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Racism includes stereotyping individuals or groups, because of their difference, bigoted assumptions about abilities, motives and intentions and stigmatising individuals or groups because of their ethnicity.

Children and their families from black and minority ethnic groups are more likely to have experienced harassment, racial discrimination and institutional racism.

Racism does not constitute a separate category of abuse, although it can be a source of Significant Harm and can be an aggravating factor in other incidents of abuse.


The experience of racism is likely to affect how the child and family respond to and feel able to participate in any assessment process. Failure by professionals and their managers to consider the effects of racism undermines efforts to protect children from other forms of Significant Harm.

Children who have been trafficked or unaccompanied asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable. See Modern Slavery and Child Trafficking Safeguarding Practice Guidance and Children from Abroad Safeguarding Practice Guidance further information.

The fear of being perceived as offensive due to cultural differences, can mean that professionals do not make as thorough assessment as is required; this can compromise an accurate understanding of a child’s situation.

Working with different minority cultures in the context of a child protection investigation may be an unfamiliar experience for practitioners and specific advice about the cultural needs of a child may be difficult to obtain at short notice. There is a difficult balance to be struck between how to maintain respectful and culturally sensitive practice with a child-centred focus.

As Hull continues to diversify and welcome new communities it is important to recognise that there can be new and emerging safeguarding issues to be considered and to note the importance of raising the awareness of these issues with practitioners who are supporting families.

Protection and Action to be Taken

The effects of racism differ for different communities and individuals, and should not be assumed to be uniform. Specific attention should be given to the assessment of the needs of children of mixed parentage and refugee children to ensure that their welfare is promoted.

Children who have been trafficked or unaccompanied asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and maltreatment.

When there are concerns about a child the Contacts and Referrals with Children’s Social Care Procedure should be followed and the need for interpreters or advisors on cultural issues should be considered as part of any Strategy Discussion or risk assessment. 

Where written information may also be needed in a different language this should also be considered at an early stage because there is almost always a delay in organising this. Family members or members of the same community should not be used as interpreters, and in no circumstances should children be used to translate for their parents / carers. All interpreters and translators should be Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked and have received some basic child protection training. See Working with Interpreters Safeguarding Practice Guidance.

All organisations working with and families should address institutional racism: defined in the Mcpherson Inquiry Report, 2000 as:

“the collective failure by an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people on account of their race, culture and/or religion.” 

All assessments, enquiries and meetings such as Child Protection Conferences and Core Groups must ensure that they are inclusive and respectful to all participants and address any issues of racism, culture and religion whether it concerns the child, family or any other participant.

All supervision and training must consider the issues not only of institutional racism but also of the effects of racism in relation to the child and his or her family.

Additional Considerations

Whilst safeguarding should not be a culturally relative concept, effective safeguarding practice requires knowledge of different cultural and religious practices and beliefs in order to investigate abuse and assess needs and risks.