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With everything that is happening world wide it is important that every organisation takes the necessary steps to protect the children and young people who are entrusted into their care.
Under the UK's Children's Act 1989 we all have a responsibility for the well-being of children. How can the church take up this responsibility? In the following document I hope to give you some thoughts and information that will help.
Let us start by asking two questions:
1. Who are we seeking to protect?
First and foremost the children in our care, second people working with children and third the organisation.
2. Who are we seeking to protect the children from?
Anyone who would abuse. This includes the attentions of paedophiles (a paedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to children). I am told paedophiles are not normally opportunist and will go to the extent of taking several years to gain a position of trust within an organisation, and, from this established position, abuse. With this in mind, a child protection policy is the best form of protection we can offer our young people. A paedophile who is looking to target a church will think again where there is a pro-active policy and action taken on every allegation.
Every church should, therefore, have stated guidelines for the operation of all ministries and projects where young people are involved and a policy dealing with any allegations of abuse. If church leaders are not pro-active in their efforts to protect children in this way then they are negligent in their duty. Some church leaders see their responsibility only in terms of reacting in certain ways once a situation has occurred, this is like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Only here we are not talking of livestock but people's lives that can be damaged in the most hideous ways imaginable. We need to move the emphasis away from abuse and towards protection, the aim is to prevent abuse happening, rather than only getting involved once damage has been done.
If you are a member of a church ask your leadership what their stated policy is for the protection of children, don't be satisfied with anything less than a recognised policy. Remember we are all responsible for the well-being of children.
How as a church can we formulate a policy?
Here is a simple step by step process for your church to have its own child protection policy, no matter where in the world your church is based.
PROTECT THE CHILDREN
The statement of your Church on the protection of Children:
* As the people of your Church we are concerned with the wholeness of each individual within God's purpose for everyone.
* We seek to safeguard all members of the church community, of all ages. It is the responsibility of each one of us to prevent the physical, sexual or emotional abuse of children and young people.
* It is the duty of a person working with children and young people to prevent abuse and report any abuse discovered or suspected.
Safe from Harm - the Home Office Code of Practice
Safe from Harm was prepared to provide voluntary organisations with guidelines for safeguarding the welfare of children and young people in their care.
It applies to all workers in voluntary organisations, including the churches, whether they are paid or volunteers.
It encourages the development of good policies and practice to prevent the physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children and young people while they are in their care.
At the same time it protects those who work with children and young people from unfounded accusations or from behaving in ways which may be well-intentioned but inadvisable.
The Home Office guidelines are a challenge to every church:
* Adopt a policy statement on safeguarding the welfare of children.
This is the responsibility of the church council. Please see the facing page, church statement of protection of children.
* Plan the work of the organisation so as to minimise situations where the abuse of children may occur.
Please see the Children's work policy documents, children at risk and discipline in children's work.
* Introduce a system whereby children may talk with an independent person.
Please see the Children's work policy documents, children at risk.
* Apply agreed procedures for children to all paid staff and volunteers.
All new helpers and leaders will be expected to show that they have knowledge of the procedures agreed by the church council.
* Give all paid staff and volunteers clear roles.
All leaders and helpers will be expected to work within the roles agreed to in their job description. The leader or helper and the church council will both retain copies of the Job description.
* Use supervision as a means to protecting children.
Leaders should regularly review with the helpers ways and means of implementing these guidelines.
* Treat all would-be paid staff and volunteers as job applicants for any position involving contact with children.
All leaders and helpers will be expected to complete the approved application form before an interview is conducted.
* Gain at least one reference from a person who has experience of the applicant's paid work or volunteering with children.
All applicants will be expected to provide a personal referee before an appointment is made.
* Explore the applicants experience of working or contact with children in an interview before appointment.
All applicants will be interviewed by an elder or another person nominated by the church council.
* Find out whether an applicant has any conviction for criminal offences against children.
All situations which involve work with children and young people are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that all convictions which relate to children and young people, however old, must be declared. Information about other convictions must also be given, as these may be relevant to the suitability of the person.
* Make paid and volunteer appointments conditional on the successful completion of a probationary period.
