HANDS UP FOR TRAD CHILD PROTECTION POLICY. (Download a copy)
The Hands Up For Trad is actively committed to the best possible practice in relation to child protection and will promote the well being and safety of all children engaged with Hands Up For Trad activities as audiences, performers, participants or placements. In order to achieve this we will embed good practice and robust principles throughout the organisations planning, production and operation. This will be led by our statement of principles and become the responsibility of every Hands Up For Trad employee and volunteer. The lead person for Hands Up For Trad development and review of the policy will be Simon Thoumire
Statement of Principles
The key principles that underpin our guidelines are:
• the best interests of the child or young person must always be a primary consideration;
• all children and young people should be treated fairly and with dignity and respect;
• all children and young people have the right to protection from all forms of harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation;
• all children and young people have the right to express their views on matters that affect them.
• All children should have equal opportunity regardless of age, ability, race, religion, social or economic background.
Whilst we recognise that it is not possible to create totally risk free environment Hands Up For Trad will actively strive to reduce the level of risk to children by identifying, assessing and managing the risk factors involved in activities, services and events provided by us and our partners for children up to the age of 18 years.
We will openly and actively encourage, through training and on going assessment, the development of an ethos that supports all aspects of equality, protection and care for our children and young people. Our ethos will be informed by the legal framework of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and the good practice guidelines of the SAC, FST and the “Protecting Children: A Shared Responsibility, Scottish Executive, 2003 publications (see appendices)
Development and evolution of our ethos will require all workers and volunteers associated with Hands Up For Trad to
• promote values such as equality, openness, tolerance and caring;
• promote and reward positive behaviour;
• enable children to discuss concerns (including concerns about abuse) with adults they can trust;
• enable children to develop to adults who are less likely to misuse power
• Enable children to express themselves through arts mediums and be alert to signs of abuse or lack of care.
We will actively promote anti-discriminatory policy and practice
We will seek to have our staff conversant with the requirements and implications of the following pieces of legislation:
a) Sex Discrimination Act 1975
b) Race Relations Act 1976 and the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
c) Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (and, in relation to education, the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001)
d) Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003
e) Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
We will actively promote race equality and the development of an anti-racist ethos
This requirement is placed upon us by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 (RRAA 2000). This means that through training and inclusion in our staff hand book protocols we will aim to
• eliminate unlawful discrimination;
• promote equality of opportunity
• promote good relations between persons of different racial groups (Section 71(1) of the RRA 2000).
• We will develop a “whistle blower” and “support” system in order to actively capture and modify racist and discriminatory behaviour
We will support children from Minority Ethnic Communities
The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 requires that, when providing services and making significant decisions to safeguard and promote a child’s welfare we shall have regard, so far as is practical to the child’s religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background.
This means that all Hands Up For Trad events and activities will
• be sensitive to the cultural, linguistic and religious needs of the children participating.
• support the child when communicating culturally sensitive contexts by including a peer or trusted mentor in the conversation, if appropriate. This may include interpreters.
We will actively support children who have any disability or support needs in order to protect them from any form of prejudice or discrimination.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 it is illegal to discriminate against disabled people (as defined by the Act) in the areas of employment, access to goods, services, transport and education.
Other recent pieces of legislation, including the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 and the Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils’ Educational Records) (Scotland) Act 2002 have introduced additional legal obligations which we will allow to inform best practice.
Children with additional support needs (who may/may not be disabled as defined by the DDA 1995) may also require extra support in order to participate fully in activities.
We will therefore ensure
• that all reasonable steps to accommodate the needs of children who have disabilities will be taken. This means, for example, that children must not be refused access to an activity on the grounds of their disability or needs until, and unless, all reasonable adjustments have been fully explored and exhausted.
• In relation to concerns of abuse, Hands Up For Trad staff and
volunteers should understand that children who have additional support needs/disabilities and very young children can be particularly vulnerable to abuse because:
a) they may have greater difficulty in understanding the boundaries of appropriate behaviour and contact;
b) they may have difficulty communicating that they are being abused, especially if they had no code for describing words related to abuse;
c) they may have contact with a range of adults (other than their primary carers) which may involve physical contact and care including intimate care;
d) they may live in an environment where disability or age contributes to high stress levels;
e) they may have to experience intrusive medical treatment and may not always be able to differentiate between these and abusive behaviour;
f) their difficulties and age can mean that assumptions are made that no-one would wilfully seek to abuse/harm them.
We will support children of gypsy and traveller Families
This means that we will be sensitive to the needs of gypsy and traveller communities who often have a strong sense of mistrust of organisations and institutions. We will therefore
• Seek professional advice and support, when necessary, when dealing with children from this community.
We will support Looked After and Accommodated children in order to protect them from any discrimination or prejudice.
Hands Up For Trad staff will therefore
• be aware of the difficulties this group of children face and endeavour to ensure that children and their parent/carers are encouraged (in a sensitive manner) to get involved in supporting them.
In relation to concerns of abuse, the Who Cares? Scotland report, Feeling Safe, highlighted that children who are looked after/accommodated do not always feel safe. They revealed to Who Cares? Scotland workers that they are at risk of physical, sexual or racial abuse, or at risk of misusing alcohol or drugs, self-harming behaviour or prostitution. Hands Up For Trad staff should be alert to the needs of this group of children and to the range of possible child protection issues, which may arise
(Source: Protecting Children: A Shared Responsibility, Scottish Executive, 2003)
Where there are concerns of abuse with any of the above communities, it is important that Hands Up For Trad staff make contact with Social Workers to discuss their concerns.
We will actively promote an anti-bullying ethos
Bullying involves an abuse of power and organisations working with children should have clear anti-bullying procedure in place for reporting and managing alleged incidents.
