1.Sharing information about concerns with agencies who need to know, and involving parents and children appropriately
Disabled children, including the visually impaired, may be more vulnerable to abuse than other children. Safeguards are essentially the same as those for non-disabled children.
Where a child has communication or learning difficulties, attention must be paid to the child’s special needs and to ways of ascertaining his/her perception of events. The child’s wishes may be identified by use of non-verbal communication systems, interpreters or facilitators.
Particular attention needs to be paid to promoting high standards of care and raising awareness of the risks to disabled children in order to strengthen the capacity of children and their families to protect themselves.
- Helping disabled children make their wishes and feelings about their care and treatment known.
- Ensuring that all disabled children know how to raise concerns if they are worried or angry about something. They should have access to people with whom they can communicate. Disabled children with communication difficulties should have a means of being heard available to them at all times.
- Commitment to and understanding of all children’s safety and welfare needs among providers of services.
- Close contact with parents and carers and a culture of openness on the part of services.
Awareness of abuus
Awareness is the key issue in both the detection and prevention of abuse. A staff member, volunteer, parent or carer may become aware or suspicious of abuse of a child by:
- Being told in confidence by the individual child.
- Being told by another person as hearsay or as a witness.
- Observing symptomatic behaviour.
- Observing outward signs of physical abuse/injury.
The abuse may:
- have take place a long time ago – even in early childhood and the child may still be suffering the consequences.
- be an on-going form of abuse which takes place outside the charity – e.g. typically at home.
- be a current or very recent abuse that has taken place within the charity.
How to recognise signs of abuse
- Physical Abuse -
- Any visible injuries particularly not normal child-like bumps and scrapes
- Children who find it painful to walk, sit down, to move their jaws or demonstrate other pain
- Being furtive or secretive, or displaying uncharacteristic aggression or withdrawn behaviour
- Compulsive eating or sudden loss of appetite
- Having difficulty in staying awake or suddenly becoming un-coordinated
- Giving confused or conflicting explanations of injuries
Emotional Abuse -
- Poor attachment relationship between the child and parent/carer
- Parent/carer displaying unresponsive or neglectful behaviour towards the child or making negative comments about the child
- Child demonstrating emotional indicators such as low self esteem, unhappiness, fear, distress or anxiety
- Child demonstrating behavioural indicators such as attention seeking, opposing, withdrawing or insecurity.
Sexual Abuse -
- Awkwardness in walking or sitting down
- Tummy pains
- Extreme variations in behaviour, such as anxiety, aggression or withdrawal
- Sexually provocative behaviour or knowledge that is incompatible with the child’s age and understanding
- Drawings and/or written work which are sexually explicit
- Direct disclosure – it is important to recognise that children have neither the experience nor the understanding to be able to make up stories about sexual assault.
- Underweight or obese
- Unkempt dirty appearance, inadequate/unwashed clothes
- Indiscriminate friendliness or poor social relationships
- Poor concentration
- Low self esteem
Responding to suspected abuse
No member of staff, volunteer, parent or carer should investigate reports of physical or sexual abuse him/herself. Alleged victims, perpetrators, those reporting abuse and others involved should not be interviewed beyond the point at which it is clear that there is an allegation.
Medical attention should be sought immediately for the child if required. Any individual to whom an allegation of child abuse is made should then:
Step 1: Limit any questioning to the minimum necessary to seek clarification only, strictly avoiding “leading” the child by making suggestions or asking questions that introduce their own ideas about what may have happened.
Step 2: Stop asking any more questions as soon as the child has disclosed that he/she believes that something abusive has happened to him/her or to someone else.
Step 3: Tell the child that the relevant designated Child Protection Representative or Authority will now be made aware of the issue.
Step 4: Depending on the age of the child, ask the child what steps he/she would like taken to protect him/her now that an allegation has been made and assure him/her that the charity will try to follow those wishes.
