It is good practice to explain your concerns to the child and parents, inform them of your intention to refer and seek their consent. Research shows that being open and honest from the start results in better outcomes for children. There are certain exceptions and reasonable judgement must be made in each case.
Informing the child and parents - exceptions
Usually you should not discuss your concerns with the parents in the following circumstances:
- where discussion might put the child at greater risk;
- where discussion would impede a police investigation or social work enquiry;
- where sexual abuse by a family member, or organised or multiple abuse is suspected;
- where fabricated or induced illness is suspected;
- where parents or carers are being violent or abusive, and discussion would place you or others at risk;
- where it is not possible to contact parents or carers without causing undue delay in making the referral
|‘I know I did the right thing in referring him, but what was so difficult was the feeling that I’d gone behind their backs and didn’t discuss it with the family first. I think things have changed for the better now you’re advised to explain your concerns to the parents first. Of course it wouldn’t be easy, but I’m convinced that’s the best way to do it’
A dentist reflecting on a child protection referral she had made some years ago
Informal advice could be taken first without disclosing the childs name. Further discussion of information sharing and confidentiality follows later.