Girls Rock Dublin Child Protection Policy
The purpose of this document is:
1. To ensure all Girls’ Rock Dublin staff/volunteers are clear about how to identify and respond to safeguarding concerns about children, especially those that are of a child protection nature.
2. To ensure all Girls’ Rock Dublin staff/volunteers have a clear understanding of the principles and practice involved in the safeguarding and protection of children.
3. To ensure all Girls’ Rock Dublin staff/volunteers understand the importance of prevention in responding proactively and efficiently to all concerns.
4. To provide information for children and parents/carers participating in Girls’ Rock Dublin events and camps on the responsibilities of, and approach taken by, Girls’ Rock Dublin in the protection of children through the GRD website.
5. To ensure participating groups, children and staff understand that if abuse is disclosed this information cannot remain confidential and that Girl’s Rock Dublin will report it to Tusla.
6. To ensure all current and potential members of the Girls’ Rock Dublin staff are clear that Girls’ Rock Dublin will not engage workers/volunteers who have allegations relating to child safeguarding and abuse made against them.
Part 1: Girls Rock Dublin Policy
It is GRD’s policy that:
1. Everyone working on behalf of Girls’ Rock Dublin accepts that the welfare of children who come into contact with the project in connection with its tasks and functions is paramount, and that they will report any concerns about a child or somebody else’s behaviour using the procedures laid down.
2. There is a Designated Liason Person (DLP) within Girls’ Rock Dublin (Aoife Nic Dhonncha) who will take action following any expression of concern and the lines of responsibility in respect of child protection are clear.
3. The DLP knows how to make appropriate referrals to TUSLA.
4. All those who are involved with children on behalf of Girls’ Rock Dublin should adhere to the GRL policy's & procedures in relation to children.
5. Information relating to any allegation or disclosure will be clearly recorded as soon as possible, and there is a procedure setting out who should record information and the time-scales for passing it on.
6. Girls’ Rock Dublin’s position on duty of care to children will be referred to or included in recruitment, training, moderation and policy materials where appropriate, and the policies are openly and widely available and actively promoted within the organisation.
7. A culture of mutual respect between children and those who represent Girls’ Rock Dublin in all its activities will be encouraged, with adults modelling good practice in this context.
8. Anyone with access to children will be evaluated as to whether they involve ‘regulated activity’ or not and vetted appropriately for such roles.
It is part of Girls’ Rock Dublin acceptance of its responsibility of duty of care towards children that anybody who encounters child protection concerns in the context of their work on behalf of Girls’ Rock Dublin will be supported when they report their concerns in good faith.
Part 2: CODE OF PRACTICE
GRD camp expects that its entire workforce will be aware of this Code of Practice and adhere to its principles of good practice in their approach to all children. Your attention is drawn to the position of trust you hold in working with children.
1. The camp and learning process should be as open as possible, and it is important that no more time should be spent alone with children than is necessary during the facilitation process.
2. Value and respect children as individuals.
3. It is important not to have physical contact with children and this should be avoided.
4. Ensure the use of appropriate language when communicating with young people, even in fun, as this could misinterpreted
5. GRD does not endorse validating young people using comments about their physical appearance
6. It is important not to deter children from making a ‘disclosure’ of abuse through fear of not being believed, and to listen to what they have to say. Guidance on handling a disclosure is set out in Section 2 If this gives rise to a child protection concern it is important to follow GRD’s procedure for reporting such concerns, and not to attempt to investigate the concern yourself.
7. Consider that those who abuse children can be of any age (even other children), gender, ethnic background or class, and it is important not to allow personal preconceptions about people to prevent appropriate action taking place.
8. Good practice includes valuing and respecting children as individuals and the adult modelling of appropriate conduct - which will always exclude bullying, shouting, racism, sectarianism, sexism or gender based incidents
In their dealings with children who they encounter in the course of GRD camp or other activities, GRD camp staff must not:
Have, or be perceived to have, favourites.
Take children to their home
Use physical punishments or any action that involves locking up or restraining a child.
Arrange meetings outside working hours.
