child protection

A child is defined as a person under the age of 18 (The Children’s Act 1989)

Church Action on Poverty recognises its obligations to provide a safe and happy environment for all the children and young people that it works with.  Church Action on Poverty has therefore developed some Guidelines for Good Practice when working with Children and Young People.

Church Action on Poverty requires all staff to adhere to the Guidelines for Good Practice at all times.

Work with children and young people is not one of Church Action on Poverty’s core activities, therefore whenever this kind of work is planned, the Guidelines for Good Practice should be consulted and then the proposed activity discussed with the Director.

In any instance where the Guidelines for Good Practice are not followed then this should be reported to the Director immediately.

Lines of Responsibility

All paid staff and volunteers are responsible for following the Guidelines for Good Practice when working with children and young people. At least one member of staff should be tasked with ensuring the policy is fully implemented.

The  paid  member  of  staff  organising  any  work  involving  children  or  young  people  is responsible for bringing it to the attention of the Director.

The Director is responsible for ensuring that all work with children and young people, which is brought to his attention, is planned in a way that follows the Guidelines for Good Practice.

Church Action on Poverty Council of Management is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Child Protection Policy.

Guidelines for Good Practice when working with Children and Young People

There is a responsibility to create safe and happy environments when working with children and young people, including a duty to provide proper health and safety measures.

Good practice applies to everyone, whether paid staff or volunteer leaders, who work with children and young people.

Groups and Activities

For each group and activity there should be a simple statement that explains the overall purpose of the group or activity and how it will operate in order to achieve this.

It is advisable to gain parental consent for initial membership or involvement of an individual in an activity.

Additionally, parental consent forms also need to be used when:

  • The group is meeting in any venue other than the normal one, whether transport is provided or not
  • Potentially hazardous activities are to be undertaken
  • The subject matter may be regarded as controversial or outside the normal remit of the group’s programme
  • Children  or  young  people  are  to  be  involved  in  ‘all  age’  activities  at  which  their parents will not be present.

Whatever the activity may be, it is essential that careful planning takes place beforehand. This involves considering the dangers and difficulties that may arise and making plans to minimise them.   This process is known as risk assessment.   It need not be complex, but it does need to be thorough.  The children and young people must not be placed in situations where they exposed to risk. Safety is always paramount. The following should be considered:

  • What are the risks?
  • What needs to be done to reduce this risk?
  • Can these safety measures be put in?
  • What steps are in place in the event of an emergency?
  • Some examples of risks for groups to consider might be:
  • Routes and methods of transport
  • Seasonal conditions – weather and timing
  • Emergency procedures
  • How to cope if a child becomes unwell
  • Health of group members
  • Facilities or equipment required
  • Training or expertise required for the activity
  • Communication arrangements
  • First Aid requirements

Activities should always be followed up by an evaluation to identify learning.   It should be clear what roles and responsibilities each leader has.

Children’s Rights

All children have needs and rights:

  • The need for physical care and attention
  • The need for intellectual stimulation
  • The need for emotional love and security
  • The need for social contact and relationships
  • The right to have their needs met and safeguarded
  • The right to be protected from neglect, abuse and exploitation
  • The right to be protected from discrimination
  • The right to be treated as an individual.

General Safety and Security

Ensure that young people are safe in getting to the venue (e.g. are there any unlit paths they have to use to get to the activity?)

Ensure the timing of activities is appropriate (are young people leaving to walk home too late in the evening?)

Ensure that no unauthorised person can gain access to the activity.    Visitors should be identified before gaining access.

Ensure  that  you  have  a  register  of  all  children/young  people  attending  the  activity, including parental consent, emergency contact details and other relevant information including medical needs.

Ensure that children cannot leave the building on their own.

Ensure that young people cannot leave the building unchecked.

Ensure children and young people know who the leaders are.

Be clear about which young people have permission to leave on their own and which are to be picked up/collected.

Never allow a child to leave with someone unknown to the leaders without first checking their identity.

Ensure you have adequate insurance.  Check your organisation’s policy for details.

Activities off-site often require additional insurance.

