Topics for this month:
Healthy Relationships Resource Pack (Safelives)
In 2019, SafeLives gathered the voices and perspectives of men and boys aged 11 and over, asking them about abuse, masculinity and what a ‘healthy’ relationship looks like. Almost a third of respondents said they had demonstrated behaviour within a relationship that they regretted.
Professionals working with young people are in the unique position to support them to have healthy relationships during this critical window – before they harm or are harmed.
To do this, professionals need to feel confident starting conversations about relationships. Building on the research, SafeLives have developed a resource pack that practitioners could use to start conversations with young people about relationships and explore what healthy looks like.
Access the resource pack here:
Keeping Children Safe In Education
The Department for Education (DfE) has published an updated version of its statutory KCSIE in England, which will come into force on 01 September 2022. Annex F of the of the new guidance sets out the changes made, including: a new paragraph on domestic abuse added to the list of safeguarding issues all staff should be aware of, new information on the importance of talking to parents about children’s access to online sites when away from school, and a new paragraph highlighting the importance of ensuring that children understand the law on child-on-child abuse is there to protect them rather than criminalise them.
Read the guidance: Statutory guidance: keeping children safe in education
Download the guidance: Keeping children safe in education 2022 (PDF)
Ofcom has released the second episode of their new podcast series Life online which explores themes around online safety. This episode centres on cyberbullying and includes three teenagers sharing their own experiences of online bullying.
Read the news story: Threat of online bullying greater than offline
Listen to the podcast: Online bullying in the digital world
See also on NSPCC Learning
> Protecting children from bullying and cyberbullying
Mental Health Awareness Week ‘tackling loneliness’ 9th-15th May
One in four adults feel lonely some or all of the time, and there is no single cause and often there is no one solution. After all, we are all different, but the longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems. Some people are also at higher risk of feeling lonely than others.
‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ this year, is trying to raise awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental health and the practical steps we can take to address it.
Talking therapies can help
Talking through your feelings with a counsellor or therapist can help you cope with your feelings of loneliness. Talking therapy can be hard to get – but if you can find a professional, it can really be of benefit. It will provide you with a safe space to work through your feelings and thoughts without judgement. Check out your local resources by visiting the NHS website.
Try to use social media in a positive way
Social media can help your mental health, but it can also affect it negatively. The key is to use it in a positive way. Finding digital communities, you share interests and passions with can help. Most importantly be aware of how you feel when you use social media and focus on topics and activities that work best for you.
Try and do things that stimulate your mind
Activities that occupy your mind can help with loneliness. This can include the benefits of taking courses or listening to podcasts on topics from comedy to fitness. This can be stimulating and something as simple as listening to the familiar voice of someone you like can help you feel less lonely.
Think about doing a physical activity
Physical exercise can help with loneliness. It can be as simple as having a walk in the park when you are feeling a bit overwhelmed. Alternatively, you could listen to music and do a bit of dancing around your living room.
Try to engage with the people you meet in your daily life.
It can be hard to talk to others when you are feeling lonely. However, trying to connect with the people you meet as you go about your day can be helpful. Even catching someone’s eye and saying “hi” as you walk along can make you feel better. Or it could be about saying hello to the postwomen or postman or going to the shops and talking to the person at the checkout. By sharing a polite greeting – you might find you give someone else a positive lift too.
Five warning signs of mental illness
- Long-lasting sadness or irritability
- Extremely high and low moods
- Excessive fear, worry, or anxiety which takes over the mind
- Social withdrawal and changes in character
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits, as well as appearance
Living with a mental health problem can often have an impact on day-to-day life, making things that others might not think about more difficult. Common mental health disorders include- depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder to more extreme conditions such as schizophrenia.
Tips on how you can help mental health
- Buy yourself something nice….
- Cook a meal that nourishes your mind. …
- Ring a friend who you have not spoken to in a while. …
- Write yourself a letter, highlighting your good points to remind yourself about what a special person you are. …
- Watch a funny film. …
- Go for a walk in the country side
- Look at happy photos or videos
If you feel you need some advice, support, or help with your mental health you can access Mind website –https://www.mind.org.uk
or Young Minds https://www.youngminds.org.uk/
You can also accesswww.nhs.ukfor further mental health support and information.
JTM’s Safeguarding Team, including pastoral support is available to help and support you. You can contact the Safeguarding Team directly (details below) or contact your JTM Assessor.
