National Safeguarding Unit (NSU) - Safe Activities For Everyone

Supporting your work with children from Black and minority ethnic communities 

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Preventing harm  

Safeguarding and child protection advice to help prevent children and young people from all communities and cultures being subject to harm or abuse.

Research shows that Black children and those of mixed heritage are more likely to be subject to child protection plans and/or end up in the care system than white children.  The reasons behind this are still unclear, but we do know there are certain issues that impact on the safeguarding and wellbeing of BME children.

Some issues
As well as Black and minority ethnic families facing similar pressures of family life as other families, it is more likely that some BME families could face extra stress due to poverty, poor housing, unemployment and low income, immigration issues, language difficulty, mental health issues or discrimination.They may also lack awareness of, or access to, appropriate services which could help them.
There are cultural differences in raising children - what might seem acceptable in one family or community may be deemed inappropriate in another.  Some parents, particularly those who are new to the UK, may be confused about what are acceptable practices in the UK context and this may lead to questioning by various agencies about their parenting style and in more serious cases, investigation by children's services or the police. Some cultural practices are against the law in the UK, such as female genital mutilation.

`Culture’ is no excuse for harming a child.  All children have a right to be protected from harm and we need to be clear about the difference between culturally specific practice that is not harmful, and incidents of abuse that may be linked to cultural or religious beliefs.

Teenage girl smiling Children from minority ethnic backgrounds may suffer other types of abuse such as racial harassment, Islamophobia and bullying which can harm them physically and emotionally. We need to be alert to the possibility of this happening to children who use voluntary and community sector (VCS) services, so that we can act to protect and support them. We also need to be aware of any situations where children using VCS services engage in racist bullying towards others, so that we can be clear with them that this is not acceptable and can deal appropriately with the situation.
Workers, whether from the VCS or statutory sector, who do not value diversity or have the competence to work with diverse communities and rely on stereotypical views are likely to do more harm than good when working with BME children and young people.  Workers also need to be careful not to ignore concerns in favour of respecting difference or fear of being called a racist. These issues obviously have implications in terms of the training and support offered to staff and volunteers.

Every child should be kept safe

Supporting Black and minority ethnic children
Your organisation can help to safeguard BME children and young people by providing information and advice, signposting a family to where they might get further help such as a Common Assessment Framework (CAF) and supporting them through a child protection concern. It may be the case that you or your organisation has the goodwill to work with BME groups but struggle on how best to translate this into practice

Safeguarding policies and procedures
Voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations working directly or indirectly with children and young people have a duty to have policies and procedures in place to safeguard children and ensure workers are confident in responding to concerns.

Equality and Diversity policy
Adopting a policy to promote and deliver equality and diversity within your organisation is good practice.  It is also a starting point to show commitment to eliminating discrimination and promoting diversity. See Equality and Human Rights Commission website for further details.

Developing cultural competence
Cultural competency is about transforming cultural knowledge about individuals and groups into specific standards, policies, practices and attitudes that are then used to increase the quality of service and produce better outcomes. 
Having workers who are culturally competent not only increases the quality of care and experience of BME children and families who come in to contact with your service or organisation but also sets a positive example to all users and other groups. A model for cultural competency can be found in the
London C&F Practice Guidance

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