Develop social relationships with children that participate in GRD events
Have contact with children through social media, e.g. Facebook or Twitter.
Partake in any form of sexual activity with a child including grooming (i.e. befriending a child for the purpose of a future sexual relationship and this includes children aged 16 years and over).
Part 3: PROCEDURES
3.1 Managing allegations of abuse or misconduct against workers/volunteers:
All workers and volunteers with Girls Rock Dublin have a responsibility to safeguard children and young people and to report concerns they may have for the protection or welfare of a child/young person.
All allegations of abuse or misconduct against workers/volunteers of a child are to be treated with the upmost seriousness.
Regardless of how a concern comes to a worker/volunteer’s attention, it must be reported to the Designated Liaison Person (DLP). The DLP, in consultation with the person who raised the concern, will decide if reasonable grounds for concern exist. If reasonable grounds for concern exist, the DLP will report to the Tusla duty social worker. If the DLP decides not to make a report, the worker/volunteer with the reasonable concern is still entitled to make a report to Tusla under Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, should they wish to do so. The individual worker has protections under the Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998, should they report independently
If a child discloses abuse to a worker or volunteer
A child or young person may disclose to a worker or volunteer that they have been or are being harmed or abused. Children/young people will often have different ways of communicating that they are being abused. If a child or young person hints at or tells a worker or volunteer that he or she is being harmed by someone, be it a parent/carer, another adult or by another child/young person (peer abuse), it should be treated in a sensitive way. Remember, a child/young person may disclose abuse to you as a trusted adult at any time during your work with them. It is important that you are aware and prepared for this. See Appendix B for Responding Appropriately To A Child Making An Allegation Of Abuse
Workers/volunteers please take into account the following: The priority is to protect the child/young person while taking account of the worker/volunteer’s right to due process. ‘Protective measures’ do not presume guilt.
When an allegation is made against a worker/volunteer a quick resolution should be sought for the benefit of all concerned.
The agreed reporting procedure should always be followed by the DLP. Management must be alerted to the allegation by the reporter.
The procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse against workers/volunteers should be objectively applied in a consistent manner.
All stages of the process must be recorded.
Care must be taken by the employer to ensure that any actions or investigations do not prejudice or compromise the statutory investigation or assessment.
Close liaison should be maintained between the employer and Tusla and An Garda Síochána (where appropriate).
The first priority is for the safety of the child/young person; management must make sure no child or young person is exposed to unnecessary risk.
Parents/guardians should be informed of any action planned while having regard to the confidentiality rights of others, such as the person against whom the allegation has been made.
Girls Rock Dublin aims to create an open and supportive environment where staff/volunteers feel comfortable and safe to pass on any concern about child welfare.
Where the worker/volunteer feels their concerns have not been given due regard within the organisation or feels nervous or worried about bringing the concern to the attention of the DLP or management they should contact Tusla or An Garda Síochána directly. If the concern does not need to be reported to Tusla (i.e. does not meet reasonable grounds for concern), it may still need to be addressed by the DLP with the worker/volunteer. This would be the case, for example, if the concern related to poor practice rather than abusive behaviour.
Behaviours by a worker/volunteer that may cause concern include when a worker/volunteer:
Is secretive and evasive about their activities and time spent with children and young people;
Creates opportunities to spend significant amounts of time away from other workers/volunteers and with a single child or children/young people on a regular basis, e.g. invites child or young person to their home;
Seeks out vulnerable children and young people;
Sidesteps one-to-one supervision and management of work;
Has an unusual amount of physical contact with a child or children;
Touches or talks to a child or children in an inappropriate way;
Excludes a particular child or children from activities;
Disciplines a child or children inappropriately or punishes a child or children harshly;
Handles children/young people roughly;
Teases, taunts, insults or makes derogatory remarks about or to a child/young person;
Restrains a child/young person as a way of punishment;
Sexually harasses or uses sexual innuendo; x Humiliates and/or embarrasses children/young people;
Deprives children/young people of their basic rights;
Inappropriately uses social media;
Bullies children/young people.
