Haringey Council social worker failed to stop 12-year-old from being sexually abused (From Haringey Independent)
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Haringey Borough Council social worker suspended for failing to stop sexual abuse of 12-year-old girl
A social worker has been suspended for failing to raise the alarm about a 12-year-old girl who claimed she had sex with her mother's boyfriend.
Haringey Borough Council has found itself at the centre of another child abuse scandal just days after the case of ‘Child T’ - which itself had chilling parallels with the death of Baby P - was made public.
A tribunal heard a social worker employed by the authority's children and young peoples' services failed to alert superiors after learning of the abuse of a child.
Diane Onyango was contacted by the girl's school after she was heard discussing the alleged abuse with her friend and exhibiting worrying sexual behaviour.
Onyango knew the youngster was registered with social services as a 'child in need' but failed to alert anyone.
The mother of the girl, known as child B, was prone to alcoholism, substance abuse and violent behaviour.
She had been known to Onyango since November 2009, a Health and Care Professions Council tribunal heard.
The hearing was told Onyango was inexperienced in dealing with child protection cases when employed at Haringey Council between October 20, 2008, and December 14, 2011.
Ian Griffiths, who chaired the hearing, said: “The registrant was relatively inexperienced as a social worker in the UK.
“And prior to taking on domestic violence and child protection cases at Haringey she had not worked in an environment where she would have been exposed to these types of work.
“There had been at times a lack of supervision and overall a lack of challenging supervision.”
Onyango told the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) that because of the environment at Haringey Council at the time, as well as her own health problems, she found herself in a 'state of inertia' and unable to take any action.
Onyango admitted there was a 'large difference' between practice in her native Uganda and in Britain.
She stated that all children in Uganda were at risk from their circumstances and surroundings and child protection issues were not focused on.
Therefore she was unprepared for handling cases such as these in the UK.
In a second case involving a two-year-old child, Onyango failed to visit the home every two weeks.
The child lived in a home with a high level of domestic violence and had sustained a fractured arm after being left in the care of his father when he was seven months old.
On June 29, 2010, the mother of the child was reported to have a large bruise on her arm but Onyango failed to follow this up with managers.
The NMC panel found Haringey Council had failed to notice Onyango had been out of her depth and struggling.
Mr Griffiths said: “The registrant had thought that she was doing things to an acceptable standard and had not received any feedback that this was not the case.
“In essence, there had not been any earlier incidents that had warranted concern by her employers.”
Lisa Blundell, a manager at the time, said Onyango should have contacted a manager as a matter of urgency.
She said: “School had passed information to us on the phone that should have raised absolute alarm bells."
Miss Blundell said Onyango did not raise the school's concerns for almost a week.
Onyango allowed child B's mother to have telephone contact with her daughter and told her of the sexual abuse allegations, failing to recognise that the mother may have been complicit in the abuse.
The HCPC panel decided suspending Onyango for 12 months would allow her to improve her skills before she returns to work.
All the allegations against Onyango were proved.
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