Children’s Safeguarding Policy
The Parish of the Whitacres, Lea Marston and Shustoke
in the Diocese of Birmingham
This revised document was adopted alongside the diocesan document ‘God’s Children: Our Diocese’ by the PCC on 27th February 2019 and will be reviewed on or before 27th February 2020.
1. Information - including roles of safeguarding officers
2. Definitions of child abuse
3. Taking Action - Disclosure, Concerns & Suspicions
4. Working with Children and Young People
5. Health and Safety
6. Appendix - including application forms and reference letters
Our policy is in line with the Children’s Safeguarding Policy of the Diocese of Birmingham, ‘God’s Children: Our Diocese’. For further information or greater clarity please see the full diocesan document copies of which are kept in the Rectory and the church vestrys. Contact details for relevant agencies can also be found in the main document.
We believe that every child has the right to a safe and happy childhood. As a church we believe in encouraging our children to grow in the knowledge of God’s love and that love must be modelled by the adults who have the responsibility of teaching and caring for those children who attend our children’s groups. It is therefore our responsibility to ensure that the children in our church community are protected and valued.
This policy will be reviewed annually.
Role of the Incumbent – Reverend Becky Stephens
The role of the incumbent is as is written in the diocesan document ‘God’s Children: Our Diocese’ in section 7.1. In addition to this the incumbent will also
· be the person to whom the Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator will report
· have responsibility for recruiting suitable children’s workers and youth workers. The Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator must be fully aware of those matters about which the incumbent needs to be informed.
Role of the Parish Safeguarding Children Co-Ordinator - Vanessa Gaskin
The Co-ordinator has an essential role in a parish in relation to child protection. The Coordinator should be a lay person interested in taking best care of children and young people and those working directly with them. The Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator should have some understanding of child protection issues, for example through their work; a person with recent experience of child protection social work may be a useful recruit to this post. In exceptional circumstances it may be necessary for the parish priest to be the Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator, but this is generally not desirable.
Main purpose of the job
· To adopt the role of parish representative on all matters relating to the protection of children and young people and to help the parish develop a culture of ‘informed vigilance’.
· They will be known to the Bishop’s Safeguarding Advisor and will be kept informed of developments and training events regarding child protection.
· They will maintain direct and regular links with those responsible for work with children and young people and will provide support in all aspects of child protection and safe practice.
· They will be known to the congregation.
The Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator will be notified to the Bishop’s Safeguarding Advisor and will be kept informed of developments and training events regarding child protection. The Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator will maintain direct and regular links with those responsible for work with children and young people and will provide support in all aspects of child protection and safe practice.
The Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator is responsible to the incumbent and the Parochial Church Council.
Main duties of the job
1. To be responsible for the cascading of information in respect of Diocesan policy developments, local parish policy developments and training opportunities for children’s workers and youth workers regarding child protection and safe practice.
2. To provide support and/or advice to the incumbent and to all children’s workers and youth workers in respect of the following:
a. Concerns about the welfare of specific children or young people within the parish;
b. Concerns about the behaviour of specific adults within the parish.
The Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator should ensure that, when appropriate, situations are referred to the relevant statutory child protection agencies, namely the local children’s social care services department and/or the police child protection team, and that the Bishop’s Safeguarding Advisor is informed of any referral.
The Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator must ensure that the incumbent is kept informed of any concerns about the welfare of a child or young person, or about the behaviour of an adult, and of any specific advice given to the children’s workers or youth workers/volunteers where concerns exist.
3. To be aware of issues relating to the following situations and to access specific advice from other sources should the need arise:
a. The management of risk in respect of known offenders and their contact with children and young people at church;
b. Support for families of abused children;
c. Support for survivors of abuse;
d. The possible impact on individual members of the church community when a referral is made to a statutory agency.