Staffing

NEVER work alone with a group or individual child/young person.  There should always be a minimum of two adult leaders

It is important to have sufficient ratio of adult supervisors (persons over 18 years of age) to children/young people.

Factors to consider when choosing staff:

  • Age and gender of group members
  • Children or young people with special needs (e.g. medical needs or disability)
  • First aid cover
  • Nature of activity
  • On or off-site activities (especially if activities are residential)

All workers, including volunteers, who come into contact with children and young people within the course of their work, must consent to a Disclosure Check being carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau to check they have no relevant criminal convictions.  It is essential that all group leaders and volunteer workers have been through this process, especially when they are acting in a supervisory capacity away from the organisation.

If there are parents or volunteers supplementing the supervision ratio they should be carefully selected and ideally be well known to the group.  Any person who has not been through the vetting procedure must NEVER be left alone with children.

Staff should reflect the gender balance of the group, especially if the activity is off-site or residential.

Ideally you should have someone trained in First Aid.
For specialist activities you must ensure you have trained experienced staff.
All staff and helpers should know what to do in the case of suspected or alleged abuse.

There should be a trial period of 3 months for all new volunteers, at the end of which both parties should review the situation.

Ratios of adults to children/young people

If the work is with children under the age of eight, for two hours or more, on a regular basis, then it must be registered with the local Social Services.  For further advice, support and information on how to register contact the local Social Services.

The following ratios (required under the Children’s Act 1989) are a minimum.   It is always advisable to have at least one more leader than is required to allow for any emergencies to be dealt with safely and efficiently.   Particular activities, journeys, or groups e.g. those with children or young people with special needs, may require a higher ratio.

For on-site activities

0 – 2 years                  1 adult leader to 3 children

2 – 3 years                  1 adult leader to 4 children

3 – 7 years                  1 adult leader to 8 children

The recommendations for children and young people over the age of eight are as follows:

Up to 20 children/young people                                               2 adults (preferably one of each gender)

There should be one additional leader for every extra 1-10 children/young people (i.e. there should be an extra leader even if the group size increases by only one extra young person.)

For off-site activities

0 – 2 years                  1 leader to 3 children

2 – 3 years                  1 leader to 4 children

3 – 7 years                  1 leader to 6 children

8 – 13 years                Up to 15 children/young people

2 adult leaders, plus one additional leader for every 1-8 extra children/young people.

13 years and over       up to 20 young people

2 adult leaders, plus one additional leader for every 1–10 extra young people.

Insurance

Workers are covered for legal liability under the terms and conditions of the organisation’s insurance policy. Any variations from the normal programme or venue may require additional insurance premiums to be arranged.

Requirements for the use of mini-buses vary tremendously, and appropriate insurance cover should always be checked out before buses are used.

First Aid

Ideally at least one leader present should have some basic training in First Aid

Provide an adequate and appropriately equipped First Aid Box, which is clearly located and recognisable.  Keep it properly stocked.

Make sure that an Accident Book is available, properly used and that all incidents are deal with correctly.

Ensure all information regarding any trained First Aiders is readily accessible.  Make sure

ALL are aware where the responsibility for First Aid lies.

Provide a sign giving the details of the nearest available telephone for emergency calls.

Fire Safety (when using other people’s buildings)

Ensure that the building complies with Fire Safety regulations and guidelines.  (The local

Fire Safety Officer will be pleased to advise you).

Include in your checks all equipment, exits, regulations and signs, which are clearly visible to all.

It may be a good idea to place additional signs, which are easily recognisable for people with different needs, e.g. at different eye levels, Braille etc.

All users of the building should be made aware of and asked to comply with the emergency procedures.

Regular safety drills and testing of fire safety equipment must be carried out.

There should be an accessible, clear and up to date record of all people who are present.

This record would be used for a roll-call in the event of an emergency.

Provide a sign giving the details of the nearest available telephone for emergency calls.

