Protecting Children From Female Genital Mutilation

An Early Years Safeguarding Guide



Protecting Children From Female Genital Mutilation – An early years safeguarding guide

Female Genital Mutilation or FGM is illegal and it is our duty as early years practitioners to protect the children in our care.

How do we do this?

By learning what FGM is, learning what to look out for and how we can support our families.

All of which we will cover in this video.

But first welcome to the channel.


Welcome to the channel open a nursery with myself Curtly Ania where I support you to open run and grow your own childcare business.

Today we’re going over an important topic, which is part of a series of videos I am doing which covers different safeguarding topics.  Check out the playlist to learn more about things like the prevent duty and county lines.

What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation which can also be known as female circumcision, cutting, sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez or khitan.  It is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.

FGM is a form of child abuse. It’s dangerous and a criminal offence in the UK.

FGM is often performed by someone with no medical training who uses instruments such as a knife, scalpel, scissors, glass or razor blade. Children are rarely given anaesthetic or antiseptic treatment and are often forcibly restrained.

The age at which FGM is carried out varies. It may take place:

  • when a female baby is newborn
  • during childhood or adolescence
  • just before marriage
  • during pregnancy.

FGM is carried out for a number of cultural, religious and social reasons. Some families and communities believe that FGM will benefit the girl in some way, such as preparing them for marriage or childbirth.

Effects of FGM

But FGM is a harmful practice and there and can cause many different issues for the girl which includes:

  • severe and/or constant pain
  • infections, such as tetanus, HIV and hepatitis B and C
  • pain or difficulty having sex
  • infertility
  • bleeding, cysts and abscesses
  • difficulties urinating or incontinence
  • organ damage
  • problems during pregnancy and childbirth, which can be life-threatening for the mother and baby
  • mental health problems, such as depression, flashbacks and self-harm
  • death from blood loss or infections.

Signs of FGM

It is important that we as early years practitioners look out for signs that FGM might happen as well as signs that it may have already taken place.

Some signs that FGM might take place may include:

  • a relative or ‘cutter’ visiting from abroad
  • a special occasion or ceremony to ‘become a woman’ or prepare for marriage
  • a female relative being cut – a sister, cousin, or an older female relative such as a mother or aunt
  • a family arranging a long holiday or visit to family overseas during the summer holidays
  • unexpected, repeated or prolonged absence from school
  • a girl struggling to keep up in school and the quality of her academic work declining
  • a child running away from or planning to leave home.

You may also encounter situations where FGM may have already taken place. A child or woman who’s had female genital mutilation (FGM) may:

  • have difficulty walking, standing or sitting
  • spend longer in the bathroom or toilet
  • appear withdrawn, anxious or depressed
  • display unusual behaviour after an absence from school or college
  • be particularly reluctant to have routine medical examinations
  • ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.

The Home Office have also highlighted countries where FGM is more likely to take place so it is important we are aware of these too.  These include:

  • Somali
  • Kenyan
  • Ethiopian
  • Sierra Leonean
  • Sudanese
  • Egyptian
  • Nigerian
  • Eritrean
  • Yemeni
  • Kurdish

Children are also at a higher risk of FGM if it’s already happened to a member of their family.

Preventing FGM

We can help prevent FGM from occurring in three ways:

  • challenging beliefs about FGM – we need to give families information about FGM that is sensitive to their cultural or religious beliefs but also makes it clear that FGM is an illegal and dangerous practice.
  • educating communities about FGM by talking to children and families about FGM, to raise awareness and make sure children have the opportunity to speak out if they need to. By making sure all staff understand what FGM is, know why it is dangerous and how to recognise the signs and indicators that a child is either at risk or has already undergone FGM. And by having written procedures that outline what to do in the event of a concern about FGM.
  • Reporting and responding to any concerns. If a child has already undergone FGM, we need to attempt to get them medical help and counselling. You should also take action to protect any other children in the family and to investigate possible risk to others in the community.  If you suspect a child may be at risk of FGM then follow your settings safeguarding procedures and ensure you report it appropriately and if a child discloses something to you remember to:
    • listen carefully to what they’re saying
    • let them know they’ve done the right thing by telling you
    • tell them it’s not their fault
    • say you’ll take them seriously
    • don’t confront the alleged abuser
    • explain what you’ll do next
    • report what the child has told you as soon as possible.

Although, FGM is less likely to happen to children in our care as it usually occurs when they are slightly older, it is still important that we are aware of this as it could help us to protect other members of the family like older siblings.

If you want any further support or information regarding FGM then check out the NSPCC website where you can learn more about it.

And if you want any further support with any safeguarding issues then check out the playlist on the screen where you can learn more about a variety of different safeguarding topics from the different types of abuse to Witchcraft and other faith-based child abuse.

I hope you’ve found this video don’t forget to hit that like button and subscribe for more videos supporting you in your childcare journey.

I’ll see you on the next one.

God Bless.

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