Safeguarding body issues guide to preventing user abuse

A number of warning signs can help employers prevent the sexual and financial abuse of children and vulnerable adults, says the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

Credit: E. M. Welch/Rex Features (posed by model)

The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) has identified a number of warning signs to help employers recognise and prevent the abuse of children and vulnerable adults by social care staff and volunteers.

The research was based on a study of 200 cases referred to the regulator by employers, half related to children and half to vulnerable adults. In the sample, 58% of child-related referrals involved allegations of sexual abuse and 47% of vulnerable adult referrals involved allegations of financial abuse.

Possible warning signs identified in the financial abuse cases included the theft of smaller amounts of money, previous convictions for theft and a failure to complete documentation and protocols regarding the handling of money.

In sexual abuse cases involving children, the possible warning signs were more varied. The main characteristics were grooming behaviour such as inappropriate physical contact or degrees of emotional manipulation.

“For an employer, recognising developing risk can be difficult especially if the pattern of abusive behaviour develops both in and out of the workplace including, for example, the inappropriate use of social networking,” said Roger Singleton, chair of the ISA.
 
“Through our research we’ve identified some common warning signs and indicators of risk that relate to the referred individuals and the culture in which they work. These will have clear implications for how employers go about creating a safe environment, raising awareness and encouraging vigilance.”
 
The ISA is responsible for making decisions about who should be barred from working with children and/or vulnerable adults. 

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