Applicants for paid or volunteer work with children or young people must have the appointment confirmed by the church council and then begin a probationary period, which shall normally be for twelve months, but may be extended or reduced as required.
* Issue guidelines on how to deal with disclosure or discovery of abuse.
Please see the Children's work policy document "children at risk"
* Train paid staff and volunteers, their line managers or supervisors and policy makers in the prevention of child abuse.
All workers with children whether paid or volunteers shall agree to undertake training as preparation for the service applicable to the work they wish to do.
Please do not see "protect the children" as a threat to existing work, rather it is a way of making even more effective the care and love which inspires both the work and the workers.
your CHURCH - CHILDREN'S WORK
POLICY DOCUMENT - CHILDREN AT RISK (CHILD ABUSE)
Purpose of Document:-
The purpose of this document is to inform those working with children that some children do get abused, and to advise them of the procedure to be carried out if abuse is disclosed to them, or if they suspect abuse. This will assist us in providing a secure environment to children.
First and most important - Whether it is your first contact with suspected child abuse or not:-
a Ensure the welfare of the child.
b Talk to someone.
Should you encounter any situation involving a child which gives you cause for concern; make a written note of the conversation, observation, dates, times, names, etc. Pass on this information immediately to your line manager/church leader, (i.e. named leaders.. ........................................)
Do not be afraid to be wrong.
1 What is a child?
Any person under the age of 18 years.
2 What is abuse?
a Physical abuse - includes hitting, shaking, squeezing, burning, biting, administering poisonous substances, suffocating/drowning, excessive force.
b Neglect - a failure to meet basic essential needs of a child, or if a child is left unsupervised at a young age.
c Emotional abuse - children harmed by constant lack of love and affection, or threats, verbal attacks, taunting or shouting.
d Sexual abuse - involvement of dependent, developmentally immature children or adolescents, in sexual activity that they do not fully comprehend, or to which they are unable to give informed consent, or which violate the social taboos of family roles.
(A child may suffer more than one category of abuse)
3. Who abuses children?
4. How might we recognise abuse?
Warning signs: They are only a guide, they are not necessarily proof of abuse, but may be an indication of:-
a Changes or regression in mood or behaviour, particularly where a child withdraws or becomes clinging.
c.Sudden under-achievement or lack of concentration.
d Changed or inappropriate relationships with peers and/or adults.
e Attention seeking behaviour.
f Persistent tiredness.
g Running away/stealing/lying.
Other areas where leaders should be vigilant are:-
a Any injuries not consistent with the explanation given for them, or where differing explanations have been received.
b Injuries which occur to the body in places which are not normally exposed to falls, rough games, etc.
c Injuries and illnesses which have not received medical attention.
d Instances where children are kept away from the group or school inappropriately.
e Reluctance to change for, or participate in, games or swimming.
f Any signs of neglect, undernourishment or inadequate care.
g Any allegations made by a child concerning sexual abuse.
h Child with excessive preoccupation with sexual matters, and detailed knowledge of adult sexual behaviour, or who regularly engages in age inappropriate sexual play.
i Sexual activity through words, play or drawing.
j Child who is sexually provocative or seductive with adults.
k Inappropriate bed sharing arrangements at home.
l Severe sleep disturbance with fears, phobias, vivid dreams or nightmares, sometimes with overt or veiled sexual connotation.
One or more warning signs may be evident.
Many symptoms of distress in a child can point to abuse, but there are other explanations too. This (together with conflicting medical opinion), has sometimes been the reason for falsely accusing parents of sexual abuse. It is important that the above signs are not taken as indicating that abuse has taken place, but that the possibility should be considered far more than in the past. They should make us stop and think - not jump to conclusions inappropriately!
5 What to do if abuse is suspected.
a We have a responsibility: The children's Act 1989 was brought out as a means to promote and protect the welfare of all children, and within the working together framework states that
"The community as a whole has a responsibility for the well-being of children. This means that all citizens should remain alert to circumstances in which children may be harmed. Individuals can assist the statutory authorities by bringing cases to their attention. Relatives, friends and neighbours of children are particularly well placed to do so, but they must know what to do if they are concerned, in addition to providing support for the family and child, which may include help caring for the child. They must also be confident, because of the difficult and sensitive nature of the situation, that any information they provide will be treated in a confidential way and used only to protect the interests of the child. They should know too that early action on their part is often the best way of helping a family stay together as well as protecting their child".
b The local Social Services note the following in their preamble when dealing with voluntary social work agencies involved in child care.
