Child/vulnerable person protection and safeguarding means protecting children/ vulnerable person from abuse in our church, schools, projects and any other church establishment, and identifying and stopping abuse that might already be happening. Abuse of a child or young person under the age of 18 is defined as follows.
• Abuse is a deliberate act of ill-treatment that can harm or is likely to harm a child or young person’s safety, well-being and development. Abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional.
• Neglect of a child or young person also constitutes abuse and can be defined as failing to provide or secure for a child or young person the basic needs of physical safety and well-being. As a church, our top priority is the protection of children and young people. We are not a statutory child care organisation – the police, children’s social care and NGO’s are the only agencies with statutory powers. But our staff and volunteers have an obligation and responsibility to protect, safeguard and promote the welfare of the children and young people and vulnerable adults with whom we work. An overall approach to child safeguarding is rooted in understanding the risks to children from the organisation/church/school, (its staff, programmes and operations) and addressing those risks with measures that create child-safe organisations.
Acknowledging risks and implementing measures to address them is fundamental to organisations’ strategies and governance. The more this is recognised, the more risks can be prevented. To achieve this your organisation needs to consider:
• Where, when and how your organisation affects children and what risks this presents
• What policies and procedures are needed to prevent harm and how to respond to concerns appropriately. • Who is the appropriate designated person/s to act as the focal point in an organisation to receive and manage any safeguarding concerns and subsequent inquiry/ investigation.
• What safeguarding induction and training is needed to ensure staff know what the organisation expects of them and what to do if they have a concern
• A clear code of conduct so that all staff understand their professional boundaries when working with children and what is and is not acceptable behaviour
• How to recruit safely. However, even with the most robust child safeguarding policies and procedures, abuse may still take place from within your organisation. At that point, it is how your organisation responds that is crucial for the child and for the organisation. By having strong safeguarding procedures and practice, we provide a safe place for children and young people to engage with us and the services we provide. We want the public to have confidence on our work/church activities.
Ensuring safeguarding runs as a golden thread through all we do is part of building that confidence with the public. Recruitment Church/School should outline its commitment to child safeguarding at the earliest opportunity in recruitment adverts, interviews and as part of contracts of employment. Staff, consultants and volunteers should be recruited to clear job or role descriptions that include a statement on the position or role’s responsibilities to meet the requirements of the organisation’s child safeguarding policy. All interviews should include a discussion on child safeguarding, the candidate’s understanding of this and the organisation’s commitment.
Contract offers for those whose work will bring them directly into contact with children, or gain them access to children’s information, should be dependent on suitable references and criminal record checks We employ experienced workers who have a focus on preventing abuse of children and young people. When we recruit staff and volunteers we follow safer recruitment processes. By having strong safeguarding procedures and practice, we provide a safe place for children and young people to engage with us and the services we provide. We want the public to have confidence our work. Ensuring safeguarding runs as a golden thread through all we do is part of building that confidence with the public.
Checklist for recruitment and selection
1. When you are designing the job description, analyse the role and think about the issues of child safeguarding and risk in that job: • What contact with children will the job involve?
• Will the employee have unsupervised access to children, or hold a position of trust?
• What other sort of contact may the person have with children (e.g via email, phone, letter, and internet)?
2. Develop clear job descriptions, terms of reference/role briefs for all posts including where short-term contracts, consultants are being recruited.
3. Make sure that the selection-criteria outlines the relevant experience needed if the post involves direct work with children.
4. Make sure that the commitment to keeping children safe is included in details of any post sent to prospective job candidates.
5. Develop application forms that ask for consent to gain information on a person’s past convictions/pending disciplinary proceedings.
6. Ask for documentation to confirm identity and proof of relevant qualifications.
7. Make sure you have a wellplanned interview process and ensure the interviewers have the relevant experience of and knowledge about child safeguarding and best practice.
8. Include some specific questions in the interview that draw out people’s attitudes and values in relation to the protection of children. Can they give examples of where they have acted to protect a child, what they learnt from this, what impact it has had their current practice?
9. Take up to three references including some from previous employees or others who have knowledge of the candidate’s experience and suitability to work with children.
10. Verify the identity of referees. How schools can protect children from abuse When your child is in school, the school is responsible for keeping them safe from harm and abuse. The school should create a safe learning environment, identify pupils who are suffering or at risk of harm and take suitable action. The school also needs to train staff in child protection. To help protect your child, the school should have:
• staff who are trained to identify signs of abuse including what to do if they or someone else is worried about a child
• a designated teacher responsible for dealing with child protection • procedures for checking staff before they work with children
• a child protection policy which includes procedures to be followed if a teacher or other member of staff is accused of harming a child The school should teach your child how to protect themselves. Personal, social and health education (PSHE) lessons explain:
• risky behaviour • suitable and inappropriate physical contact
• dealing with peer pressure Dealing with suspected cases of abuse School staff will listen to and work closely with parents to make sure your child feels safe and protected in the school environment. If you suspect that a child is being abused, you should report it to police or local social services. If you work in a school, you should tell the teacher responsible for child protection. They will take suitable action based on procedures set out by the local safeguarding children board, letting the authorities know where it is required. Once the authorities are told, they will decide what to do. The school’s role is then limited. School staff will not take part in an investigation, though they may be called on to give information. They may also be asked to give support to the child or young person.
• Okusaga Raphael works with St. Patrick’s Missionary society as Child safeguarding officer, District of West Africa, Maryland, Lagos