4. To take responsibility for ensuring that the following records are maintained and kept up to date within the parish:
a. All activities involving children and young people within the parish;
b. The details of all those appointed as children’s workers or youth workers/volunteers;
c. The dates by which the various safe recruitment procedures have been completed (as outlined in the Diocesan policy ‘God’s Children: Our Diocese’) in respect of each worker/volunteer;
d. The training completed by all children’s workers and youth worker/volunteers regarding child protection issues.
e. It is important that the PCC are aware of the type of information that will be recorded by the Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator and that the database or system complies with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.
5. To ensure that a parish child protection policy is in place, that it is in accordance with and reflects the Diocesan policy ‘God’s Children: Our Diocese’ and that it is reviewed at least annually.
6. To monitor whether all children’s workers and youth workers/volunteers have received initial child protection training and to encourage them to attend update training at least every three years.
7. Given the accountability and commitment to confidentiality made by the Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator, he/she is ideally placed to assist the incumbent with the following stages in the recruitment process:
a. Assisting the incumbent in interviews either by arranging dates and/or by accompanying the incumbent at the interviews. It is good practice for the interview to be the first stage of the recruitment process. This will provide applicants with an opportunity to discuss any potential problems regarding their DBS or confidential declaration with the incumbent. Applicants should be given the option of a private meeting with their incumbent; this is because there may be matters they would rather not discuss with any other person.
b. Issuing paperwork to applicants:
i. Confidential declaration forms
ii. Application forms
iii. Job descriptions
c. Requesting references
d. Arranging training
Role of the Parish Identity Verifier - Janice Hopkins
The Parish Identity Verifier should have some understanding of child protection issues, for example through their work. They will be responsible for taking people through the process of obtaining a DBS check. She/he will set up the form for the applicant to fill out on line and later verify all documents brought to her/him in person. It is also the role of the verifier to keep a record of when current DBS forms need to be renewed.
Role of the Children’s Advocate – Gill Noble and Adam Collins
The Children’s Advocate/s should be on the PCC as someone who can be a voice and speak on behalf of the children in the parish. The person will represent the children’s views and needs with regard to ministry, mission, worship and their pastoral care, which might include being someone to whom children or young people feel they can go to with concerns or even to disclose abuse.
The Advocate should:
a. receive child protection training;
b. be checked under normal parish child protection procedures including enhanced checking through DBS;
c. be in regular contact with children through activities in the parish;
d. be in regular contact with those with those who lead activities or groups for children in the parish, attending children’s team meetings in order to be aware of any issues regarding children which need to be raised at PCC;
e. attend PCC meetings;
f. be notified to the Bishop’s Safeguarding Advisor as the Parish Children’s Advocate in order to be kept informed of developments and training events regarding children’s ministry;
g. be notified to the church congregation;
h. be notified to the children and young people in the parish.
Role of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor
The role of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor is outlined in section 7.2 of the ‘God’s Children: Our Diocese’ document. This person in this role is currently: Steph Haynes; T: 07342 993844; E: StephH@cofebirmingham.com
Steph Haynes must be informed of all cases reported to or by us where a child is subject to abuse of any kind. If you are unsure whether to contact Steph then the Safeguarding Training & Development Officer: Claire Wesley; T: 0121 426 0432; E: ClaireW@cofebirmingham.com
2. Definitions of Abuse
Child abuse has many forms. There are four identified categories of abuse as described in the interdepartmental government Guidelines ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ 2010 – physical, emotional, sexual and neglect. Children may suffer from one or a combination of categories of abuse. The categories are defined as follows:
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 carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.
The impact of physical abuse: Physical abuse can lead directly to pain, injury, neurological damage, disability or – at the extreme – death. Harm may be caused both by the abuse itself, and by its taking place in the context of conflict and aggression, including the inappropriate use of physical restraint. In turn, physical abuse has been linked to aggressive behaviour on the part of the child and to emotional, behavioural and educational difficulties. Where a child is disabled, injuries or behavioural symptoms may mistakenly be attributed to their disability rather than the abuse. The physical abuse of children frequently coexists with domestic violence.