Hands Up For Trad staff will therefore
• Never ignore reports of alleged bullying.
• Develop a “whistleblower” and “support” mechanism to capture and modify bullying behaviour.
• Seek advice and support from parents, carers and/or authorities for children who are victims of sustained and persistent bullying.
Code of Practice
Our code of practice will be informed by current legislation, best practice and our own evolving protocols. It will cover a clear code of conduct, health and safety issues and recruitment and vetting procedures.
Summary of Legislation –
The Children (Scotland) Act 1995
This Act is built on three child-centred principles which are:
• The welfare of the child is the paramount consideration when his or her needs are considered by the Courts, Children’s Hearings and Local Authorities.
• No court should make an Order relating to a child and no Children’s Hearing should make a Supervision Requirement unless the Court or Hearing considers that to do so would be better for the child that making no order or Supervision Requirement at all.
• The child’s views should be taken into account where major decisions are to be made about his or her future.
Responsibility and duty of care
Section 22 of the Children Scotland act places local authorities under a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their area who are ‘in need’. For the purposes of Hands Up For Trad’s policy we should adopt the responsibility as outlined in Section 5 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 which states that “it shall be the responsibility of a person who is 16 or over and who has care and or control of a child under 16, to do what is reasonable to safeguard the child’s health, development and welfare.”
Criminal Liability can arise where the adult: “wilfully assaults, ill-treats, neglects, abandons or exposes (the child)… in a manner likely to cause (the child) unnecessary suffering or injury to health” (Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937, section 12). It is important to note that harm does not actually have to occur for there to be liability.
Reporting and Vetting
The Act also places organisations under a legal duty to:
• refer an individual to the List where the grounds for referral are met;
• not appoint an individual who is fully listed to a “child care” position;
• remove an individual who is fully listed from a “child care” position.
For further information on the Act go to www.scotland.gov.uk
Definition of a child
This Act defines a child as a person below the age of 16, and for certain purposes, may also include a person up to the age of 18 years, i.e.:
• Local authorities have responsibilities to support children and their families until the ‘child’ is 18.
• Where local authorities have been allocated parental responsibilities by a court order, these responsibilities last until the young person is 18.
• Young people between 16 and 18 who are subject to a Children’s Hearing supervision requirement are considered children.
• Boarding schools have a welfare duty for young people between 16 and 18 in their charge and care.
• In all issues of child abuse, child protection procedures may be extended to cover children with special needs (mental or physical disability) until the age of 18.
(Source: Protecting Children: A Shared Responsibility, Scottish Executive, 2003)
Note: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)1989 defines a child as an individual under the age of 18 years and the Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003 also defines a child in this way (for the purposes of the Act). For the purposes of this guidance, a child is defined as an individual up to the age of 18 years.
Definition of a parent
The Act states that:
“Parent includes guardian and any other person who is liable to maintain or has parental responsibilities in relation to, or has care of, a child or young person.”
Rights and responsibilities of parents
Section 2 of the Act sets out four rights that parents have in law to enable them to fulfil their responsibilities to their children; these are:
• to regulate the under sixteen child’s residence;
• to direct and guide the child’s upbringing;
• to maintain contact;
• to act as legal representative
Section 1(1)(a) of the Act places parents under legal duty to:
• safeguard and promote their child’s health, development and welfare until s/he reaches age sixteen
• Provide direction until the child reaches sixteen and to provide guidance until the child reaches eighteen;
• To maintain regular contact with the child until he or she is sixteen;
• To act as legal representative until the child is sixteen.
• Get to know us.
• Speak with us.
• Listen to us.
• Take us seriously
• Involve us.
• Respect our privacy.
• Be responsible to us.
• Think about or lives as a whole.
• Think carefully about how you use information about us.
• Put us in touch with the right people.
• Use your power to help.
• Make things happen when they should.
• Help us be safe.
CODE OF CONDUCT
All Hands Up For Trad staff and volunteers should
• Play a part in helping develop an ethos where all people matter and are treated equally, and with respect and dignity.
• Always put the care, welfare and safety needs of a child first.
• Respect a child’s right to be involved in making choices and decisions which directly affect them.
• Listen attentively to any ideas and views a child wants to share with you.
• Respect a child’s culture (for example their faith and religious beliefs).
• Respect a child’s right to privacy and personal space.
• Respond sensitively to children who seem anxious about participating in certain activities.
• Speak to a member of staff immediately if you suspect that a child is experiencing bullying or harassment.
• Be aware of the vulnerability of some groups of children to being isolated and hurt (for example, children with disabilities and learning difficulties; children from gypsy and traveller communities; Black and Minority Ethnic children).
• Ensure that when you are working with children you are at least within sight or hearing of other adults.
• Listen carefully to any child who ‘tells you’ (sometimes through drawings and behaviour as well as words) that they are being harmed and report what you have discovered immediately to your line manager.
• Report immediately any suspicion that a child could be at risk of harm or abuse.
• Never dismiss what a child tells you as ‘lies’ or exaggeration.
• Only restrain a child who is at imminent risk of inflicting harm to themselves or others or is at risk of damaging property.
• Never underestimate the contribution that you can make to the development of safe communities for children.
YOU SHOULD NOT
• Exaggerate or trivialise another worker’s concerns about a child or ignore an allegation or suspicion of abuse in the hope that it will either ‘go away’ or that ‘someone else will deal with it’.
• Discuss personal issues about a child or their family with other people except with your line manager when you are concerned about the child’s well being.
• Be drawn into any derogatory remarks or gestures in front of children or young persons.
• Allow a child, young person or adult to be bullied or harmed by anyone in the organisation.
• Allow children to swear or use sexualised language unchallenged.
You must never:
• Engage in sexually provocative games, including horseplay.
