What can be done in dangerous situations?

Sometimes, you may come across a situation which is more severe; for example where there is domestic violence or use of illegal drugs. Such situations may come to your attention either because the child approaches you directly, or because you see indirect indicators. As teachers, primary care nurses and other generalist professionals, you may have no direct experience of working with children who come from families where there are alcohol problems, and you may also have no particular expertise in the child protection area. However, you may be alerted to potential problems connected with abuse or neglect in families of people with alcohol problems. The specifics of what to do need to be understood with respect to the national policy and legislative frameworks (this website may be able to offer you some advice but it may be better to visit your national website, or organisations in your country), but in general three things need to be done:

  • First, the child needs to be reassured and assured that you as the concerned professional are available to be consulted with and for the child to be able to discuss its worries and concerns. However, it is vital that you do not offer more confidentiality to the child than can be sustained within the confidentiality frameworks adopted by your agency and/or law.
  • Second, advice needs to be taken from those responsible for child protection in your country (for example, in the UK this will be social workers).
  • Third, dealing with children who are exposed to abuse or neglect is often distressing and it will be important that you receive support and supervision from an appropriate source.

 See also instructions for professionals working with children at risk!