Standards & Resources

Further to the resources and references throughout the Child Protection Companion, this page includes a comprehensive list of the RCPCH child protection resources

As child health professionals, child protection plays a role in everything we do. It is about protecting individual children identified as suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect. Safeguarding is a broader issue and covers how we ensure children grow up in a safe environment.

Guiding principles for safeguarding partnerships during the COVID-19 pandemic

Evidence is emerging that social distancing measures implemented for COVID-19 have adverse effects on children. In these guiding principles, published on 15 May 2020, we outline how best to safeguard the welfare of children and young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can read more about the principles on the RCPCH website.

Looked After Children services in COVID-19 pandemic recovery plans – statement

The purpose of this joint statement from RCPCH and Royal College of Nursing is to outline the principles and standards for local service providers and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to aid the development of recovery plans for Looked After Children (LAC), raising awareness of vulnerable children and young people to mitigate risk and offer support where possible.

You can read more about the statement, and its principles and standards, on the RCPCH website.

To protect children and young people from harm, and help improve their wellbeing, all healthcare staff must have the competences to recognise child maltreatment, opportunities to improve childhood wellbeing, and to take effective action as appropriate to their role.

An intercollegiate competency framework is available for all groups, ranging from non-clinical staff to experts, to help you understand your responsibilities in recognising child maltreatment and how to take effective action.

Safeguarding Children and Young People: Roles and Competencies for Healthcare Staff

The fourth edition of Safeguarding Children and Young People: Roles and Competences for Healthcare Staff was updated in 2018, led by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The latest version (January 2019) is published on the RCN website.

Safeguarding Children and Young People: Roles and Competencies for Paediatricians

Complementary to the full intercollegiate competency framework that is for all healthcare staff, ranging from non-clinical staff to experts, this essential component of the RCPCH mission is to make safeguarding the health and wellbeing of infants, children and young people at the core of all we do.

To support members to do this, the RCPCH have developed a new safeguarding competencies framework specifically for paediatricians. You can find the latest version published on the RCPCH website.

Also known as the ‘purple book’, this guidance includes good practice in relation to the paediatric forensic examination where there are concerns about child sexual abuse. It also provides an evidenced-based review of the interpretation of physical signs.

In 2015 the RCPCH, in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Royal College of Physicians of London (RCP) and The Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine (FFLM), updated the 2008 RCPCH publication entitled ‘The Physical Signs of Child Sexual Abuse’ based on the best available evidence.

The publication updates previous evidence and includes new reviews such as:

    • anogenital signs of accidental injuries in girls and boys
    • genital bleeding in prepubertal girls
    • healing in anogenital injuries.

This publication is to be used by clinicians with specialist child protection skills with specific training and competences in the forensic assessment of children and young people where there are concerns about child physical abuse.

Available to purchase in print via the publication’s dedicated page.

The review is provided free of charge if you are:

    • an RCPCH member and
    • a named or designated doctor for safeguarding children and
    • involved in the forensic medical examination of children for suspected CSA.

The RCPCH curriculum ensures that doctors in postgraduate paediatric training in the UK develop their knowledge and skills across all key practice areas.

The safety of all children is paramount and the divine factor of all areas in paediatrics. This domain requires the trainee to consider safeguarding as an essential element of all aspects of paediatric healthcare practice be that with children and young people, parents and carers, other care professionals or colleagues.

These resources relate to the curriculum domain 9 – Safeguarding. They were developed with and by trainees, supervisors and children and young people.

What do children and young people say?

We asked what they think keeps them safe. Here’s some of what they had to say…

“Adults that we know and trust to speak with about things that are going on in our lives”

“Not being judged by services or staff – just because we have a social worker or need a bit of help doesn’t make us a bad person”

Download the flyer with more CYP voices

How paediatricians use this domain in their everyday practice

Dr Alison Steele, RCPCH Officer for Child Protection and Named Doctor for Safeguarding Children at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), talks about how safeguarding is an integral part of paediatric management and links to a wider range of paediatric skills and domains. She also explains how to develop and expand your safeguarding skills and evidence base.


Case study example

Case: Patient presenting to acute paediatrics with incidental finding of obesity

Setting: General paediatric on-call

How did the opportunity arise?

You are the paediatric ST4 working the night shift at a busy district general hospital. Your FY2 (foundation year) colleague has just seen a six week old with difficulty breathing. During the examination she notices a bruise on the cheek and asks your advice on further management.

What happened?

As the senior clinician on duty you need to recognise that this finding may well represent non-accidental injury, especially in a non-mobile infant. You need to speak to the parents yourself to ask about the bruise, examine the child fully and document your findings on body maps.

You need to liaise with children’s social care, the safeguarding named nurse and doctor and admit the child for further investigation and speak to the family about the plan. You should also phone and speak to the consultant on call so they are aware of this child and can offer advice on any other immediate management.

How did this support your development?

This situation is not uncommon in paediatrics and can often feel daunting. Being up front with families about the management plan and the reasons further investigations are required can help foster good relationships with them.

This is a situation that demands a multi-professional approach as the observations of all staff looking after this child will be very important. It is also important to make the time to discuss the case with your FY2 and given them a chance to debrief as this may be the first time they have been in this situation.

Any practical tips?

Utilise your hospital’s safeguarding team (named nurse and doctor for child safeguarding) who have vast experience in these kinds of situations and will be able to offer you advice and support.

Make sure you document your findings clearly during or immediately after your consultation, including using body maps. You may have to write a statement, and it is much easier with detailed contemporaneous notes.