Child Protection Guidance 2021

Part 4: Specific support needs and concerns 174 National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 Version 1.0 September 2021 4.244 Reporting to Police Scotland or to social work for consideration of an inter-agency referral discussion (IRD) will normally be the recommended response to ensure the concern is placed in context, and that next steps are proportionate, supportive, and if necessary, co‑ordinated. An IRD will be completed to allow appropriate child protection measures and on-going risk assessments to be progressed through joint information gathering, information sharing and decision-making through the IRD. 4.245 Information and advice on complaints procedures and reporting routes to social media providers about inappropriate content can be accessed from Report Harmful Content. Resources and References – Internet enabled sexual offending Under-age sexual activity 4.246 This section should be read in conjunction with adjacent sections on sexual abuse and harmful sexual behaviour by children and young people. A gender-based analysis informs national policy and guidance (Scottish Government 2017). The Scottish Government (2019) has published Key Messages for Young People on Healthy Relationships and Consent (Scottish Government 2019), a resource which includes advice for professionals working with children of secondary age, 12-17. 4.247 Protecting children means supporting them as they learn about healthy, respectful, consensual and safe relationships. Practitioners require local service protocols which are clear about the law. They must be provided with key messages in support of professional judgement about what is a proportionate and ethical response for each situation. 4.248 There are situations that do not require child protection processes, in which a young person may need immediate support in relation to their sexual risks, development and relationships. These may be addressed either on a single-agency or multi-agency basis, depending on needs and circumstances. 4.249 Child protection concerns arise when the impact of under-age sexual activity could cause significant harm. A young child (under 13 years of age) cannot consent to any form of sexual activity (within Part 4 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009). 4.250 The 2009 Act maintains the age of consent at 16 whether a person is straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender. When there is reason to believe an offence against a child has been committed as defined in the 2009 Act, an IRD will be convened. 4.251 An IRD must also be convened with older children (over 13 years) who may have been pressured in to sexual activities involving force or exploitation, may have had indecent images taken, suggesting abuse or exploitation, or may otherwise be at risk of significant harm relating to sexual activity.