Therole of learning support worker in safeguarding children andvulnerable adults
Vulnerableadults and children have the rights to be protected from any form ofabuse (Broadhurst, Grover & Jamieson 2009, 162). To respond tothis, the government of UK has set policies to safeguard the wellbeing of vulnerable adults and children. These policies should bepracticed at all levels and in various institutions either at schoolor away from school. The fact that most children are found inschools, school institutions play a major role in safeguarding theirwellbeing. Many schools have employed Learning Support Worker (LSW)who has a goal of safeguarding vulnerable adults and children. Theyperform various duties that are meant to protect children from anyforms of abuse. They also provide a safe environment free fromtorture and abuse. In addition, they help children to understandtheir rights and that they are free to report any incidence of childabuse (Wilson & James 2007, p. 370-376).
Therole of learning support worker is crucial in safeguarding thewelfare of children and vulnerable adults. Safeguarding refers topreventing harm and protecting vulnerable adults and children frommaltreatment, abuse, exploitation and neglect. This ensures that theyreceive proper care and protection to enhance their welfare. For thepurposes of safeguarding, it is crucial that the learning supportworker is aware of all these factors and understand how to protectchildren and vulnerable adults. In this case, children refer to allpeople who are below the age of 18 years. Whether children are livingindependently or furthering their education or have attained 16 yearsdoes not mean that they are exempted from being called children bythe law. Mandelstam (2008) defines vulnerable adults as people agedabove 18 years, but are unable to protect themselves from harm orexploitation. They may also include adults who are in need ofcommunity care services for reasons such as mental illness ordisability. It critical for support worker to understand the peoplehe or she needs to protect (Hughes & Owen 2009, p.105). The LSWis responsible for establishing a caring environment for vulnerableadults and children.
TheLSW main roles are in line withevery child matters,which aim at enhancing the wellbeing of children now and in thefuture. If follows the following themes: being safe, being healthy,make a positive contribution, enjoy and achieve, and finally achieveeconomic wellbeing. Further, they are mandated to safeguard childrenin accordance with legal statutory framework and safe guardinglegislation in the UK. The Children Act 1989 and Children Act 2004provide a comprehensive framework for protection and care ofchildren. These Acts states that every organization that works withchildren should safeguard and protect them to enhance theirwellbeing. Therefore, since schools deal with children, they aresupposed to protect their wellbeing by employing specific workers toforesee their well being. Schools should also respond to Munro’sand Graham’s report for early intervention, which offers anopportunity for making lasting improvements in children’s lives andeliminate persistent social problems. Early intervention seeks totackle the sources of problems rather than symptoms. Therefore, theLSW should take adequate measures for early intervention to promotelong lasting wellbeing.
Learningsupport workers are responsible for ensuring the wellbeing ofchildren in the education settings. Their main goal is to work withchildren to recognize visible signs of neglect or abuse in order tointervene as early as possible to prevent further harm. They work inrelation to the legislation that safeguards children and vulnerableadults. The number of learning support workers have increasedsignificantly over the last 15 years. These increases are due to thefact that the government has put strict measures on safeguardingchildren. Further, the expansion of school inclusion followingexcellence for all children, which meets the special educationalneeds have led to the expansion of the need for learning supportworker. The government recognizes that children with special needsshould be protected from any kind of harm or abuse. Learning supportworkers have been trained to deal with children with special needs inorder to safeguard them. Since caring of children is not solely onschools, the learning support worker works in collaboration withparents and communities, who have a great influence on the wellbeingof children. They provide the best services to improve the intendedoutcomes and reduce harm as early as possible.
Beckett(2007) confirms that a sound environment is one ensures health andsafety of young people is ensured. In such a case, the learningsupport worker should ensure that the learning environment is safefor young people. This can be achieved by taking precautions andreporting any systems for any incident that threatens the wellbeingof vulnerable adults and children. In case a child reports a case ofchild abuse, the support worker should take high priority to thiscase over anything else. An oral and written document should beavailed to the officers concerned and keep a confidential record ofthe matter.
Thelearning support should be on the watch out for the any incidences ofphysical abuse among children and vulnerable adults. Physical abuseinvolves hitting, burning, suffocating, poisoning, and causingphysical harm to a vulnerable adult or child (Corby 2006, p. 140). Physical harm may also be caused by when parents or care giversdeliberately cause ill health or feign the symptoms. The learningsupport worker should be able to observe children and detectinstances of physical abuse. For instance, the support worker mayfind some signs of physical abuse in a child’s body such as scars.In order to notice incidences of physical abuse, the worker needs tobe keen and interact with children as much as possible. In case he orshe notices some signs of physical abuse, he or she should observethe child for some time in order to determine whether the signs couldbe an oversight. They should find a way to speak with the child orvulnerable adult to expel all doubts. However, in many cases, victimsare unlikely to share for the fear that their abusers would harm themeven more. In such a case, the learning support worker shouldconfirm to the child that the information is confidential so that thechild can agree to talk about it. If the child fails to speak, it isessential for the support worker to investigate on the matter inorder to establish means of protecting the child from physical abuse.
Inaddition, the learning support should protect children against sexualabuse of any kind. Sexual abuse involves enticing or forcing a childto take part in sexual activities regardless of whether a child isaware of what he or she is doing or not (In Corona, In Jannini, &In Maggi 2014, p. 13). The activities involve physical contact,penetrative and non penetrative acts. This also includes non contactpractices such as encouraging children to behave in sexual ways andwatching sexual activities. With regard to vulnerable adults, sexualabuse includes sexual assault, rape, or sexual acts that vulnerableadults have not consented to.
Toprotect children against cases of sexual abuse, the teachingassistant may observe children doing their various activities andensure that they are safe. For instance, the teaching assistant mayaccompany girls in changing rooms to ensure that no male colleagueattempts entice them into sexual activities. Further, the teachingassistant may stay close to girls whenever they are swimming or doingtheir physical exercises led by a male teacher. She should ensurethat they are safe and free from any form of abuse whatsoever. He orshe should also give them some advice on how to be safe in theirenvironment. They should be asked to report if they suspect thattheir male teachers are trying to touch them indecently.
Neglectis another area that the learning support should be on the lookoutfor. It refers to the persistent failure to meet the needs ofchildren and vulnerable adults’ basic psychological and physicalneeds that are likely to cause harm to developmental health. It mayalso include failure to ensure that young people receive appropriatemedical care and treatment or unresponsiveness to one’s emotionalneeds. Such instances should be observed and reported to the officersin charge for further investigation and intervention. All childrenhave the rights to be taken care of by their parents and in case thatis not observed, the law may intervene (Baginsky, 2008, p. 24). Theteaching assistant should ensure that he or she observes such needsto promote the wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults.
Terry(2005) notes that in the contemporary world, there is a new type ofabuse referred to as cyber abuse. Typically, this abuse has becomevery common due to internet availability and accessibility. Cyberabuse occurs in two ways: sexual cyber abuse and bullying. Sexualcyber abuse occurs when in the chatting rooms where internetoffenders manipulate and entice children into criminal sexualrelationships (Kirwan & Power 2012, p. 63). They achieve this byappealing to the needs and desires to feel loved and appreciated.Likewise, they encourage them to explore and take risks of havingsex. The children who become the victims of internet sexual offendersgo voluntarily to meet their offenders. However, this does not makeit right as they are being taken advantage of. In an independent for4-18 years old, the LSW discourages children from engaging in sexualchats that are likely to lead to sexual activities with cyberoffenders. He or she encourages those in social sites such as twitterand Facebook to set up their profiles to be only visible to theirknown friends, to only use their first names and never to disclosetheir home address which might make it easier for stalkers, sexoffenders to monitor their activities. Although the worker may not bein a position to check private messages, he or she is expected toexplain to the pupils behavior on the social media which can bedetected and encourage sex offenders. He or she goes into depthexplaining to the pupils funny behavior and normal behavior thatchildren might use to express themselves on social sites unaware ofthe impact .For example, children who start posting half naked photoson the internet are more likely to be fall victim of sexualoffenders. Whenever a worker spots such behavior, it is expected andadvisable to talk to them about the possibility of sexual offenders.Children are at a great risk of falling in the hands of cybercriminals who may even rape them if they fail to contest to theirdemands. Therefore, they need to be protected against all cases ofsexual offenses in the cyber.
