Safeguarding Sussex Week: Physical Abuse

This year’s Learning Together week runs from Monday 27 November -Friday 1 December 2017 and there will be a variety of events to spotlight and debate some of the most important issues in our city which affect individuals, their families and the wider community. This year the Safeguarding Week is being held in conjunction with our partners from East & West Sussex as well as Brighton & Hove Safeguarding Adults Board and the Safe in the City Partnership Board

You can view the Brighton & Hove programme here and the face to face events will provide a space for professionals to explore their responsibilities in their everyday work, and reflect on their contribution to keeping people safe and well.

If you cannot attend one of our events you may wish to make some time to complete some eLearning to increase your safeguarding knowledge, or you may want to use one of our Practice Point Scenarios to start discussion in your team meetings, or reflect on the implications for your practice after reading our Briefing for Staff: W&X SCR. 

Throughout the week we will be circulating a series of bite-sized bulletins to give you an appetite for different safeguarding themes, and point you in the direction for further information. Look out for them in your inbox, and follow the week on social media #SafeguardingSussex

Physical Abuse

Physical injuries can be the most observable indicator of child abuse. Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.

A bruise on a baby who cannot yet crawl or walk is very unusual and can be a serious cause for concern. We have worked with partners from a variety of agencies in Brighton & Hove to create a referral pathway to guide professionals in safeguarding these children, and a leaflet explaining this process for parents called “My Baby has an unusual skin mark…”

Frequent injuries to a child should raise concern, as failure to ensure adequate supervision is an indicator of child neglect. Professionals should be curious and question the explanation provided by parents. Children with disabilities or behavioural issues may present with reoccurring injuries related to their individual needs, however consideration should be given to the care plan, in particular the personal care required, and whether this can explain any potential injury.

Children living in households where domestic abuse and violence is a feature may become victims of physical assault themselves, either directly or indirectly.

Physical assault and intimidation are methods used in groups and gangs to exploit vulnerable young people. Young people may be injured through retaliatory violence, displaced retaliation, territorial violence with other gangs or other harm suffered whilst committing a crime.

Physical injuries may also be self inflicted. Self-harm is common. In most cases of deliberate self harm the young person should be seen as a Child in Need and offered help via the school counselling service, the GP, child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) or other therapeutic services e.g. paediatric or psychiatric services. The possibility that self-harm, including a serious eating disorder, has been caused or triggered by any form of abuse or chronic neglect should not be overlooked


Multi-agency training: 

We are also developing a full day course on Safeguarding Adolescents which will launch in the new year, and we will be holding a conference on Perplexing Cases with West Sussex LSCB in March 2018. To keep up to date with our training events sign up to receive our newsletter


Further Reading:

Pan Sussex Child Protection & Safeguarding Procedures:


If you have concerns about a child contact the Front Door for Families on 01273 290400