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3.13.6 Anti-Bullying Policy for Foster Carers

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Scope
  3. Policy Statement
  4. Procedure


1. Introduction

1.1

The following definition of bullying is taken from Salford City Council's anti-bullying strategy (March 2008):

Bullying can take many forms extending from teasing, at it's most simple, to threats and violent behaviour, at it's most extreme.

Bullying usually fall into two categories:

  1. Emotionally harmful behaviour, such as taunting, spreading harmful rumours and excluding people from groups;
  2. Physically harmful behaviour, such as kicking, hitting, pushing or other forms of physically abusing behaviour.

The behaviour constitutes bullying if:

  • It is repetitive, wilful and or persistent;
  • It is intentionally harmful, carried out by an individual or group;
  • There is an imbalance of power leaving the victim feeling defenceless.
1.2 Standard 3 of the National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services (2011) states: "Foster carers provide an environment and culture that promotes, models and supports positive behaviour” (3.2) Foster carers have positive strategies for effectively supporting children where they encounter discrimination or bullying wherever this occurs” (3.6).
1.3 Under the 5 outcomes of Every Child Matters: Change for Children, a sub-heading of the Stay Safe outcome is "safe from bullying and discrimination" (Department of Health, 2003). This means that local authorities should do everything that they are able to protect children from bullying.
1.4 Children who are looked after are particularly vulnerable to bullying and as Corporate Parents, local authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are looked after. This policy reflects the paramount need to keep children safe whilst offering guidance for social workers and foster carers to protect a child from being bullied.
 

Statutory basis for the Policy

  • The Children Act 1989;
  • National Minimum Standards for Fostering 2011;
  • Fostering Regulations 2011.

Link to other policies

  • Safe internet policy;
  • Managing Behaviour within Foster Homes.


2. Scope

2.1 This procedure applies to children placed in foster homes managed by Salford Children's Services. The principles of this policy apply to the placement of all Looked After children including those with independent agencies where social workers must ensure these or other adequate procedures are applied.
2.2 This policy is expected to be used by foster carers, children's social workers and family placement social workers in their supervision and support of foster placements and those children placed within them.


3. Policy Statement

3.1

Looked After children are particularly vulnerable to being bullied. Bullies will target victims by focusing on something about the victim that is different in order to try and justify their behaviour. By definition, children in foster care are different as they do not live at home with their parents. They may also have additional characteristics that increase their potential for being bullied which include:

  • Young People with a disability;
  • Young People who are seen to be lesbian, gay or bisexual;
  • Young People from a particular race, religion or culture;
  • Young people who may have experienced prior abuse and lack in self confidence and communication skills;
  • Young people who have been isolated from their family, peers and other support systems, such as change of school.
3.2 It needs to be recognised that the reasons for some children becoming victims of bullying are also reasons for others becoming bullies. This has potential implications for foster carers fostering more than one child and needs to be considered if it is suspected that a foster child is being bullied.
3.3 Everyone involved in parenting Salford's Looked After children shares a responsibility in countering bullying and for creating a culture that positively encourages acceptable behaviour and reduces or prevents the likelihood of bullying. As part of this responsibility everyone must understand what bullying means and what measures should be taken by foster carers and professionals to counter it.


4. Procedure

4.1 Prior to placement or as soon as possible, the child's social worker needs to identify any vulnerabilities of the child and any potential for being bullied or being a bully. this information needs to be shared with the foster carers and the family placement social worker. The family placement social worker will be required to complete a safe care policy particular to the children living in the household. It may be appropriate to include details of how incidents of bullying will be addressed within the home.
4.2 Foster carers will be expected to attend the rolling programme of training (see Training Foster Carers Procedure) which includes managing behaviour and recognising signs of abuse and ways of boosting and maintaining the child's self-esteem (Standard 9.2). Improving a child's self-esteem is one of the most effective ways to enable children to help themselves avoid being victims. The relevant training includes, 'Managing Behaviour, Communicating with Children and Promoting Diversity'.
4.3 Foster carers will be expected to provide an environment where bullying is positively discouraged. If an incident of bullying is identified the foster carer will need to actively safeguard the well being of the child. They should identify any situations that potentially increase the risk of bullying and take action to minimise risks.
4.4 Where allegations are made about a foster carer bullying a child, this will be dealt with as part of the safeguarding procedures.
4.5 For each allegation of bullying, foster carers and social workers will need to exercise their judgement as to the most appropriate way of dealing with that situation. They will be expected to utilise their knowledge of individual children in assessing how best to approach an incident. Consultation between the child's social worker, foster carer, family placement social worker and in some cases team manager will help with this decision.
4.6 If the bullying is taking place in school, the carers and child's social worker will work closely with the school staff to identify the most appropriate way to address the situation.
4.7 Foster carers need to be aware of the risk of bullying through the use of the internet and mobile phones. Guidelines need to be followed in accordance with Salford's safe internet and mobile phone policies.
4.8 All incidents of bullying must be recorded, identifying any known triggers, the details of the incident and the outcome on both the child and foster carers file. An action plan will be required to address the individual circumstances of the bullying and any additional work with the perpetrator.
4.9 Children will need access to Salford Children's Rights Service and be aware of the advocacy and independent visitor service available. Children have the right to involve the police and make a complaint through Salford's Complaints Procedure.
4.10 The child's social worker must ensure that the child is aware of the above services and understands how they can report any incident of bullying. It is the responsibility of both the social worker and foster carer to regularly remind children that any form of bullying will not be tolerated. Sometimes they may find it difficult or embarrassing to report that they are being bullied, particularly when it is related to their identity. Children will need ongoing encouragement to talk about their feelings and worries and consider adults around them who they can talk to.
4.11 Where the situation appears more serious, consideration should be given to whether the child is suffering from or likely to suffer significant harm. In these cases Salford's Safeguarding Children Board Procedures will need to be followed and a possible Strategy Meeting convened. The child's social worker and team manager will need to consider whether it is safe for the fostering placement to continue as it is and whether immediate changes are required to safeguard the welfare of the child and any other children who may be at risk.
4.12 It is important to let the child know what the outcome is of his/her statements about being bullied. It may be done by the foster carer, child's social worker or in some cases, by an independent person. This should be properly coordinated and it should be noted within the action plan who has responsibility for sharing this outcome.

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