About this page

Welcome to the Child Protection page. Here we offer an insight into child protection. This is necessary for student volunteers working with the LIFT OFF programme and is in-line with Government guidance.

Every child and young person has a right to feel safe and protected from harm. As an organisation working with children and young people, LIFT OFF has a duty of care to ensure these rights are upheld and protected. 

LIFT OFF staff and volunteers should be aware of their responsibility in keeping children and young people safe, and the role they have in passing on concerns when appropriate. 

Please read all of the information provided and complete the quiz using Microsoft Forms to confirm your understanding of the roles, responsibilities and processes involved in Child Protection.

Trigger warning – this page contains reference to different forms of abuse which some individuals may find distressing.

A background to Child Protection

In 1992 the UK enforced The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that each child has the right to protection from all forms of abuse, neglect or exploitation. 

The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 put these rights into Scottish law and placed a duty on anyone aged 16 or over, who has care and control of a child, to do all that is reasonable in the circumstances to safeguard a child’s health, development and welfare.

In Scotland children are defined within law as under 16 years old, however the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) recognise the responsibility to provide services and support to all children and young people under the age of 18.

The Scottish Government launched a national approach called Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC), a framework to ensure services are working together to provide early preventative support for all children and young people.  This framework ensures that by keeping their wellbeing at the heart of the approach, every child and young person has a right to be safe, healthy, active, nurtured, achieving, responsible and included.

The Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) policy and practice model is the Scottish Government’s commitment to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

As an agency working with young people, we have a duty of care to ensure these rights are upheld for young people and children.  If there is a reasonable concern that a young person or child is at risk of significant harm, there is a duty to report those concerns.  It is important to note that as an external agency, it is not the duty of LIFT OFF to investigate any disclosures or concerns raised, but to report them to LEAD professionals.  For the purposes of LIFT OFF, the LEAD professional is the school that the young person is attached to and/or Local Authority.

Types of abuse

Staff and student volunteers at LIFT OFF should be aware of the different forms of abuse and indicators that a child or young person may be at risk.  Child Protection Scotland defines abuse in 6 main categories, described below:

Neglect happens when the basic needs of a child are not being met on a regular basis. Those needs include love, safety, affection, food, warmth and shelter. One-off incidents like a child forgetting money for school dinners don’t necessarily indicate neglect. However, persistent and on-going signs of neglect might include a child being constantly hungry, poorly or inadequately dressed, or unwashed. 

Older children who are neglected might behave in ways which indicate that they’re in distress. They might go missing and become vulnerable to exploitation, or take risks by using drugs and alcohol or get involved with criminal behaviour. Their relationships with friends might be difficult and they may also be subjected to bullying and ridicule.

Physical abuse is when a child is deliberately hurt or injured by another person.

Physical abuse can be a one-off severe incident or may happen repeatedly. Sometimes there can be obvious signs of physical abuse but sometimes it can be hidden. You might see someone hitting, kicking, shaking or otherwise assaulting a child or you may see a child with unexplained injuries such as bruising, burns or bite marks.A child may tell you that they have been hurt or injured or appear afraid to go home.

All children can injure themselves accidentally, especially young children, but if you already have concerns about a child, a new injury might mean they need help. For example, you might notice that a child has an obvious injury such as a limp or a sore arm which they deny or that they try to explain in a way which doesn’t seem to make sense. Equally, you may not have had previous concerns about a child but if the nature of an injury or a series of minor injuries has caused you to be concerned, you should seek help.

Child sexual abuse is when a child is forced or persuaded into sexual activity.

Child sexual abuse can happen to children of all ages, from babies to teenagers. Sexual abuse of children can happen in person, online, or both.

Children and young people who are being sexually abused sometimes express distress through behaviours such as anger, running away and feeling bad about themselves. You might notice a child acting in a sexually inappropriate way or using sexual language that you would not expect for their age. A child may appear afraid of being alone with a particular person or might become secretive and withdrawn or emotionally distressed.

