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GPs urged to be alert for child cyber-bullying

New toolkit also helps identify children and young people at risk of child trafficking and radicalisation

Mark Gould

Monday, 27 October 2014

GPs are being urged to be on the alert for signs of cyber-bullying as part of new Safeguarding Children toolkit.

The document, produced in partnership by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the children's charity the NSPCC, also contains advice to help GPs identify and support children and young people at risk of child trafficking, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and radicalisation.

The college says the toolkit reflects the "changing landscape of general practice", with GPs on the frontline of increasingly complex health and societal challenges.

All professionals who come into contact with children and their families have a responsibility to safeguard and promote their welfare, and should know what to do if they have concerns about a child.

GPs and their teams, along with health visitors, school nurses and midwives, play a key role in ensuring that children, young people and families get the care, help and support they need, when they need it. They also offer ‘early help’ by providing care directly or signposting and referring to other services.

As well as highlighting newer safeguarding challenges such as FGM and forced marriage, the new guidance also covers more "conventional" aspects of child safeguarding with sections on neglect, physical abuse and caring for children with disabilities.

The toolkit aims to equip GPs with the information and procedures necessary to make informed, appropriate and confident decisions about the health and safeguarding of their younger patients.

According to latest figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), 43,140 children were subject to a child protection plan and 68,110 children were ‘looked after’ in England in 2013.

The new document updates previous joint guidance and brings together recommendations from police, social workers, government agencies and schools in an attempt to tackle the risks and dangers posed to children.

RCGP Chair, Maureen Baker, said: “Children and young people today are facing unprecedented pressures from all angles at a younger and younger age. The arrival of the internet and social media has opened up so many opportunities but has also brought many threats, including cyber-bullying, sexting, and revenge porn.

“Because of the anonymity offered by the internet, many children and young people run a higher risk of being harmed or exploited."

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