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3.29 Children and Young People who Misuse Substances

FACT SHEETS

A summary of this chapter is available: click here to view the fact sheet.

RELATED CHAPTERS

Safeguarding Children Living in Families with Drug and / or Alcohol Misuse Protocol

AMENDMENT

The contact details and links in this chapter have been updated in July 2015.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Vulnerable Groups
  3. Sheffield Young People and Substance Misuse Toolkit
  4. Identifying Safeguarding Children Issues
  5. Action to be taken by Practitioners who are concerned about a Child


1. Introduction

The purpose of this document is to assist workers across all agencies to identify cases where action is needed to Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Children as a result of their alcohol and / or drug use.

Some young people experiment with drugs and / or alcohol as they grow up. Most young people who experiment with drugs will never go beyond experimentation. Some will go on to use drugs and / or alcohol in a controlled way (‘recreational use’). For some however their use of drugs and / or alcohol may become problematic and affect many aspects of their life.

Drug and / or alcohol misuse is known to contribute to a range of poor outcomes for young people, for example: poor health, poor mental health, educational attainment, family breakdown, economic well being, offending behaviour.

Within Sheffield, support is provided as part of an integrated service hosted within Community Youth Teams at three points across the city. These teams bring together youth workers, prevention workers and the police alongside substance misuse workers. Young people’s relationship to drugs and/or alcohol is therefore not addressed in isolation but treated alongside other services as required by the needs of each individual.


2. Vulnerable Groups

Research has shown that certain groups of young people have a higher incidence of drug and / or alcohol misuse than the average, and the potential to develop drug and / or alcohol problems as they grow up:

  • Young people involved in criminal justice system;
  • Young people who are Looked After by the local authority;
  • Young people leaving local authority care;
  • Young people excluded from mainstream education or persistent truants;
  • Young homeless;
  • Young people being sexually exploited;
  • Children whose parents / siblings have drug and / or alcohol problems.

This is not to say that all these young people will use substances or develop problems, but it makes it more important that they receive good education, information and advice about substances and substance use, as well as early support and specialist help where necessary.


3. Sheffield Young People and Substance Misuse Toolkit

Sheffield has a substance misuse screening toolkit for use with young people which can be accessed from The Corner – Young People’s Drug and Alcohol Service – 0114 2752051

Practitioners should use the toolkit to help them:

  • Identify and respond to a young person’s alcohol and / or drug use;
  • Where need be, obtain specialist help for the young person;
  • Advice regarding young people and drug and / or alcohol use can be obtained by contacting - Young People’s Drug and Alcohol Service - The Corner Tel no. 0114 2752051.

The substance misuse screening toolkit should definitely be completed with a young person in the following situations:

  • If a young person asks for some advice or information about drugs, alcohol, glues, gases or aerosols ornovel psychoactive substances (also known as ‘legal highs’);
  • If a young person tells you they are using drugs, alcohol, glues, gases or aerosols or novel psychoactive substance (also known as ‘legal highs’;
  • After a substance misuse related incident occurs, for example finding a young person in possession of drugs, or a young person being intoxicated;
  • When a young person is in one of the following groups: involved in criminal justice system, Looked After by the local authority, leaving local authority care, excluded from mainstream education, persistent truants, homeless, being sexually exploited, children whose parents have drug and / or alcohol problems, whether or not there are any immediate concerns about substance use;
  • When substance misuse has been identified in the young person’s household;
  • Where the practitioner’s judgement leads them to have other concerns that the young person might be involved in substance misuse;
  • Where a Family Common Assessment Framework (FCAF) is being completed on a young person and concerns are raised that the young person might be using substances.


4. Identifying Safeguarding Children Issues

Drug and / or alcohol use by a young person does not on its own constitute Significant Harm. However there may be circumstances where the young person’s drug and / or alcohol misuse raises safeguarding children concerns, for example:

  • The identified substance use is unusual for a person of this age;
  • The substance misuse is becoming increasingly chaotic or dangerous;
  • The substance use / misuse is leading to crime or exploitation by others, including sexual exploitation - see Sexual Exploitation Procedure;
  • The substance use / misuse is life threatening or seriously detrimental to health;
  • The young person is caring for another child while under the influence of substances;
  • An adult is involved with the substance use / misuse (e.g. the young person is being injected by an adult);
  • The parent or sibling is using drugs and / or misusing alcohol (refer to Safeguarding Children Living in Families with Drug and / or Alcohol Misuse Protocol);
  • During contact with the young person non-substance related safeguarding children concerns are identified.

In cases where safeguarding children concerns are identified due to substance misuse, it is recommended that advice be sought from The Corner (Tel no. 0114 2752051) in addition to the referral to Children’s Social Care. See also Making a Referral following the Identification of Child Safety and Welfare Concerns Procedure.


5. Action to be taken by Practitioners who are concerned about a Child

5.1 Children who have suffered, or are likely to suffer, Significant Harm

If a worker is concerned that a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm, a telephone referral must be made as soon as possible to the appropriate area office - See Local Contacts. For more information see Making a Referral following the Identification of Child Safety and Welfare Concerns Procedure.

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