How difficult can it be to help an organisation with a possible safeguarding issue?

Today we picked up a public tweet on one of our social monitoring alerts from a female who tweeted that she was getting bullied at lunchtimes. Two clicks later and we pop a phone call in to the organisation to let someone in a pastoral role know in case this student, whose name we also gave based on their Twitter name, may need help. This isn’t a school we work with and it doesn’t happen often. From here on in I’ll write in first person as it happened.
I left my mobile number and details. I got a call back from a safeguarding person. Here’s how it went – slightly abridged but key phrases are accurate.
*start of call*
Them: Is this a sales pitch to get in to school?
Me: *blood simmers* Pardon? Goodness me. You must have had some very bad calls to say that. That’d be completely unethical and clearly you don’t know us or how we work with schools.
Them: Would you contact every school you come across about something like this even if you didn’t work with them?
Me: Well, we would certainly stop anyone crossing a road who hadn’t seen a car coming whether we knew them or not. All it took was two clicks to identify the organisation where this person said they attended. We have passed on a name and a public tweet for you to act on or ignore. It’s up to you really. We have no other agenda.
Them: I’m not confirming this student is one of ours. We take safeguarding very seriously and I’ve had the training so my guard is always up.
Me: I do understand safeguarding issues very well from our work with other schools.  Do you want the link to the tweet so you have that?
Them: No. We have our own team who do all that.
Me: Very good.
[professional pleasantries]
*end of call*
Obviously this stings particularly badly at my personal integrity and core values and I just have to acknowledge that.   Many things whirled in my head during and after this call though.  If I’d been a person of disrepute would I have contacted the organisation to first check the female was a student, left my cross-checkable details etc? I genuinely don’t know.  People can be cunning can’t they.
What I do know though is that the tweet & it’s contents appeared to hold no interest (I’m sure it was checked out ultimately) and the notion of someone, particularly from a company, offering information with no other agenda than ‘to help’ just did not compute for the other person.  What that speaks worse of I’m again unsure.
I’ve never told anyone about this before but it’s relevant here so I will. I did once, I believe, stop a young lady from being killed on a zebra crossing by blasting my car horn to make her stop dead in her tracks as another car, that I’d seen approaching in my rear view mirror but she hadn’t, shot through on the inside lane. I still run this like a mini-movie years later with surprising frequency.  Today felt a bit like that, except that there seemed to be someone else there who instead believed the car horn was probably a wound down window or open door.
Safeguarding is important. It’s critical and you’re probably here reading this with a good understanding of the gravity of some scenarios schools face each week. However, today gave cause for some personal reflection.
  • Would I blast my car horn at a zebra crossing again?
    Yes. Though there’s no guarantee the person will stop.
  • Would I call a learning organisation to pass on some information that could affect the welfare of a student – even though they haven’t paid us to?
    Yes.  I believe so.
  • Do I need a brew and to get on with my paid work now?
    Yes. Definitely.


Vague descriptions of entities and individuals only used to protect identity

Photo use under: Open Government Licence v3.0

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