Transport

There are many factors to consider when planning transport for trips and outings such as:

  • Type of journey, including journey time and distance
  • Passenger safety
  • Traffic conditions
  • Weather conditions
  • Arrangements for emergencies and breakdowns
  • Appropriate insurance cover
  • Stopping places
  • Supervision – N.B. the driver should not be included as a supervisor

It is important to ensure:

  • The children and young people know what their responsibilities are, the expectations of them and any rules and boundaries for the trip.
  • The leaders know what their responsibilities are, the expectations of them, and rules and boundaries for the trip.
  • There are adequate Staffing ratios.  No leader should travel in a car alone with a child or young person, no matter how short a journey.
  • The suitability of the vehicles, i.e. road worthiness, size, seat belts, proper current documentation and adequate insurance cover.
  • Drivers have the required credentials.
  • Regular head counts are done.
  • You have accurate lists of all participants and relevant personal details.
  • You have parental consent forms.

Code of Conduct for Children / Young People

When working with children and young people it is important to set clear boundaries and agreed ways of behaving.   This is useful in enabling them to learn about appropriateness of behaviour, as well as a way of dealing with any discipline issues that may arise.   The children/young people should be fully involved in the drafting of this.  It should be clearly displayed  and  made  known  to all  children  and  young  people  using  the  group,  any  new members to the group, parents/carers and leaders/staff.   It can be revisited and adjusted regularly as appropriate.

It should include details of:

  • Ways  of  behaving  with  each  other  that  are  expected,  e.g.  respect,  friendliness, sharing equipment, not excluding anyone etc.
  • Ways of behaving that are not acceptable, e.g. bad language, racist/sexist comments, bullying, fighting etc.
  • Any regulations set by the venue, e.g. respecting the property and out of bounds areas etc.
  • When and where they are free to leave, and any procedures for doing so.
  • Expectations for participation.
  • Where appropriate, details about the use of drugs/smoking/alcohol.
  • Boundaries and appropriateness of relating to staff.
  • The boundaries  and appropriateness  of personal  relationship  between  participants, e.g. sexual contact.
  • The involvement of parents.
  • Personal property
  • Any sanctions that will apply in the event that the code of conduct is broken.

Code of Conduct for Staff and Volunteers

Try to avoid one-to-one situations.  Never meet with a young person alone without first taking steps to minimise risk.

Meet in a public place.

Always notify another leader that you are meeting.   Let them know where you are, ask them to look in on you from time to time.

Leave the door slightly ajar.

Meeting places, where possible, should have a clear glass panel in the door.

You should never arrange an overnight trip with a child or young person alone.

A child or young person should never stay overnight in the same room as you, even if there are two beds.

When working with children and young people you should avoid the trap of becoming a ‘parental figure’.  This tends to create an excessive emotional attachment for all parties.

You should be aware of the ‘power’ of your role and position.

Ensure  that  all  children,  young  people  and  vulnerable  adults  feel  equally  valued.

Favouritism causes feelings of alienation and can be misunderstood.

Provide an example of good conduct you would like others to follow.   Think and act sensibly  to  avoid  situations  that  could  lead  to  difficulties  of  embarrassment   or accusation. Be mindful of what is responsible and appropriate behaviour for someone in a trusted position of authority.

Ensure that there is more than one adult present during your organisation’s activities with children and young people.

Leaders and workers must be aware of relationship boundaries.  Your priority is to meet  the  needs  of  the  child  or  young  person,  not  your  own.  Conversation and behaviour should therefore be friendly without being over-familiar.  Be aware of touch and language that could be misinterpreted as inappropriate. Having said this, relaxed, friendly, informal interaction with children and young people is entirely appropriate and should not be discouraged.

Respect a child or young person’s right to personal privacy.

Be aware that physical contact with a child, young person or vulnerable adult may be misinterpreted, therefore:

Any physical conduct should only take place in public.

Physical contact should reflect the child, young person or vulnerable adult’s needs, not the worker's / volunteer’s.

Physical contact should be age-appropriate, and initiated by the child, young person or vulnerable adult, not the worker / volunteer.

Avoid any physical activity that is, or may be thought to be, sexually stimulating the worker / volunteer or the child, young person or vulnerable adult.

