Safeguarding children is the responsibility of everyone.
IF YOU SUSPECT ABUSE or issues regarding a child’s well-being OF ANY KIND, PROMPT ACTION IS VITAL (The same day).
If you are not sure what, if any, action to take, please seek advice IMMEDIATELY (see the numbers above)
PLEASE DO NOT SPEAK TO ANYONE ABOUT THE ISSUE, EXCEPT THOSE WHO NEED TO KNOW (e.g. Police, Safeguarding Officer etc).
The Children Act, 1989 defines a child as being up to the age of 18 years old. Extensions of this exist for children who have special needs and for those in local authority care settings. The Children’s Act makes it clear that the welfare of the child is paramount, and it gives everyone
involved in the care of children responsibility for the protection of those children.
Houghton Regis Community Church (HRCC) is committed to provide a safe environment for children and visitors and to promote a climate where children and adults will feel confident about sharing any concerns that they may have about their own safety or the well-being of others.
HRCC believes that all children, regardless of age and background, have at all times and in all situations, the right to enjoy the activities of the group in a happy, safe and secure environment, and will ensure that this is the case by rigorously implementing this policy. Everyone involved with
children and children’s activities will be checked through the Criminal Records Bureau prior to any
Types of abuse
Child abuse is generally divided into four categories
- Physical Abuse
- Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes ill health to, a child whom they are looking after. A person might do this because they enjoy or need the attention that they get through having a sick child. Physical abuse, as well as being a result of an act of commission can also be caused through omission or the failure to act to protect.
- Emotional Abuse
- Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve making a child feel or believe that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person.
- Sexual Abuse
- Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of, or consents to, what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative acts such as rape, buggery or oral sex or non-penetrative acts such as fondling.
- Sexual abuse may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material, watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
- Boys and girls can be sexually abused by males and/or females, by adults and by other young people. This includes people from all different walks of life.
- Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or needs.
All reasonable steps will be taken to ensure unsuitable individuals are prevented from having any involvement with children within HRCC.
Recruitment procedures will include a Disclosure and Barring Service Check, at the appropriate level, for all personnel with access to children and should always include self-declaration and the use of references. This will include everyone involved in children’s ministries and activities, as well as those supervising such activities. We will ensure that everyone involved has appropriate qualifications and training.
Should any concerns arise following a Criminal Records Bureau Disclosure then this will be passed onto the Church Leadership and/or CCPAS (https://www.ccpas.co.uk/ ) will be contacted for information and guidance. Any Disclosure that causes concern will be assessed to establish the level of risk the subject poses to children, other service users, colleagues, the general public and/or HRCC. A number of questions will be asked:
- Does the offence relate directly to work with children?
- How serious is the offence/s and the circumstances surrounding it?
- How long it is since the offence was committed?
- Does the subject have a pattern of offending?
- Has the subject’s situation changed since the offence occurred?
- What is the subject’s explanation of the offence?
- Did the subject declare the offence prior to the Disclosure?
If all these questions are not answered satisfactorily then the prospective volunteer will not be allowed to work with children within HRCC. All new workers will go through a probation and induction process, including relevant training. Ongoing training and supervision will ensure all workers are adequately supported.
Training and supervision of volunteers
New volunteers will have a designated person who will ensure that a proper induction takes place. The supervisor will provide regular support and supervision to the new worker in all areas of their work including child protection. All new volunteers will read and understand this policy as part of their induction process. Volunteers will be able to identify the signs of abuse and will be confident about the steps to take and who to report any concerns. Supervisors and volunteers will keep a check on visitors and guests whether their visit is by invitation or unsolicited. This will ensure the welfare of the children is safeguarded at all times. Adult to young person ratios wherever possible and reasonable should reflect best practice (1:10 max for 10 years and over, 1:8 max under 10).
Creating a Safe and Caring Environment:
- Risk Assessment should be undertaken prior to any offsite visits or new types of activities.
- Volunteers working with children should be appropriately trained and qualified to ensure the safe provision of services, use of equipment, activities undertaken, etc.
- Volunteers working with children should carefully plan activity sessions with the care and safety of children as their main concern including the use of activities at an appropriate age/ability level.
- Wherever possible we will encourage an ‘open environment’ e.g. avoiding private or unobserved situations and discouraging the keeping of secrets. This especially includes volunteers being alone with a child at any time. When this is unavoidable, it should be done with the full knowledge and consent of a church leader and/or the children’sparents/carers.