• Never allow others to or yourself engage in touching a child in a sexually provocative manner.
• Never make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun.
• Engage in rough or physical contact unless it is permitted within the rules of a game or sports activity or conforms to the guidance on appropriate physical restraint.
• Never form inappropriate emotional or physical relationships with children.
• Harass or intimidate a child or worker because of their age, ‘race’, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, socio-economic class or disability.
• Never invite or allow children to stay with you at your home.
• ensure that children and young people are enabled to express their ideas and views on a wide range of issues and will have access to the organisation’s Complaints Procedure;
• ensure that parents/carers are encouraged to be involved in the work of the organisation and, when requested, have access to the organisation’s Complaints Procedure;
• ensure that parents/carers are encouraged to be involved in the work of the organisations and, when requested, have access to all guidelines and procedures;
• endeavour to keep up-to-date with national developments relating to the care and protection of children and young people.
Hands Up For Trad workers and volunteers should always be able to justify physical contact with a child in any situation.
Openness and transparency are the key rules. If the activity you are involved in requires you to touch children in the context of instruction, practice or training then the following points should be followed:
• Make sure the child is aware of why you need to touch them. Explain to them what you are doing.
• Inform parents/carers that touching their child is an integral part of the instruction you will be giving.
• Make sure that the activity happens in an open space with other staff members close by.
• Touching should be strictly limited to the level of contact necessary for instruction.
• All staff should be vigilant and pass on any concerns about other members of staff.
Physical contact to comfort and reassure a child should be agreeable to both the child and the adult and should be limited and appropriate to the child’s gender, age, religious, ethnic and cultural background.
Physical contact in order to provide care for a child should only involve a level of contact necessary to provide such care.
Very young children and those with certain types of special needs may require a higher level of physical care but the level of physical contact involved should be limited to that necessary to provide such care. Further information on intimate care is given below.
Meeting Intimate Care Needs
Intimate care covers areas of personal care which most people usually carry out for themselves but some are unable to do because of age, development and/or disability. Children with certain types of special needs might require help with eating and drinking and all aspects of personal care such as washing, dressing and toileting.
Hands Up For Trad staff and volunteers are not qualified or equipped to cater for the intimate care needs of children. In the case of children with intimate care needs participating in Hands Up For Trad activity, we will ensure that their needs are met by a partner organisation, carer or parent.
The publication, Helping Hands: Guidelines for Staff who provide Intimate Care for Children and Young People with Disabilities (Scottish Office, 1999) gives useful information on this issue.
• Nominated first aiders will undertake specialist first aid training for children
• Nominated first aiders will make themselves known to all participants.
• All first aid boxes will be clearly marked and there where-about identified before each session.
• HANDS UP FOR TRAD standard emergency procedures will be adhered to.
• All workers will know how to contact the emergency services.
• Medical details and special needs of each child should be held on a consent form within the place of contact.
Safe use of the Internet
HANDS UP FOR TRAD recognises that the internet is an important resource but it is open to abuse and can pose dangers to children. HANDS UP FOR TRAD staff and volunteers will adhere to the following guidance given by the NSPCC in their publication Firstcheck: A Step by Step Guide for Organisations to Safeguarding Children (2002).
Safeguards should include:
a) adult supervision;
b) monitoring a child’s use of the internet wherever possible;
c) the use of filters and mechanisms to block access;
d) setting different levels of access where possible.
Children should be given tips on how to safeguard themselves which include:
a) never giving out their personal information including email addresses;
b) never agreeing to a face to face meeting with anyone they have contacted via the Internet
c) reminding them that people can and do lie about themselves over the Internet
d) never allowing photos of themselves to be posted on the Internet in a way which could easily identify them
e) asking them to immediately exit any chat room or shut sown from a site that has obscene or suggestive messages and to report immediately such instances to a supervisor.
Taking and using photographs of children
Photographs can be used as a means of identifying children when they are accompanied by personal information. This information can make children vulnerable to individuals who may wish to ‘groom’ them for abuse. Photo images can be used or adapted for inappropriate use.
HANDS UP FOR TRAD will therefore endeavour, where appropriate to follow the following protocols
a) if the photos of children are to be published, the name of the child should not be published.
b) Where it is deemed to be necessary to publish a child’s name, this should not be supported by a photograph.
c) Parents /carers and children (where possible/appropriate) should give their written permission for images and names to be used.
d) Consent should be obtained through a written document – for example an Activities Consent Form.
Children taking part in dressing up activities
• HANDS UP FOR TRAD activities that involve children dressing in costumes should not require children to undress but should cover their own clothes.
• Where children are required to undress HANDS UP FOR TRAD will respect their rights to privacy and dignity and provide suitable changing facilities which are supervised and restricted to adults who have a legitimate right to be there.
Censorship of arts materials
In recognition of the possibility that children could be exposed to inappropriate material represented in artistic forms HANDS UP FOR TRAD will
• Determine the acceptability of materials in context to the cultural and local nuances of a particular area or group of children.
• Support clear explanation of context and support interpretation
• Seek approval of parents or carers in certain circumstances
• Under no circumstances encourage gratuitous representation of inappropriate materials.
Trips and residential breaks
Where children are being taken to a selected centre, HANDS UP FOR TRAD will
• determine the venue will have appropriate policies in place relating to health and safety and child protection.
• satisfy itself that the centre’s staff are suitably qualified and are suitable to work with children. The latter should normally be done by requesting information on the centre’s recruitment and vetting policy.
• ensure that parents /carers have full details about the trip (venue, etc.) and that, where required, parents /carers have provided information of their child’s dietary and medical needs (for example) and emergency contact details.
