Bright World aims to protect children from the four main types of abuse and neglect:

What is Abuse?

A form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Harm can include ill treatment that
is not physical as well as the impact of witnessing ill treatment of others. This can be particularly relevant, for example, in relation to the impact on children of all forms of domestic abuse. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by others. Abuse can take place wholly online, or technology may be used to facilitate offline abuse. Children may be abused by an adult or adults or by another child or children.

Type 1: Physical abuse:

A form of abuse which may involve

  • hitting,
  • shaking,
  • throwing,
  • poisoning,
  • burning or scalding,
  • drowning,
  • suffocating
  • 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.

The NSPCC says that some signs and indicators of physical abuse are:

Burns or scalds:

  • can be from hot liquids, hot objects, flames, chemicals or electricity
  • on the hands, back, shoulders or buttocks; scalds may be on lower limbs, both arms and/or both legs
  • a clear edge to the burn or scald
  • sometimes in the shape or an implement for example, a circular cigarette burn
  • multiple burns or scalds

Bite marks

  • usually oval or circular in shape
  • visible wounds, indentations or bruising from individual teeth.

Fractures or broken bones:

  • fractures to the ribs or the leg bones in babies
  • multiple fractures or breaks at different stages of healing

Other injuries and health problems:

  • scarring
  • effects of poisoning such as vomiting, drowsiness or seizures
  • respiratory problems from drowning, suffocation or poisoning

Type 2: Emotional abuse:

The persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and adverse effects on the child’s emotional development and may involve;

  • conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person.
  • not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate.
  • age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond a child’s developmental capability as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning or preventing the child from participating in normal social interaction.
  • seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children.

Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, although it may occur alone.

The NSPCC says some signs and indicators of emotional abuse may be that:

  • Babies and pre-school children who are being emotionally abused or neglected may:
  • be overly-affectionate towards strangers or people they haven’t known for very long
  • lack confidence or become wary or anxious
  • not appear to have a close relationship with their parent, e.g. when being taken to or collected from nursery etc.
  • be aggressive or nasty towards other children and animals.
  • Older children may:*
  • use language, act in a way or know about things that you wouldn’t expect them to know for their age
  • struggle to control strong emotions or have extreme outbursts
  • seem isolated from their parents
  • lack social skills or have few, if any, friends.

Type 3: Sexual Abuse

Involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing, and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse. Sexual abuse can take place online, and technology can be used to facilitate offline abuse. Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children. The sexual abuse of children by other children is a specific safeguarding issue in education and all staff should be aware of it and of their school or college’s policy and procedures for dealing with it.

The NSPCC says some signs and indicators of sexual abuse are as follows:
Children who are sexually abused may:

  • Stay away from certain people
  • they might avoid being alone with people, such as family members or friends
  • they could seem frightened of a person or reluctant to socialise with them.
  • Show sexual behaviour that’s inappropriate for their age:
  • a child might become sexually active at a young age
  • they might be promiscuous
  • they could use sexual language or know information that you wouldn’t expect them to.
  • Have physical symptoms:
  • anal or vaginal soreness
  • an unusual discharge
  • sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • pregnancy.

Type 4: Neglect:

The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy, for example, as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to: provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment); protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger; ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs. (For specific types of abuse, please see the additional information at the end of this policy).

The NSPCC says some signs of neglect are as follows:

  • Neglected children may: *
  • be smelly or dirty
  • have unwashed clothes
  • have inadequate clothing, e.g. not having a winter coat
  • seem hungry or turn up to school without having breakfast or any lunch money
  • have frequent and untreated nappy rash in infants.

They may have:

  • untreated injuries, medical and dental issues
  • repeated accidental injuries caused by lack of supervision
  • recurring illnesses or infections
  • not been given appropriate medicines
  • missed medical appointments such as vaccinations
  • poor muscle tone or prominent joints
  • skin sores, rashes, flea bites, scabies or ringworm
  • thin or swollen tummy
  • anaemia
  • tiredness
  • faltering weight or growth and not reaching developmental milestones (known as failure to thrive)
  • poor language, communication or social skills.
  • *They may be living in an unsuitable home environment for example dog mess being left or not having any heating
  • They may be left alone for a long time
  • Taking on the role of carer for other family members.

