Child Protection Guidance 2021

Part 4: Specific support needs and concerns 171 National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 Version 1.0 September 2021 4.229 Sexual abuse between siblings , when they are children, may be the most common form of intra-familial child sexual abuse, although data on prevalence is scant. Professionals need to be precise about the language they use to label sexual behaviours of siblings which can include developmentally normal sexual interactions between young sibling children; problematic sexual behaviour between siblings which may be harmful to each child involved; and sibling sexual abuse which could include a range of persistent and exploitative behaviours which can be significantly harmful immediately and over the lifespan. Case records should include detailed descriptions of the behaviours in addition to the labels for the avoidance of any future doubt. 4.230 Some children abused by siblings think they will not be believed. Children who have sexually abused a sibling may often have experienced abuse and trauma themselves. Their needs as children must also be recognised and supported alongside the assessment of risk, safety plans and options for the management of sibling contact if siblings are separated. Family relationships and needs must be considered as a whole. The cultural context must be considered in the assessment and approach to support. 4.231 Every individual and every relationship in the family may be impacted. The recognition of sibling abuse usually creates a crisis for the family as a whole. Parents can feel torn between the need to support and protect each child. Their response is a key variable in assessment, interim safety planning and a co‑ordinated inter-agency plans supporting recovery. Sensitive support is therefore necessary to help the family recognise where harm has occurred while also encouraging them to recognise that change and healthier relationships are possible. Sibling sexual abuse: A knowledge and practice overview ( Early and Effective Intervention (EEI) is not a ‘disposal option’ but rather a co‑ordinated, planned support for children who come to the attention of the police for offending, concerning or harmful behaviour. Police Scotland ‘risk and concern hubs’ should identify when referral for an IRD under child protection processes or EEI may be appropriate. EEI should include the concerning and harmful behaviour of children aged under 12 years. Referral to the Principal Reporter can be considered at any stage if there are reasons to believe a child may need compulsory measures. One of the potential grounds for a hearing is that the child’s conduct has had, or is likely to have, a serious adverse effect on the health, safety or development of the child or another person (Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011, section 67(2)(m)). The Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 i s being implemented in stages, as from 2020. The Act raises the age of criminal responsibility in respect of children under 12 years of age, but makes provision for their referral to a children’s hearing on grounds other than having committed an offence. This could apply to children who are suspected of violent or dangerous behaviour which has caused or risks causing serious physical harm to another person or who, by behaving in a sexually violent or sexually coercive way, have caused or risked causing harm (whether physical or not) to another person. A flow chart depicts the relationship between provisions in the Act and Child Protection Processes. Care and Risk Management (CARM) processes may be applied when a child (aged 12-17) has been involved in an incident of a serious nature (irrespective of the legal status of the incident) or where a pattern of significant escalation of lesser behaviours suggests that an incident of a serious nature may be imminent. The lynchpin of effective CARM processes is the inter-agency referral discussion that must occur when concerns of this nature arise. CARM Guidance (CYCJ 2021) can be accessed at: