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I have a key child E, who has been with us a year now (just turned 4) and she has always been a little er how can I say it nicely... difficult to have a relationship with. That sounds horrible and I'm sorry but I don't know how else to put it! She usually has a kind of sly expression and sidles up to other children taking what she wants or manipulating them off bikes and chairs etc without them really noticing she has done it! If she sees an adult looking she quickly walks away. If she falls over she refuses any adult attention, won't say if she's hurt or let us look. Once she wet herself and hid under a table. She rarely responds to attempts to chat or play with her and up until last October we never saw her laugh. At this time a little girl A, started who she had known at toddler groups and they played together, chatted and laughed. She talked to adults and even sought attention from us - it was fantastic to see... until a couple of weeks in, E's mum came in asking for her to move sessions as she didn't want her playing with A. Her reason was that A's mum copied everything she did and had seen her bring E to us and had copied her (she had previously attended a different group). We played it down and didn't move her and another couple of weeks later E's mum cried as she apologised to me about it saying A was a good girl and she had over-reacted.... strange?

This half term E has gone quiet again - but she has been poorly and had lots of time off so we thought it may be that.

Last week I happened to glance over and see a lad PUNCH her in the face. I'm talking full on fist and weight behind it here. As I rushed over it struck me that E had not flinched, not put her hand to her face and definitely not cried. I obviously asked if she was OK but as she wasn't upset I dealt with teh boy first who said through a quivering lip that she had ... wait for it....

 

 

pulled his sleeve. Yes, that's right, pulled his sleeve! Apparently he was on the 'register chair' and she wanted to sit there and had pulled his sleeve (this is what he said not her playing it down remember).

So back to E, no reaction, when I hugged her she was stiff as a board and I even kissed her cheek better (yes yes I know I shouldn't have but I just wanted her to know I cared!).

 

So, filled out incident forms and told the mums separately as you do. E's mum hung around to see who else I spoke to and waited for the boy's mum.... I was a bit worried as the boy has been brought up to hit out if he is wronged so I was expecting a row! Anyway they walked off together and it all seemed amicable until the next day. E's mum came in and made E apologise to the boy for pulling his sleeve and told staff that she had got what she deserved....

The day after that she said the same to me. I said that I saw what she was saying but in my book NOTHING justified being punched. She obviously didn't agree....

 

Sorry this is so long but I have so many warning bells going off but nothing concrete! This mum is so quiet and timid and we were all so shocked that she blamed E and wasn't on her side!

I have logged what has happened in our concerns file and every day I mention to mum if she doesn't speak - today she looked staright ahead and didn't respond when I offered her milk or water - usually she chooses no problem.

 

What would you guys do? Is there any form of checklist I can use to assess her emotional development? Is it simply stubbornness - I will not react and show this boy he has upset me? I'm being careful not to say what my concern is to see if anybody thinks the same as me!!!

Last week

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All the alarm bells are ringing!

 

I would be very concerned about this child's home life. Why does she not react to pain, attention, love etc. etc.......

 

I would make lots of observations on the child detailing behaviour patterns, how she interacts with others, whether she is worse after weekends, holidays etc.

 

I hate to say it without knowing the child/family but I would be very concerned about abuse................I may be totally off the mark and we have to be so careful!

 

Hopefully the more experienced members on this site might know what to suggest.

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Thank you so much for the reply!

I know it was a mammoth post but I am feeling sick with worry now! Seeing all those views and no replies was a bit demoralising!

 

Nicki that is exactly where my brain is going.

My administrator was there that day and I was actually next to her as it happened so she had looked to where I ran to. Afterwards she said she had felt sick as she was in a very violent marriage herself and said that she recognised the blank expression after hte punch - shudder

 

I don't have anything concrete to go running to SS but I am logging my concerns and do speak to mum whenever she has a non-responsive day so she knows I haev concerns. I thought I might go down to social interaction route and maybe involve other profs that way and hope I'm very very wrong.

In the meantime i am trying to be as friendly and open to this girl as I possibly can to try to repair any emotional coldness she may be seeing/receiving

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Hi,

 

I have just done an in depth child protection course and what you are describing worries me - it sounds like one of the scenarios they gave us. In the authority I work in (a scottish one) we would be referring that type of behaviour to social services - we would at least pick up the phone and chat to them to get their opinion (doesn't mean it is taken any further here, not sure about England) describing the events exactly as you did. My gut reaction is that either she, or mum, is on the receiving end of physical abuse (but this is a gut reaction). For a child to show no reaction is not normal behaviour. There is a medical condition where they feel no pain but she obviously has big emotional problems too.