Managing children who have been left alone/unsupervised by parents /carers
Young children can sometimes be found alone at the end of activities or in public spaces without adequate parental supervision. HANDS UP FOR TRAD workers should always take action if they see a young child who:
a) seems lost and nervous
b) seems reluctant to go home at closing time;
c) states that they do not want to go home;
d) states that they are meant to have been collected by an adult who has failed to do so.
Where workers seem concerned that a child has been left alone and/or is concerned about going home, they should take the following steps:
a) ask the child where they live and how far their journey home is;
b) establish if there are any dangers to letting the child go home alone unsupervised;
c) try to establish the name, address and telephone number of the parent/carer and if this fails contact the Police for advice.
Under no circumstances should a child be escorted home by a worker.
An incident involving a young child left alone should be reported to the Child Protection Co-ordinator/Establishment Head and recorded.
HEALTH AND SAFTEY –
Worker: child ratios
When working with groups of children HANDS UP FOR TRAD will take all reasonable steps to ensure that appropriate adult supervision is in place.
In relation to registered childcare activities, the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care (the Care Commission) advises the following adult: child ratios: HANDS UP FOR TRAD will adopt these ratios.
• 1 adult to 3 children under 2 years of age;
• 1 adult to 5 children for children between 2 and 3 years;
• 1 adult to 8 children for children between 3 and 7 years;
• 1 adult to 15 children for children between 8 and 16 years;
• 1 adult to 1 child where a child has certain special needs.
Note: It is never good practice to have only 1 adult working alone with a child/group. A minimum of 2 adults should be available to supervise children’s activities.
Good practice also states that (depending on the activities being undertaken):
a) there must be adequate space;
b) there must be access to a telephone on the premises;
c) Health and Safety risk assessments must be carried out;
d) There must be a First Aid box;
e) Suitable refreshment may be provided if appropriate;
f) Special needs are appropriately catered for.
• Where children have any short, medium or long term health needs HANDS UP FOR TRAD will work with partner organisations to make any necessary arrangements for duty of care.
• If a child has long-term health issues that require the administration of drugs or treatment HANDS UP FOR TRAD will work with partner organisations or parents to make arrangements.
• HANDS UP FOR TRAD cannot be and will not be responsible for the administration of medication or the storage of prescribed drugs.
Note: It is important that children who require medication are not prevented from participating in activities. Exclusion on these grounds could lead to a legal challenge under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
RECRUITMENT AND VETTING –
When recruiting and employing HANDS UP FOR TRAD Administration department will lead on the vetting of potential and successful candidates. Each employee will be required to undertake the following procedure
a) Complete an application form
b) Complete a self-declaration form which asks for both ‘spent’ and ‘unspent’ convictions
c) Complete a Disclosure Scotland Application
d) Give the names and addresses of two referees (this should normally be requested in the application form)
e) Be interviewed by at least two members of staff.
f) Be offered opportunities for mentoring and supervision where any concerns/issues can be raised?
g) Have a copy of the organisation’s child protection policy and Code of Practice and understand how this should translate into practice?
h) Undertake training and development opportunities which will increase their awareness of safe practice in relation to children and young persons?
STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES
Policy on Whistle-blowing
HANDS UP FOR TRAD will, through training and support, develop procedures for enabling workers to share, in confidence, with a manager, concerns they may have about a colleague’s behaviour. While it is often difficult to express concerns about colleagues, it is important that such concerns are communicated. Workers should be encouraged to talk to their manager/supervisor if they become aware of anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Concerns about a worker’s relationships with children must always be reported through the appropriate channels. Workers should never engage between themselves in malicious gossip about another worker.
HANDS UP FOR TRAD will therefore allow for the following protocols to be in place
• Any concerns should be brought to the child protection co ordinator and or immediate line manager.
• An immediate record of concerns will be recorded and a process started
• Each process will record actions and outcomes of any investigation and conclude with a summary of how the matter was progressed to relevant authorities or closed.
• A support mechanism for the reporter and the subject of the report will be put in place.
RECOGNISING ABUSE, RESPONDING AND REPORTING
Types of Abuse
The following information is taken from the Scottish Executive’s publication, Protecting Children – A Shared Responsibility (2003). Although aimed at Education Authorities this publication provides useful information on the child protection system in Scotland and on a range of issues relating to child protection and abuse. It is available on the Scottish Executive’s website – www.scotland.gov.uk
The statutory child protection agencies (Social Work, Police and the Authority Reporter) have legal responsibility for responding to child protection concerns. Their work focuses primarily on the following five categories of abuse which are used when children’s names are placed on a local authority’s Child Protection Register.
General definition of abuse
Children may be in need of protection where their basic needs are not being met, in a manner appropriate to their stage of development, and they will be at risk from avoidable acts or omission on the part of their parent(s), siblings(s) or other relative(s) or a carer (i.e. the person(s) while not a parent who has actual custody of a child).
To define an act or omission as abusive and/or presenting future risk for the purpose of registration a number of elements must be taken into account. These include demonstrable or predictable harm to the child as a result of action or inaction by the parent or other carer.
1. Physical injury
Actual or attempted physical injury to a child, including the administration of toxic substances, where there is knowledge, or reasonable suspicion, that the injury was inflicted or knowingly not prevented.
2. Physical Neglect
This occurs when a child’s essential needs are not met and this is likely to cause impairment to physical health and development. Such needs include food, clothing, cleanliness, shelter and warmth. A lack of appropriate care, including deprivation of access to health care, may result in persistent or severe exposure, through negligence, to circumstances which endanger the child.
3. Sexual abuse
Any child may be deemed to have been sexually abused when any person(s) by design or neglect, exploits the child, directly or indirectly, in any activity intended to lead to the sexual arousal or other forms of gratification of that person or any other person(s) including organised networks. The definition holds whether or not there has been genital contact and whether or not the child is said to have initiated, or consenter to, the behaviour.