A number of organisations have created resources for teaching staff to use:
Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 toolkit (Anna Freud)
Mental Health Foundations Resources
Mental Health Awareness Week (Mind)
FE resources Resource library : Mentally Healthy Schools
Coping with self-harm – for young people (Mind)
Self-harm involves emotionally or physically hurting yourself on purpose. You may also hear it being called:
- ‘non-suicidal self-injury’
- ‘self-injurious behaviour’.
People self-harm for many different reasons, and in many different ways. The reason or way they self-harm may be different each time too. And sometimes they may self-harm but not realise until afterwards.
Self-harm is often misunderstood. Let’s break down some myths and stereotypes you may have heard:
- Self-harm is only when you cut yourself – false!
Self-harm can take many forms, including:
- hurting or injuring yourself, like headbutting a wall
- poisoning yourself
- doing something that will put you in danger, like getting into fights or binge-drinking
- not looking after yourself, like not eating meals or washing
- sending hateful or abusive messages to yourself, or about yourself, online.
- Any way that someone hurts or injures themselves on purpose can be seen as self-harm.
If you don’t realise what you’re doing is self-harm, it can be harder to recognise that you need help and support. So it’s important to try to understand the reasons behind the behaviour.
- ‘Only girls self-harm’ – false!
Anyone can self-harm, no matter what their gender is.
More girls are seen by doctors or local services for self-harm, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones who hurt themselves on purpose. Boys and men are affected too. And it might be myths like this that make it harder for them to seek help. If boys self-harm, they may feel judged or misunderstood. Or if their self-harm is hidden by angry behaviour, it may take longer to be recognised and for them to receive help.
- ‘Self-harm is contagious’ – false!
Self-harm is not contagious. It can’t be caught like a disease and being near someone who’s self-harmed doesn’t mean you will self-harm. Nor will being told about someone’s self-harm.
But there is a greater chance of self-harm if someone close to you has self-harmed. They could be physically close, like in the same class, or emotionally close, like a friend or family member.
Here’s some reasons why:
it can be seen as a ‘normal’ response within a group to deal with difficult feelings or experiences
someone may learn how to harm themselves from someone else it can be a result of peer pressure, like copying others to fit in. This is why we should be careful about how we talk about self-harm to others, and what we see or read online.
- ‘Self-harm is a coping strategy’ – true!
Some people use self-harm as a way to cope with a negative experience, thought or feeling. They may feel it’s the only way for them to cope with the situation, or their feelings, at that time.
However, self-harm is a negative coping strategy. It may get rid of some of the stress or emotion at first, but it doesn’t help deal with the reason you’re feeling distressed. If you start to rely on self-harm as a coping strategy, over time it stops providing a sense of comfort or release, and it helps less and less.
- ‘You can stop self-harming’ – true!
With the right help and support, you can reduce your self-harm and then stop self-harming. The longer you have self-harmed, the longer it may take to break down your reliance on it and replace it with something safer.
Recovery from self-harm is a process, not an end goal. Recovery may be about managing the urge to self-harm, rather than stopping completely. Sometimes there may be setbacks, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to get better, and it’s part of learning what does and doesn’t help you.
Wanting to change how you cope is a great first step to stopping self-harming.
Why do people self-harm?
People self-harm for different reasons. They might self-harm as a way of dealing with something difficult that is happening or has happened to them in the past. Or they might not know why they’re hurting themselves. Even if you don’t understand why you’re self-harming, you’re not alone and you can still get help.
Some reasons young people self-harm include:
- living with health problems – like a physical health problem or an illness
- living with a mental health problem – or experiences linked with poor mental health, like anger or hearing voices
- living with conditions like ADHD or autism
- stressful or upsetting experiences – like relationship problems, losing a loved one, bullying, abuse or money worries
- intrusive thoughts – thoughts that you don’t want but keep coming to you
- problems with how you feel about yourself – like experiencing racism or homophobia, questioning your sexuality or identity, having low self-esteem or body image worries
- self-harm feeling ‘normal’ among your peers
- seeing images of self-harm online
- drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
Young people also told ‘Mind’ they self-harm because they want to:
- show how they feel without speaking
- be distracted from how they’re feeling
- cope with, or escape from, painful feelings, thoughts or memories
- punish themselves for something
- stop feeling disconnected from themselves or the world
- create a reason to look after themselves, like caring for wounds
- manage thoughts of suicide.
How do I tell someone I’m self-harming?
Try to tell someone you trust as soon as you feel ready to reach out. Some people may not understand straight away. This could be because they don’t understand self-harm, or they’re upset and in shock.
