When any person has knowledge or suspicion that a child is either being abused, or is at risk of abuse, or that a carer has seriously neglected or failed to protect a child, he/she has a personal duty to report this to our Designated Person, Erin-Lea Murphy on site, or The local Child Protection Agency. It is essential that staff realise that child abuse is a complex problem and that diagnosis is the responsibility of professionals. However, staff should be watchful for the physical and/or behavioural signs that may indicate child abuse is taking place. These are:
- Injuries to the child that are not consistent with the normal recreational habits of children, either in body position or type.
- Inconsistent or unreasonable explanation of an injury by a child, parent or carer.
- Inconsistent or inappropriate behaviour such as sexually suggestive remarks or actions, mood swings, uncharacteristically quiet/aggressive, severe tantrums
- Becoming isolated socially
- Overeating/loss of appetite, weight loss/gain
- Inappropriately dressed or ill-kept and/or dirty
- Self inflicting injury
- Open distrust of or discomfort with, parent or carer.
- Delayed social development, poor language and speech
- Excessively nervous behaviour such as rocking or hair twisting
- Exceptionally low self-esteem
- General indicators of abuse though often typical of sexual abuse
- Recurring abdominal pain
- Reluctance to go home
- Flinching when approached or touched
- Recurring headaches
Regardless of how knowledge of abuse arises, the first steps when talking to a child are critical. Often a child will be frightened, confused and feeling vulnerable. The child should be reassured in a calm manner that he/she is safe and has done the right thing by telling someone. Listen carefully to the child without leading their conversation or showing any kind of shock reaction. When a child discloses information that suggests abuse, the following action should be taken.
- As soon as a Play Leader (or Assistant) becomes concerned about what a child is telling them they should explain to the child that, in order to stop the abuse, the Designated Person has to be involved. The Play Leader should report to the DP all information learned so far. The DP should sit in with the Play Leader and the child and allow the child to recount the story freely without any undue interruptions or questioning, but a clear understanding of the account should be ensured.
Immediately afterwards a written report should be compiled by the Play Leader and The Manager and should include:
- The nature of the allegation
- Details of any bruising or other injury
- Times, dates and any other relevant information
- Dates, times and names of those adults involved in the conversation with the child.
- The Manager should immediately inform the Matron and Director who will have responsibility for liaison with the relevant local authorities.
Above all, the respect for the child's privacy must be paramount and the staff involved must not discuss the details with anyone other than those necessary to carry out the procedures outlined above. Staff must not discuss instances of disclosure with anyone else. Protection of the child's identity and privacy is vital.
ALLEGATION OF ABUSE BY A MEMBER OF STAFF
- All allegations of potential abuse by a member of staff will be reported to the Director.
- The Director will be responsible for investigating the allegation.
- The parents of the child who has made the allegation will be informed of the allegation by the Director.
- The Director will decide whether the member of staff should be removed from the setting whilst the investigation takes place.
- The Director will decide, in conjunction with DFA which other organisations should be contacted. Informal or formal advice should be taken from Duty Social Services Officer or Duty Police Officer as appropriate.
- The Director will produce a written report of the incident which will be shared with the parents of the child and member of staff involved as appropriate.
- The Director will ensure that a report of the incident is forwarded to SCC.
It is Suffolk All Stars responsibility to ensure all necessary and recommended steps are strictly followed to guarantee the safety of staff and children on our camps. The issue of applying for DBS checks for all staff has been discussed and I have made the following decisions:
All Suffolk All Stars Assistants are volunteers. They are helpers and will not be in charge of groups of children. They will never be left unsupervised with children. Assistants will only ever work ALONGSIDE Leaders, therefore they do not need a DBS disclosure. However all Leaders and Managers will carry Enhanced Disclosures. In the event of performances all staff and parent/ carer helpers will apply to SCC for a Chaperone Licence and be listed on their Body of Persons License.