Children,  young  people  and vulnerable  adults  have  the right to decide  how much physical  contact  they have with others (except  in exceptional  circumstances  when they need medical attention).

Team members should be able to help each other by pointing out anything that could be misunderstood.

If a worker / volunteer persists in inappropriate touch with a child, young person or vulnerable adult this must be challenged.  If there are concerns about a worker/volunteer’s contact, advice must be sought.

Avoid doing anything of a personal nature that children are able to do for themselves, eg. applying sunscreen – if it is necessary only do so with full consent of parents.

Keep written records of concerns about children, even when there is no need to refer the matter immediately. Ensure all records are kept in securely locked locations.

Follow  procedures   when  an  allegation  is  made  against  a  member  of  staff  or volunteer.

Use of photographic/filming  equipment

Written consent to take and use images of children should be obtained prior to taking of photographs and/or video footage. Parents should be made aware of when, where and how the   images   may   be   used   in order   to   give   their   informed   consent.   This   includes comprehensive information regarding use of images, eg. in print, multi-media, broadcast; for what purpose, eg. promotion, publicity, evaluation, audit, review; and where possible an indication of who the audience will be, eg. the general public, the participating children and their families, other organisations and institutes.

What is abuse?

Child abuse

A term to describe a range of ways is which people, usually adults, harm children. Often the adult is a person who is known and trusted by the child.
Child  abuse  is  neglect,  physical  injury,  sexual  abuse  or  emotional  abuse  inflicted  or knowingly not prevented, which causes significant harm or death.
NSPCC (1999)

Awareness of actual or likely occurrence of abuse

There are a number of ways in which abuse becomes apparent:

  • A child discloses abuse
  • Someone else discloses that a child has told him/her or that he/she strongly believes a child has been or is being abused
  • A  child  may  show  signs  of  physical  injury  for  which  there  appears  to  be  no satisfactory explanation
  • A child’s behaviour may indicate that it is likely that he/she is being abused
  • A member of staff’s behaviour or in the way in which he/she relates to a child causes concern.

Issues of Disclosure

Becoming aware of abuse can cause a multitude of emotional reactions, which are personal to each individual.  Whatever  the reaction  and however  the abuse  has become  apparent, actual  or  suspected,  it  must  be  responded  to  in  the  correct  manner  according  to  the procedure outlined here. Even if the truth of the disclosure is uncertain – an appropriate response has to be made. A response in accordance with the procedure outlined here will be supported by the lead member of staff and ultimately Church Action on Poverty.

What to do upon suspicion or disclosure

There are some basic principles in reacting to suspicions, allegations and/or disclosures.

 

What to do

 

What not to do

 

Stay calm

 

Don’t panic, don’t over-react. It is extremely unlikely that the participant is in immediate danger.

 

Listen, hear and believe

 

Don’t probe for more information. Questioning the participant may affect how the participant’s disclosure is received at a later date.

 

Give time to the person to say what they want

 

Don’t make assumptions, don’t paraphrase and don’t offer alternative explanations

Reassure and explain that they have done the right thing in telling. Explain that only those professionals who need to know will be informed.

Don’t promise confidentiality to keep secrets or that everything will be ok (it might not)
Act immediately in accordance with the procedure in this policy Don’t try to deal with it yourself
Record in writing as near as verbatim as possible what was said as soon as possible Don’t make negative comments about the alleged abuser
Report to the lead member of staff Don’t gossip with colleagues about what has been said to you
Record your report Don’t make a child repeat a story unnecessarily

It is the duty of anyone who works with children to report disclosure of abuse. It is not for staff to decide whether or not a suspicion or allegation is true. All suspicions or allegations must be taken seriously and dealt with according to this procedure.

Responsibility

Staff made aware of suspicious, allegations or actual abuse, are responsible to take the appropriate action according to this procedure.

The primary responsibility of the person who first suspects or who is told of abuse is to report it and to ensure that their concern is taken seriously whilst adhering to the do’s and don’t’s above.

The incident should be reported immediately to the lead member of staff who is then responsible for dealing with allegations or suspicions of abuse.

