This Lincolnshire YMCA policy on Safeguarding Children and Young People was drawn up with close reference to the Home Office document “Safe From Harm”, which was prepared as a code of practice for safeguarding the welfare of children and young people (up to the age of 16) in voluntary organisations in England and Wales.
The policy recognises the obligations and duty of care on organisations working with children and young people as covered in The Children Act (1989). This Act defines children and young people as anyone up to the age of 18. The policy is applicable to all staff and volunteers.
This policy is designed to encourage the development of good practice in Lincolnshire YMCA to prevent the physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children and young people whilst they are in the care of the YMCA. It stresses the responsibility of all staff and volunteers to be alert for signs of abuse and provides for a prompt and effective reporting procedure should abuse be suspected, disclosed or discovered, regardless of the setting in which the abuse has taken place. The policy is also intended to protect those who work with children and young people from unfounded accusations or from behaving in ways which may be well-intended but inadvisable, and to enable the YMCA to fulfil its “duty of care”.
The policy consists of:
Implementation of the Procedures
- POLICY STATEMENT
Safeguarding Children and Young People
As one of its major activities Lincolnshire YMCA seeks to serve the needs of children and young people, promoting holistic development. In doing so the YMCA takes seriously the welfare of all children and young people who come onto its premises or are involved in YMCA activities.
The YMCA aims to ensure that they are welcomed into a safe, caring Christian environment with a happy and friendly atmosphere.
The YMCA recognises that it is the responsibility of each one of its staff and volunteers, paid or unpaid, to prevent the physical, emotional or sexual abuse of children and young people and to report any abuse suspected or discovered.
The YMCA recognises its responsibility to implement, maintain and regularly review procedures, which are designed to prevent and to be alert to such abuse.
The YMCA is committed to supporting, resourcing and training those who work with children and young people and to providing supervision.
The YMCA is committed to maintaining good links with the statutory childcare authorities.
- Plan the work of the Association so as to minimise situations where the possibility of abuse of children and young people may occur.
- We have policies and procedures on the management and supervision of all activities, and provide training on the implementation of them.
- Malcolm Barham, Chief Executive of Lincolnshire YMCA, is our appointed Child Protection Officer.
- All staff and volunteers have clearly defined roles.
- We carry out a full recruitment procedure for all staff and volunteers. This includes:
- A completed application form
- An interview where the applicant’s experience of working with, or having contact with children or young people is explored.
- References are followed up to check on the suitability of the applicant to work with children or young people
- A Criminal Records Bureau enhanced disclosure check is carried out
- Supervision is used as a means of protecting children and young people.
- We have a system whereby children and young people may talk with an independent person.
- Guidelines have been implemented, and issued to all workers with children or young people, on how to deal with abuse or suspected abuse. Training is given on the use of these guidelines. These guidelines include:
- A reminder of the worker’s duty, both to prevent abuse and to report any abuse discovered or suspected
- Guidance on what constitutes abuse and how to recognise it
- Specific instructions on whom to inform if abuse is disclosed or discovered, where identified the name, address and telephone number of the independent person, in case it should be suspected that the abuser is someone holding a position of responsibility within the YMCA
- Some indication of what might happed if the abuse is reported
- Guidance on how to support the abused child or young person
- We need to confirm with groups / organisations, who work with children or young people and wish to hire YMCA premises, that they undertake to follow the Home Office code of practice “Safe From Harm”.
Implementation of Procedures
- IMPLEMENTATION OF PROCEDURES
4.1 Planning the work of the Association so as to minimise situations where the abuse of children or young people might occur.
- Arrange that, as far as possible, an adult is not left alone with a child or young person where there is little or no opportunity of the activity being observed by others. This may mean groups working within the same large room or in an adjoining room with the door left open. This good practice can be as much benefit to the adult as to the child or young person.
- Ensure that all workers with children and young people do not meet a child or young person off YMCA premises without a parent or other adult being present.
- Always have at least two adults present with a group. *
- Always ensure appropriate ratios of leadership to children are observed according to age and gender. *
- Never take a group off the premises with fewer than two adults. *
- Think about the use of premises. For example, do not expect children or young people to have to walk along a dark unsupervised footpath in order to enter the YMCA.
- Keep a record of each activity / session. This should include a register of children and staff and details of any significant incidents.
- Where children and young people have to be transported by car or minibus arrange, as far as possible, to have more than one passenger in the vehicle and that children are seated in the back seats of the vehicle.
- Ensure that children leaving the premises do so only in the presence of adults known to have permission to do so.
