This resource offers a number of theoretical case studies where child protection could be a concern, intended for staff discussion. It then follows each scenario with suggested points for consideration

The following case studies are offered to support in-house training or just to provide a topic for discussion in the staff room. They are all based on true cases but no names or details that could identify an actual person are given. These case studies are offered to promote open discussion and debate. No definite answers are given, but points to consider are provided to help staff think about how your school might manage such cases.

Case one: a teacher drinks with students

A member of staff has been working on a musical production with young people in years 10 and 11. At the end of the last performance the cast and staff hold a party. It is later discovered that some of the young people and the member of staff have drunk alcohol together. The alcohol was brought in by one of the pupils. The member of staff is an arts teacher. Discuss this case and decide whether any action should be taken, who should be informed and what safeguards need to be put in place as a result of this incident.

Points to consider

  • Underage drinking is an offence and should not be condoned by a member of staff. A member of staff should not be drinking while still on duty.
  • Clearly this behaviour is inappropriate and fits the criteria for the government guidance and procedures in respect of allegations against members of staff. A referral to the local authority designated officer (LADO) should be made. However, the LADO may well advise that this is a case that can be managed internally through a single agency investigation.

Case two: a parent is seen mistreating a dog

A seven-year-old boy discloses to his teacher that his next door neighbour mistreats his dog. He alleges that the dog is left outside chained up all the time and is very thin. He also reports that he has seen his neighbour kick the dog every time he goes out into the yard where it is kept. The boy’s neighbour has children in both your Reception class and Year 1. Discuss this case and decide what action should be taken, including who you should talk to and whether or not to involve other agencies.

Points to consider

  • Consider talking to the boy’s parent/s. The child may be experiencing distress over what they have witnessed and need support. The parents may confirm their child’s story and have concerns themselves.
  • Research has shown a high correlation between the abuse of animals and the abuse of children so it is important to get the views of the teachers who teach the neighbours two children.
  • Have a discussion with children’s social care as they may already have concerns about the family.
  • Consider making a report to the RSPCA in respect of the dog.

Case three: an underage girl under pressure

A 13-year-old girl discloses to you that her 19-year-old boyfriend is putting her under pressure to have sexual intercourse. She wants to know where she can go for contraception. She tells you that she is worried that she will lose him if she doesn’t agree to sexual activity. The girl is physically mature but very naive in her thinking about relationships, talking in dreamy, romantic terms about this relationship. Discuss how you would manage this situation and whether you would involve other agencies and whether you would inform her parents/carers.

Points to consider

  • Consider the maturity of 13-year-olds in general and then consider the girl described here. She is naive and ‘dreamy’. Could she be described as ‘Frazer competent’? To be Frazer competent she would be described as at an age and level of maturity that allowed her to understand the decision she is making and capable of understanding the likely consequences of that decision.
  • Consider your school’s confidentiality policy. Does it cover all the professional groupings of staff?
  • Consider whether this girl may be at risk of sexual exploitation and the procedures you have in place for this.
  • Consider whether it is appropriate to talk to parents and whether to involve other agencies, including children’s social care and police.

Case four: a 15-year-old confides that he is gay

A 15-year-old boy confides to you that he thinks he is gay. He tells you that a group of young people have been bullying him using homophobic derogatory insults and he is extremely upset about this. He has not disclosed this to his parents because he is worried that they would not accept him as a gay person. Other teachers have raised concerns about this young man, they have said that they think he is self-harming, scratching his wrists and binge drinking.

Discuss your concerns for this young man. Decide an immediate course of action and longer-term plans for his wellbeing.

Points to consider

  • Consider the level of risk for this young person: he is already self-harming and the bullying he is experiencing will increase his level of anxiety. Consider your school’s confidentiality policy. Would it help or hinder this case?
  • The fact that he has disclosed means that he is seeking help, which has to be seen as a major step forward for him. Delay at this point is dangerous as it may be seen by him as a lack of interest. Is your staff team flexible enough to cater for his immediate needs? He is likely to need a period of regular support sessions from a named member of staff.
  • What about support outside school time? It is important to help him explore his fears of seeking his family’s support. Is your school geared up to help young people when their concerns relate to their sexuality? Have you made links with local gay support groups?
  • Consider whether you would involve other agencies. How will you manage the bullying behaviour in this case?

We are unable to publish reader comments about individual child protection concerns on this website. If you are worried about a child please call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 for help and advice. Alternatively you can contact your Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) through your local council.