Emotional Abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on 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. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment or a child, though it may occur alone.
The impact of emotional abuse: There is increasing evidence that sustained emotional abuse, including serious bullying, has adverse long-term effects on children’s development and on their mental health, behaviour and self esteem. It can be especially damaging in infancy. Underlying emotional abuse may be as important, if not more so, than other more visible forms of abuse. In families where the child experiences a low level of emotional warmth and a high level of criticism, negative incidents may have a more damaging impact. A dysfunctional home where there is, for example, domestic violence, or substance misuse, will have an impact on a child, even if they are not directly involved. In extreme cases, emotional abuse can lead to suicide.
Sexual Abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
The impact of sexual abuse: Disturbed behaviour including self harm, inappropriate sexualized behaviour, sadness, depression and loss of self esteem, have all been linked to sexual abuse. In disabled children these behaviours have sometimes mistakenly been attributed to their disability. The impact of sexual abuse is believed to increase the longer abuse continues, the more extensive it is, the older the child, the extent of premeditation, and the degree of threat and coercion. Sadism and bizarre or unusual elements also affect the severity of impact. The adverse effects of sexual abuse may endure into adulthood. The support of a non-abusive adult carer who believes the child, helps them understand the abuse, and can offer help and protection, increases a child’s ability to cope. (NB this role is not to be undertaken by church people and carers without full endorsement and support from the statutory authorities.) A proportion of adults who sexually abuse children have themselves been sexually abused as children. They may also have been exposed as children to domestic violence and discontinuity of care. However, it would be quite wrong to suggest that most children who are abused will inevitably go on to become abusers themselves. Sexual abuse occurs in all communities in Britain, and is acceptable in none.
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 carer failing to:
• provide adequate food, clothing and 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.
The impact of neglect: Severe and/or persistent neglect of young children is associated with major impairment of growth and intellectual development, and long-term difficulties with social functioning, relationships and educational progress. Neglected children may also experience low self esteem, and feelings of being unloved and isolated. Neglect can also result, in extremecases, in death. The impact of neglect varies depending on how long the child has been abused, their age and the multiplicity of neglectful behaviours experienced.
How to spot the signs
· A child may be thin and pale, look tired and be poorly cared for – for example unwashed, shoes too tight, lack of warm clothes or always hungry.
· There may be repeated signs of bruising or marks which are quite different from the usual childhood bruises and cuts; this bruising may be unexplained or untreated. For example, burn marks or pressure bruises from fingertips, or red marks round the neck.
· A leader may come across evidence of a severe beating by a strap or stick, with harsh bruising across the back, buttocks or legs, with skin broken in places.
· A child who has been cheerful and outgoing suddenly becomes withdrawn and depressed.
· A child who becomes naughty or disruptive. S/he may lie, steal and be destructive. Such a child is usually unpopular, and the behaviour may obscure the child’s need for help.
· A child who acts out sexual behaviour of an adult kind.
· A child who appears ‘frozen’ and fearful, and flinches when an adult moves towards them.
· A child who draws pictures of a sexually explicit nature or of violence in the home.
· A child who gives inappropriate explanations for bruises or burn marks.
· A child who tells you about being asked to keep a secret or drops hints about abuse.
· A child who confides a story of physical or sexual abuse – perhaps about a parent or carer well known to the confidante. Such a story must be taken seriously. The telling of such a story is an indicator of problems, whether or not all the details of the story are credible. It is very important that the listener does not appear shocked, and listens carefully.
· A child who uses sexually explicit language and behaviour which would not normally be expected at their age and stage of development.
3. Taking Action: Disclosure, Concerns & Suspicions
For a child to confide in an adult that s/he is being/has been abused, they must feel enough trust to be able to tell about their problem. This is both a privilege and a responsibility. It is important to be aware that:
· the child may want the abuse to stop but still love the abuser
· the child may think you are able to stop the abuse without anything else happening.