2.2 Recruitment of staff/volunteer procedure
All staff/volunteers with Girls Rock Dublin will be Garda Vetted and will recieve the appropriate training & information prior to working with children/young people.
2.3 Access Child safeguarding training/education for staff/volunteers
All GRD staff/volunteers will be encouraged to undertake the Children First E-Learning Module developed by TUSLA.
All GRD staff/volunteers will be informed and trained in the Child Protection Policy & related documents of GRD.
All GRD staff/volunteers will be aware of the reporting procedure for child protection or welfare concerns to TUSLA.
DEFINITIONS OF ABUSE
Statutory guidance offers four defined areas of abuse:
• 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 fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.
• Emotional abuse: Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying) causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
• Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
• Neglect: 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. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
· Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment)
· Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger
· Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate caregivers)
· Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional need.
RESPONDING APPROPRIATELY TO A CHILD MAKING AN ALLEGATION OF ABUSE
Be as calm and natural as possible.
Remember that you have been approached because you are trusted and possibly liked. Do not panic.
Be aware that disclosures can be very difficult for the child/young person.
Remember, the child or young person may initially be testing your reactions and may only fully open up over a period of time.
Listen to what the child/young person has to say. Give them the time and opportunity to tell as much as they are able and wish to.
Do not pressurise the child/young person. Allow him or her to disclose at their own pace and in their own language.
Conceal any signs of disgust, anger or disbelief.
Accept what the child or young person has to say – false disclosures are very rare.
It is important to differentiate between the person who carried out the abuse and the act of abuse itself. The child/young person quite possibly may love or strongly like the alleged abuser while also disliking what was done to them. It is important therefore to avoid expressing any judgement on, or anger towards the alleged perpetrator while talking with the child/young person.
When asking questions: Questions should be supportive and for the purpose of clarification only. Avoid leading questions, such as asking whether a specific person carried out the abuse. Also, avoid asking about intimate details or suggesting that something else may have happened other than what you have been told. Such questions and suggestions could complicate the official investigation.
Confidentiality – Do not promise to keep secrets At the earliest opportunity, tell the child/young person that:
You acknowledge that they have come to you because they trust you.
You will be sharing this information only with people who understand this area and who can help. There are secrets which are not helpful and should not be kept because they make matters worse. Such secrets hide things that need to be known if people are to be helped and protected from further on-going hurt. By refusing to make a commitment to secrecy to the child/young person, you do run the risk that they may not tell you everything (or, indeed, anything) there and then. However, it is better to do this than to tell a lie and ruin the child/young person’s confidence in yet another adult. By being honest, it is more likely that the child/young person will return to you at another time.
POTENTIAL INDICATORS OF ABUSE OR NEGLECT
The following signs may be indicators or signs that abuse has taken place although some of these indicators can also be caused by other factors, e.g. a bereavement, family breakdown or illness. It is not the role of GRL’s camp staff to decide if abuse or neglect has taken place rather this is a complex task undertaken by skilled professionals working together across agencies. However, if any of these signs are present then these concerns should be shared as outlined in the procedure. In deciding if something may be a concern it is always helpful to think about the child’s age, abilities and stage of development too. It is important to keep in mind that abuse may be committed against children by members of the child’s family or party; by other children; or by members of the workforce.
Physical signs of abuse:
• Injuries which occur to the body in places which are not normally exposed to falls or games
• Most children will collect cuts and bruises in their daily life, particularly on bony parts of their body like elbows, knees and shins. You should be more concerned by bruising which can almost only have been caused non-accidentally, is unexplained, or the explanation does not fit the injury, or where treatment isn’t being sought. Bruising may be more or less noticeable on children with different skin tones or from different racial groups and specialist advice may be needed.