Whenevera child or vulnerable adult reports something, the support workershould listen carefully. He or she should keep the informationconfidential and should not be interviewed or asked to repeat theaccount. As soon as it is evident that the student is makingallegations of abuse, it is crucial for the support worker to informthe child protection officer or his or her deputy. The LSW shouldnever promise a child not to share the information. He should explainit to the pupil that someone else must be told to make it safe forthe child. Whenever conducting an investigation, the support workershould question the child gently to ensure that he or she understandswhat the child is saying fully. For instance, when children say thatthey have been hurt, the worker should ask them how they were hurt asopposed to who hit them. Care should be taken to avoid anyassumptions are not made regarding what the student is saying.Similarly, the support worker should report the case to ensure thatthe child’s wellbeing is catered for. It is the right of the childto be protected and given a caring environment (Kirton, 2009, p. 87)
Vulnerableadults and young children may be forced into marriages for somereasons. Forced marriage is one of the greatest contributors toviolence against women and domestic violence (Great Britain, 2008,p.308). Most people who have been involved in domestic violence andyoung women aged between 15 and 30 years. The law views forcedmarriage as a criminal offence, which includes physical violence,threatening behavior, and abduction. It may also lead to an offenceof rape because the forced partner may not be willing to consent tosexual activity. Whenever one of the students gets married, it is theduty of the learning support worker to investigate whether the youngperson may have been forced into marriage (Great Britain 2008, p.65). If the worker suspects that the young person has been forcedinto a marriage, he or she should contact social services or forcedmarriage unit. In case the student leaves the school unexpectedly,the worker should make a further investigation to understand whatcould be the cause of that incidence. Such an incidence calls forattention and the worker may even ask the help of social workers orpolice. Although anyone has the rights to leave school, it is crucialto understand the circumstances behind one’s leaving school. If ithas to do with any form of abuse, the support worker should report tothe social workers or police to investigate the matter further andsave the young adult from abuse (Munro 2008, p. 23).
Accordingto Cawson, Gorin, Cleaver and Walker (2009), providing guidance,advice, and support is paramount in safeguarding children andvulnerable adults. LSW should be able to provide support and adviceto young people as many times as possible. Young people who aresexually active need to gain knowledge about their wellbeing and howto protect themselves against any kind of abuse. The LSW shouldadvice young people on how to stay safe in school and at home. Inaddition, young people should be advised against unhealthy sexual andrisky behaviors. It is worth noting that young people are curiousabout trying new things including sexual activities. However, withoutthe right guidance, it is very likely for them to engage in riskysexual behavior that may ruin their education and health. Sexeducation can help in reducing cases of sexually transmitted diseasesand unwanted pregnancies among young people. Therefore, LSW shouldprovide young people with guidance and the necessary advice toprotect them against risky behaviors. He or she should advice youngpeople who engage in relationships at home or at school. Forinstance, LSW should be able watch out for young people with funnybehaviors and advice them accordingly. This would help greatly inminimizing cases of sexually transmitted infections and earlypregnancies among young people in schools.