 

There would be warning bells going off for me too - you don't have to have concrete evidence, your records as you have obviously kept them are the evidenceenough for someone else to investigate.

 

This child obviously needs help (and maybe the family too).

 

I'm sorry I don't know what type of seting you are in? I'm in a school nursery so would contact my headteacher next but in a private nursery/playgroup I suppose it would be SS.

 

Keep up with your observations and perhaps contact your EY advisor for next steps? (here if in a private nursery we would contact the duty social worker).

 

Best of luck, not a nice position to be in :o

 

Megsmum

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Thanks Megs mum

We are a preschool - I am supervisor but would pass it to my cp coordinator who doesn't like confrontation and would sit on it...

 

I guess I feel that I could be way off the mark and should give mum a chance to explain the behaviour but on the other hand....

From what I know, abused people start to believe they deserve what they get and I worry that mum really thinks that. It could be as 'simple' as she was hit by her dad and doesn't show the child any affection... end of.

 

I am observing and did a social skills checklist today but it was hard to assess the results as she has just turned 4 so I couldn't say she is delayed because she doesn't have all the boxes checked for 4 years old.

 

I have been talking to mum about her lack of response at times and mum just says yes she's like that at home too.

I also keep thinking she has been ill for ages on and off and maybe she just isn't feeling well....

 

On the CP course I did last year we were told we had to inform parents before talking to SS which seemed slightly off as it would definitely put me off doing it.

 

Do you think I could approach it by showing mum concrete evidence that the child is not having a normal response for her age to events and ask if I can refer her to the area SENco. Even if it is more CP than SEN I do feel that she may struggle at school with her lack of interaction and response.

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Tricky these situations but warning bells are sounding. Firstly I would be doing just what you are doing and talking to Mum about my concerns about her behaviour, so that nothing you do later can be said to be a surprise to her. Record briefly these conversations and date them. Also, as you are doing, make observation notes about the child.

Can you have a chat with the Health Visitor about this child, off the record, as she may be able to help? Often they have another perspective, and although they will not give you confidential information about families it may ring a bell with them. It is true that you should not be contacting outside services without discussing this with Mum (except for suspected sexual abuse). You also need to be careful not to drive Mum and child away as they need you.

I would pass these concerns up to the Advisory teacher/SENCO for advice as soon as possible and make a written record of what action is to be taken, giving them a copy. It is amazing what putting something in writing can achieve.

Who is the designated Child Protection contact for you because that is the person you should be discussing this with, and following the policy laid down for you setting? Tell them of your concerns but remember it may be something completely different, some problem from the past which has affected her or her mother's behaviour.

In the meantime carry on being as caring and friendly and encouraging as you are as this little girl needs to be able to make good relationships and learn to trust people.

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Hi, one of the very first children I ever came into contact with was in an abusive home. Mom regulary got beaten up, The child would go into the home corner and tidy up the equipment by size. Dishes, plates etc were piled in neat stacks and he would explode if another child went near to touch anything. The playleader at the time did nothing, just thought he was a tidy child, it was only after he left that grandad told us what went on at home. You are right to have concerns, could you ask your area senco to take a look, to help with any child development issues? And I would phone the area child protection committee for advice. You dont have to give loads of details but they should be able to help. :)

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I agree with all the advice given. In our training, it's been made clear that we all have a responsibility in these situations, so even if your child protection officer hears your concerns but does nothing, you as an individual are still able to phone SS & express your concerns.

 

I telephoned about a sitiuation last year, & started the conversation along the lines of 'I'm not sure if this is a referral or not' and briefly described the situation, giving no personal details. They actually told me that they felt it should be a referral, which I felt took some of the weight from me.

 

I can also think of another situation, a long time ago, which I would have referred nowadays, & often have to live with guilt feelings about it. My advice is: don't put yourself in that position.