(i) Voluntary agency staff involved with families and children are likely to receive referrals/information/allegations or witness concerns suggestive of the need for a child protection investigation under section 47 of the 1989 Children's Act. It is the responsibility of the voluntary agency to refer concerns to the Social Services department.
(ii) The role of the voluntary agency in these circumstances, except in the case of medical emergency, is essentially to collect and clarify the precise details of the allegation, and provide information to the Social Services department, whose task it is to investigate under section 47 of the 1989 Children's Act.
The role of the voluntary agency is not an investigative one.
6. Responding to abuse
If a child has a physical injury or symptom of neglect:
* Contact your line manager/church leader immediately, (in children's work at your
Church this will be (named leaders)....................................................)
If there are allegations of sexual abuse:
Further guidance in responding to abuse:
Whilst the church worker will normally consult with their line manager/church leader before reporting incidents/suspicions of child abuse to the Social Services Department, the absence of the line managers should not delay referral to the Social Services Department. Exceptionally, should there be any disagreement between the worker and line manager as to the appropriateness of such a referral, the church worker nevertheless retains the right as a member of the public to report serious matters to the Social Services Department.
All children's workers should be aware that any allegations or suspicions are covered by pastoral confidentiality, and that therefore church members have no rights to this information. The sharing of information is therefore limited to a need to Know basis. This will protect the interests of all the parties concerned.
N.B. - Church leaders will often experience difficulty in making appropriate judgements. Professionals (e.g.. Family doctors) are advised that they should discuss their suspicions with a specialist colleague first, with a view to then informing the statutory agencies. Similarly, Watton Community Church leaders will seek the advice of the PCCA on how to handle such disclosures and avail themselves of the follow up support, provided by the PCCA, at each stage of the process.
7 Third party /anonymous referrals/allegations:
Families not known to the church:
Families known to the church:
8 How should we react if a child tells us he/she has been abused?
Children's workers are in a unique position and your relationship with children cannot be underestimated. Your group may be providing a safe haven, and perhaps the only place where a child feels comfortable and able to talk to adults. It is therefore possible that a child may approach you to talk about abuse.
The following guidance may be of help:-
a General points:-
(i) Accept what the child says.
(ii) Keep calm, do not appear to be shocked.
(iii) Look at the child directly.
(iv) Be honest.
(v) Let them know that you will need to tell someone else - don't promise confidentiality.
(vi) Even when a child has broken a rule they are not to blame for the abuse.
(vii) Be aware the child may have been threatened.
(viii) Make notes as soon as possible, writing down exactly what the child said, including the child's name, age, address, relevant family information, and details of the situation and the activity that preceded disclosure
(ix) Never push for information or question the child.
b Helpful things to say:-
(i) I believe you.
(ii) I am glad you have told me.
(iii) It's not your fault.
(iv) I will try to help you.
c Avoid saying:-
(i) Why didn't you tell anyone before.
(ii) I can't believe it.
(iii) Are you sure this is true.
(iv) Why? How? When? Who? Where?
(v) Never make false promises.
(vi) Never make statements such as "I'm shocked, don't tell anyone else"
(i) Again reassure the child they were right to tell you and that you believe them.
(ii) Let the child know what you are going to do next, and that you will let them know what happens.
(iii) Immediately refer to your line manager.
(even if abuse is no longer happening it is still important to report the matter, as the adult may be abusing other children. Also it may be that the child will need guidance and help in overcoming the effects of the abuse, plus the police may wish to prosecute).
9 Practicalities for mutual protection of leaders and children
involved in children's work.
a Avoid being on your own with any child. This may mean groups working in one large room, or adjoining rooms.
b Never take a child home on your own - preferably have another helper with you, or else ensure that the last two children are dropped off together.
