The welfare of the child is paramount.
All children, whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin,
religious belief and/or sexual identity have the right to protection from abuse.
Whilst it is not the responsibility of West End Classrooms Ltd to determine whether or not abuse has taken place
(this is undertaken in liaison with external child protection professionals), it is everyone’s responsibility to report any
concerns to the deputy Designated Child Protection Officer or Lead Officer for Child Protection.
All incidents of suspected poor practice and any allegations made will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
While we will work within a framework provided by; the Data Protection Act 1998; the Human Rights Act 2000; the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and the Kent Information Sharing protocol (as required under the Children Act 2004). Respect for confidentiality will be given where appropriate, but the welfare of the child will always take precedent over other concerns.
Introduction: We believe that child protection is crucial to ensuring that children under 18 years of age have the rights, confidence and environment in which they can make choices, express their views and communicate effectively with other children and adults.
For the purposes of this policy, a “child” is defined as anyone under the age of 18, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
• According to the World Health Organisation, “Child abuse” or “maltreatment” constitutes ‘all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.’ 1
• NSPCC similarly specify “cruelty to children” or “child abuse” as ‘behaviour that causes significant harm to a child. It also includes when someone knowingly fails to prevent serious harm to a child. All forms of cruelty are damaging – it can be harder to recover from the emotional impact than from the physical effects.’
Even for those experienced in working with child abuse, it is not always easy to recognise a situation where abuse may occur, or has already taken place. Whilst it is accepted that staff are not experts at such recognition, they do have a responsibility to act if they have any concerns about the behaviour of someone (an adult or a child) towards a child. All staff have a duty to discuss any concerns they may have about the welfare of a child or young person immediately with the deputy designated Child Protection Officer, lead officer for Child Protection, their line manager or Director.
Abuse is a form of maltreatment of a child; somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to prevent harm. It can take many forms but is usually divided into four categories.
• These definitions therefore point to four types of cruelty: Phyiscal, Sexual, Emotional, Neglect.
Physical abuse: including hurting or injuring a child, inflicting pain, poisoning, drowning, or smothering. Physical abuse may also involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, scalding, drowning, giving children alcohol and/or inappropriate drugs, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes ill health to a child whom they are looking after.
Sexual abuse: including direct or indirect sexual exploitation or corruption of children by involving them (or threatening to involve them) in inappropriate sexual activities.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative and non-penetrative acts.
Sexual activities may also include non-contact activities, e.g. involving children in looking at, or in production of abusive images, watching sexual activities or encouraging them to behave in sexually inappropriate ways. This may include use of photographs, pictures, cartoons, literature or sound recordings e.g. the internet, books, magazines, audio cassettes, tapes, CD’s.
Children under 16 years of age cannot provide lawful consent to any sexual activity, though in practice many are involved in sexual contact to which, as individuals, they may have agreed.
Emotional abuse: repeatedly rejecting children, humiliating them or denying their worth and rights as human beings.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child that would adversely affect 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. This may be verbally or via electronic or written communication.
• Imposing age or developmentally inappropriate expectations, for example overprotection or limitation of exploration and learning.
• Causing children to feel frightened or in danger for example witnessing domestic abuse, seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another.
• Exploitation or corruption of children.
• Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill-treatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Neglect: the persistent lack of appropriate care of children, including love, stimulation, safety, nourishment, warmth, education, and medical attention.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in serious impairment of heath and development. Neglect is by far the most common for of abuse Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once the child is born neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
• Provide adequate food, shelter and clothing (including exclusion from home or abandonment).
• Protect a child from physical harm or danger.
• Meet or respond to a child’s basic emotional needs.
• Ensure adequate supervision including use of adequate care-takers.
• Ensure adequate access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
• Ensure that educational needs are met.
• A child who is being abused may experience more than one type of cruelty.
• Discrimination, harassment, and bullying are also abusive and can harm a child, both physically and emotionally.
Consent must be gained from parents and guardians of all children under the age of 16 before
photographic images OR film footage is taken.