Type 5: Affluent Neglect:

Affluent neglect is the neglect experienced by children and young people from wealthy families. Affluent neglect can be more difficult to spot, as the type of neglect experienced by children and young people in these circumstances is often emotional rather than physical. It can be even harder to identify and intervene in neglect cases when a child is attending boarding school with parents living overseas. This adds another layer of complexity and can prove challenging, not only for identifying home issues but also for communicating with parents to improve outcomes for the child.

Types of Affluent Neglect include:

Emotional – parents often are ‘absent’ and not easily contactable for boarding school students due to work committments and delegate supervision to carers when students return during the holidays. Lavish gifts are used to replace love and care. This can create an emotional disconnect and leave children feeling lonely, with their emotional needs unfulfilled by their parents. For this reason, Bright World maintains that our students should return to the care of their parents at least twice per year at Christmas and in the Summer holidays to avoid us facilitating this type of neglect.

Educational chlidren can be placed under extreme pressure to succeed which can sometimes lead to psychological and emotional problems for children.

Drug misuse and domestic violence

More relaxed attitude towards drug use and sexual activity

Other types of Child abuse are:

So-Called ’honour’-based abuse (including Female Genital Mutilation and Forced Marriage)

So-called ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) encompasses incidents or crimes which have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or the community, including female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, and practices such as breast ironing. Abuse committed in the context of preserving ‘honour’ often involves a wider network of family or community pressure and can include multiple perpetrators. It is important to be aware of this dynamic and additional risk factors when deciding what form of safeguarding action to take. All forms of HBA are abuse (regardless of the motivation) and should be handled and escalated as such. Professionals in all agencies, and individuals and groups in relevant communities, need to be alert to the possibility of a child being at risk of HBA, or already having suffered HBA.


If staff or host families have a concern regarding a child who might be at risk of HBA or who has suffered from HBA, they should speak to the designated safeguarding lead (or deputy). As appropriate, the designated safeguarding lead (or deputy) will activate local safeguarding procedures, using existing national and local protocols for multi-agency liaison with police and children’s social care. Where FGM has taken place, since 31 October 2015 there has been a mandatory reporting duty placed on teachers that requires a different approach (see annex B of Keeping Children Safe in Education for further details).

FGM comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs. It is illegal in the UK and a form of child abuse with long-lasting harmful consequences.

Whilst all staff or host families should speak to the designated safeguarding lead (or deputy) with regard to any concerns about female genital mutilation (FGM), there is a specific legal duty on teachers (and also regulated health and social care professionals in England and Wales). If a teacher, in the course of their work in the profession, discovers that an act of FGM appears to have been carried out on a girl under the age of 18, the teacher must report this to the police. See Annex B of Keeping Children Safe in Education for further details.

Some signs and indicators of FGM are:

-A family arranging a long break abroad during the summer holidays.
-Unexpected, repeated or prolonged absence from school.
-Academic work suffering.
-A child may ask a teacher or another adult for help if she suspects FGM is going to happen or she may run away from home or miss school.

A girl or woman who’s had female genital mutilation (FGM) may:

-have difficulty walking, standing or sitting
-spend longer in the bathroom or toilet
-appear withdrawn, anxious or depressed
-have unusual behaviour after an absence from school or college
-be particularly reluctant to undergo normal medical examinations
-ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.

Forced marriage

Forcing a person into a marriage is a crime in England and Wales. A forced marriage is one entered into without the full and free consent of one or both parties and where violence, threats or any other form of coercion is used to cause a person to enter into a marriage. Threats can be physical or emotional and psychological. A lack of full and free consent can be where a person does not consent or where they cannot consent (if they have learning disabilities, for example). Nevertheless, some perpetrators use perceived cultural practices as a way to coerce a person into marriage. Schools, colleges and guardianship organisations can play an important role in safeguarding children from forced marriage.

