time—sometimes into adulthood. Adults who were abused as children may need advice and support.
What is peer on peer abuse?
More recently the field of Safeguarding has recognised that children and young people may experience abuse by their peers. In order to prevent and tackle peer-on-peer abuse, UWCSEA draws on a number of resources including the Peer-on-Peer Abuse Toolkit developed by the Safeguarding Unit at Farrer & Co.
Our School takes a safeguarding approach to all individuals involved in allegations or concerns about peer-on-peer abuse, including those who are alleged to have been abused and those who are alleged to have abused their peers, in addition to any disciplinary process that may be appropriate.
When dealing with allegations of peer abuse, the school draws on aspects of Simon Hackett’s (2010) continuum to assess where the alleged behaviour falls on a spectrum and to decide how to respond. For example:
- Is the behaviour socially acceptable?
- Does it involve a single incident or has it occurred over a period of time?
- Is it problematic and concerning?
- Does it involve any overt elements of victimisation or discrimination?
- Does it involve an element of coercion or pre-planning?
- Does it involve a power imbalance between the child/children?
- Does it involve a misuse of power?