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I've read the posts with both sadness and interest. I think there are lots of issues here. The first one that I picked up on personally was the unresponsiveness in general - I have to say that one of my sons never liked me to kiss him and was very off hand with affection from quite an early age and did become very stiff and backed away when this happened - I don't know but I could think of nothing that I did - there was certainly no abuse but he found physical contact really difficult and I don;t know why. Something that I have always felt sad about and I really didn't understand why and from about 3/4 he never really cried. When I think about it I must have done something wrong but I just don't know what and I often think back on it and what I could have done. It all started when my 3rd child came along - maybe he felt pushed out and I didn't give him enough attention, although with 3 children under 4 - life was busy, busy - but who knows. All I am saying is sometimes we need to err with caution on this one and not look too much into it as an issue on its own.

 

However, there are some other worrying signs. I think you can ask for advice without making a referral and this is what you should do with your local ACPC who I am sure can help you formulate a plan/way forward for observing and assessing the child. Building up a level of trust is vitally important, communicating with both parent and child is essential and in particular with the child. Both parent and child need your help whatever the circumstances whether that is purely from an educational point of view and nothing else is still important. Let's face it some people are just different and we must accept that some times, for whatever reason, people have different ways of looking at things - they develop different parenting styles and deal with things very differently. I suppose what I am trying to say is yes you have concerns and I think quite rightly but I also think that you must look at the whole picture and seek some professional informal advice. If given the same position then I think I would ensure that the keyworker or yourself monitor the situation closely and be sure that you don't read into anything that's not there. At the moment from what you are saying whilst there is a lot going on, on the other hand, there is also very little, if that makes sense. I wish you all the best with this.

 

I suppose I am jsut trying to put another view for some of the reasons I have mentioned. I think it is difficult to make too many comments without being there and you are the best judge of that and you I think have already formed your own opinions but that is not the same as having some concrete evidence. Perhaps this is the sort of area you need to discuss with the ACPC.

Take care - thinking of you.

Nikki

Nikki

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Thanks for your replies. Some of your concerns about reading too much into it are why I posted. Once you haev a CP worry, every little thing seems to be evidence.

Our HV team works from the same building as us and we do have informal chats and I have already asked if there are any concerns from their side but they haven't seen her since 2.5 year check and that was fine.

We have a SEN support worker in today and I spoke to her today with the same facts I have put here. We are going to do some specific interaction obs and then ask mum if we can seek advice from area SENco regarding this area of development and she has also advised using small world figures and dolls houses to get some more interaction (and maybe role play from home but obviously no leading from adults)

I am her key worker and the supervisor but not the CPco. We have spoken today tho and will continue to log incidents. We all feel that it is unlikely that the child is being abused and more that she has role models that do not show emotion and we want to give her positive experiences with us in the hope we can break the cycle.

 

Thank you again so much as the mixed responses have made me more secure that it isn't cut and dried. I felt a bit like I was trying to persuade myself it was complicated so I didn't have to address the CP side.

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Hi Pandamonium.

 

That really is an awful situation to be in. As you know, the first thing that worries me, is generally when children are 'hurt' by their peers, the tend to scream, cry or trail an adult around to tell them what happened. The fact that this child didn't even flinch is the biggest worry for me.

 

I haven't really got anything to add to what everyone else has said. I do agree though that maybe seeking advice anonymously would be a good idea. As long as your records are being kept up to date, it shows that you have noticed a 'problem', if things go any futher.

 

I really hope the situation gets sorted for you soon. Don't forget where we are if you need any further advice or help! Good Luck.

 

Clare

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Claire could it be that this little girl is very shy ,maybe too shy to make a fuss.

I also have a little girl in my pre-school who was becoming unresponsive. It was totally out of character. Yes I was suspicious because the warning bells were there. I was determined to sort it out.Her mum was worried about the situation and eager to resolve it I asked the other staff to do registration while I chatted to mum on many ocassions asking her about other family members and friends.. She told me that an elder step sister was really nasty to this child but the parent thought that this was normal. Big sister is now rewarded for good behaviour and little sister is back to normal. So to cut a long story short keep on friendly terms with parent and keep talking to her and try and get the childs confidence. maybe using small play/ puppets and reinvent the senerio that concerns you and see if you get a response.

Good luck.

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Hi Bubblejack.