4. Non-organic failure to thrive
Children who significantly fail to reach normal growth and development milestones (i.e. physical growth, weight, motor, social and intellectual development) where physical and genetic reasons have been medically eliminated and a diagnosis of non-organic failure to thrive has been established.
5. Emotional Abuse
Failure to provide for the child’s basic emotional needs such as to have a severe effect on the behaviour and development of the child.
Other types of abuse
Children and young people may also experience other forms of abuse which can have a significant impact of their physical, social, emotional and mental development. These include:
The physical, sexual and/or mental and emotional abuse of one person, usually a woman, by a partner or ex-partner, usually a man. It can also occur between same-sex partners. Children and young people often witness and are affected by domestic abuse. There is also some correlation between domestic abuse and the physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children.
Further information on Domestic Abuse can be found in the Scottish Executive’s publication: Preventing Domestic Abuse: A National Strategy (2003)
Children and families affected by Substance Misuse
Substance misuse is associated with a large variety of drugs from all major groups, illegal, prescribed and legal. The Scottish Executive’s publication Getting Our Priorities Right: Good Practice Guidance for Working with Children and Families Affected by Substance Misuse(2003) refers to substance misuse as the stage when the use of drugs or alcohol is having a harmful effect on a person’s life.
Parental substance misuse can provide potential risks to children. These risks are summarised below. Getting Our Priorities Right states that:
“All agencies in contact with children and their families have a responsibility to act if they become worried about a child’s welfare or a parent’s ability to care for the child safely and adequately. The welfare of the child is the paramount consideration. If a child is at risk of harm this must override concerns about the parent’s wishes or welfare” (p.20).
Signs and indicators of abuse
Being aware of signs and indicators of abuse is essential if we are serious about seeking to protect children from harm and abuse. However there could be a number of reasons why a child is exhibiting certain signs and indicators. For example:
• We know that children can sometimes look tired because they are physically ill, anxious about something or simply because they are refusing to comply with their parents /carers desire to get them to bed early.
• Children with certain medical problems can sometimes show extensive bruising to their bodies.
• Children who display bizarre, aggressive behaviour may have an underlying medical or psychological difficulty that is not connected to abuse.
It is also important to stress that some children who are being abused will display no physical, emotional or behavioural signs. This is why it is so important that, as adults working with children, we are always open to them telling us that they are being harmed.
When investigating an alleged report of child abuse, the statutory child protection agencies will normally be looking for evidence of a number of signs and indicators.
The following information is taken from Protection Children: A Shared Responsibility (Scottish Executive)
Possible signs and indicators of physical abuse
• Injuries, particularly if they are recurrent
• Improbable excuses given to explain injuries
• Refusal to explain and discuss injuries
• Admission of punishment which appears excessive
• Fear of medical help particularly on the part of the parent who may seem reluctant/make excuses for not taking a child to the GP
• Arms and legs kept covered in hot weather
• Withdrawal from physical contact
• Black eyes
• Bruising on the soft parts of the body – thighs, upper arms, buttocks.
• Bruising around the neck area
• Physical aggression towards others
• Physical aggression towards self – hitting and telling self off for doing something wrong
Possible signs and indicators of neglect
• Constant hunger
• Compulsive stealing or scavenging
• Constant tiredness
• Poor personal hygiene
• Poor state of clothing and/or child inappropriately clothed for the weather
• Untreated medical problems
• Frequent lateness or non-attendance at school
Possible signs and indicators of sexual abuse
Children under the age of five may:
• Become insecure of cling to parent in a fearful way
• Show extreme fear of a particular person
• Cry hysterically when their nappy is changed
• Become hysterical when clothing is removed particularly underclothes
• Have some physical signs in the genital and anal areas; smell of semen etc.
• Have soreness or bleeding in the throat, anal or genital area
• Regress to a much younger behavioural pattern
• Stare blankly, seem unhappy, confused, sad
• Become withdrawn, stop eating, have chronic nightmares, begin wetting again when previously dry
• Stop enjoying activities with other children, such as stories or games
• Seem to be bothered or worried
• Act in a sexually inappropriate way to their age, being obsessed with sexual matters as opposed to normal exploration
• Play out sexual acts in too knowledgeable a way with dolls or other children
• Produce drawings of sex organs such as erect penises
• Repeat obscene words or phrases
• Say repeatedly that they are bad, dirty or wicked
Children from the ages of five to twelve may:
• Hint about secrets they cannot tell
• Say that a friend has a problem
• Ask if you will keep a secret if they tell you something
• Seem to be keeping secret something which is worrying them
• Begin lying, stealing, blatantly cheating in the hope of being caught
• Have unexplained sources of money
• Exhibit sudden inexplicable changes in behaviour, such as becoming aggressive or withdrawn or regressing to younger behaviour patterns.