If it is possible, try to have another adult present whilst the child speaks, but do not prevent the child from speaking if this is not a possibility or if it would inhibit the child.
· Take time
· Take it seriously
· Reassure the child that he/she is right to tell
· Be honest with the child
· Be clear that, in order to help the child, you cannot keep this information to yourself
· Explain to the child what will happen next, and reassure that you will support them
· Consult and get support, but only from someone who needs to know and who will keep the matter confidential
· Write down immediately what the child has said. Have your signature witnessed and dated by the Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator
· Report to the Bishop’s Safeguarding Advisor or the Children’s Social Care Services Department
· Show shock
· Try to silence
· Ask leading questions
· Keep the secret or agree to keep the secret
· Jump to conclusions
· Alert the perpetrator
· Make promises you can’t keep
How do I respond - what so I say?
Try to avoid asking/saying:
· What, why, how, when, where, who?
· Are you sure?
· Why didn’t you say before? or saying:
· I can’t believe it
· I am shocked Try to say:
· I’m glad you came to me
· I’m sorry this has happened
· I’m going to get help so that this stops happening
· You have been very brave to tell me
· You were right to tell me
How you get these messages across will depend on the age and ability of the child/young person.
How to report any concerns
If you are suspicious of abuse (following the guidelines in section 2 for recognising signs of abuse) contact the Incumbent or the Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator for further advice. If someone has spoken to you about abuse they are being subjected to, or abuse that another child is being subjected to, it is vital that you make a record of all conversations. This information must then be passed to the Incumbent and/or the Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator. Make a further record of this conversation, noting all decisions made.
Once the appropriate people have been informed they will then follow the procedure as outlined in section 3 of the God’s Children: Our Diocese document copies of which are held in the Rectory and the church vestrys. This document can also be found on the diocese website at http://www.cofebirmingham.com/documents/view/gods-children-our-diocese.
All incidences must be reported to the Bishop’s Safeguarding Advisor.
If the concern involves the Incumbent then you must report to the Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator who will contact the Bishop’s Safeguarding Advisor. If the Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator is unavailable someone in the Diocesan Safeguarding Team whose details are on p6 of this document.
NOTE: if your concern is urgent or the child is in danger call the emergency services and/or the Children's Social Care Services on 01926 410410 (if outside normal office hours call 01926 886922).
Support for those involved
Support for the child, the child’s parents, the alleged abuser and the person who made the report will receive support from the church as laid out in the God’s Children: Our Diocese document sections 11:10 - 11:14 held in the Rectory, in the church vestrys or can be found on the diocese website at http://www.cofebirmingham.com/documents/view/gods-children-our-diocese
4. Working with Children and Young People
· All those in employed or voluntary roles working with children MUST have a DBS check and have completed a confidential declaration form (App 1). They must also provide details of 2 referees (App 2). An interview with the incumbent may also be necessary.
· All those working with children must have read and agreed to this document.
· All those working with children must have read the Diocesan Document - God’s Children: Our Diocese, in particular section 4.8 – Internet and Mobile Phone Safety and section 4.9 – photograps of Children and Risk of Abuse.
· No-one should agree to be ‘friends’ with someone under the age of 18 in any social networking media/forum.
· DBS applications are obtainable through Janice Hopkins who will support the application process.
· The Parish Safeguarding Children Co-ordinator and the Incumbent are responsible for ensuring all those who work with children have received the appropriate training and have a successful DBS check.
· There will be an ongoing review of all those who work with children and young people.
5. Health and Safety
The Parish of The Whitacres, Lea Marston and Shustoke has a Health and Safety policy that covers general issues.
The church wardens and the PCC are responsible for assessing and reviewing general health and safety procedures on church premises. Appointed children and youth workers are additionally responsible for ensuring children are not at risk, for example checking that:
· All equipment used is in good order
· Risk assessments are taken on all on and off site activities
· Accidents are recorded in the accident book.
The Parish of The Whitacres, Lea Marston and Shustoke carries insurance covering public liability.