Scope of the Policy
This Child Protection Policy is intended to cover all functions of the NIPDS where volunteers may work with children directly or have contact with children indirectly through the course of their duties.
The policy applies to all volunteers of the NIPDS. It is designed to provide a basic foundation under which more specific guidance may be developed to meet the needs of particular functions or circumstances.
Children for the purpose of these guidelines are defined as those aged under 18.
Copies of the Child Protection Policy and Procedures will be distributed to all members of the NIPDS. It will be made available to the parents, children and all volunteers.
In 1991 the UK Government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which is an international convention signed by all but two countries in the world. The UN Convention sets the minimum standards for children and young peoples’ civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights under the interrelated categories of ‘participation’, ‘protection’, and ‘provision’. For example:
Article 3 – In all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration.
Article 19 – The State has a responsibility to protect children from violent and harmful treatment.
In 1996 the Children (NI) Order was implemented by the Government and was based to a large degree on the philisophy of the UN Convention. This legislation was the most important piece of children’s legislation in the 20th Century and set out a number of key principles concerning the rights of children, their parents and the role of the State. It applies to all children under the age of 18 and the Order embodies five key principles:
Paramountcy of the child – in all childcare practice and law, the welfare of the child is the overriding consideration in any decisions about them.
Parental responsibility – parents have responsibility for their children rather than rights over them. Where parents have rights in respect of children these only last so long as is necessary given the child’s age and understanding. In some circumstances parents will share parental responsibility with others such as other carers or the State.
Prevention – the Children Order recognises the importance of preventing problems such as family breakdown and abuse through supportive measures.
Partnership – this recognises that the most effective way of ensuring that a child’s needs are met is through working in partnership with their parents, other professionals and disciplines.
Protection – children should be safe from abuse and should be protected by the State when they are in danger.
The Children Order sets out the framework for protecting children
including legal powers and responsibilities of agencies like the police,
social services and other bodies. It is complemented by other laws and
guidance, which taken together provides a comprehensive approach to the
protection of children.
These include specifically:
The Criminal Law Act 1967
Children and N.I. Order (1995)
Section 5 creates a duty to report arrestable offences and information in relation to the offence to the police.
Co-operating to Safeguard Children
The Department of Health & Social Services for Public Safety (DHSSPS) sets out the overall procedural framework for the management of child protection. In addition to setting out the roles and responsibilities of agencies Co-operating to Safeguard Children details the process and steps to be followed on the detection, reporting and management of child abuse.
Protocol for joint investigation by social workers and police officers of alleged and suspected cases of child abuse.
This document sets out the steps and joint actions to be taken by each agency in investigating suspected or actual child abuse.
Aim of this Policy
The protection of children is something that must be a priority for all members of the NIPDS.
This overarching policy will set out the framework for this and ensure that the NIPDS meets all its legal and moral responsibilities to children and families that it directly or indirectly provides a service to. By having a clear written policy for NIPDS members the NIPDS will ensure that its members are provided with the tools and knowledge to know how to protect children and deal with situations that may cause concern. The ‘arena of safety’ diagram expresses this.
Diagram: the arena of safety
Awareness of Abuse
The Role of N.I.P.D.S. Designated Person Monitoring the implementation of the NIPDS Child Protection and procedures and specifically to inform Social Services/PSNI within the appropriate Trust area of any concerns about a child or children. Ensuring that any referral made by telephone is confirmed in writing and any documentation relating to concerns is passed to Social Services or the PSNI. Securing the safekeeping of any case material and keeping the Executive of the NIPDS appraised of any developments. Acting as source of advice and assistance on child protection matters in the NIPDS.
Reporting Procedures and Guidelines Reporting Procedure
There is some information that should only ever be shared on a need to know basis. For example, if an adult or a child has confided personal and sensitive details about their lives or family situations, they will need to be assured that the information will not be discussed or passed on to others without consent.