Step 5: Report the information immediately to the designated Child Protection Representative for that area (or to HR or Director at Head Office). If the allegation or suspicion is about the designated person, the report should be made to Head Office. If the volunteer or member of staff would prefer to speak to someone other than designated persons within the charity, he/she should contact Social Services directly. All contact details are as given on pages 3 and 4 of this document. Step 7: If the report has been made to a staff member or volunteer, inform the child’s parents/carers unless there is a suspicion of their involvement.
Step 6: Complete a Record of Concern form and pass this to the designated Child Protection Representative, or relevant Authority if required. Records of Concern must be stored confidentially, in a secure place accessed only by a designated Child Protection Representative.
Additionally, any staff member, volunteer, parent or carer who is told indirectly of any incident or witnesses or suspects any form of child abuse must report the information immediately, as detailed in Step 5.
Do's and don’ts
- Treat any allegation seriously
- Display belief in what the child is telling you
- Tell the child he/she is right to tell you
- Reassure that he/she is not to blame
- Be honest about who you have to tell and why
- Take further action immediately
- Write down everything said and what was done
- Seek medical attention if necessary
- Inform parents/carers unless there is suspicion of their involvement
- Make promises you can’t keep
- Interrogate the child
- Cast doubt on what the child tells you
- Interrupt or change the subject
- Say anything that makes the child feel responsible for the abuse
- Do nothing – tell the relevant person or authorities immediately
Staff members, volunteers, parents or carers should never give absolute guarantees of confidentiality to children or other colleagues wishing to tell them something serious. They should, however, guarantee that they will only pass on information to the minimum number of people who must be told to ensure proper action is taken. They should guarantee that they will not tell anyone who does not have a clear “need to know” and that confidentiality will be respected within the designated team. If any staff member, volunteer, parent or carer has any suspicion, allegation or disclosure that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, then this must always be referred to the relevant Child Protection Representative or Social Services.
‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ 1999 states the following:
- Those providing services to adults and children will be concerned about the need to balance their duties to protect children from harm and their general duty to their service user…Where there are concerns that a child is, or may be, at risk of significant harm however, the needs of the child must come first. In these circumstances the over-riding objective must be to safeguard the child.
Research and experience have shown repeatedly that keeping children safe from harm requires professionals and others to share information:
- about a child’s health and development and exposure to possible harm;
- about a parent who may need help to care for a child adequately and safely;
- about those who may pose a risk of harm to a child.
- Often it is only when information from a number of sources has been shared and is then put together that it is clear that the child is at risk or is suffering significant harm.’
2.Adopting child protection guidelines through a code of behaviour for staff and volunteers
It is essential that children and young people involved with the charity are:
Valued and respected as individuals Listened to Involved in decision making as appropriate Encouraged and praised as appropriate
Approriate conduct and behaviour
Staff members, volunteers, parents and carers should:
- Be aware of a visually impaired child’s need for physical contact, but ensure that contact is appropriate and given only with the consent of the child or young person – in the case of restraining a child to prevent injury or comforting a distressed child, ensure physical contact is ceased at the earliest possible moment.
- Avoid initiating physical expressions of emotion such as kissing or hugging, but remember that a visually impaired child or young person may need to physically express emotion in these ways – if a child initiates such expressions, cease it at the earliest possible moment without causing the child to feel rejected.
- Avoid intrusive forms of play (i.e. tickling, horseplay) – if physical contact is offered from a child, cease it at the earliest possible moment without causing the child to feel rejected.
- Not allow children and young people to use inappropriate language unchallenged.
- Ensure that at least two adults are present when supervising children or young people.
- Not spend excessive amounts of time alone with children, away from others – meetings with individual children or young people should take place as openly as possible. If privacy is required, the door should be left open and other staff or volunteers informed of the meeting.
- Avoid taking individual children on car journeys, however short – where this is unavoidable, it should be with the full knowledge and consent of parents/carers and a member of management.
- Not meet with children outside organised activities, unless it is with the knowledge and consent of parents and a member of management.
- Never do things of a personal nature for a child or young person that they can do themselves.
- Never let allegations a child or young person makes go without being addressed and recorded.