- Volunteers must treat all children/young people with respect.
- Volunteers must not make racist, sexist or any other remarks which upset or humiliate
- Volunteers must take care to avoid showing any favouritism.
- It is the responsibility of volunteers to prevent the abuse of younger or weaker children by older or stronger children through bullying, cruelty or any other forms of humiliation.
- Arrangements for parents/carers dropping off and collecting children from activities/trips need to be clearly stated and agreed by parents/carers, children and volunteers.
Behaviour guidelines for volunteers
Safety of participants and volunteers is of prime consideration at all times. All accidents involving anyone should be recorded in HRCC’s accident book immediately or as soon as practicable possible.
Volunteers are responsible for familiarising themselves with building/facility safety issues, such as fire procedures, the location of emergency exits, the location of emergency telephones and first aid equipment.
Volunteers are responsible for reporting suspected cases of child abuse to the appropriate individuals and/or agencies.
Appropriate volunteers should have access to any parent consent/emergency consent forms for all children taking part in any activities [this information should be confidential].
Volunteers should ensure that their activities start and end on time.
Volunteers are expected to promote, demonstrate, and incorporate the values of fair play, trust and ethics throughout their activities.
There will be a named designated person. For HRCC this is Rachel Honeyford, 07862702584, 01582 511102 and a deputy-designated person for child protection, Helen Matthews.
In the event of any concerns regarding a child then the designated person or deputy will be informed at the earliest available opportunity. If necessary, the designated person will inform the relevant Social Services Department without delay and the church leaders. The designated person will also ensure that the child protection procedures are kept up to date and reviewed.
Children and parents/carers will have a ‘named person’ to whom they may report any worries or concerns. This person will normally be the designated person or deputy.
Signs of Abuse
The signs summarised below do not necessarily mean that a child is being abused. Similarly, there may not be any signs; you may just feel something is wrong. If you are worried report it to the designated person. It is not your responsibility to decide if it is abuse but it is your responsibility to act on your concerns and do something about it by reporting.
- Signs of Physical Abuse:
- Unexplained injuries or burns
- Improbable excuses given to explain injuries
- Refusal to discuss injuries
- Untreated injuries
- Admission of punishment which appears excessive
- Bald patches
- Withdrawal from physical contact
- Arms and legs covered in hot weather
- Fear of returning home
- Fear of medical help
- Self-destructive tendencies
- Aggression towards others
- Running away
- Signs of Neglect:
- Constant hunger
- Poor personal hygiene
- Constant tiredness
- Poor state of clothing
- Frequent lateness or non-attendance at school
- Untreated medical problems
- Destructive tendencies
- Low self-esteem
- Neurotic behaviour
- No social relationships
- Running away
- Compulsive stealing or scavenging
- Signs of Emotional abuse:
- Physical, mental and/or emotional development slows down
- Admission of punishment which appears excessive
- Over-reaction to mistakes
- Continual self-deprecation
- Sudden speech disorders
- Fear of new situations
- Inappropriate emotional responses to painful situations
- Neurotic behaviour e.g. thumb sucking, hair twisting, etc.
- Fear of parents being contacted
- Extremes of passivity or aggression
- Substance misuse
- Running away
- Compulsive stealing, scavenging
- Signs of Sexual Abuse:
- Lack of trust in adults and/or fear of a particular individual[s]
- Over-familiarity with adults or provocative behaviour
- Withdrawal and introversion/problems with peer relationships
- Running away from home/sudden behaviour changes e.g. falling standards, truancy, Stealing etc.
- Low self-esteem
- Substance misuse
- Displaying sexual knowledge beyond age group
- Involvement in prostitution
- Over-sexed behaviour
- Sleeplessness, nightmares, fear of the dark
- Bruises, scratches, bite marks
- Depression, suicide attempts
- Anorexia nervosa/eating disorder or a change in eating habits
- Pregnancy, particularly when reluctant to name the father
- Recurring urinary tract problems/vaginal infections
- Volunteers should never:
- Engage in rough physical activities, even when playing.
- Engage in sexually proactive activities.
- Allow or engage in inappropriate touching of any form.
- Allow children to use inappropriate language.
- Make sexually suggestive comments about or to a child.
- Ignore a child’s allegation, however improbable it seems.
