CHILD PROTECTION POLICY AND PROCEDURES
Safeguarding children is the responsibility of everyone.
ISKCON Scotland recognises its responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within the legal framework of the Children Acts 1989 and 2004.
It is the primary objective of this child protection policy to ensure that children and young people at Karuna Bhavan are kept safe and protected from harm. We aim to create a safe environment within which children and young people can thrive and adults can work with the security of clear guidance.
Under the terms of the Children Act 2004 anyone under the age of 19 is considered to be a child/young person.
The following guidelines are for the use of all community members, staff, volunteers and visitors.
Through these guidelines, we will endeavour to ensure that:
- Children and young people are listened to, valued and respected
- Community members are aware of the need to be alert to the signs of abuse and know what to do with their concerns
- All paid and unpaid staff are given appropriate support and training
- All child protection concerns should be acted upon immediately. If you are concerned that a child might be at risk or is actually suffering abuse, you should tell the designated child protection officer within your organisation.
Your designated officer is: Julia Thornton (Jahnava-priya dd). Telephone number: 07716143569. If the designated officer is not available, speak to a senior member of staff. In an emergency situation, contact a social worker directly:
Social Work Enquiries: 0303 123 1008
Social Work Emergency Service: 0800 678 3282
1. RECOGNISING SIGNS OF ABUSE
It can often be difficult to recognise abuse. The signs listed in these guidelines are only indicators and many can have reasonable explanations. Children may behave strangely or seem unhappy for many reasons, as they move through the stages of childhood or their families experience changes. It is nevertheless important to know what could indicate that abuse is taking place and to be alert to the need to consult further.
Someone can abuse a child by actively inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Abuse can take place within a family, in an institutional or community setting, by telephone or on the Internet. Abuse can be carried out by someone known to a child or by a complete stranger.
If you are worried about a child it is important that you keep a written record of any physical or behavioural signs and symptoms. In this way you can monitor whether or not a pattern emerges and provide evidence to any investigation if required.
Physical abuse can involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, scalding, drowning, and suffocating. It can also result when a parent or carer deliberately causes the ill health of a child in order to seek attention; this is called fabricated illness. Symptoms that indicate physical abuse include:
- Bruising in or around the mouth, on the back, buttocks or rectal area
- Finger mark bruising or grasp marks on the limbs or chest of a small child
- Burn and scald marks; small round burns that could be caused by a cigarette
- Fractures to arms, legs or ribs in a small child
Large numbers of scars of different sizes or ages
Emotional abuse happens when a child’s need for love, security, praise and recognition is not met. It usually co-exists with other forms of abuse. Emotionally abusive behaviour occurs if a parent, carer or authority figure is consistently hostile, rejecting, threatening or undermining. It can also result when children are prevented from social contact with others, or if developmentally inappropriate expectations are imposed upon them. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of someone else. Symptoms that indicate emotional abuse include:
- Excessively clingy or attention-seeking behaviour
- Very low self esteem or excessive self-criticism
- Excessively withdrawn behaviour or fearfulness; a ‘frozen watchfulness’
- Lack of appropriate boundaries with strangers; too eager to please
- Eating disorders
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, causing damage to their health and development. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter or clothing, failing to protect a child from harm or danger, or failing to access appropriate medical care and treatment when necessary. It can exist in isolation or in combination with other forms of abuse. Symptoms of physical and emotional neglect can include:
- Inadequate supervision; being left alone for long periods of time
- Lack of stimulation, social contact or education
- Inadequate nutrition, leading to ill-health
- Constant hunger; stealing or gorging food
- Failure to seek or to follow medical advice such that a child’s life or development is endangered
- Inappropriate clothing for conditions
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 what is happening. This may include physical contact, both penetrative and non-penetrative, or involve no contact, such as watching sexual activities or looking at pornographic material. Encouraging children to act in sexually inappropriate ways is also abusive. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, any sexual activity – contact or non-contact – with a child under the age of 13, is a crime. Symptoms of sexual abuse include:
- Allegations or disclosure
- Genital soreness, injuries or discomfort
- Sexually transmitted diseases; urinary infections
- Excessive preoccupation with sexual matters; inappropriately sexualized play, words or drawing
- A child who is sexually provocative or seductive with adults
- Repeated sleep disturbances through nightmares and/or wetting
- Older children and young people may additionally exhibit:
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Eating disorders; obsessive behaviours
- Self mutilation; suicide attempts
- School/peer/relationship problems
2. WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR CONCERNS?
In the event that a child makes an allegation or disclosure of abuse against an adult or another child or young person, it is important that you:
- Listen to them and/or closely observe their presentation and behaviour;
- Let them know that you take what they are saying seriously;
- Do not attempt to question or interview them yourself;
- Let them know that you will need to tell someone else in order to help them. Do not promise to keep what they tell you secret;
- Inform your designated child protection officer as soon as possible;
- Make a written record of the incident or events. Sometimes you may just feel concerned about a child but do not know whether to share your concerns or not. In this situation you should always raise your concerns with your designated child protection officer, who will help you to decide what to do.