Examples of other information that may need to remain confidential would include the contact details of the children and any information provided by parents that you might need, e.g. a child’s medical details. This information should only be passed on with consent and on a need to know basis.
There is other information however, which must be passed on to the Designated Person. This includes information that a child has been harmed or is at risk of harm. The legal principle states that the “welfare of the child is paramount” and this means that considerations of confidentiality can never override the right of a child to be safe from harm.
Common Do’s and Don’ts in dealing with a disclosure of abuse or neglect
Listen and hear what the child or adults are saying.
Reassure the child that they have done the right thing in telling you.
Record in writing what was said as soon as possible and keep this record safe and secure. These may be required by the police or social services.
Report the matter to the Designated
Ask leading questions (questions that influence a person to give a particular answer).
Promise to a child or adult that you can keep a secret.
Ask for details of the abuse. This is not your job and will be undertaken by the Police and Social Services.
It is not your responsibility to investigate whether abuse has taken place. This is a matter for the appropriate authorities. You have a supportive and not investigative role
Require the child to repeat the story unnecessarily.
If in doubt – report it
The one thing you must not do – is Nothing
Code of Conduct (Behaviour) Volunteers should not spend excessive amounts of time along with children away from others. Any contact with an individual child should take place as openly as possible. If privacy is needed for any reason, doors should be left open and other volunteers informed where possible. Volunteers are advised not to make unnecessary or inappropriate physical contact with children and young people. There may be occasions when physical contact is unavoidable, i.e. when teaching a child to play a musical instrument, be it practice chanter, pipes or drums. This also applies to teaching drum majors or highland dances. In all cases physical contact should only take place with the consent of the child or the young person. Tell the child exactly what you are going to do and seek their permission. Any resistance from the child must be respected. Where it is necessary and unavoidable to take children alone in a vehicle on journeys this should be with the full consent of the parents. Volunteers should not meet with children outside of the organisation without the consent or knowledge of parents. Engage in sexually provocative or rough physical games including horseplay. Allow children to use inappropriate language or behaviour unchallenged. Make sexually suggestive comments about, or to a child, even in fun. Let any allegations a child makes go without being recorded and reported to the Designated Person. Do things of a personal nature for children that they can do themselves.
Good communication with all – children, parents, volunteers and management committees will improve practice. Everyone will feel appreciated if they are listened to and their opinion valued. Children and young people should be involved and included in decision making whenever possible.
Supervision, support and training
Training formal or informal will be organised or approved for any individual or group. Supervision and support will enable our organisation to identify the strengths and weaknesses of volunteers, address weaknesses through provision of training, identify any problems and deal with them quickly. It also offers an opportunity to recognise skills of volunteers and to acknowledge their work. The School Administrator or Centre Coordinators will assist in an advisory capacity, or provide any training required.
We in the NIPDS do not tolerate bullying in any form, and any incidents of bullying will be dealt with seriously.
We encourage children and young people to talk about bullying and report any concerns they may have.
Our anti-bullying statement applies to everyone involved with the NIPDS; preventing bullying in this group is everyone’s responsibility.
Recruitment Definition of role Open recruitment process Volunteer application forms, which request the name and contact details of 2 referees Signed declaration of suitability Reference forms to be checked Interview/meeting with at least two representatives of the organisation Identification Access NI Advanced Disclosure Procedures
The majority of people who want to work with children are well motivated and without them voluntary organisations could not operate. Good selection procedures benefit everyone; volunteers should have a clearly defined role. This will enhance their self-confidence, which will have a positive impact on children.
Parents will be assured that all possible measures are being taken to ensure only suitable people will be recruited to work with children.
This organisation is committed to recruitment and selection procedures as follows:
Definition of role
Open recruitment process
Volunteer application forms, which request the name and contact details of 2 referees
Signed declaration of suitability
Reference forms to be checked
Interview/meeting with at least two representatives of the organisation
Access NI Advanced Disclosure Procedures