Poor practice includes any behaviour that contravenes the guidelines set out in this Child Protection Policy and Safeguarding Procedure or the:
• Rights – of the children and their parents/carers.
• Responsibilities – for the welfare of the child.
• Respect – for children.
Promoting Good Practice with Children
Staff working for West End Classrooms Ltd will have regular contact with children and are an important link in identifying where a young person may need protection. Equally, staff working with children and young people should be clear on what is expected and what unacceptable behaviour is. Adhering to these guidelines will help staff to protect themselves from false allegations and help create a positive culture and climate:
• Always work in an open environment (avoiding private or unobserved situations).
• Treat all young people equally and with respect and dignity.
• Always put the welfare of each child first.
• Maintain a safe and appropriate emotional and physical distance with children.
• Make activities enjoyable and promote fair play.
• Ensure that, if any form of manual or physical support is required, it is provided openly and appropriately. Children should always be consulted and their agreement gained.
• Involve parents/carers wherever possible.
• Be an excellent role model.
• Give enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.
• Recognise the developmental needs and capability of children – avoid pushing them against their will.
• Ensure that a written record is kept of all incidents involving children along with details of the subsequent action taken/treatment given.
• A record of all incidents and referrals will be kept by the Lead Officer for Child Protection.
• The Child Protection and Safeguarding Committee will review annually all referrals and reports to ensure that they have been followed through and acknowledges by KCC Social Services.
Staff should never:
• Engage in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay.
• Share a room with a child.
• Allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching.
• Allow children to use inappropriate language unchallenged.
• Use inappropriate language in front of children.
• Make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun.
• Reduce a child to tears as a form of control.
• Allow allegations made by a child to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon.
• Do things of a personal nature for a child that they can do themselves.
• Take children to their home unsupervised.
• Administer medication unless specifically trained and authorised to do so.
• Take a child to the toilet unsupervised.
• Transport children unsupervised.
• Take chances when common sense, policy or practice suggests a more prudent approach.
NB The above guidance should not be considered as exhaustive. If staff have any concerns regarding the appropriateness of any practice/action they should contact their line manager.
It is important to recognise that abuse is not always carried out by an adult on a child; the abuser may be another child. Bullying may be seen to be deliberately hurtful behaviour, usually repeated over a period of time, where it is difficult for those bullied to defend themselves.
Although anyone can be a target for bullying, victims are typically shy, sensitive and perhaps anxious and insecure. Sometimes they are singled out for physical reasons– being overweight, physically small, having a disability or belonging to a different race, faith or culture. Bullying can and does occur anywhere where there is inadequate supervision – on the way to and from school for example.
Bullies come from all walks of life; they bully for a variety of reasons and may have been bullied or abused themselves. Typically, bullies have low self-esteem, be excitable, aggressive and jealous. Crucially, they have learned how to gain power over others. Bullying may be:
• Physical, e.g. hitting, kicking, theft
• Verbal, e.g. name-calling, constant teasing, sarcasm, racist or homophobic taunts, threats, graffiti, gestures
• Emotional, e.g. tormenting, ridiculing, humiliating, ignoring
• Sexual, e.g. unwanted physical contact, abusive comments
• The damage inflicted by bullying is often 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).
