DSL dilemma #DomesticAbuse

It can be really hard when you suspect a child lives in a domestic abuse situation. You may have no evidence; in fact the child has never mentioned anything no matter how many chances you have given them to disclose. To start with its just silly things like the child seems nervous about odd things, no pattern or routine to the nervousness. They get a little tearful and tired.

“ everything ok at home?”……… “ yes”

“do you get on with your sibling?, what about your Mum and Dad? Do they get on?…………… “ yes, yes and yes”

But then you meet them at parents evening and Mum flinches when Dad touches her arm. She then won’t look you in the eye. You think, perhaps it was nothing but then you phone home to check something or pass on good news and you sense that Mum is desperate for you to end the phone call. You then send an email about something else but end it with “ if there is anything ever that I can do to help, no matter what, please don’t hesitate” and get no response.

So you just keep an eye on things. Being supportive to the child as best you can. You get a little nervous when PSHE topics arise and mention it to the teacher, hoping that they focus on what to do if you are worried about someone in a Domestic Abuse situations, getting as many links, leaflets and posters as possible. But the child doesn’t react in any abnormal way. Contributes but doesn’t seem to be over involved or knowledgeable about the topic.

You bring the child up in the safeguarding review meetings in your school and agree that there could be several reasons for the child nervousness and that perhaps right now, earning the child’s trust and giving them the opportunity and support is the way forward. But of course you always wonder……… am I doing enough?

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Assistant Head ( DSL) at a boarding school. Interested in all PSHE and safeguarding topics.

One thought on “DSL dilemma #DomesticAbuse

  1. There are many reasons children and victims of domestic abuse cannot talk about their experiences, from not knowing it is unacceptable to fear for life and limb. Staff do all they can to listen both physically and emotionally and capture the concerns they have. We don’t have to PROVE domestic abuse, rather we need good reasons to suspect it may be happening, so capturing information together as a school and regularly reviewing against local threshold documents is really important.

    There’s lots of information out there on making sure people know they can talk to you. There are tips, ideas and links to other content at safeguarding.network/domestic. There are free training packs to equip DSLs to run a 15-20 minute session on domestic abuse for staff, and there’s elearning (from 99p) so that every member of staff understands, can recognise and take action on their worries about domestic abuse.

    Do let us know if we can help more.

    Safeguarding Network


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