Remember: this is not your fault, and there is always someone there to support you. This could be a parent or carer, a friend, a partner or a professional like a teacher, doctor or counsellor. JTM’s Safeguarding Team, including pastoral support is available to help and support you. You can contact the Safeguarding Team directly or contact your JTM Assessor.
|Role||Member of staff||Telephone|
|Designated Safeguarding Lead and member of JTM’s Safeguarding Team||Gina Stephensfirstname.lastname@example.org||07867260276|
|Deputy Safeguarding Lead and member of JTM’s Safeguarding Team||Tom Sumnallemail@example.com||07741743618|
|Deputy Safeguarding Lead, Pastoral Support and member of JTM’s Safeguarding Team:||Janine Ridleyfirstname.lastname@example.org||07771672491|
Before you talk to someone, you might want to think about:
- Writing down how you feel – you could do this when you’re feeling calm, or just before or after you’ve self-harmed.
- Practising what you want to say or speaking confidentially to Childline or The Mix first.
- Who you want to talk to – you could think about who will be kind and supportive?
- How you’d feel most comfortable telling them – this could be sitting down face-to-face, doing something together, talking over the phone or giving them a letter.
- If you have low self-esteem – this can sometimes make you feel like you’re a ‘burden’ to others. This isn’t true but can make it feel harder to reach out. If you feel like this, you could try having a chat with a counsellor from Childline or The Mix. They could give you some encouragement or positive things to remember.
- Looking at our information on opening up for more suggestions.
Once you feel ready to talk, you could:
- Think about how to start the conversation – there’s no right or wrong way to do this, but if you need some ideas, you could try:
- ‘This is difficult for me to talk about, but I need to tell you something.’
- ‘I need your support with something, can we talk?’
- ‘I’ve been hurting myself because I feel…
- Ask someone you trust to help you explain – or to tell someone for you, if they feel able to.
- Try not to tell them too many details about how you self-harm. It may be upsetting for them to hear or a lot for them to take in at first.
- Explain what you’d like from them – are you looking for someone to listen or to help you find support?
- Ask them to let you know if they need to tell someone else – so you know what to expect.
- Plan to do something kind for yourself afterwards – telling someone may not be easy, but it’s something you should feel proud of.
Visit the Mind website to understand more about self-harm and information relating to:
- Coping with the urge to self-harm
- Helping yourself long term
- Self-harm and social media
- Coping with scars
- Coping with relapses
Free training on self-harm and understanding young minds:
Virtual College has a free ‘Understanding Young Minds’ online training course that handles the subject of teenage self-harm and parental ways to support children, in a sensitive and informational way.
Virtual College have worked in partnership with SelfharmUK to create a free online course designed to help parents talk about the issue of self-harm with their children.
Thousands of children and young people in the UK are thought to be impacted by self-harm each year. Spotting the signs can be difficult, and approaching the subject with children can be an uncomfortable experience.
This online course, ‘Talking to your children about emotional resilience and self-harm’, has been designed to provide a basic awareness of the subject to help approach children with confidence about the issue.
Drink and needle spiking’s
Drink and needle spiking’s are serious crimes, and can seriously affect the health of the person who’s been spiked.
Make sure you know how to stay safe from spiking and what to do if you think you or someone you know has been spiked.
What is spiking?
Spiking is when someone gives another person a substance without that person’s knowledge or consent.
Substances used in spiking can include:
- ‘Date rape’ drugs
- Illicit drugs
- Prescription drugs
These substances can be added to a person’s drink, or injected into a person using a syringe. Shots of alcohol can be added to drinks to make them stronger, causing someone to get drunk much quicker than expected, or sometimes a drink can be spiked with drugs that are specifically designed to incapacitate someone.
Symptoms of spiking
The effects of spiking vary depending on what you’ve been spiked with. Symptoms could include:
- Lowered inhibitions
- Loss of balance
- Feeling sleepy
- Visual problems
The symptoms will depend on lots of factors such as the substance or mix of substances used (including the dose), your size and weight, and how much alcohol you have already consumed.
If you or a friend start to feel strange or more drunk than you should be, then get help straight away.
