Female genital mutilation (FGM) Keeping children safe

If you suspect that FGM has happened, even if it's not recently, you must seek help and advice: call the FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550.

What professionals must do about FGM

FGM is child abuse and against the law. It causes serious physical and emotional harm. Professionals who are worried a child is at risk can call the FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550.

Families who practice FGM don't think of it as abuse. Professionals need to give families advice and information that is sensitive to their culture and beliefs, but they need to make clear that FGM is illegal.

If a local authority has reason to believe a child is likely to suffer FGM it can apply for a court order to prevent the child being taken abroad for mutilation. This should be to prevent the child from undergoing FGM rather than removing her from her family.

From October 2015, the FGM Act 2003 (as amended by section 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015) introduced a mandatory reporting duty for all regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales. Professionals must make a report to the police, if, in the course of their duties:

  • they are informed by a girl under the age of 18 that she has undergone an act of FGM

or

  • they observe physical signs that an act of FGM may have been carried out on a girl under the age of 18.

(Home Office, 2015)


If a child has already undergone FGM she should be offered medical help and counselling. Professionals should also take action to protect any other children in the family and to investigate possible risk to others in the community (London Safeguarding Children Board, 2009).

Improving safety, reducing harm

(Department of Health (DH), 2009)

Practical toolkit for frontline practitioners providing information on children experiencing domestic violence and aiming to help practitioners understand what legislation and guidance mean for them and their work.

Also covers sexual violence and exploitation and ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

Includes an overview of Every Child Matters (ECM), principles of commissioning services, risk assessment, guidance for schools, explanations of key standards and policies and practical examples and standard forms. Supercedes 'Responding to domestic abuse: a handbook for health professionals'.

Download Improving safety, reducing harm: children, young people and domestic violence: a practical toolkit for front-line practitioners (PDF)

Recognising and preventing FGM

(Home Office, 2014)

The Home Office provides a free e-learning package for professionals who need to find out more about identifying and responding to FGM.

Other organisations that can help

The following organisations also provide support and advice about FGM:

Petals

Petals is a new web app for young people, created by Coventry University, to help protect young girls and women from FGM.

Find out more

Listen: "Hadas's story"

Hadas experienced FGM when she was just a few months old. Listen to Hadas talk about how it has affected her life, and why she believes FGM must stop.

Legislation, policy and guidance

Details of legislation, policy and guidance about FGM in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
See legislation, policy and guidance

What we do about FGM

FGM helpline

Helpline offering advice, information and support to anyone concerned that a child's welfare is at risk because of female genital mutilation.

0800 028 3550

Contact us by email

We have responded to over 1,200 contacts about FGM since June 2013. More than a third of these contacts have resulted in a referral to the police or children's services

Explanation: The NSPCC launched its dedicated FGM helpline in June 2013 for anyone with concerns about FGM. People can contact the helpline by phone on 0800 028 3550 or by email.

From 24 June 2013 to 31 March 2016 we received 1,202 contacts to the FGM helpline. Of these contacts:

  • 224 were requests for advice
  • 464 led to a referral
  • 514 were enquiries

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References

  1. London Safeguarding Children Board (2009) London female genital mutilation resource pack (PDF). London: London Safeguarding Children Board.