(Remember an allegation could also be made against you!)
c Be wise in your physical contact with children.
d Be wise with your relationship with the children - do not be over friendlywith some at the expense of others. No favourites.
e Male helpers need to be particularly careful in what they say, and in being around forward young females. Female helpers similarly need to be careful with forward young male children.
f Never smack, hit or physically discipline a child except by "holding" which may be used if there is an immediate danger of personal injury to the child or another person.
g If you feel that a child may have a "crush" on you, pray about it and talk to your line manager for advice and guidance.
h In order to help children, we need to develop healthy relationships by listening to them and respecting them.
i We must be mindful of the safety of the children at all times, and in all circumstances.
j Whenever possible have two adults present with a group, particularly when it is the only activity taking place on the church premises and do not take a group off the premises with fewer than two adults.
k Where confidentiality is important (e.g. counselling a young person) ensure that others know that the interview is taking place and that someone else is around in the building.
l Prayer works and helps in each and every circumstance.
a the level of personal care (e.g. toiletting) appropriate and related to the age of the child - accepting that some children have special needs
b guidance on touch. For example, physical contact between adults and children can be quite healthy and to be encouraged in public places, discouraged in circumstances where an adult/child on their own.
c workers should treat all children/young people with dignity and respect in attitude, language used and actions.
d respect the privacy of children, avoid questionable activity (e.g. rough/sexually provocative games or comments)
e if you invite a child to your home, ensure another adult is present and the parent is aware
f if transporting a child on their own, then it is better that the young person in the back seat.
a It should be accepted that anyone seeing another worker acting in a way which could be misinterpreted should be able to speak to the individual or the line manager about the concern.
b regular worker's to review procedures to ensure common approach, sharing concerns and identifying other matters which may need clarification and guidance.
c encourage report back to such a meeting when departure from guidelines becomes necessary - this provides protection to the individual and draws the leadership's attention to shortcomings and problem areas.
e Keep brief records of issues/decisions discussed at workers meetings.
iv) Helping children to protect themselves by:
a teaching safety generally/strangers/good and bad secrets and touches, etc.
b help children develop common sense rules.
c talk about suspicions or situations where they feel uncomfortable.
d examine the way in which we present Christian truths, e.g. children obeying parents. This can be a real problem for a child who is being abused - are we telling the child to accept the abuse? Tell children that if they feel uncomfortable or that something may be wrong, they can always check things out with another adult. This will need to be explained:
e.g. if someone asks you to steal sweets from a shop; it doesn't include complaints about bedtimes!!
No children's worker is permitted to divulge any information concerning a child, or his/her family or anything a child may tell them to anyone other than the designated people previously mentioned. This is in order to protect the interests of the child. This confidentiality is a continuing requirement at all times and is required when workers are "off duty" or no longer involved in the work.
( minister) ( Elder )
( Deacons )
PCCA Child Care
P.O. Box 133
Kent BR8 7UQ
---- ---------, or ----- ---------, or ------- ---------
Reception and referral desk
The emergency only, out of office hours No.
child protection police officer
Your CHURCH - CHILDREN'S WORK
POLICY DOCUMENT - DISCIPLINE IN CHILDREN'S WORK
1 What is discipline?
Discipline is the education of a person's character.
It includes nurturing, training, instruction, chastisement, verbal rebuke, teaching and encouragement.
2 Why discipline?
It brings security, produces character, prepares for life, is evidence of love and is God's heart. Hebrews 12:6 and Proverbs 22:6.
3 Do's and don t's of discipline in children's work:-
a We need to be insistent, consistent and persistent.
b NEVER smack, or hit a child.
c Discipline out of love NEVER anger. (It is better to let a matter pass than discipline in anger - you may say something you regret, and that damage cannot be repaired).
d Do not shout in anger or put down a child.
e Lay down ground rules e.g., no swearing, racism, or calling each other names, a respect for property.
f Keep the ground rules simple and clear, and make sure the children understand what procedure will be taken if they are not kept.
g Talk to a child away from the 'group', not publicly. (explain what they have done wrong, encourage remorse and leave them on a positive note).
h Never reject a child, just the behaviour. (Encourage the child that you want them, but you are not willing to accept the behaviour).
i Each child is unique, special and individual, and each child needs a different method of being dealt with. We therefore need to ask ourselves:-
(i) Why is the child behaving like that?