The Forced Marriage Unit has published statutory guidance and Multi-agency guidelines, pages 32-36 of which focus on the role of schools and colleges. Staff can contact the Forced Marriage Unit if they need advice or information: Contact: 020 7008 0151 or email

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)

Both CSE and CCE are forms of abuse that occur where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance in power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child into taking in sexual or criminal activity, in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator and/or through violence or the threat of violence. CSE and CCE can affect children, both male and female and can include children who have been moved (commonly referred to as trafficking) for the purpose of exploitation.

Child Sexual Exploitation

CSE is a form of child sexual abuse. Sexual abuse may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or nonpenetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing, and touching outside clothing. It may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in the production of sexual images, forcing children to look at sexual images or watch sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways or grooming a child in preparation for abuse including via the internet.
CSE can occur over time or be a one-off occurrence, and may happen without the child’s immediate knowledge e.g. through others sharing videos or images of them on social media.
CSE can affect any child, who has been coerced into engaging in sexual activities. This includes 16 and 17 year olds who can legally consent to have sex. Some children may not realise they are being exploited e.g. they believe they are in a genuine romantic relationship.

Potential indicators of child sexual exploitation are:

  • going missing for periods of time or regularly coming home late
  • regularly missing school or education or not taking part in education
  • appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions for example mobile phones, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes;
  • excessive receipt of texts/phone calls;
  • spending time at places of concern or of known sex work, such as hotels or known brothels;
  • get involved in gangs, gang fights, gang membership and/or isolation from peers/social networks;
  • concerning use of internet or other social media;
  • not know where they are because they have been moved around the country;
  • associating with other young people involved in exploitation;
  • having older boyfriends or girlfriends;
  • suffering from sexually transmitted infections;
  • mood swings. self-harm or changes in emotional wellbeing;
  • drug and alcohol misuse; and
  • displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour;
  • increasing secretiveness around behaviours;
  • relationships with controlling or significantly older individuals or groups;
  • evidence of/suspicions of physical or sexual assault.

Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)

Some specific forms of CCE can include children being forced or manipulated into transporting drugs or money through county lines, working in cannabis factories, shoplifting or pickpocketing. They can also be forced or manipulated into committing vehicle crime or threatening/committing serious violence to others.

Children can become trapped by this type of exploitation as perpetrators can threaten victims (and their families) with violence, or entrap and coerce them into debt. They may be coerced into carrying weapons such as knives or begin to carry a knife for a sense of protection from harm from others. As children involved in criminal exploitation often commit crimes themselves, their vulnerability as victims is not always recognised by adults and professionals, (particularly older children), and they are not treated as victims despite the harm they have experienced. They may still have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears to be something they have agreed or consented to.

It is important to note that the experience of girls who are criminally exploited can be very different to that of boys. The indicators may not be the same, however professionals should be aware that girls are at risk of criminal exploitation too. It is also important to note that both boys and girls being criminally exploited may be at higher risk of sexual exploitation.

Further information about CCE including definitions and indicators is included in Annex B of Keeping Children Safe in Education.

Child on Child Abuse

Child on child abuse is most likely to include, but may not be limited to:

• bullying (including cyberbullying, prejudice-based and discriminatory bullying);
• abuse in intimate personal relationships between children (sometimes known as ‘teenage relationship abuse’)
• physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, hair pulling, or otherwise causing physical harm (this may include an online element which facilitates, threatens and/or encourages physical abuse);
• sexual violence, such as rape, assault by penetration and sexual assault; (this may include an online element which facilitates, threatens and/or encourages sexual violence);
• sexual harassment, such as sexual comments, remarks, jokes and online sexual harassment, which may be standalone or part of a broader pattern of abuse;
• causing someone to engage in sexual activity without consent, such as forcing someone to strip, touch themselves sexually, or to engage in sexual activity with a third party;
• consensual and non-consensual sharing of nudes and semi nudes images and or videos (also known as sexting or youth produced sexual imagery);
• upskirting, which typically involves taking a picture under a person’s clothing without their permission, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks to obtain sexual gratification, or cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm; and
• initiation/hazing type violence and rituals (this could include activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group and may also include an online element).

Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges


Sexual violence and sexual harassment can occur between two children of any age and sex from primary to secondary stage and into colleges. It can also occur online. It can also occur through a group of children sexually assaulting or sexually harassing a single child or group of children.