A child who is being sexually abused may also change their usual behaviour suddenly, they may appear sad and unhappy when before they had a happy school life and strong friendships. Older children may develop mental health problems, eating disorders and use drugs and alcohol as a way to manage their distress.

Children often feel responsible and can be persuaded by an abuser that what’s happening is all their own fault. However, child sexual abuse is only ever the fault of the abuser, it’s never the fault of the child.

Emotional abuse is when a child’s confidence and self-esteem is repeatedly damaged.

Examples of emotional abuse can include humiliation, being ignored, made to feel worthless, or being exposed to situations that can cause fear and distress.

Emotional abuse can happen on its own but it’s always present alongside other forms abuse. Signs of emotional abuse can be hard to spot but it’s every bit as damaging as other forms of abuse.

Children and young people who are being emotionally abused might appear afraid of someone or be worried that they might displease them in some way. They may lack confidence and talk about themselves in a negative way. Others may appear unemotional and seem quiet and withdrawn.

A child experiencing emotional abuse might find it difficult to manage their own emotions, becoming angry or upset easily and then having difficulty calming down. They may also find it difficult to make friendships or keep them going and struggle to trust adults in their lives.

Online child abuse takes many forms but can include sexual exploitation, grooming, communicating with children for a sexual purpose, but also includes sexting and cyberbullying.

Children and young people should be able to enjoy the benefits of the online world without fear of being abused or exploited. They should also feel empowered to recognise and avoid potential risks.

Signs that a child or young person is experiencing online abuse might include noticing that they are spending lots of time online or that there is a sudden change and they are online a lot less than normal. They might become secretive about what they are doing and who they are talking to online.

Children and young people might have lots of new numbers, email addresses and more messages than normal. As with other forms of abuse you might become aware of a change in their behaviour and they may seem distracted, worried or upset.

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse.

Child sexual exploitation happens through control, coercion, force, enticement and bribery – it never happens through choice. Young people as well as adults can commit child sexual exploitation.

Child sexual exploitation can affect girls and boys of any age, including 16 and 17 year olds. It can happen indoors, outdoors and online, and in any community including remote areas and villages, as well as towns and cities.

If a child or young person is being sexual exploited they may become more secretive, go missing for long periods of time, including overnight and take time out of school. They may appear to have money and new items which there is no explanation for. They may be using drugs and alcohol and suddenly have a new group of friends or an older boyfriend or girlfriend.

It’s important to understand that child sexual exploitation might not always feel harmful to a child or young person, but it has a damaging impact on the child or young person themselves, and on those around them.


On occasion, staff or volunteers may become concerned about a young person, or they may disclose something has happened to them. It is crucial that individuals feel able to respond appropriately to concerns about children and young people. 

It is not the responsibility of LIFT OFF to decide whether a young person is vulnerable, or to investigate any disclosures made – but it is our duty to report any concerns we have regarding a young persons’ safety and wellbeing.

Any concerns or disclosures should be reported to Mel Rookes, Depute Manager of LIFT OFF and Child Protection Lead.

All disclosures/concerns should be dealt with in the strictest confidence.

Not all disclosures will be child protection in nature, it may be that the disclosure made is a concern regarding a young persons’ overall wellbeing.  This should still be reported to the Depute Manager of LIFT OFF. 

In cases of emergency, if you think the young person is at risk of immediate harm, phone Police or Social Work Department.  Phone 101 and ask for advice from Police/Family /Child Protection Officer.

Responding to Disclosures

If a young person discloses something that you consider to be a safeguarding/child protection issue or concern, please consider the following guidance: 






to any disclosure made without judgement or bias



with reassurance, only asking questions when necessary



directly to Mel Rookes, LIFT OFF Depute Manager and Child Protection Lead.


Test your knowledge to receive LIFT OFF’s recognition of learning certificate and show your own understanding of the topic. 

Click the link to open the Quiz and complete it at your own pace.  

Further reading