How to help a friend who has been spiked
If you think a friend has had their drink spiked, and they are showing any of the symptoms described above there are a few things you can do to help:
- Tell a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff
- Stay with them and keep talking to them
- Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates
- Don’t let them go home on their own
- Don’t let them leave with someone you don’t know or trust
- Don’t let them drink more alcohol – this could lead to more serious problems
How to avoid drink spiking
Ensuring all venues are safe from assault and harassment such as drink spiking is a collective responsibility. All venues that are licensed to sell alcohol have a legal duty for public safety and the prevention of crime and disorder on their premises, and this is monitored by their local authority. These licenses to sell alcohol usually include conditions to ensure venues have appropriate security and staff training in place.
Some venues give out drink stoppers for the top of your bottle to prevent someone dropping something in your drink.
There are also testing kits that can be used to detect certain drugs. But these don’t test for all types of drugs, so don’t always work, and they can’t detect extra alcohol in your drink.
Reporting suspected drink spiking to a venue and the police is one way to ensure enough steps are being taken to keep people safe.
As individuals, there are also things we can do to help avoid being a victim of drink spiking.
Drink spiking can happen in any situation, at home or on a night out. However, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself:
- Never leave your drink unattended, whether it’s alcoholic or not
- Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know
- Avoid drinking too much by sticking to the UK low risk drinking guidelines
- Stick together with friends, and look out for each other
If you think you’ve been assaulted
One of the effects of date rape drugs can be amnesia, or loss of memory. That means it’s possible that you won’t be sure if you’ve been assaulted. But if you suspect you’ve been physically or sexually assaulted it’s important to tell someone. Try to confide in someone you trust like a friend or family member or JTM’s Safeguarding Team listed above.
You can go to the police or hospital accident and emergency department. If you don’t feel able to do that right away, there are Rape Crisis charity helplines you can call for support and advice:
- Trust House Lancashire: https://trusthouselancs.org/
- Greater Manchester Rape and Sexual Assault: https://www.gmvictims.org.uk/rape-and-sexual-assault
- Cheshire and Merseyside Rape Crisis: https://rapecrisis.org.uk/find-a-centre/cheshire-merseyside-rasasc/
- England and Wales: 0808 802 9999 (12–2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day)
Information used in this bulletin surrounding drink and needle spikings was taken from ‘Health Watch – Wigan and Leigh’.
With the festival season appearing soon, the Festival Safe website have produced a guide to help festival-goers make informed choices about their time away.
Amongst help on picking the right tent and choice of footwear, the site includes a section on alcohol and other drugs, including:
- Understanding The Law
- General Harm Reduction Guide
- Alcohol Harm Reduction Guide
- Drugs Harm Reduction Guide
- Drug Testing
Festival Safe can be found here: https://www.festivalsafe.com/information/drugs-alcohol
New WhatsApp Communities feature
Expected to release at the ‘end of the year’ as a new tab/section in the app, the Communities feature aims to bring together separate WhatsApp groups into one super group or ‘Community’. It will allow real-life communities to “communicate and coordinate” with each other (e.g., a neighbourhood, restaurant staff, or school parents’ groups) by allowing administrators to organise all relevant group chats into one page. Users will receive notifications and updates that are sent to an entire Community by admins, as well as individual messages for smaller groups within that Community. The goal is to allow up to “thousands” of users to connect with one another more easily.
Admins will be given new tools that will help them to manage the conversations happening across their Community on the platform. Users will have the ability to leave a group or Community silently if they so choose (unlike presently, where entire groups are notified if someone leaves) and will have more accessible blocking and reporting features.
What are the potential safeguarding risks?
- While this change will be beneficial to groups and eliminate the number of notifications or messages a user receives, it also will make it easier for groups with harmful intentions to organise and share information and material on an encrypted platform.
- The names of communities are not encrypted. This could mean harmful groups might go by false names, which makes it more difficult for investigators to access potential evidence if there is an incident. It could also mean someone might be invited into a Community without knowing what it is actually dedicated to.
- Administrators will have more power for moderation than before, including multi-group broadcasting and linking groups in. This could result in instances of cyberbullying or online harassment that may go unchecked or un-investigated by WhatsApp moderators.
WhatsApp have said they will take action against any Communities who engage in abusive behaviour “such as distributing child sexual abuse material or coordinating violence or human trafficking.” However, they intend to do this through available unencrypted information (e.g., Community name or description) and will rely heavily on user reports to ensure groups are banned or disbanded.
For more info, please visit: https://ineqe.com/2022/05/13/your-safety-guide-to-whatsapps-new-features/
If there are any safeguarding areas which you would like us to cover, please do let us know and we will try our best to source the information and include in future issues.
Or, you have information which would be useful to share please send it through, and we will include it in the bulletin