Learningsupport worker is also responsible for developing effectiverelationships in school. The relationships can be between studentsand students or the staff and students. Healthy relationships canfoster safe environments for children and vulnerable adults. Thestaff should be aware of how to treat children and vulnerable adultsand set limits. For instance, there should be a boundary in how maleteachers form relationships with female students. Even though theirrelationships may be formal at first, too much closeness that touchesoutside life should be discouraged. This is because the staff mayhave malicious intentions unknown to the students. It is important toset good relationships and define the boundaries between children andstaff particularly of different sexes. The LSW should also create agood relationship with the staff so that they would inform him or heron some relevant issues concerning children. He or she should ask thestaff to report any incidences concerning the welfare of studentsthat requires attention. The LSW should train the staff on some ofthe signs they need to observe when interacting with students inorder to facilitate the welfare of young adults. They should also bewarned against promoting unwanted behavior amongst the children andyoung adults. It is important for them to realize that the welfare ofstudents comes first and teaching second (Ferguson 2004, p. 72-74).
GreatBritain (2006) confirms that behavior management is paramount insafeguarding the wellbeing of young people. The LSW is supposed tomanage the behavior of other students to ensure that they are treatedfairly by other students and staff. This means that the LSW shouldprotect vulnerable adults and children from things like bullying andexcursions. In schools, it has been observed that some students bullyothers to an extent that they fail to attend school or live in fear.The types of children who bully others are known in many cases.Therefore, the LSW should be on the watch out for these young people.He or she should ensure that they do not bully other innocent andcalm students. Whenever the LSW suspects that some students are beingbullied, he or she should try and investigate. He or she shouldrealize that most students who are bullied are afraid to report suchcases because they are afraid of their bullies. Others are afraid ofthe threats they receive from their bullies. Therefore, it isessential to observe keenly and do an investigation to confirm thatindeed bullying is taking palace. In such a case, the bullies may bepunished accordingly and a rule against bullying emphasized in theentire school to ensure such cases are not repeated in the future.Students who report cases of bullying should be listened to carefullyso as to provide a long lasting solution. Bullying is an inhuman actagainst fellow students and can lead to the victims sufferingphysically and emotionally or even refusing to attend schools. Assuch, it is prudent for LSW to ensure that he or she provides a safeenvironment for all students free from bullying activities. Provisionof a bully free environment is essential for safeguarding vulnerableadults and children. Many culprits of bullying suffer in silence andsuffer the consequences on their own. As such, punishing the bulliesis not a permanent solution if the entire culture is not eliminatedcompletely.
Protectionof Freedoms Act 2012: Chapter 9 : explanatory notes(2012) notes that there are students with special medical needs whorequire more attention than others. LSW should ensure that he or sherecords the special needs for such students to ensure that theirneeds are catered for. Likewise, records help to respond quickly toemergencies of the students with special medical needs. For example,a child with diabetes may pass out due to lack of insulin. In such acase, having the knowledge of the condition can help in respondingquickly and providing insulin as soon as possible. It is alsoessential for the worker to constantly observe children exhibitingspecial medical needs. LSW should ensure that the first aid kit iswell equipped with the necessary facilities for effective response toemergencies. This would hasten the process of emergency response.Sometimes it would be too late to wait for an ambulance therebymaking first aid the most effective in saving the lives when anemergency arises. Further, LSW should train students how to respondto emergencies when need be. They should also let them know thestudents who have special needs and how to help them in case they arefaced with urgent need of medical attention. They should also knowwhere to get the first aid kit and how to use them. To facilitatethis, it is advisable to hold first aid training sessions so thatstudents can respond to emergencies as soon as possible. The staffshould also be trained because they relate with children in manyoccasions and may encounter an incidence that requires theirattention.