Children who are victims of sexual violence and sexual harassment will likely find the experience stressful and distressing. This will, in all likelihood, adversely affect their educational attainment and will be exacerbated if the alleged perpetrator(s) attends the same school or college. Sexual violence and sexual harassment exist on a continuum and may overlap, they can occur online and face to face (both physically and verbally) and are never acceptable. It is essential that all victims are reassured that they are being taken seriously and that they will be supported and kept safe. A victim should never be given the impression that they are creating a problem by reporting sexual violence or sexual harassment. Nor should a victim ever be made to feel ashamed for making a report. Detailed advice is available in Part five of the full version of KCSIE.

Staff and host families should be aware that some groups are potentially more at risk. Evidence shows girls, children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and LGBT children are at greater risk.

Staff and host families should be aware of the importance of:

• challenging inappropriate behaviours;
• making clear that sexual violence and sexual harassment is not acceptable, will never be tolerated and is not an inevitable part of growing up;
• not tolerating or dismissing sexual violence or sexual harassment as “banter”, “part of growing up”, “just having a laugh” or “boys being boys”; and
• challenging physical behaviours (potentially criminal in nature), such as grabbing bottoms, breasts and genitalia, pulling down trousers, flicking bras and lifting up skirts. Dismissing or tolerating such behaviours risks normalising them.

What is sexual violence and sexual harassment?

Sexual violence

It is important that Bright World staff, host families and any volunteers are aware of sexual violence and the fact children can, and sometimes do, abuse their peers in this way and that it can happen both inside and outside of school/college. When referring to sexual violence we are referring to sexual violence offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003135 as described below:

Rape: A person (A) commits an offence of rape if: he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis, B does not consent to the penetration and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.

Assault by Penetration: A person (A) commits an offence if: s/he intentionally penetrates the vagina or anus of another person (B) with a part of her/his body or anything else, the penetration is sexual, B does not consent to the penetration and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.

Sexual Assault: A person (A) commits an offence of sexual assault if: s/he intentionally touches another person (B), the touching is sexual, B does not consent to the touching and A does not reasonably believe that B consents. (Schools should be aware that sexual assault covers a very wide range of behaviour so a single act of kissing someone without consent, or touching someone’s bottom/breasts/genitalia without consent, can still constitute sexual assault.)
Causing someone to engage in sexual activity without consent: A person (A) commits an offence if: s/he intentionally causes another person (B) to engage in an activity, the activity is sexual, B does not consent to engaging in the activity, and A does not reasonably believe that B consents. (This could include forcing someone to strip, touch themselves sexually, or to engage in sexual activity with a third party.)

What is consent?

Consent is about having the freedom and capacity to choose. Consent to sexual activity may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another, vaginal but not anal sex or penetration with conditions, such as wearing a condom. Consent can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity and each time activity occurs. Someone consents to vaginal, anal or oral penetration only if s/he agrees by choice to that penetration and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.
Further information about consent can be found here: Rape Crisis England & Wales -Sexual consent

• a child under the age of 13 can never consent to any sexual activity;
• the age of consent is 16;
• sexual intercourse without consent is rape.

Sexual harassment

When referring to sexual harassment we mean ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature’ that can occur online and offline and both inside and outside of school/college. When we reference sexual harassment, we do so in the context of child on child sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is likely to: violate a child’s dignity, and/or make them feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated and/or create a hostile, offensive or sexualised environment.

Whilst not intended to be an exhaustive list, sexual harassment can include:
• sexual comments, such as: telling sexual stories, making lewd comments, making sexual remarks about clothes and appearance and calling someone sexualised names;
• sexual “jokes” or taunting;
• physical behaviour, such as: deliberately brushing against someone, interfering with someone’s clothes (schools and colleges should be considering when any of this crosses a line into sexual violence – it is important to talk to and consider the experience of the victim) and displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature; and
• online sexual harassment. This may be standalone, or part of a wider pattern of sexual harassment and/or sexual violence. It may include:
o consensual and non-consensual sharing of nudes and semi-nudes images and/or videos. As set out in UKCIS Sharing nudes and semi-nudes:advice for education settings working with children and young people (which provides detailed advice for schools and colleges) taking and sharing nude photographs of U18s is a criminal offence;
o sharing of unwanted explicit content;
o upskirting (is a criminal offence);
o sexualised online bullying;
o unwanted sexual comments and messages, including, on social media;
o sexual exploitation; coercion and threats.


The Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019, which is commonly known as the Upskirting Act, came into force on 12 April 2019. ‘Upskirting’ is where someone takes a picture under a persons clothing (not necessarily a skirt) without their permission and or knowledge, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks (with or without underwear) to obtain sexual gratification, or cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm. It is a criminal offence. Anyone of any sex, can be a victim.

The response to a report of sexual violence or sexual harassment

The initial response to a report from a child is incredibly important. How a school, college or guardianship organisation responds to a report can encourage or undermine the confidence of future victims of sexual violence and sexual harassment to report or come forward. Schools, colleges and guardianship organisations not recognising, acknowledging or understanding the scale of harassment and abuse and/or downplaying of some behaviours can actually lead to a culture of unacceptable behaviour. It is essential that all victims are reassured that they are being taken seriously and that they will be supported and kept safe. A victim should never be given the impression that they are creating a problem by reporting sexual violence or sexual harassment. Nor should a victim ever be made to feel ashamed for making a report.
If staff or host families have a concern about a child or a child makes a report to them, they should follow the referral process as set out from paragraph 51 in Part one of Keeping Children Safe in Education. As is always the case, if staff or host families are in any doubt as to what to do they should speak to the designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy).

Serious violence

All staff and host families should be aware of the indicators, which may signal children are at risk from, or are involved with serious violent crime. These may include increased absence from school, a change in friendships or relationships with older individuals or groups, a significant decline in performance, signs of self-harm or a significant change in wellbeing, or signs of assault or unexplained injuries. Unexplained gifts or new possessions could also indicate that children have been approached by, or are involved with, individuals associated with criminal networks or gangs and may be at risk of criminal exploitation (see above).

All staff and host families should be aware of the range of risk factors which increase the likelihood of involvement in serious violence, such as being male, having been frequently absent or permanently excluded from school, having experienced child maltreatment and having been involved in offending, such as theft or robbery. Advice for schools and colleges is provided in the Home Office’s Preventing youth violence and gang involvement and its Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults: county lines guidance. This is also useful advice for guardianship organisations.

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 received Royal Assent on 29 April 2021. The Act introduces the first ever statutory definition of domestic abuse and recognises the impact of domestic abuse on children, as victims in their own right, if they see, hear or experience the effects of abuse. The statutory definition of domestic abuse, based on the previous cross-government definition, ensures that different types of relationships are captured, including ex-partners and family members. The definition captures a range of different abusive behaviours, including physical, emotional and economic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour. Both the person who is carrying out the behaviour and the person to whom the behaviour is directed towards must be aged 16 or over and they must be “personally connected” (as defined in section 2 of the 2021 Act).

Types of domestic abuse include intimate partner violence, abuse by family members, teenage relationship abuse and child/adolescent to parent violence and abuse. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexuality or background and domestic abuse can take place inside or outside of the home. The government will issue statutory guidance to provide further information for those working with domestic abuse victims and perpetrators, including the impact on children.
All children can witness and be adversely affected by domestic abuse in the context of their home life where domestic abuse occurs between family members. Experiencing domestic abuse and/or violence can have a serious, long lasting emotional and psychological impact on children. In some cases, a child may blame themselves for the abuse or may have had to leave the family home as a result.

Young people can also experience domestic abuse within their own intimate relationships. This form of child on child abuse is sometimes referred to as ‘teenage relationship abuse’. Depending on the age of the young people, this may not be recognised in law under the statutory definition of ‘domestic abuse’ (if one or both parties are under 16). However, as with any child under 18, where there are concerns about safety or welfare, child safeguarding procedures should be followed and both young victims and young perpetrators should be offered support. The Act’s provisions, including the new definition, will be commenced over the coming months.

Bright World Guardianships understands that students could potentially experience domestic abuse both in their own homes or whilst staying with host families.