• Stop enjoying previously liked activities such as music, sports, art, scouts, guides
• Be reluctant to undress for gym
• Have terrifying dreams
• Act in a sexual way, inappropriate to their age
• Draw sexually explicit pictures depicting some act of abuse
• Start wetting themselves
• Have urinary infection, bleeding or soreness in the genital or anal areas
• Have soreness or bleeding in the throat
Children from the age of twelve onwards may:
• Be fearful about certain people like relatives or friends
• Assume the role of parents in the house to such an extent that they are taking care of everyone’s needs except their own
• Not be allowed to go out on dates or have friends round
• Find excuses not to go home or to a particular place
• Run away frequently
• Have unexplained sums of money
• Have recurring nightmares/be afraid of the dark
• Exhibit a sudden change in school/work habits, begin to truant
• Be fearful of undressing for games/gym
• Become withdrawn, isolated or excessively worried
• Have outbursts of anger or irritability
• Be chronically depressed
• Be suicidal
• Use drugs or drink to excess
• Self harm
• Develop eating disorders
• Exhibit inappropriate sexual/seductive behaviour
• Have recurrent genital/ urinary/ anal infections/ bleeding
• Have chronic ailments such as stomach pains and headaches
• Become pregnant
• Have a friend who has a problem and then tell about the abuse of the friend
• Sexually abuse a child, sibling or friend
Possible signs and indicators of emotional abuse
• Fear of parents being contacted
• Admission of punishment which appears excessive
• Physical, intellectual and emotional development lags
• Significant decline in concentration
• Sudden speech disorders
• Over-reaction to mistakes
• Continual self-deprecation
• Fear of new situations
• Inappropriate emotional responses to painful situations
• Neurotic behaviour
• Self harm
• Extremes of passivity or aggression
• Drug/solvent abuse
• Chronic running away
• Compulsive stealing/scavenging
• Indiscriminate friendliness
• Socio-emotional immaturity
Possible signs of non-organic failure to thrive
This condition is normally identified whilst the child is an infant. Signs which could indicate non-organic failure to thrive:
• Significant lack of growth
• Unexplained physical changes such as weight and/or hair loss
• Poor skin or muscle tone
• Circulatory disorders
Note: For details information on signs and indicators, organisations should obtain a copy of their local area Child Protection Committee’s guidance on child protection
There are various ways that you might learn of a child or young person who is suffering from harm or that may be at risk of suffering from harm.
• You may observe something about the child that causes you concern. For example, the child could have suspicious bruise, or he or she could consistently come to the programme inappropriately dressed for the weather or hungry, or you may have serious and persistent concerns about the child’s personal hygiene. In these instances your concern should be raised if there does not appear to be a satisfactory explanation for the child’s presentation.
• A child or young person may tell you that someone has mistreated or is mistreating them in some way. This is often referred to as disclosure of abuse. It is important to consider how to respond to children should they disclose information like this. A child, young person or an adult may tell you about another child that he or she is concerned about.
How to respond to a child who has told you they have been harmed or they are being harmed.
All workers should know how to respond to a child who alleges abuse. It is important that they follow the guidance below and appreciate fully the difficulties which may arise if procedure is not implemented appropriately.
There is a belief that children will only make an allegation of abuse to adults they have know for some time. This is not necessarily the case and workers who do not have long-term and sustained contact with children should be open to the possibility of receiving an allegation.
Allegations of abuse may not necessarily be communicated verbally; for example they could be made:
a) during a drama activity where they ‘act out’ a scenario of abuse;
b) during and arts’ workshop where they draw/paint a picture which indicates abuse;
c) during a play activity where their behaviour with their peers could suggest that they are being abused or are witnessing adult behaviour that they should not be seeing;
d) through writing, perhaps through a story or letter to an imaginary friend.
When dealing with an allegation of abuse, workers should take the following steps:
a) Listen attentively to what the child is saying
b) Do not promise confidentiality. At any time during a discussion with a child, a worker should not agree to keep secret any information which implies that they child might have been subject to abuse or risk of future abuse. It should be explained that while every effort will be made to respect a desire for confidentiality, if there is cause for concern about a child’s welfare, it will be necessary to pass on the relevant information, initially to the Child Protection Co-ordinator/Establishment Head
If the child decides to withdraw at this stage, the adult should stress that they can have further discussions in the future – that there will always be someone to listen to them. They should also be given alternative sources of support such as the telephone number of ChildLine – 0800 11 11
National Helpline – 0800 022 3222
However, the child should also be told that their current concerns will be passed on to someone else (i.e. the Child Protection Co-ordinator/Establishment Head).
c) Affirm the child’s feelings as expressed by the child (show empathy).
d) Ask open, non-leading questions which help to clarify what the child is saying but do not lead into an investigative situation. Direct or closed questions which put suggestions to the child should not be used when dealing with an allegation of abuse. This is most important because inappropriate or intrusive questioning is not in the child’s best interest and could contaminate a subsequent child protection investigation. In addition, it is important that the child is not subjected to a series of interviews by different adults.
e) Re-assure the child that s/he has been courageous in ‘telling’.
f) Do not make value judgements about an alleged abusers and what has taken place. Doing this will not help a child. It is worth remembering that even when children have been abused by there parents /carers, they usually still love them and do not want to hear them condemned by another person.
g) Explain that information will be passed on to another member of staff and explain why this is important.
h) Explain the next step. In discussion with the child, s/he should be reassured that they will be kept informed of what is happening and will be supported as appropriate. Any information subsequently shared with the child should always be appropriate to their age and stage of development and should not breach the confidentiality of any other parties involved. Workers should be open and honest in explaining the action they plan to take. Their approach at this stage is crucial in promoting the immediate well-being of the child and in enabling future support plans (where appropriate).
i) Treat the allegation very seriously and report it immediately to the Company’s Child Protection Co-ordinator/Establishment Head.
j) Write down exactly what you have been told using the pro-forma shown in this guidance. Always try to record what the child said (if a verbal allegation) and the words that s/he used. If the allegation came to light through other sources (e.g. drama, play etc.), include any original material (if available) with the completed pro-forma. A copy of the record may be required (at a later date) as part of the child protection process or as evidence for future criminal prosecution.
k) Remember that the child’s needs are paramount even where the child’s parents /carers are considered to the primary client(s) of your service.
l) On no account should you speak with the child’s parent/carer about what has happened until the Child Protection Co-ordinator/Establishment Head has discussed the concerns with Social Work. Involvement of parents /carers will always be determined on the advice of Social Work.
m) Where the need for urgent medical intervention is indicated, the Child Protection Officer/Establishment Head must take action to ensure medical treatment. First aid and urgent removal to hospital accompanied by an appropriate worker will be a priority, followed by immediate notification to Social Work and Police, as appropriate.
n) Ask for support. It is recognised that dealing with child protection concerns can have stressful consequences for workers so the provision of support is essential. Dealing with allegations of abuse may also trigger personal experiences of abuse for workers (see Dealing with Disclosure of Historical Abuse)
The Child Protection Co-ordinator/Establishment Head is responsible for making referrals/seeking advice from Social Work.