LSWshould observe school attendance and unauthorized absence. Whenever astudent misses classes, LSW should follow up the reasons behindschool absence. It is possible that such a student may be facingdifficulties at home or is facing some form of abuse. Others may failto report to school for reasons such as psychological or emotionalproblems. The worker in charge should follow up the reason forabsence from both the student and parents. In case the LSW suspectsthat the child may be facing some form of abuse, he or she should tryand talk to the child to have facts right. This may not be easybecause some children are afraid of exposing their parents and thepossible consequences. As such, it is the duty of the worker toinform the student that he or she has the rights to expose his or herparents if they abusive. Those students who may be having emotionalproblems should be directed to guidance and counseling departmentwhere they can have their problems solved. LSW should continuallyfollow up on the progress of students to ensure that their problemsare addressed adequately. He or she should continue to monitor schoolattendance of such students and how they are doing on theiracademics. This would help to know determine if they need furtherassistance. This is one of the greatest step or safeguarding childrenand vulnerable adults.
GreatBritain (2007) and Erooga (2013) stipulates that another area ofconcern with regard to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults ishealth and safety. LSW should ensure the school provides studentswith healthy and safe environment in school. One of the ways ofensuring a safe environment is by providing good and clean toilets.They should be well kept especially for girls who are at a great riskof getting infected by using unclean toilets. Additionally, LSWshould advocate for safe home to school transport. The means oftransport should be safe for all and especially vulnerable girls.Children need to be dropped in areas that are safe for them. The LSWshould stay with young children until they are picked up by theirdrivers or parents. It is crucial to make sure that those that pickup small children are authorized by parents or guardians. Theseprocedures would ensure that children arrive home safely in thecompany of parents or people authorized by their parents. Those whowill use school transport should register with their home address sothat the school driver would drop them near their homes.
Brown(2003) claims that disabled children have special needs that shouldbe taken into consideration when safeguarding children and vulnerableadults. The LSW should be very keen in ensuring that their needs aremet adequately and at all levels. They should be shown their specialtoilets and their comfortable seats. They should be observed invarious situations to ensure that they are comfortable and that theylearn normally just like other students. The children with difficultyin learning are also included as part of the disabled childrenbecause of the challenges they face in learning. They may also facerejection from other students who are average or above average. Insuch instances, it is only fair that the LSW takes into considerationtheir needs. He or she should protect them from being ridiculed orbullied by other able students. To achieve, the LSW should warn otherstudents against abusing the students with difficulties in learning.He or should be able to explain to them the need to accept otherstudents and warn those that abuse them will face heavy punishments.The LSW should talk to them and know the problems they face in schoolwith intent of helping them. If such children are not monitored andprotected, they may face many difficulties in school making theiracademic lives harder. Murray, M. & Children`s Society (2009)confirms that is their rights to be protected against any kind ofneglect and abuse.
Accordingto Cleaver, Unell & Aldgate (2011) and Radfordet al (2011), parentsor guardians play a critical role in safeguarding children andvulnerable adults. The LSW should collaborate with parents in anattempt to safeguard them. He or she should talk to them in case astudent shows some alarming signs such as having psychologicalproblems. Parents on the other hand can talk with LSW in case theynotice something that needs to be addresses. This collaboration willhelp greatly in enhancing the wellbeing of children and vulnerableadults. This is because both LSW and parents play a great role in thephysical and psychological wellbeing of children. Decisions aboutchildren are better made by parents in collaboration with the supportworker.
Ramsay(2012) indicates that children and vulnerable adults are at a greatrisk of abuse. Therefore, they need protection both at home and atschool. The schools have employed leaning support workers whose mainrole is to safeguard students by observing and protecting them fromany form of abuse. They are actively involved in the welfare ofchildren and are on the outlook for any kind of abuse. Whenever theydetect anything that needs concern about children, they report to thenecessary authorities where adequate measures are taken to safeguardchildren and vulnerable adults. Every school institution shouldensure that they have adequate workers who foresee the well being ofchildren and vulnerable adults at school. The role of these workerscan change the lives of so many children and vulnerable adults whowould otherwise have had difficulties at school and at home. Theschool, parents, and the government should all cooperate to safeguardchildren and vulnerable adults.
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