TYPE OF ABUSE: Neglect
PHYSICAL INDICATORS :
Consistent lack of supervision/abandonment
Unattended physical problems or medical needs
Begging/ stealing food
Truancy/late for school
Poor relationship with care giver
TYPE OF ABUSE: Physical
Frequent or unexplained bruising, marks or injury
Bruises which reflect hand marks or shapes of articles e.g. belts
Unexplained broken or fractured bones
Fear of parent being contacted
Behavioural extremes – aggressive/angry outbursts/ withdrawn or violent behaviour
Fear of going home
Flinching when approached or touched
Keeping arms/legs covered
Reluctance to change clothes
Panics in response to pain
Reports injury caused by parents
TYPE OF ABUSE: Emotional
Delays in physical development or progress
Sudden speech disorders
Failure to thrive
Sleeping disorders, unable to play
Fear of making mistakes
Sucking, biting or rocking
Inappropriately adult or infant
Impairment of intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development
TYPE OF ABUSE: Sexual
Pain/itching in the genital area
Bruising/bleeding near genital area
Sexually transmitted disease
Frequent unexplained abdominal pains
Discomfort when walking/sitting
Inappropriate sexual behaviour or knowledge for the child’s age
Sudden changes in behaviour
Running away from home
Emotional withdrawal through lack of trust in adults
Unexplained sources of money or ‘gifts’
Inappropriate sexually explicit drawings or stories
Bedwetting or soiling
Overeating or anorexia
Secrets which cannot be told
Reports of assault
TYPE OF ABUSE: Bullying
Bingeing for example on food, cigarettes or alcohol
Erratic mood swings
Reluctance to go to school, activities or sports clubs
A drop in performance at school or standard of play
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CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
Responding to suspicions and allegations of abuse and poor practice
It is important to maintain an open culture where employees, volunteers, elected members, children, parents or carers feel able to express concern about child protection issues and issues of dealing with children and vulnerable adults.
This procedure and guidance applies whenever it is alleged that a member of ‘staff’ including temporary, contract and agency staff, and volunteers or elected members has:
• Behaved in a way that has or may potentially harm a child or put them at risk
• Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child
• Behaved towards a child in a way which indicates s/he is unsuitable to work with children
• Previously been involved in child abuse
If an allegation relating to a child is made about a person who undertakes paid or unpaid work with vulnerable adults, consideration must be given to the possible need to alert those who manage her/him in that role.
Any employee, child or young person reporting concerns under this Policy is assured that their concerns will be taken seriously and treated sensitively. Formal referrals from professionals cannot be treated as anonymous and the parent will ultimately become aware of the identity of the referrer.
West End Classrooms Ltd will not tolerate harassment of any employee, child or young person who raises concerns of child abuse.
False allegations do occur. However, if a child indicates that they are being abused, or information is obtained which gives concern that a child is being abused, this should never be ignored.
Any allegation of abuse must be reported to the designated Deputy Child Protection Officer or Lead Officer for Child Protection.
Responding to a young person making a disclosure or allegation
ACTION TO BE TAKEN
A member of staff receiving information should:
react calmly so as not to frighten the child
reassure the child that they are right to tell
not make promises of confidentiality, but let them know that you will have to tell another adult
take what the child says seriously, recognising the difficulties inherent in interpreting what is said by a child
keep questions to an absolute minimum to ensure a clear and accurate understanding of what has been said. Questions should not be leading and should consist of Who…? What…? When…?Where…?
tell them what you will do next and with whom the information will be shared
make a full written record of what has been said (using the child’s own words), heard and/or seen as soon as possible. Note the date and time, any names mentioned and to whom the information was given. Ensure the record is signed and dated.
ACTIONS TO BE AVOIDED
The person receiving information should not:
allow their shock or distaste to show
probe for more information than is offered
speculate or make assumptions
make negative comments about the alleged abuser
approach the alleged abuser
make promises to keep secrets
discuss the issue with anyone other than the Designated Officer, the line manager or Head of Service.
RESPONDING TO SUSPECTED ABUSE
It is essential that employees understand that child abuse is a complex issue, and that diagnosis of the validity of an allegation is the responsibility of relevant, expert agencies. The role of employees is to report and refer any concerns, not to investigate or judge.
All witnessed, suspected or alleged violations of the Child Protection Policy will be immediately reported to the designated Child Protection Officer, who will record and act on these in a confidential manner in accordance with the standardised process and the best interests of the child. West End Classrooms Ltd will take appropriate action to protect the child/children in question from further harm and others in the organisation during and following an incident or allegation. The relevant contact details for child protection services, local social services department, police, emergency medical help and help lines (e.g. NSPCC) will also be readily available and easily accessible.