Responding to general concerns of abuse
Apart from a direct allegation, abuse may also come to light because vigilant workers share certain concerns about a child’s welfare with the Child Protection Co-ordinator/Establishment Head. Situations that may give concern include (for example):
• A child who is repeatedly seen as inappropriately dressed for the weather and showing signs of constant hunger may be spotted by a worker who is concerned that s/he could be experiencing neglect.
• A young child who is seen to be regularly left in a public place without their parents/carers or who is often not collected at the end of registered activities could be experiencing neglect and possibly emotional abuse.
It is important to acknowledge that sometimes workers may simply experience an inner sense about a child which, at the early stages may not evidence in any visible way and may be difficult to qualify. These intuitive responses should not be ignored. However, it is equally important to recognise that the statutory child protection agencies will not be able to act on this type of concern until there is more concrete evidence to justify their involvement.
Concerns should be carefully monitored but only following a discussion with Social Work staff who will be able to advise on the most appropriate way to monitor a child and give advice on how to work with the child’s parent/carer and whether this is appropriate.
In the course of monitoring a child, where further concerns do arise, they should be reported to Social Work by the Child Protection Co-ordinator/Establishment Head.
It is important to recognise that it may not be appropriate, or indeed possible, for all workers to contribute to a monitoring process. For example, those workers who have limited and only very occasional contact with children will not usually be able to undertake monitoring work. Whereas workers from some services, such as those provided by childcare and education, are often in a position to provide on-going support and to be involved in monitoring arrangements. Issues of confidentiality also impact on monitoring and staff involved in the process must respect the child’s and parent’s right to confidentiality.
Monitoring is best carried out by the worker who has most contact with the child, knows the child best and it best placed to make systematic recordings. Any worker who carries out monitoring in relation to child protection issues should always be supported by their Child Protection Co-ordinator/Establishment Head.
What happens if a child makes an allegation against a staff member or volunteer?
This perhaps is one of the most difficult areas to consider. It is often difficult for people to accept that child abuse could occur within their own organisation and/or that someone they know and work with could cause harm to a child. Good practice in both recruitment and supervision of staff and volunteers should be designed in such a way that the risk of child abuse is reduced. However, the possibility of abuse cannot be eliminated and constant vigilance is necessary.
If a child or young person tells you that someone in your organisation has caused them harm, this should be treated in the same way as any other disclosure a child may make. The information should be passed on to the designated child protection worker and handled in the same fashion. This will ensure that the allegations are treated in a consistent and fair manner.
Staff and volunteers need to be made aware of the process and what will happen in the event of an allegation made against them. These procedures and processes are in place first and foremost to protect and promote the well-being of children, but they also provide staff and volunteers with the assurance that there is a consistent and predictable response to allegations of child abuse.
If an allegation is made against a staff member or volunteer, you should consider suspending the individuals work with the organisation until the situation has been investigated. If you are unsure of what action to take, it would be appropriate to seek the guidance of either the police or social work department (or both). Remember the most important thing to consider here is the well-being and best interest of the young person.
What steps do I take if I have concerns about a child or young person, but they have not actually told me anything?
As previously mentioned, you may be concerned about a child or young person although he or she has not actually made any disclosures or told you that anything is wrong. When children are being abused, they are often threatened and told to not tell anyone.
Sometimes, concern is raised about a child because of something that has been noticed. For example, they could have a suspicious bruise with no satisfactory explanation, or there could be a sudden and significant change in their personality and/or behaviour. You may notice a recurring theme in improvisations or exercises.
Responding to allegation of historical abuse
Responding to allegations of historical abuse can be very confusing in terms of ‘the right’ next steps. Where an adult alleges that they have previously been the victim of abuse, their wishes should always be the primary concern. They may not want to report their experience to the police. However, if the recipient of this information believes that the alleged perpetrator is known, or suspected to be, working with or caring for children and young people, a referral to the police must be made. The need to protect children from harm and abuse must always be the paramount concern.
When a child or young person discloses something to you that causes concern it is important to clearly record this information. Any concerns about a child or young person should be recorded regardless of whether or not it will be ultimately passed on to the statutory authorities.
The information should be written down immediately or at least within 24 hours of the concern. The individual who had the concern or to whom the disclosure was made should be the one to record it.
Why should we record concerns ?
Reports and inquiries into the deaths of children from child abuse often point to a serious break down in communication between the child protection professionals, other adults supporting and working with a child’s family and family members. Often, a key finding is that, if information had been shared at the right time, the child in question may not have died from the abuse. It is therefore crucial that individuals share their concerns (no matter how small) with the statutory child protection agencies.
Often it is only when such information is brought together from a number of sources that the real risk to the child becomes evident.
Personal information about the children and families held by professionals and agencies is subject to a legal duty of confidence, and should not normally be disclosed without the consent of the persons concerned.
Children are entitled to the same duty of confidence as adults, provided they have the ability to understand the choices and their consequences relating to the proposed lines of action. Where consent has not been obtained, however, the law permits disclosure of confidential information necessary to safeguard a child where it is considered to be at risk. Each such disclosure should be justifiable according to the particular circumstances.
Confidentiality is not an option when pupils are at risk. Workers have a professional and moral duty to put the child’s welfare first. Information about abuse may be offered in confidence but the recipient cannot keep such information to him or herself.