(ii) Ask God for wisdom, discernment and understanding.
(iii) What is the best method for disciplining and encouraging that child?
(iv) What encourages and builds children up?
(v) Work on each individual child's positives, do not compare them to each other.
(vi) Work on relationships.
(vii) Be a good role model and set a good example. (Don't expect children to do what you don't do and vice-versa).
(viii) Take care to give quieter and well behaved children attention and don't allow some children to take all your time and energy.
(ix) Don't say something you don't mean, and do stick to what you say, (otherwise we are implying negative teaching to the children). (Think before you speak).
(x) Pray for the children and with the children.
5 Some practical ideas for the classroom and bad-behaviour discipline:-
a Change voice tone.
b Separate children who have a tendency to be disruptive when together. (These children are often friends, don't separate them straight away, give them a chance, perhaps warn them and only separate if they are disruptive).
c Have the child sit right in front of you.
d Get a helper to sit next to the child.
e Pay no attention to them.
f Be proactive and encourage helpers to be proactive and not wait to be told to deal with a situation.
g Take the child aside and talk to them, challenging them to change, whilst encouraging them on their strengths.
h Warn a child that you will speak to their parents and do so if necessary. (With some non-churched children we need to be wise in this, as speaking to parents may incur parent's wrath on the child and a ban from attending).
i If a child's behaviour is constantly disruptive, seek advice and guidance from your line manager.
j Don't be afraid of discipline.
k Warn them, send them outside the room (care re supervision), back into the service or ban them for a week. (Never a total ban without reference to your line manager and ensure parents are advised in case of banning).
l Encourage good behaviour.
m Remember each child is individual and unique. We need God's wisdom and love to encourage each one to reach their potential and to recognise their needs.
n Pray before you meet.
APPLICATION FORM FOR VOLUNTARY WORKERS WITH CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
The Church Council is responsible for the appointment of all workers with children and young people. Every worker should fill in a copy of this form which should be retained by the secretary of the church council.
Full Name ...............................................
Maiden or Former Name ......................................
Home Address ........................................
date of Birth ................................
How long have you lived at the above address? ................
if less than 12 months please give the following information:
previous address ...........................................
How long there? ......................
Name of church attended ...................................
Name of minister .........................................
Please give details of previous experience of looking after or working with children and/or young people, including details of training received.(use the reverse side if necessary)
Reference please give the name, address, telephone number and position or relationship of someone who knows you.
Declaration. (see note below *)
Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offence, or are you at present the subject of criminal charges?
Yes / No
(N.B. The disclosure of an offence may be no bar to your appointment)
Nature of Offence
Date of Offence ......................
signed ............................... date ..................
* Because of the nature of the work for which you are applying, this post is exempt from the provision of section 4 (ii) of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exemptions) Order 1975, and you are therefore not entitled to withhold information about convictions which for other purposes are 'spent' under the provisions of the Act and in the event of appointment, any failure to disclose such convictions could result in the withdrawal of approval to work with children and / or young people within the church.
JOB DESCRIPTION FOR WORKERS WITH CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
Under Home Office Guidelines this form should be completed for all workers with children and young people. If the role changes substantially a new form should be completed. Copies should be retained by the worker, and the Secretary to the Church Council.
TO BE COMPLETED ON BEHALF OF THE CHURCH COUNCIL
Name of worker ......................................
Name of Group (e.g. Junior Church) ....................................
Where/when they meet ................................................
Age range ...........................
Person to whom immediately responsible (e.g. Youth Group Leader)
Work to be undertaken:
Group to whom responsible (e.g. Church Council)
Signed on behalf of the Church Council
TO BE COMPLETED BY THE WORKER WITH CHILDREN/YOUNG PEOPLE
I have understood the nature of the work I am to do with children / young people. I have read the guidelines produced by the church for the protection of children and young people. I understand that it is my duty to protect the children and young people with whom I come into contact. I know what action to take if abuse is discovered or suspected.
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