The Department for Education’s Working Together to Safeguard Children defines safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children as:
- protecting children from maltreatment;
- preventing impairment of children’s health or development;
- ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care;
- and undertaking that role so as to enable those children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.
Child protection is a part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. This refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering, or at risk of suffering significant harm.
This document applies to children and young people below the age of eighteen. The term ‘children’ will be used throughout the policy to apply to children and young people below the age of eighteen.
As a Prime Organisation for the Teaching Agency for Early Years Professional Status training and assessment (EYPS), Best Practice Network is fully committed to this policy for safeguarding the welfare of all children and young people, by taking all reasonable steps to protect them from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect.
This document outlines child protection policy and procedures. It is not a comprehensive ‘how to’ guide in child protection practice but relates specifically to the role of all those involved in working directly or indirectly with children in child protection practice, i.e. activity undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering or are at risk of suffering significant harm.
As an EYPS Prime Organisation, Best Practice Network has a responsibility to work with others to safeguard and promote children’s welfare. We are not a service-providing organisation but, nonetheless, staff may have varying degrees of contact with children and young people. It is essential that staff in contact with children, young people and their families have the requisite knowledge and skills to carry out their jobs safely and effectively. All staff have a responsibility to ensure the safety of children with whom they work.
This document outlines our commitment to the protection of children and aims to:
- Raise awareness of the need to protect children and young people and reduce risks to them;
- Ensure that when abuse is suspected or disclosed, it is clear what action must be taken.
We ensure that all staff, including freelance, contracted staff and/or associates are aware of the requirements within this policy. It is the responsibility of these groups to ensure that the personnel they are responsible for are aware of and understand the procedures and have levels of knowledge and skills commensurate to the level and nature of their direct involvement with children and young people.
We work within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and believe that:
- All children have the right to be protected;
- All children should be listened to and their views taken seriously;
- Children’s needs should be looked at holistically and should not be defined solely in terms of their abuse;
- All interventions must be child-centred;
- To effectively protect children, professionals must identify and work with safe and protective adults within children’s families and communities;
- Professionals need to be aware of how issues of race, gender, disability, culture, sexuality and age impact on an individual’s life experiences;
- Professionals need to be aware of how issues of race, gender, disability, culture, sexuality and age impact on their understanding of and response to keeping children safe;
- Joint working between agencies and disciplines is essential for the protection of children.
The following individuals will be required to read and sign this policy prior to undertaking any work or role relating to Best Practice Network:
- Any member of staff employed by Best Practice Network;
- Any agent acting on behalf of Best Practice Network in a capacity that may bring them into contact with children and young people;
- All volunteers and students aged 16 and over.
Definitions of abuse
Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. An individual may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or failing to act to prevent harm. Neglect or abuse, physically, emotionally or sexually, can have major long-term effects on all aspects of a child’s health, development and wellbeing. Sustained abuse is likely to have a deep impact on the child’s self-image and self-esteem, and on his or her future life.
Harm may occur intentionally or unintentionally. The definitions of harm outlined in Working Together 2010 are used to determine whether a child needs a child protection plan.
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or caregiver fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child so as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Parents/caregivers of children with multiple needs may find it difficult to ensure that the full range of their needs, including their emotional needs, is met. It may be hard to include such children in everyday activities alongside other family members, but not to include them may be harmful.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person into sexual activities, including prostitution, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of sexual online or printed images, watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or caregiver failing to:
- provide adequate food, clothing or shelter including exclusion from home or abandonment;
- protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
- ensure adequate supervision including the use of inadequate care-givers;
- ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
Abuse and Children with a Disability
Evidence available in the UK on the extent of abuse among children with a disability suggests that they are at increased risk of abuse, and that the presence of multiple disabilities appears to increase the risk of both abuse and neglect.
Disability may be defined as:
Children with a disability may be especially vulnerable to abuse for a number of reasons. Some may:
Where there are concerns about the welfare of a disabled child, they should be acted upon in accordance with these procedures in the same way as with any other child. The same thresholds for action and the same timescales apply. It would be unacceptable if poor standards of care were tolerated for disabled children that would not be tolerated for nondisabled children.
In any work with children and young people it is important to be clear about confidentiality. While personal information held by professionals and agencies is subject to a legal duty of confidence, and should not normally be disclosed without the subject’s consent, when there are concerns that a child is or may be at risk of significant harm, then the over-riding objective must be to safeguard that child and disclosure of information is imperative.
Confidentiality and child protection should be discussed with children and young people at the beginning of any piece of work, and reminders and information given from time to time, to ensure that they understand the processes and what responsibilities the staff members have. It is absolutely essential to be clear about the limits of confidentiality well before any such matter arises.
What to do if you are worried a child is being abused
Best Practice Network staff have no powers to investigate child abuse. Nonetheless, Best Practice Network staff and volunteers have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and a responsibility to work closely and co-operatively with other agencies in order to achieve this.
If, in the process of your work, a child discloses to you that they are being abused you will need to tell them that you must report it.
It is important to remember that an allegation of child abuse or neglect may lead to a criminal investigation, so any concerns must be properly recorded and shared with a line manager.
In the event of a situation in which you consider a child is at risk, you should contact the Best Practice Network designated office based child protection contact Rahim Ahmed on 0117 9209 202. If your call is out of office hours you will be directed to contact the Child Protection contact Jayne Clemence.
If you think a child is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.
If you witness something that is of severe concern, inform the manager at the time and tell the manager that you intend to pass on your concerns to Best Practice Network. You will need to inform us that day that you have referred this concern to the manager.
As you will be aware, every individual has the right to make a referral to Social Care (particularly if they feel their concerns are not being taken seriously) but we would always advise you to consult with the named people first.