Breaking confidentiality is often a major concern to adults working with children. However, all adults who work with children have a moral duty to put the child’s welfare first.
Fear of defamation
“Concerned adults are sometimes reluctant to report suspicions of abuse for fear that the person suspected will sue them for defamation if the allegation turns out to be unfounded. To be defamatory, a statement will be protected by ‘qualified privilege’ if it is made to the appropriate authority’ in response to a duty, whether legal, moral or social or in the protection of an interest’. Unjustified repetition of the allegations to other persons will not be protected by privilege.
The qualification on privilege refers to statements motivated by malice. If a statement, even to the appropriate authority, can be shown to be not only untrue, but motivated by malice, then an act of defamation could be successful.”
(Source: Guidelines on Child Protection prepared for the independent schools in Scotland by Kathleen Marshall).
Storing of and access to child protection records
All records and evidence recorded in relation to any suspicions and concerns about the health and well being of a child will be stored in a locked filing system. Access to the files will only be available to staff who have designated responsibility for child protection issues. These files will be held at Hope street.
The Data Protection Act 1998 allows for disclosure of information without the consent of the subject in certain conditions, including for the purposes of the prevention or detection of crime or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders. The need to safeguard children should be considered within these parameters.
• The child protection officer will refer any cases on to the statutory authorities. It is important that no one attempts to investigate any allegations or progress concerns without the support of the authorities or adhering to procedure.
• It is essential, as stated above, that parent/carers involvement in any reporting is dealt with by statutory authorities and not HANDS UP FOR TRAD staff.
• You may feel vulnerable or confused about reporting. You may also have reservations with regards to being accused of defamation. It is essential that you know that you will be supported throughout any procedure to a satisfactory conclusion. Do not let any concerns about what might happen prevent you from making your report or raising your concerns. So long as your report is not malicious or vexatious the law will protect you.
Review of Child Protection Policy and Procedures
In order to keep apace with current policy and legislation HANDS UP FOR TRAD will endeavour to review its child protection policy on an annual basis. There will also be a mechanism to update protocols and procedures as and when required.
Hands Up for Trad.
Suggested pro-forma for recording allegation/concerns of abuse
Workers should complete as many sections of the following pro-forma as possible. It will not always be possible to complete all sections. The completed pro-forma must be passed to the Child Protection Co-ordinator/Establishment Head.
Name of child (where known):
Age (where known):
Address (where known):
Telephone number (where known):
Name of parents /carers (where known):
Names of other siblings (If known):
Any special circumstances relating to the child (e.g. special needs, health and welfare issues):
What is the nature of the concern? (E.g. could be an allegation made by a child or a concern raised by a worker/third party).
If a child has alleged abuse, give the name of the person they spoke to together with the place and time when this was made.
If a child has alleged abuse, record as quickly as possible what the child said. Remember that this should be as accurate as possible and that you should record the child’s words/phrases
If an adult has expressed concern at the safety of a child are they expressing their own worries or passing on those from another adult? Record their concerns and ask them to confirm that the details are correct.
Have any possible signs or indicators been identifies? Who identified these?
If known, record the name(s) of the person or persons implicated in the allegation/concern of abuse
Record when the referral to Social Work, Police or Authority Reporter was made and the name of the person who received you call and the advice given
What advice was given about liaising with the child’s parents /carers?
Signed (Child Protection Co-ordinator/Establishment Head)
This form must be kept in a confidential file. Information given in this form must only be disclosed to relevant persons on a need to know basis.
For further information:
If you would like further information on any of the issues raised in these guidelines you may wish to contact one of the following organisations.
Children 1st, The Royal Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children, works to give every child in Scotland a safe and secure childhood. Its main areas of work include: supporting families under stress; protecting children from harm and neglect; helping children recover from abuse; and, promoting children’s rights and interests.
Children 1st, Melville House, 41 Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh, EH11 1NU
Phone: 0131 337 8539 Fax: 0131 346 8284 www.children1st.org.uk
It is always worth reminding children that they can call ChildLine for free if they have anything that they want to talk about ChildLine can also be written to at:
ChildLine Scotland, Freepost 1111, Glasgow G1 1BR
Helpline: 0800 1111
This helpline is for pareHands Up For Trad and carers who need advice or support
Helpline: 0808 800 2222
Children in Scotland
Children in Scotland is the national agency for voluntary, statutory and professional organisations and individuals working with children and their families in Scotland. It will be able to assist you in accessing further information about child protection.
Children in Scotland, 5 Shandwick Place, Edinburgh, EH2 4RG
Phone: 0131 228 8484 Fax: 0131 228 8585 www.childreninscotland.org.uk
Disclosure Scotland is responsible for issuing 3 levels of certificates known as “Basic Disclosure”, “Standard Disclosures” and “Enhanced Disclosures”. It aims to help employers and voluntary organisations in Scotland make safer recruitment decisions.
Disclosure Scotland, SCRO, 1 Pacific Quay, Glasgow, G51 1EA
Phone: 0141 585 8495 Fax: 0141 5858344 www.disclosurescotland.co.uk
Central Registered Body in Scotland
CRBS acts on behalf of the voluntary sector to process Disclosure applications for voluntary organisations. Registration is free of charge for voluntary organisations as are all Disclosure applications made on behalf of volunteers working within the voluntary sector.
CRBS, Unit 55, Stirling Enterprise Park, Stirling, FK7 7RP
Phone: 01786 849777 Fax: 01786 849767 www.crbs.org.uk
Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care
Known as the Care Commission, this independent body has the responsibility to regulate all care services currently being regulated by local authorities and health boards.
Care Commission, Floor 8, City House, Overgate, Dundee, DD1 1UH
Download the policy as a pdf.