Safeguarding Concerns

Children missing from education

All staff and host families should be aware that children going missing, particularly repeatedly, can act as a vital warning sign of a range of safeguarding possibilities. This may include abuse and neglect, which may include sexual abuse or exploitation and can also be a sign of child criminal exploitation including involvement in county lines. It may indicate mental health problems, risk of substance abuse, risk of travelling to conflict zones, risk of female genital mutilation, ‘honour’-based abuse or risk of forced marriage. Early intervention is necessary to identify the existence of any underlying safeguarding risk and to help prevent the risks of a child going missing in future. Staff should contact the students’ school or college should they suspect a student is missing from education. The school or college will have a procedure for reporting this absence.

County lines

County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”. This activity can happen locally as well as across the UK – no specified distance of travel is required. Children and vulnerable adults are exploited to move, store and sell drugs and money. Offenders will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons to ensure compliance of victims.
Children can be targeted and recruited into county lines in a number of locations including schools (mainstream and special), further and higher educational institutions, pupil referral units, children’s homes and care homes.

Children are also increasingly being targeted and recruited online using social media. Children can easily become trapped by this type of exploitation as county lines gangs can manufacture drug debts which need to be worked off or threaten serious violence and kidnap towards victims (and their families) if they attempt to leave the county lines network.

A number of the indicators for CSE and CCE as detailed above may be applicable to where children are involved in county lines. Some additional specific indicators that may be present where a child is criminally exploited through involvement in county lines are children who:
• go missing and are subsequently found in areas away from their home;
• have been the victim or perpetrator of serious violence (e.g. knife crime);
• are involved in receiving requests for drugs via a phone line, moving drugs, handing over and collecting money for drugs;
• are exposed to techniques such as ‘plugging’, where drugs are concealed internally to avoid detection;
• are found in accommodation that they have no connection with, often called a ‘trap house or cuckooing’ or hotel room where there is drug activity;
• owe a ‘debt bond’ to their exploiters;
• have their bank accounts used to facilitate drug dealing.

Further information on the signs of a child’s involvement in county lines is available in guidance published by the Home Office.

Modern Slavery and the National Referral Mechanism

Modern slavery encompasses human trafficking and slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour. Exploitation can take many forms, including: sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery, servitude, forced criminality and the removal of organs.

Further information on the signs that someone may be a victim of modern slavery, the support available to victims and how to refer them to the NRM is available in the Modern Slavery Statutory Guidance. Modern slavery: how to identify and support victims – GOV.UK (


Cybercrime is criminal activity committed using computers and/or the internet. It is broadly categorised as either ‘cyber-enabled’ (crimes that can happen off-line but are enabled at scale and at speed on-line) or ‘cyber dependent’ (crimes that can be committed only by using a computer). Cyber-dependent crimes include;

• unauthorised access to computers (illegal ‘hacking’), for example accessing a school’s computer network to look for test paper answers or change grades awarded;
• denial of Service (Dos or DDoS) attacks or ‘booting’. These are attempts to make a computer, network or website unavailable by overwhelming it with internet traffic from multiple sources; and,
• making, supplying or obtaining malware (malicious software) such as viruses, spyware, ransomware, botnets and Remote Access Trojans with the intent to commit further offence, including those above.

Children with particular skill and interest in computing and technology may inadvertently or deliberately stray into cyber-dependent crime.

If there are concerns about a child in this area, the designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy), should consider referring into the Cyber Choices programme. This is a nationwide police programme supported by the Home Office and led by the National Crime Agency, working with regional and local policing. It aims to intervene where young people are at risk of committing, or being drawn into, low level cyber-dependent offences and divert them to a more positive use of their skills and interests.

Note that Cyber Choices does not currently cover ‘cyber-enabled’ crime such as fraud, purchasing of illegal drugs on-line and child sexual abuse and exploitation, nor other areas of concern such as on-line bullying or general on-line safety.