• Patterns of bruising that are suggestive of physical child abuse include: - bruising children who are not independently mobile - bruising in babies - bruises that are seen away from bony prominences - bruises to the face, back, stomach, arms, buttocks, ears and hands - multiple bruises in clusters or of uniform shape, or carrying the imprint of an implement used, hand marks or fingertips
• Unexplained bruising, marks or injuries on any part of the body
• Cigarette burns, bite marks, broken bones, scalds
• Injuries which have not received medical attention
• Repeated urinary infections or unexplained stomach pains Changes in behaviour which may indicate physical abuse:
• Fear of parents being approached for an explanation
• Aggressive behaviour or severe temper outbursts
• Flinching when approached or touched
• Reluctance to get changed, for example, wearing long sleeves in hot weather
• Withdrawn behaviour
• Running away from home
The physical signs of emotional abuse may include:
• A failure to thrive or grow particularly if a child puts on weight in other circumstances, e.g. in hospital or away from their parents’ care
• Sudden speech disorders
• Persistent tiredness
• Development delay, either in terms of physical or emotional progress
Changes in behaviour that may indicate emotional abuse include:
• Neurotic behaviour e.g. sulking, hair twisting, rocking
• Obsessions or phobias
• Being unable to play
• Attention-seeking behaviour
• Fear of making mistakes
• Fear of parent being approached regarding their behaviour
The physical signs of sexual abuse may include:
• Pain or itching in the genital/anal area
• Bruising or bleeding near genital/anal areas
• Sexually transmitted disease
• Vaginal discharge or infection
• Stomach pains
• Discomfort when walking or sitting down
• Pregnancy Changes in behaviour that may indicate sexual abuse include:
• Sudden or unexplained changes in behaviour e.g. becoming withdrawn or aggressive
• Fear of being left with a specific person or group of people
• Having nightmares
• Running away from home
• Sexual knowledge which is beyond his/her age or developmental level
• Sexual drawings or language
• Eating problems such as over-eating or anorexia
• Self-harm or mutilation, sometimes leading to suicide attempts
• Saying they have secrets they cannot tell anyone about
• Substance or drug abuse
• Having unexplained sources of money
• Not allowed to have friends (particularly in adolescence)
• Acting in a sexually explicit way with adults
The physical signs of neglect may include:
• Constant hunger or stealing food from other children
• Constantly dirty or smelly
• Loss of weight or being constantly underweight
• Inappropriate dress for the conditions
• Under nourishment, failure to grow, inadequate care
Changes in behaviour that can also indicate neglect include:
• Complaining of being tired all the time
•Untreated illnesses, not requesting medical assistance and/or failing to attend medical appointments
• Having few friends
• Being left alone, being unsupervised or being supervised by an unsuitable adult or young person
Bullying (in some circumstances bullying can be considered as emotional, physical or sexual abuse)
Bullying may be defined as deliberately hurtful behaviour, usually repeated over a period of time, where it is difficult for those bullied to defend themselves. It can take many forms, but the three main types are physical (e.g. hitting, kicking, theft), verbal (e.g. racist or homophobic remarks, threats, name calling) and emotional (e.g. isolating an individual from the activities and social acceptance of their peer group). The damage inflicted by bullying (including bullying via the internet) can frequently be underestimated. It can cause considerable distress to children, to the extent that it affects their health and development or, at the extreme, causes them significant harm (including self-harm).
It is also important to be mindful that some children are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of their age or their living circumstances or characteristics. Disabled children are at greater risk of abuse than non-disabled children. Children living in homes where there are adverse parental circumstances may also be more at risk, in particular children living in homes where there is domestic violence, substance misuse and/or severe parental mental illness. Children from particularly isolated or new communities may also be at increased risk of abuse as well as those children who show challenging behaviour.
SAFEGUARDING CONCERNS REPORT FORM
Child’s name: ______________________________________________________________________
Age and date of birth: _____________________ Ethnic background ________________________
First language ________________________________ Religion _____________________________
Disability/special factors ______________________________________________________________
Parent/Guardian’s name(s) ___________________________________________________________
Home address and telephone number __________________________________________________
Are there any physical or behavioural signs? What are they? ________________________________
Have you spoken to the child? What did the child say? _____________________________________
Has anybody been alleged to be the abuser? Please give details ______________________________
Have you talked to anyone else about your concerns? Please give details ______________________
Who was this reported to and when? ___________________________________________________
Print name and role title __________________________________________________