- There may be occasions when a worker has to work individually with a child or young person, e.g. counselling or one-to-one work. See guidelines in Appendix III.
* ratios of adults to children/young people should always be appropriate to the scale and nature of the activity.
- Policies and Procedures on the management and supervision of all activities and training on the implementation of them
- Clear management guidelines exist for each activity and appropriate training is provided.
- Ensure that a risk assessment is carried out for each activity which addresses child protection as well as other safety issues.
- Ensure that working links are maintained with local child protection organisations .
- The Chief Executive of Lincolnshire YMCA is the Association’s Child Protection Officer. The Child Protection Officer will be responsible for overseeing the policy and the way it is put into practice. They will also be responsible for ensuring that child protection issues are reported to the relevant authorities.
- All staff and volunteers are given clear roles
- Abuse of children and young people is most easily concealed where there is confusion amongst adults about roles and responsibilities for the protection of children and young people. All of our staff and volunteers have clear job descriptions and line management.
- All staff and volunteers are made aware that their contact with children and young people in the course of their work with the YMCA puts them in a relationship of trust (e.g. in a position of power or influence over another by virtue of their work or the nature of the activity, both in and outside of working hours).
- All staff and volunteers are made aware of what is and what is not acceptable behaviour both in work and in “out of hours” situations. No relationship should be encouraged in which either the worker or the young person could be at risk, or which provides ambiguity and misunderstanding or where the relationship / activity is unsupervised and contravenes good practice.
- Full recruitment procedure for all staff and volunteers
- Application Form
As part of the recruitment procedure all workers, paid or unpaid, complete a comprehensive application form. All situations which involve work with children and/or young people are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Therefore all applicants are asked to fill in “Form B”. This form asks the applicant to give details of criminal convictions and informs them that the YMCA reserves the right to carry out a criminal background check. Failure to complete and bring this form to interview halts the application process for that applicant.
- Applicant’s contacts with children and young people
It is important that the nature of the applicant’s contacts with children and young people are thoroughly explored at interview. If there is any doubt about the suitability of the applicant this should be explored further through searching questions.
A determined abuser may well tell a lie. Therefore two references are always obtained. If the worker has moved frequently moved from one job to another it is advisable to find out why. The request for a reference should make it clear that the post will involve working with children or young people and that the reference given should include their views on applicant’s suitability for this type of work. If replies are vague or ambiguous they will be followed up by a telephone call or, if necessary, in person.
Criminal Records Bureau Disclosure
- A Criminal Records Bureau enhanced disclosure form will be completed by all applicants. On taking up their post the applicant will not be permitted to work with children or young unsupervised until their disclosure is received from the CRB. CRBs for all staff members are renewed every two years.
- All posts are offered on the condition that satisfactory references and CRB are received. If there is cause for grave concern over either of these the offer may be withdrawn and the person dismissed.
- Supervision as a means of protecting children and young people
- Workers should be given regular opportunities to meet together and review and plan their work, share experiences, receive training and to talk about their relationships with the children and young people. Special attention should be paid to any situation in which a child or young person is being either highly favoured or harshly treated as these could be signs of abuse.
- Line Managers should carry out and record regular supervision sessions with their members of staff and volunteers, and carry out observations.
- The opportunity should be provided for workers to talk to an independent suitable person about any difficulties or anxieties they may have in relation to their work.
- Having a system whereby children and young people may talk with an independent person
- A person should be available for children and young people to talk to if they feel they have been abused in any way. This person should be independent of the activities the children and young people are participating in but should be someone whom they can relate to.
- The appointed person must be given clear, written guidelines as to what actions to take to stop any abuse disclosed by a child or young person, otherwise they may unwittingly allow the abuse to continue. Consideration should be given to the way in which children and young people are made aware that such a person is available for them to talk to.
- All adults working with children or young people should know the name of a suitable person with whom they could put the child or young person in contact, or to whom they could turn for help.
- Implementing and issuing guidelines to all workers on how to deal with abuse.
- All staff are to be given a copy of this document. Line Managers should ensure that workers receive appropriate training and that a record of this is kept. Refresher training should take place regularly.
How to Deal with Abuse
- HOW TO DEAL WITH ABUSE
- Duty to both prevent abuse and to report abuse
- It is the YMCA’s duty both to prevent abuse and to report any abuse discovered or suspected. The normal rule of client confidentiality cannot be observed when abuse is discovered or suspected. When workers suspect, discover, are told about or learn about abuse occurring in or outside the YMCA setting, they should follow the reporting procedures outlined in the paragraph entitled “Reporting Abuse – suspected, disclosed or discovered” on page 9.
