Hidden Harm

Children may be suffering from the effects of what is known as ‘hidden harm’ if they live with parents or carers who are misusing drugs or alcohol. Children in these situations may be acting as young carers or they may be subjected to any of the forms of abuse described above.

The combination of parental mental health, substance misuse and domestic abuse is known as the ‘Toxic Trio’ and is a heightened risk factor. Children of parents who are affected by the toxic trio are at an increased risk of significant harm.

National research on lessons to be learnt from serious case reviews of child deaths and serious injuries consistently highlights that domestic abuse, substance misuse (alcohol and drugs) and adult mental health poses a potential or known risk to the welfare and safety of children.

Local serious case review findings support this national learning and have resulted in this area of work being an identified priority for the SSCB (Staffordshire Safeguarding Children’s Board).  Staffordshire’s Domestic Abuse Partnership has the lead for driving the domestic abuse safety agenda forward. A new multi-agency forum has been established in respect of Hidden Harm (the impact of parental substance misuse on children).

Separate policies and procedures for children living with parents who misuse substances and those who are deemed as young carers can be found on the SSCB website.

How to report a concern:- Please use our Safeguarding Points of Contact

Ensuring your child's safety - advice for parents

Activities outside school e.g. dance schools, football clubs or swimming clubs. 

When we talk about safeguarding, lots of people think about schools being responsible for children while they are there, but the classroom isn’t the only place.  It is important to make sure that children are safe and well cared for.

Questions to ask - Remember C.H.E.C.K

Abuse can take place in a variety of situations. Following the historical issues within the Football Association, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Safeguarding Children Boards feel it is important parents and carers are aware of some of the checks they may want to make before their child starts an activity, and that activity leaders know about their responsibilities.

Keep them safe in activities. It’s okay to C.H.E.C.K with the people leading the activity:

  • C - Are you confident they have the right qualifications to lead the activity?
  • H - Do they have a history of delivering activities?
  • E - Are they experienced in running activities for children and young people?
  • C - Have they undergone any necessary police checks?
  • K - Do they have a good knowledge of their safeguarding responsibilities?

Remember, you can ask to see evidence if you are unsure. 


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