 

The possibility that the child may be shy is one to consider. But even those children who do not scream and cry for attention when they have been hurt by others show a small reaction. Some children simply stand there and cry and the only reason you know they are doing it, is because they have been particularly quiet for a while. They might not sob and make the usual noises, but generally, a reaction does come. I find it strange that this child can be punched full in the face and not even blink.

 

As for speaking to the mum of the child, from what Tracey is saying, they have tried to speak to her on numerous occasions but are not getting a very positive response. If I was spoken to by a member of nursery staff telling me that my daughter had been punched in the same way as the subject child had, I don't think my answer would be that she got what she deserves. I do accept, however that this response could just be a result of different parenting methods! It doesn't seem that this parent is eager to sort the situation out with the staff, especially as her attitude seems to be '...she's like that at home...' although I'm not debating that there might be a reason why mum isn't eager to sort it out.

 

It sounds like I'm being on the defensive and I'm really not. I'm just giving my opinion as I see it. In my experience, children generally react to pain or when feeling uncomfortable, maybe not in a totally obvious way, but there is normally something there.

 

I do agree that by keeping on 'friendly' terms with the parents is the way forward. If they trust you enough, they may actually give you an insight into what is going on at home. I also agree that by gaining the child's confidence, an insight may be gained. I'm really not being defensive, so please don't think that! :)

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Well done - I am sure you as a professional will find the route forward, whatever that may be, with this, and I certainly would want to bounce ideas off everyone -that's what life is all about. You must of course have the child at the centre of your involvement and this is what you have done -so well done - keep at it.

Nikki

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UPDATE

Today she was all smiley and played with the little girl I said about before. Said yes at register HURRAH! During session I asked her to come and 'help' me as you do :o didn't think she would so had nothing planned oops!

Sat at graphics table and asked her (and the other little girl A) to copy a circle then asked them to do a shape for us to copy. She did this no problem and other things I asked! She chatted about having scissors at home and pink being her fave colour and I was thinking wow maybe I was really really wrong. She went off and then brought me a pot of fake flowers (no speech then) and I gave her a hug and told her how glad I was she was happy today and asked if she was feeling better etc etc - no reply, no smile, no leaning into hug. Hmmm

Snack time she refused to respond to anyone again adn this time had no fruit either.

 

I'm going to speak to mum and try to get her permission to refer her on the grounds that she will talk on her own terms but does not respond to adult's attempts to interact. Obviously we want to help her to function and if this continues into school it may affect her relationships as well as her learning. I'm not sure mum will comply tho so we're stuffed then but I'll try!

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Hi Pandamonium

 

I think it is reassuring that you are keeping a close eye on this child whilst trying to keep an open mind. The situation is concerning, I don't envy you.

 

Everybody's posted good advice, I just wanted to say that I'm sure you could speak to SS without giving away any details if you needed support.

 

On a general note (not necessarily related to this family) regarding getting permission from the parent to talk to SS, our Child Protection policy states that a discussion will take place (with the parent) unless it is believed that this would place the child at risk of significant harm. This relates to any form of abuse.

 

Best wishes

Deb

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Hi Pandamonium,

I only have a couple of things to add:

1. You should definately follow your child protection procedure - I dont know if NI is different to England, but I would express my concern in writing to the designated CP person. You've mentioned that you think that this person does not like confrontation and you worry they will 'sit on it'. This may be so, but if this is the first person you should contact in the first instance then you should do so.

2. If you feel that your CP person has not acted appropriately, then it should say on you policy who to contact next. On our policy it says to contact the registering social worker. She has always said to me that it is her job to lie awake at night thinking about these situations, not mine :)

3. I would definately not speak to the parent about all this, because I was always told that we do not make 'referrals' per se, only the SS do this to the CP team if they think it is appropriate, but we express a 'cause for concern'. I agree that relations with the parent are important, and it is of course right to give parents the opportunity to explain some situations, but the welfare of the child is paramount, and we have a duty of care to act, which to me means following the CP policy. I know that in other situations, i.e. if you were concerned about a child's speech/behaviour, and you wanted a speech and language therapist/ed phyc out to assess the child then you must of course ask parent's permission first, but I think the whole CP thing is different - are you sure you have to ask for mum's permission to get the SS involved?

I would just say, follow you CP policy to the letter - that is what it is there for.

Good Luck

G.

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  • 1 month later...

