The protection of children is an important issue that affects everyone, but especially activities like dance where so many participants are under 16 years old.
Bullying, physical or verbal, can affect a youngster’s self-worth which is as much a form of abuse as the more obvious and sinister definitions. For dance to flourish, we must strive to eradicate all forms.
In addition to the impact on the victim, which must always be the paramount concern, an accusation of abuse can often have a serious impact.
Abuse is a powerful and emotive term. Child abuse is a term used to describe ways in which children are harmed, usually by adults and often by those they know and trust.
The designated person is Erin-Lea Murphy, the Managing Director of Suffolk All Stars, whose responsibilities are:
To follow laid down procedures for referral,
To liaise with other agencies through the monitoring process, submitting reports and representing the School,
To contribute to the prevention of child abuse.
The designated person must:
Be available to discuss concerns about suspected child abuse,
Assume responsibility for setting correct procedures in motion if child abuse is suspected or reported,
Ensure that teaching staff and helpers are aware of the procedures.
Staff and helpers must not investigate any incident, but should report it to the designated person
Some parents/helpers may be familiar with the process of referral of a child into a TASCC (Team Around School, Children & Community) team via a Common Assessment Framework (CAF) form. Please note that this is not an appropriate route for referral where there are child protection concerns and referral should instead be made via the designated person.
Main Areas of Abuse
It is widely recognised that there are five main areas of abuse to be aware of:
In general terms, emotional abuse occurs when adults persistently fail to show children due care, love or affection, where a child may be constantly shouted at, threatened, or subjected to sarcasm and unrealistic pressures. Intimidated, not taken seriously, or given responsibility beyond their years.
In general terms, this occurs when adults, or even children, deliberately inflict injuries on a child, or knowingly do not prevent such injuries.
In general terms, bullying is repeated, aggressive, verbal, psychological or physical contact by an individual or group. Bullying can include physical, verbal, emotional, racist and sexual abuse, gestures and comments.
In general terms, neglect as a form of abuse occurs when a child’s essential needs for food, warmth and care fail to be met. Failure to protect a child from exposure to any kind of danger.
In general terms, girls and boys are abused by adults, both male and female, who use children to meet their own sexual needs and desires either through participation or forced observation.
There may, however, be an increased risk at certain events (shows, fetes, demonstrations etc) for abuse to occur which does not necessarily fit into these categories.
SIGNS OF CHILD ABUSE
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
Key Principles for Good Practice
Children are listened to, given a sense of belonging and kept safe.
Parents are supported and encouraged to participate.
Staff and helpers are supported and protected by information and procedures.
Ensure a safe environment by:
Providing an adequate level of supervision.
Clearly defining the roles of staff and helpers.
By following SCC guidelines of Child Protection and ensuring all helpers are SCC Chaperone licensed - therefore have an understanding of their role as guardians of the children whilst at dance classes, rehearsals and performances. And have an up-to-date DBS check and a Social Care check.
Keep records of attendance, complaints and accidents.
Provide a structure to deal sympathetically with concerns:
Listen – but do not lead. Take seriously what the child says. React calmly. Tell the child they are not to blame.
Observe changes in behaviours.
Believe – but do not promise confidentiality.
Reassure – showing sensitivity to the situation.
Explain to the child what will happen next.
In recording information staff and helpers must be factual and try to record the actual words used by the child. If physical signs of suspected abuse are visible, the size and whereabouts should also be noted.
Suffolk All Stars is committed to creating a safe environment for children, young people and adults as set out by Suffolk County Council Child Protection Dept.
We recognise our moral and legal obligations to protect children and will ensure that all Suffolk All Stars staff will take every reasonable step to promote safe practice and to protect children from harm, abuse and exploitation.
Our policy is based on the following principles:
• The welfare of children is always the primary concern.
• All children have the right to be protected from abuse regardless of their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, socio-economic status,religious belief and/or sexual identity.
• Protecting children and young people is everybody’s responsibility. All children have a right to express their views and matters affecting them.
Suffolk All Stars will:
• Treat everyone with respect.
• Respect and promote the rights, wishes and feelings of children.
• Allow time for children to talk to us and listen to what they say.
• Encourage children to respect and care for others.
• Keep a register of every child involved with EM LTD including relevant medical details and have a contact name and number close to hand in case of emergencies.
• Respect confidentiality and only share information/concerns with the people who need to know in order to protect the child.
• Recruit, train and supervise those who work (paid and unpaid) using the Procedure for Safe Recruitment.
• Take action to stop any inappropriate verbal or physical behaviour including bullying.
• Take all concerns/allegations seriously and respond appropriately in line with these and Suffolk County Councils Child Protection Procedures. We will refer not investigate.
• Encourage parents to become involved in EM LTD and, when requested, provide them with copies of all guidelines and procedures.
This Policy and Procedures will be regularly monitored and reviewed.
• When there is a change in legislation or guidance on the Protection of Children or changes within Suffolk All Stars
• Following any issues or concerns raised about the Protection of Children within Suffolk All Stars.
• In all other circumstances and at least annually.
Suffolk All Stars will not:
• Exaggerate or trivialise another members concern about a child or ignore allegations or suspicion of abuse.
• Discuss personal issues about a child or their family with others except the Child Protection Officer where you are concerned about a child’s well-being.
• Make derogatory remarks, gestures or use inappropriate language in front of children.
• Allow a child to be verbally or physically bullied or harmed by anyone at EM LTD.
• Allow children to swear or use sexualised language unchallenged.
Suffolk All Stars will never:
• Hit, push or grab a child or young person.
• Engage in sexually provocative games, including horseplay.
• Allow others or yourself to engage in touching a child in a sexually provocative way.
• Make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun.
• Engage in rough physical contact with a child unless it is permitted within the rules of the game, activity or conforms to guidance on appropriate physical restraint.
• Form intimate physical or emotional relationships with children.
• Harass or intimidate child or worker/volunteer, particularly because of their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, socio-economic status, religious belief and/or sexual identity.
Invite or allow children to stay with them at their home in the context of their role within EM LTD.
Child Protection Code of Conduct:
Suffolk All Stars should:
• 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.
• Respect a child’s culture (e.g. faith and religious beliefs) and right to privacy and personal space.
• Respond sensitively to children who seem anxious about participating in certain activities.
• Speak to someone in charge immediately if you are worried about a child.
• Be aware and sensitive to the vulnerabilities of some children e.g. children with disability; children from gypsy and traveller communities; black minority ethnic children.
• Avoid being alone with children. Ensure that when working with children you are at least within sight and hearing of other adults.
• Listen carefully to any child who ‘tells you’ they are being harmed and report immediately to the person in charge. Never lead the conversation and report only what has been said factually.
• Never dismiss what a child tells you as ‘lies’ or exaggeration.
• Always set an example you would wish others to follow.
• Always give constructive feedback and not negative criticism
• Always ensure that first aid is administered by people who have relevant training.
NOTE TO STAFF - DISCLOSURE
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.
DBS Enhanced Checks for staff
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.