Staff should never try to deal with a suspicion, allegation or actual incident or abuse by him/herself.

Reporting suspected, alleged or actual incidents of abuse

It may sometimes be difficult to accept that something that has been disclosed in confidence by a child or anyone else should be passed on to a colleague. But the welfare of a child must be  paramount  and  you  therefore  have  a duty  to  report  suspicions,  allegations  or  actual incidents to the designated member of staff.

Information  should  also  be  reported  if  you  yourself  have  concerns  that  a  child  may  be suffering harm or at risk of abuse, even if you are unsure about your suspicions.

Once the initial report has been made, the lead member of staff will consult with the relevant statutory agencies:

  • Child Protection Unit
  • NSPCC Child Protection Helpline – 0800 800 500.

The following information may be required:

  • Staff name, address, telephone number, position/role within the organisation
  • As many details about the child as possible, eg. name, date of birth, address, home telephone number, school
  • What the reasons are for telephoning, eg. the suspicions, allegations, what has been said, giving details of times and dates and the child’s emotional  state, or what the child  has  said  in  response  to  the  suspicions/concerns.   Make a clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay.
  • What has been done so far.
  • Where possible referral to the police or social services should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours and the name of the contact who took the referral should be recorded.

The relevant statutory agency will then give instructions as to what to do next and take the responsibility for further action.

Statutory Child Protection Procedures

What happens next is entirely up to the relevant statutory agency, usually Social Services. Enough information passed onto the agency may lead to the suspicion, allegation or actual incident being dealt with quickly with few complications,  or it may lead to thorough checks with several other organisations and possibly a child protection conference.

A child   protection   conference   involves   as many   people   as possible,   (including   the parents/carers and sometimes the child as well), who discuss the issues that have been raised in the suspicions, allegations or actual abuse that has been reported and investigated. Decisions about what will happen next are made at the conference.

Quite often, the person who has made the initial report may not be contacted again unless further information is required and it is not usual practice for the relevant statutory agency to feedback developments. However, if you feel that not enough action has been taken, and the child  is  still  at  risk,  concerns  should  be  reported  again  or  the  NSPCC  Child  Protection Helpline contacted for advice.

Reporting suspected or actual incidents

No  matter  what  happens  to  a  suspicion,  allegation  or  actual  incident  or  abuse,  (that  is whether  or  not  it  is  processed  through  a  statutory  agency  or  not),  all  details  must  be recorded.

Important information to record includes:

  • The date and time of disclosure, suspicion, allegation or actual abuse incident
  • Details given to you about the above, eg. date and time of when things occurred
  • An indication of the parties involved
  • Details of what action you and the organisation have taken
  • Details of reporting on, eg. who to (statutory agency) and when.
  • If  for  any  reason  it  is  decided  not  to consult  with a relevant statutory  agency, a full explanation of why must be documented.
  • Recording should be factual, that is no reference made to your own subjective opinions.

Records should be kept completely confidential and secure (always locked away) and only shared with those who need to know about the suspicion, allegation  or actual incident  of abuse.

Occasional Volunteers

From time to time, and in a variety of circumstances, occasional volunteers are recruited to assist in an activity or outing.  The principles of protection for children, young people and vulnerable adults must inform our approach to the use of such volunteers.   Adults should work co-operatively in groups with children, and volunteer helpers should know the limits of their responsibility.  The person in charge of the group cannot leave unsupervised occasional volunteers who have not gone through formal recruitment procedures and checks.

Usually we can rely on personal recommendation to identify appropriate occasional helpers, but the introduction of an unknown or new person to such situations requires more careful consideration.

Therefore,  the use of occasional  volunteers  should  not  be seen  as a short  cut to avoid following  the normal  procedures  of volunteer  registration  and application  etc.   The group leader is responsible for monitoring this.

Each situation will require different solutions, but principles of protection for children, young people and vulnerable adults are a safeguard for helpers too, and must not be disregarded.

Church Action On Poverty, Unit 28 Sandpiper Court, Water’s Edge Business Park, Modwen Road, Salford M5 3EZ

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