- The responsibility for investigating allegations of abuse, whether they result from the disclosure of a child or the concerns of an adult, lies with social workers and the Police Child Abuse Investigation Team. It is normally the responsibility of the designated child protection officer to make a referral to these agencies, but if you judge the situation to be an emergency and/or you require urgent advice in the absence of the designated officer, you must report your concerns directly, using the contacts listed at the back of these guidelines. The Children & Young People’s Service also employs Child Protection Advisors (CPAs), who you can contact in office hours for further specialist guidance. Contact numbers for the CPAs are included in section 7. The Duty social worker or CPA will advise you when or whether to inform the child’s parents or carers about any concerns. If they decide to pursue a child protection investigation,
- Work closely and collaboratively with all professionals involved in the investigation, in order to keep the child safe;
- Attend a child protection conference if you are invited. You will be asked to provide information about your involvement with the child, which is why it is important to keep records of your concerns;
- Attend any subsequent child protection review conferences.
3.ALLEGATIONS MADE AGAINST STAFF OR VOLUNTEERS
- Organisations that work or come into contact with children and young people need to be aware of the possibility that allegations of abuse will be made against members of their staff. Allegations will usually be that some kind of abuse has taken place. They can be made by children and young people and they can be made by other concerned adults.All allegations should be brought to the notice of the designated child protection officer immediately. In cases where the allegation is made against this person, the complainant should approach a more senior official or take the following action him or herself:
- Make sure that the child in question is safe and away from the alleged abuser;
- Contact the Children & Young People’s Service’s Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) relevant to where the child lives (see section 7);
- Contact the parents or carers of the child if advised to do so by the social worker/officer in charge of allegations;
- Irrespective of any investigation by social workers or the police, follow the appropriate disciplinary procedure; common practice is for the alleged abuser to be suspended from work until the outcome of any investigation is clear;
- Consider whether the person has access to children anywhere else and whether those organisations or groups need to be informed;
- Act upon the decisions made in any strategy meeting. All incidents should be investigated internally after any external investigation has finished, reviewing organisational practice and putting in place any additional measures to prevent a similar thing happening again.
The application of rigorous procedures for the recruitment of any staff who come into contact with children, both directly and indirectly, can reduce the likelihood of allegations of abuse being made that are founded. As an absolute minimum, the following standards should be followed:
- All prospective workers (paid and unpaid) should complete an application form which asks for details of their previous employment and for the names of two referees;
- All prospective workers (paid and unpaid) should have a new Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) disclosure before they start employment with you – anyone who refuses to do so should not be employed;
- All prospective workers (paid and unpaid) should be interviewed to establish previous experience of working in an environment where there is contact with children and perceptions of acceptable behaviour;
- Nobody should start work before references have been received. Referees should be reminded that references should not misrepresent the candidate or omit to say things that might be relevant to their employment;
- All appointments to work with children should be subject to an agreed probationary period;
- New members of staff should be clear about their responsibilities and wherever possible, work to an agreed job description;
- These guidelines should be available to everyone and fully discussed as part of an induction process.
- Our community has a designated child protection officer who must undergo regular child protection training. It is the responsibility of this person to make themselves available for consultation by staff, volunteers, visitors, children and their families;
- All staff are responsible for children while on these premises and must make sure that health and safety guidelines are adhered to;
- All staff working with children should receive regular supervision from a more experienced staff member and be encouraged to attend basic child protection training;
- No member of staff should be left alone with a child where they cannot be observed by others;
- Under no circumstances should visitors be allowed to wander around the premises unaccompanied when children and young people are present;
- Where possible there should always be at least two adults present with a group of children – it is vital that the ratio of adult to child is adequate to ensure safety. .
- Community members and volunteers should be alert to strangers frequently waiting outside a venue with no apparent purpose. Children should not be collected by people other than their parents unless notification has been received;
4.Outings & Trips
- All vehicles hired for outings must be insured, roadworthy and fitted with seatbelts;
- All drivers should travel with at least one escort. All drivers and escorts should agree to abide by these guidelines;
- Roll call will be taken at the start of a journey and again before commencing the return journey; if traveling in more than one vehicle, children will be encouraged to travel in the same vehicle there and back;
- Staff accompanying trips will carry the contact numbers for the home organisation and emergency services in the event of an alert being necessary;
- If a child goes missing while on a trip, staff should instigate an immediate search. If the child cannot be found within half an hour, the appropriate security staff and the police should be notified;
- If, having notified security staff and the police, the child cannot be found, the parents/carers of the child will be notified immediately;
- The care of the remaining children is paramount. It is imperative that they return to the home site as quickly as possible, while a senior staff member remains at the visit site to co- ordinate contact between security staff and the child’s parents/carers.
Use of premises by other organisations
- In the event that a room or rooms on the premises are used by other organisations, the letting agreement should ensure that the hiring organisation works to approved child protection procedures and/or that they read and agree to abide by these guidelines
All our visitors and guests are obliged to abide by ISKCON Scotland’s Child Protection guidelines during their stay at Krishna Eco Farm.
Social Work Enquiries: 0303 123 1008
Social Work Emergency Service: 0800 678 3282
Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111
Strathclyde Police: 0141 532 2000 (or in an emergency 999)
Lesmahagow Police: 01 555 894 101