Dear P

 

Keep your Child Protection contact informed daily about your observations of child E. (Take note of how child leaves mom and greets mom each day if you can, take opportunities to talk to mom about informal things etc., the use of puppets sounds useful and also set up home corner with child E playing various roles including being 'mom'.) I do feel concerned that mom has said 'she got what she deserved'. In this scenario generally parents show concern and are protective of their child. It may be a case of parent 'overdisciplining' or having too high expectations of child's behaviour. It is important not to jump to conclusions but if you are not happy with CP or feel you need more advice speak to SS - they are more used to dealing with these issues than we are. (Advise CP and Head of your actions.) I went on a course recently which was run by Police officers trained in dealing with Child Protection issues and they said our first duty is to the child and sometimes their most important leads were when a Head Teacher has telephoned and said 'I'm not sure if this is a referral but this child arrives late each day/appears dishevelled etc...SS may already have had other concerns reported from child E's GP or Health visitor or a neighbour etc (child E may be known to them) and a call from school can bring it all together. I hope I haven't duplicated too much of the advice given by others. Hope all goes well.

Kind regards

A

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Thanks A, things are kind of stable at the mo. I continue to observe and try to use role play with her. Last week her dad was admitted to hospital and mum thought she may lose him. E was happiest we've seen her...! He came home and she stayed happy tho so phew! HV is aware of our concerns and came to tell me the other week that hte practice nurse had come to her about a child who made absolutely no reaction when having her preschool jabs... yep it was E. We have key meetings after half term and I will be presenting mum with my obs and going down the innappropriate reaction route as I am now wondering about aspergers or something similar? When she isn't totally silent and semingly rude she shrieks a high pitched laugh for no apparent reason.

Aaaaaargh!

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Pandemonium, I think that you are doing all the right things, you are liaising with HV and mum, you are continuously observing the child, recording updates and keeping an open mind without confusing assumption with fact. I am sure now that will your experience and professionalism, the advice of SENCO and your continued devotion to this child, all the questions and concerns will be sorted out.

 

On a broader note, I personally would question why your CPco has the role. If staff do not feel confident that she will address their concerns, that she will "sit on" referrals, actually concerns me. I think it is her role to take up any referrals the staff give, and act appropriattely, either by discussing the referral with the parent, contacting other agencies for advice, or even putting in writing that she feels that there is no cause to react in any way at this time. You, in effect are doing her role, which can in some circumsatnces, compromise or be conflicting to your role as supervisor. This is why we have designated CP officers.

 

Also on the broader issue of "asking parents permission to contact SS". I wish we could get away from the feeling that if we contact SS then we are doing something "against" the parent. I make it very clear when I do my initial home visits that our CP policy is that if we have a concern we will contact SS, I don't ask permission, on the other hand I tell parents I would expect the same of them if they had concerns about me or my staff. I make the issue of CP very open, on the times I have contacted SS, I have always told the parent either by contacting them immediately, or when they pick up, I write an incident report and get them to sign it to say that 1/ I have explained my reasons why I have contacted SS and 2/ that I have told them. Even if I've only contacted SS for advice.

 

I believe that we are all adults ( staff and parents) and we should therefore strive to have open honest relationships with the child as central to this relationship. Each time I have phoned the SS, I tell them that my policy is to inform parents of my referral, ONLY if they tell me not to, will I not inform parents, this procedure is explained to parents before the child starts at preschool.

 

In all my years experience, contacting SS has been a positive experience for parents and child, even in the case once of a physically abusive father, after SS involvement, the family got the help they needed and all was well, after a year of turmoil before I intervened and started the "helpful" intervention that SS offered.

 

SS are not the "bad guys", they are a fountain of resources, help and hope for families and especially for the children.

 

Peggy

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I have just been reading all the advise you have been given and it all sounds really good. Sorry I haven't replied to you earlier I have been away.

 

I have had to deal with a few cases that I have had to report to SS, I'm afraid that one sounded very similar to yours and my suspisions were confirmed.

 

Keep up with the observations this will help in the future if needed. If you are unsure as to which route to take you can speak confidentially to SS just for advise, they are really helpful and will guide you in the right direction and hopefully put your mind at rest. They can also advise you of what you should be looking for whilst doing your observations on her behaviour. It may be nothing but it's best to seek advise and ease your mind.

 

Good luck

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