Contextual safeguarding – a case study

Read the following case study about Paulina. After you have read it listen to the audio and consider the questions posed.

Paulina’s family come from Poland and she moved to the UK with her parents when she was 8.  She has some mild learning difficulties and when she started secondary school the school queried whether there was some bullying from peers at primary school and Paulina appears to have quite low self-esteem.
She has had very few discernible friends at school but recently told a TA she has found a new group of friends from the estate where she lives.  She is quite proud they are friends with her as they are slightly older children.
School staff have noticed some behaviour changes in lessons.  Paulina is answering back, some homework is not on time or incomplete (when it used to be to a good standard).  Staff suspect she isn’t getting sufficient sleep and she’s been heard saying to peers that she spends hours online at night to her new friends.
Her parents don’t speak English fluently but they have contacted school saying they are worried about Paulina coming home from the park late.  School tries to get more information and finds out it was only 20 minutes late so they don’t take it any further.
Paulina was previously somewhat of a “tomboy” but now seems to be developing an interest in make up and clothes, but her “unique” taste means peers at school mock her – she says to a staff member she isn’t bothered because her new friends like her look.
In a PSHE lesson about Healthy Relationships Paulina’s responses to a scenario situation suggest that she feels people should do what others want to “earn” friendships.  The teacher tries to gently challenge this but she is firm in her views that the character in the scenario is lucky to have friends and can’t expect friendships for nothing in return.
A teaching assistant from the school who lives locally reports to the Head of Year that he saw Paulina at the weekend outside of some local shops with older youths, and that Paulina was “dressed inappropriately” for her age.  This is recorded but no further action is taken as it was out of school hours and seen as just one person’s opinion.
In a Relationships and Sex Education lesson about sexting Paulina seems to be disengaged, behaviour is louder than usual and unfocussed.  She refuses to participate and when other pupils demonstrate “victim blaming” language she shouts out that the other students are “just little kids and don’t understand mature relationships”.
Her only school friend later reports to a member of staff that Paulina has been showing naked pictures of an “older lad” on her phone and she says it’s her boyfriend.
School staff talk to Paulina and she says they are in love and she’s sent naked pictures back.
School involve parents but mum says Paulina “consents” and that all children experiment and urges school not to take things further with any authorities.
Referrals are made to social services and the police.
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