- The following forms of behaviour between staff members or volunteers and children or young people are not allowed under any circumstances:
- Sexual conduct
- Lending or borrowing of money or property
- Giving or receiving gifts
- Exclusive or secretive relationships
Relationships between personnel
Relationships between both paid staff and volunteers should be based on mutual respect. All staff and volunteers are expected to contribute and take responsibility to ensure a positive working environment and to conduct themselves accordingly.
Following the procedures for safeguarding children on trips
Trips involving children and young people will normally also include parents and carers. However, it is important that the following procedures are adhered to in order to keep children and young people safe:
- Ensure children and young people are aware of how they are expected to behave
- Gain written consent from parents/carers for children to participate in an outing, as well as a written statement of any specific needs or requirements for their child
- Ensure at least one staff member or volunteer participating in the outing is trained in first aid and has access to first aid equipment
- Ensure all those attending are aware of their roles and responsibilities and are appropriately qualified and experienced
If using an activity centre or other external provider:
- Use reputable organisations which have in place any licences or accreditation required.
- Visit the centre beforehand wherever possible
- Gain agreement from parents/carers and the children and young people on the trip on the activities to be undertaken
- Ensure external providers have proper safety procedures in place (e.g. insurance, equipment/transport maintenance, health and safety policy, Child Protection Policy etc)
All planned activities and trips must be appropriate for the group of children and/or young people participating.
Sharing information about child protection and good practice with children, parents, staff and volunteers
It is essential that children and young people understand that any concerns they may have will be listened to and taken seriously. It is also essential that parents and carers are aware of and understand the procedures the charity has in place for maintaining the welfare of children and young people using its services.
Charity management is responsible for ensuring that relevant information is available to and exchanged between all those involved in the operation of the charity and its activities. Confidential information should only be shared on a need to know basis.
Management and staff are responsible for:
- Ensuring children and young people have information about how and with whom they can share their concerns, complaints and anxieties. *This information must be shared in a manner appropriate to the age of the child/young person.
- Ensuring all information is available in multiple formats for the blind and visually impaired.
- Ensuring parents and carers are aware of the nature of relationships with adults with whom their children form friendships.
- Publicising information to parents and carers about the charity’s activities, its Child Protection Policy and Procedures, and the name of the person(s) to contact in the event of concerns or complaints.
- Ensuring all staff and volunteers have the information required to deal with emergencies and child protection issues.
Following carefully the procedures for recruitment and selection of staff and volunteers
When a vacancy is identified, a job description or task/project brief must be drawn up which should identify the skills required for that post. The vacancy should be advertised as widely as possible through the most appropriate means.
All volunteers and staff, including temporary or casual workers, must be subject to the charity’s selection and recruitment procedures as follows:
- All candidates must complete an application form.
- The recruiting manager should verify the person’s identity by his/her birth certificate, passport or other formal document, preferably something bearing their photograph.
- The recruiting manager should verify any qualifications stated on the application form.
- All suitable candidates must have an interview or meeting, with the recruiting manager and one other senior staff member.
- Any gaps in employment or inconsistencies in the candidate’s history must be identified and reasons given.
- Written references should be taken up prior to the employment of the successful candidate, and verified by a telephone call.
- volunteers and staff who may come into contact with children and young people may be subject to Enhanced Disclosure through checks by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).
- If required, no unsupervised access to children is to be allowed until references have been reviewed and results from the CRB are obtained.
- Advice should be sought prior to recruiting someone with a criminal record or record of other offences.
- New members of staff or volunteers must undergo a supervised probationary period including a comprehensive induction which must cover the Child Protection Policy and Procedures.
Providing effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, support and training
Wikimedia UK will ensure that all staff and volunteers are well informed and supported, by the following process:
As part of their general induction, new staff and volunteers will be familiarised with this Policy and Procedures document, as well as other policies such as Health and Safety. This may include training in child protection issues.
- Probationary Period
The development and suitability of the employee or volunteer will be reviewed during the first six months of taking up the post.
- Supervision and Support
Regular meetings, whether individual or on a group basis, will provide an opportunity for staff/volunteers to share concerns, anxieties or worries about their work or the environment. Meetings should also be an opportunity to identify areas of concern and/or training needs.