- Types of abuse
- Workers should be given guidance on what constitutes abuse and how to recognise it. Definitions of child abuse given by the Department of Health, the Department for Children, Schools & Families, The Home Office and the Welsh Office are as follows:
Actual or likely physical injury to a child, or failure to prevent physical injury or suffering to a child, including deliberate poisoning, suffocation or Munchhausen’s Syndrome by Proxy.
Actual or likely sexual exploitation of a child or adolescent.
Actual or likely severe adverse effect on the emotional and behavioural development of a child caused by persistent or severe emotional treatment or rejection. All abuse involves some emotional ill treatment. This category is used where it is the main or sole form of abuse.
The persistent or severe neglect of a child or the failure to protect a child from exposure to any kind of danger, including cold and starvation or extreme failure to carry out important aspects of care, resulting in the significant impairment of a child’s health or development, including non-organic failure to thrive.
- The following may be signs of abuse
Unexplained injuries or those which have received no medical attention, hidden injuries, signs of neglect.
Allegations made by the child or young person, pre-occupation with sexual matters, sexual activity through words, play or drawings, severe sleep disturbances with fears and phobias, being sexually provocative with adults.
Regression in behaviour, nervousness, sudden under-achievement, inappropriate relationships with peers/adults, attention seeking, running away/stealing/lying, looking uncared for.
NB: Physical abuse and neglect are difficult to hide. Sexual abuse can be almost impossible to identify and prove. Many symptoms of distress can point to abuse but there may be other explanations. It is important, therefore, that the above signs are not taken as indications that abuse has taken place. They should make us stop and think, but not necessarily jump to conclusions.
- Reacting to abuse
You may suspect abuse, you may discover or witness abuse or someone may report abuse to you. However you become aware of abuse, it is important that you follow the following guidance:
- Do not delay
- Do not confront the person who is alleged to be responsible for the abuse
- Record any observations and keep an account of what you have been told by staff or the child or young person. These records must be accurate and factual. A report form is in Appendix I.
- It is not your role to investigate – concentrate on presenting information clearly.
- Pass on your information to the appropriate person
- Do not discuss with anyone other than the person to whom you should report the matter
If a child or young person wants to talk about abuse:
- Accept what the child or young person says, keeping calm and looking at them directly
- Let them know that you need to tell someone else, do not promise confidentiality, even when a child or young person has broken a rule they are not to blame
- Be aware that the child or young person may be being threatened
- Never push for information
- Reassure the child or young person that they were right to tell you and you believe them
- Let the child or young person know what you are going to do next and that you will let them know what happens
- Make note as soon as possible, writing down exactly what was said and when he/she said it. Record dates and times of these events and keep the hand-written record, even if these are subsequently typed up, for an indefinite period.
- If it is considered that the person making the disclosure is likely to be at risk by returning home immediate contact should be made with the Social Services or Police
- Reporting abuse – suspected, disclosed or discovered
All workers should be aware of the appropriate reporting procedure – this process is illustrated by the flow chart in Appendix II.
Workers should inform their line manager or the Child Protection Officer.
It is the responsibility of the Child Protection Officer to ensure that cases of abuse are reported. It is normal procedure to contact the local Social Services duty team. If the child or young person is in immediate danger the police should be contacted.
The NSPCC can be contacted for advice – their helpline is open 24 hours a day – 0808 8005000. Also available for advice is the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) – 0845 1204550.
Any worker can bypass the procedures and share concerns with an outside agency such as the NSPCC or Social Services if they feel that their line manger or management team are not dealing with their concern or are implicated in some way.
In every area there are procedures for investigating cases where a child is at risk. The Social Services Department has the main responsibility and will normally set up a case conference carried out by social workers and police. The YMCA may be asked to attend, either to give information or to support the parent/family. It is important to clarify in what capacity the YMCA has been invited and how you want to be seen by the family or young person e.g. as a member of the conference or as support.
Consideration should be given, on a case by case basis, to the support which can be given to an abused child or young person, recognising that the support needs to be non-judgemental, appropriate and long term. External help, available through Social Services or other counselling agencies, may be advisable.
Appendix 1 - Child Protection Reporting Form
Appendix 2 - Appropriate Reporting Procedure
Appendix 3 - Guidelines for staff working on their own with children and young people
Guidelines for staff working on their own with
children and young people
- Always let your line manager know the time and place of a meeting with a child or young person
- Always meet at a “neutral place”, never in a home
- Let other people know that you are there and/or remain visible in a public place
- Establish mutually understood behaviour of both parties at the outset
- Keep a detailed record of the appointment