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Carer rapped for dragging 13-year-old girl along floor

The additional support needs victim suffered carpet burn following the incident in Fife.

Reprimanded: Jade Gibson denied the misconduct.
Reprimanded: Jade Gibson denied the misconduct. Pixabay

A childcare practitioner has been reprimanded for dragging a girl with additional support needs across a floor leaving her with a carpet burn.

The injury was reported after the 13-year-old's dad spotted the mark on her back when he was bathing her that night.

Jade Gibson denied the misconduct and claimed the friction burn may have been caused by the youngster "rough-housing" with a boy at an after-school club in Fife.

However, a Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) panel found the allegations proven and her fitness to practise impaired after a witness testified that they'd seen Gibson within a classroom dragging "something" and then using sign language for "stand up".

The panel claimed the behaviour "amounted to an abuse of power and trust in relation to a vulnerable child who could not speak up for herself". It also caused the teen to suffer "actual physical harm".

The SSSC have now placed a warning on Gibson's registration for a year and ordered her to write a reflective account on what lessons she has learned and what impact her actions would have had upon the teen and her family.

Gibson has until April 21 to appeal the decision.

The incident happened during an out-of-hours club in Fife on November 29, 2016.

At a SSSC hearing last month, the panel heard the teenager would often move herself across the floor by "bum-shuffling".

Witnesses agreed it was not unusual for the girl to stubbornly refuse to move and would sometimes lie on her back and kick out at people.

On the day in question, a woman leaving the school spotted a laboured-looking Gibson walking backwards within a lit-up classroom "dragging something". The witness couldn't see what, but believed it to be a child after Gibson signed "stand up".

Panicked, the woman rushed back into the school to report what she'd seen.

The woman and another witness then went into the classroom and found the teenager sitting upright on the carpeted floor. As the schoolgirl did not appear to be upset, there didn't seem to be any cause for concern.

However, later on a care worker reported seeing a "red rash" on the girl's back when taking her to the toilet.

The following day, the girl's mother also reported the mark - which was before she knew of the alleged incident. She told the panel it took two weeks to heal.

Following an investigation, it was accepted the injury occurred after school.

'It does not consider that you intended to harm [the girl] in any way, but it is satisfied that the evidence shows that you, at some point, dragged her in an inappropriate manner, and that that dragging caused the injury complained of'
Scottish Social Services Council panel

In defence, Gibson denied dragging the teenager across the floor. Instead, she claimed that she held onto the youth's hands as the teen dug her heels into the floor and propelled herself along.

Gibson argued she would not have been able to move someone of the teen's size and weight.

She also claimed the girl had been "rough-housing" with a boy that day and at one point threw herself onto her back.

However, the allegations were "proved on balance of probability".

The panel said: "It does not consider that you intended to harm [the girl] in any way, but it is satisfied that the evidence shows that you, at some point, dragged her in an inappropriate manner, and that that dragging caused the injury complained of.

"Service users had a right to expect to be treated with dignity and respect.

"Regardless of intention, your actions had amounted to abusive behaviour."

Gibson, who currently works in a mainstream school, was said to have displayed some insight, regret and apology within a personal statement.

In response to questions from the panel, she said that if she had caused the girl harm she would be "completely horrified".

The panel accepted it was an isolated incident and noted Gibson's good relationship with the youngster.

The panel also highlighted that at the time of the incident, Gibson was not particularly experienced at working with children with additional support needs.

Following the SSSC's decision, Phil Black, head of education and children's services at Fife Council, told STV News: "As a responsible employer, we don't discuss the individual circumstances of any current or former employees."

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