- Do things of a personal nature for a child. If you do have to do things of a personal nature for a child e.g. take to the toilet, support, lift, etc. particularly if they are very young or a child with additional needs, then you should obtain the full consent of their parents and permission from your supervisor or person in charge. In an emergency situation, which requires this type of help, parents and your line manager, should be fully informed as soon as is practicable.
- Reduce a child to tears as a form of control.
- Undertake any tasks involving children for which they feel inadequately trained or have concerns about.
Photography, video, etc:
Permission from parent/carers should be obtained before taking photographs, videos, etc. Permission to post on social media e.g. Facebook should also be obtained where applicable. In general, avoid putting on Facebook unless there is a very good reason for doing so.
Responding to disclosures of abuse
It is not the responsibility of volunteers to deal with suspected abuse but it is their responsibility to report concerns to the appropriate person. It is important that all volunteers should be aware of their responsibilities if child abuse is suspected.
If you notice any social changes in the behaviour of a child, worrying marks or bruises or hear a child/children talking about things which give cause for concern, then your first responsibility is to the child. It is not safe to assume that someone else will take action. As an adult, you have a duty to take appropriate action. Recognising and coping with child abuse is very stressful and the person reporting the concern will not have to cope alone.
If a child spontaneously talks of experiences which give cause for concern, volunteers should:
- Gently explain to the child that if he/she discloses information which leads you to believe they are being abused, you will be unable to keep it confidential.
- Listen to the child without questioning him/her. Be aware of your own reactions as showing disapproval may stop the child from continuing with their disclosure.
- Do not try to stop the child from recalling events. Make a note of what is said, in what context, the setting, the timing and which people were present.
- Reassure the child, tell them that they are right to tell you [do not promise to keep it a secret as it is your responsibility to inform others].
- Stay calm – ensure the child is safe and feels safe.
- Accept what you have been told. [This should not be seen as believing or disbelieving what you have been told]
- Reassure the child and stress that they are not to blame.
- Tell the child that you will offer support but also that you will have to pass the information on.
- Do not question the child and/or rush into details that may be inappropriate.
- Monitor the individuals concerned; encourage them to continue to take part in HRCC’s activities.
- Do not make promises you cannot keep.
- Do not approach or contact the alleged abuser[s].
- Record the concern or incident in the Child Protection register, including, date and time of what has occurred and the time the disclosure was made. Record the names of the people involved and what was said and done by whom and any action taken.
- Inform the designated safeguarding person immediately. Remember that confidentiality is of the utmost importance.
- If this is not possible, contact an appropriate supervisor or church leader.
- If the matter is urgent and none of the above can be contacted, then contact social services or the police.
- The designated safeguarding person will contact the appropriate authorities including the Duty Social Worker in the area where the child lives as soon as possible.
Concerns would normally be shared with parents/carers as soon as possible. However, there could be circumstances when this could put the child at greater risk or there may be concerns that parents/carers will not respond appropriately.
Every effort will be made by Social Services to respect the anonymity, if requested, of the person reporting the abuse, however, if allegations result in Court proceedings this may not be possible.
If an allegation of abuse is made against a volunteer, Social Services will follow the same procedure as they do to investigate allegations of abuse for a family.
HRCC will ensure that issues of child protection receive continuous attention and will regularly review the way that we operate to support this principle. The child protection policy should be reviewed annually and when there are any changes in legislation.
Reporting procedure for suspected cases of child abuse
A child’s behaviour/appearance gives reason for concern
A child has an unusual physical injury/ies
A child confides about abuse.
- Make a record of your actions. Include anything the child says, anything you asked, your observations, etc. (see record form below).
- This may be used as evidence later.
Report concerns directly to Social Services.
CONTACT DETAILS FOR DESIGNATED SAFEGUARDING OFFICER ARE LISTED AT THE TOP OF THIS POLICY
If you are suspicious or concerned about a child but do not feel you have any evidence (or sufficient evidence) to report your concern, record details and observe the child unobtrusively and record any additional concerns. If you suspect abuse, REPORT IT. IF IN DOUBT, IT’S BEST TO REPORT IT [normal procedure would be to report any suspicions to Social Services and let them make the decisions]. If you don’t suspect abuse, observe over a period of time and record anything relevant.
Houghton Regis Community Church
CHILD HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERN FORM
|Parents/carer names and address|
(if different from above)
|Incident Date: (if possible)|
|Incident Time: (if possible)|
|Incident Description: Continue overleaf if necessary.|