Additional advice can be found at: Cyber Choices, ‘NPCC- When to call the Police’ and National Cyber Security Centre – NCSC.GOV.UK

All staff and host families should have an awareness of safeguarding issues that can put children at risk of harm. Behaviours linked to issues such as drug taking and or alcohol misuse, deliberately missing education, serious violence (including that linked to county lines), radicalisation and consensual and non-consensual sharing of nudes and semi-nudes images and/or videos can be signs that children are at risk. Other safeguarding issues staff and host families should be aware of include:

Mental Health

All staff and host families should be aware that mental health problems can, in some cases, be an indicator that a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Only appropriately trained professionals should attempt to make a diagnosis of a mental health problem. Bright World Guardianships staff and host families, however, are well placed to observe children day-to-day and identify those whose behaviour suggests that they may be experiencing a mental health problem or be at risk of developing one.

Where children have suffered abuse and neglect, or other potentially traumatic adverse childhood experiences, this can have a lasting impact throughout childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. It is key that staff and host families are aware of how these children’s experiences, can impact on their mental health, behaviour, and education.

Bright World Guardianships can access a range of advice to help them identify children in need of extra mental health support, this includes working with external agencies. The AEGIS Quality Standards includes a Mental Health Support List (Appendix 10). More information can be found in the mental health and behaviour in schools guidance, guardianship organisations may also wish to follow this guidance as best practice. Public Health England has produced a range of resources to support secondary school teachers to promote positive health, wellbeing and resilience among children. This may be of use to guardianship organisations. See Every Mind Matters for links to all materials and lesson plans.

Bright World Guardianships also has a specific Mental Health Champion Initiative whereby a number of staff and host families receive specific awareness training via Kate Day of KRD Training. These members of staff and volunteers are the first we call on to help in the case of Mental Health issues and removals.

If staff or host families have a mental health concern about a child that is also a safeguarding concern, immediate action should be taken, following their child protection policy, and speaking to the designated safeguarding lead or a deputy.

There may be instances where Bright World Guardianships is asked to remove a student with mental health issues from a school setting. Bright World Guardianships will work with the students’ school to support the student in the best way possible.

In the event of a request to remove a student with a mental health issue from school, Bright World Guardianships will ask a member of school staff to complete and return the student removal form and Risk Assessment before removing the student from the school. This is to ensure that Bright World Guardianshipshas enough information about the circumstances leading up to the removal of the student in order to support the student suitably, and to ensure all appropriate steps have been taken up to that point.

Online safety

It is essential that children are safeguarded from potentially harmful and inappropriate online material.

The breadth of issues classified within online safety is considerable, but can be categorised into four areas of risk:
• content: being exposed to illegal, inappropriate or harmful content, for example: pornography, fake news, racism, misogyny, self-harm, suicide, anti-Semitism, radicalisation and extremism.
• contact: being subjected to harmful online interaction with other users; for example: peer to peer pressure, commercial advertising and adults posing as children or young adults with the intention to groom or exploit them for sexual, criminal, financial or other purposes’.
• conduct: personal online behaviour that increases the likelihood of, or causes, harm; for example, making, sending and receiving explicit images (e.g consensual and non-consensual sharing of nudes and semi-nudes and/or pornography, sharing other explicit images and online bullying; and
• commerce – risks such as online gambling, inappropriate advertising, phishing and or financial scams. If [Name of GO] feels our students or staff are at risk, we will report it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (

Sexting – youth produced imagery

Creating and sharing sexual photos and videos of under-18s is illegal and therefore causes the greatest complexity for schools and other agencies when responding. It also presents a range of risks which need careful management. See the Bright World Policy

The vulnerability of children who take drugs, abuse alcohol, truant and send sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone (sexting) is recognised as putting children in additional danger, and considered during the management of incidents and the annual student safeguarding review. Bright World also aims to be alert to the potential need for early help for children who have special educational needs or disabilities.

Bright World Guardianships recognises the risks posed to students online. Further information can be found in the (blank)online safety and bullying (including cyber-bullying) policies. Anti-Bullying Policy

Bright World Guardianships provides training for staff, host families and volunteers on online safety


Was this helpful?

Yes No
You indicated this topic was not helpful to you ...
Could you please leave a comment telling us why? Thank you!
Thanks for your feedback.

Post your comment on this topic.

Post Comment