Child & Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy

 

 

Child Protection Policy

Carrickfergus Photographic Society (CPS) believes that the care and welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility, particularly when it concerns protection from abuse. Not only does CPS actively protect children that come into contact with the Society, but by providing a safe environment we will encourage young people to participate in photography and the photographic arts.

 

"Children have the right to be protected from all forms of violence; they must be kept safe from harm, and they must be given proper care by those looking after them "

(Article 19; UN Convention on the Rights of the Child)

 

The legislation concerning the protection of vulnerable adults differs from that for children but for the purposes of this policy they shall benefit from the same degree of protection as that provided to children.

 

The following simple principles shall apply to promote the protection of children

 

  • The child’s welfare is the first consideration.

  • All children regardless of their age, gender, disability, race, religion or sexualidentity have the right to be protected from abuse and to be treated with dignity.

  • All those working with children should have the knowledge and awareness to permit them to make informed decisions to prevent placing themselves or children at risk.

 

We recognize that protecting children from abuse and promoting their welfare is largely a matter of common sense and a little thought at the outset can prevent misunderstanding and inappropriate accusations.

We recognise that children with disabilities are at greater risk of abuse as they are more vulnerable for a number of reasons.

Carrickfergus Photographic Society will review its child protection policy annually in accordance with changes in legislation, guidance or changes in the organization of the club.

 

This policy will provide guidance on the following points:

  • Good Practice Guidelines

  • Club Child Protection Officer(s)

  • If a Child Informs You of Abuse

  • Responding to Allegations

  • Internal Enquiries

  • Action if Bullying is Suspected

  • Concerns Outside the Club Environment

  • Information for Social Services and/or Police

  • Help Lines

  • Guide for Parents

 

Policy aims

The aim of Carrickfergus Photographic Society Child Protection Policy is to promote good practice:

  • Providing children and young people with appropriate safety and protection whilst in the care of Carrickfergus Photographic Society.

  • Allow all members of the club to make informed and confident responses to specific child protection issues.

 

Promoting good practice

Child abuse, particularly sexual abuse, can arouse strong emotions in those facing such a situation. It is important to understand these feelings and not allow them to interfere with your judgement about the appropriate action to take.

Abuse can occur within many situations including the home, school, sporting and social club environments. Some individuals will actively seek membership to clubs with young people in order to harm them.

A coach, instructor, teacher, official, volunteer or club member will have regular contact with young people and be an important link in identifying cases where they need protection. All suspicious cases of poor practice should be reported following the guidelines in this document.

When a child enters the club having been subjected to child abuse outside the club environment, photography and the photographic arts can play a crucial role in improving the child’s self-esteem. In such instances the club must work with the appropriate agencies to ensure the child receives the required support.

 

Good practice guidelines

All members should be encouraged to demonstrate exemplary behaviour in order to protect themselves from false allegations. The following are common sense examples of how to create a positive culture and climate.

Good practice means:

  • Always working in an open environment avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication.

  • Treating all young people/disabled adults equally with respect and dignity.

  • Always putting the welfare of each young person first.

  • Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance with children (eg it is not appropriate for members to have an intimate relationship with a child or to share a room with them).

  • Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust and empowering children to share in decision making.

  • Making photography fun, enjoyable and promoting good practices and techniques.

  • Ensuring that if any form of manual/physical support is required, it should be provided openly. If it is difficult to maintain hand positions when the child is constantly moving, young people should always be consulted and their agreement gained.

  • Some parents are becoming increasingly sensitive about manual support and their views should always be carefully considered.

  • Involving parents/guardians wherever possible. For example, encouraging them to take responsibility for their children in the activities of the club. If children have to be supervised while at the club or out taking photographs, always ensure supervision is provided in pairs.

  • Ensuring that at competitions, lectures or outings, adults should not enter children’s rooms or invite children into their rooms.

  • Being an excellent role model – this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of young people.

  • Giving enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.

  • Recognising the developmental needs and capacity of young people and disabled adults – avoiding excessive training or competition and not pushing them against their will.

  • Securing parental consent in writing to act in loco parentis, if the need arises to administer emergency first aid and/or other medical treatment.

  • Keeping a written record of any injury that occurs, along with the details of any treatment given.

  • Requesting written parental consent if club officials or members are required to transport young people in their cars.

 

Practices to be avoided

The following should be avoided except in emergencies. If a case arises where these situations are unavoidable (eg the child sustains an injury and needs to go to hospital, or a parent fails to arrive to pick a child up at the end of a meeting or outing), it should be with the full knowledge and consent of someone in charge in the club or the child’s parents.

 

Otherwise, avoid:

  • Spending excessive amounts of time alone with children away from others.

  • Taking or dropping off a child to an event.

 

Practices never to be sanctioned

The following should never be sanctioned. You 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.

  • 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 children or disabled adults that they can do for themselves.

  • Invite or allow children to stay with you at your home unsupervised.

 

NOTE: It may sometimes be necessary for members to do things of a personal nature for children, particularly if they are young or are disabled. These tasks should only be carried out with the full understanding and consent of the parents or guardians and with the approval of the committee. There is a need to be responsive to a person’s reactions. If a person is fully dependent on you, talk with him/her about what you are doing and give choices where possible. This is particularly so if you are involved in any dressing or undressing of outer clothing, or where there is physical contact, lifting or assisting a child to carry out particular activities. Avoid taking on the responsibility for tasks for which you are not appropriately trained.

 

Incidents that must be reported/recorded

If any of the following occur you should report this immediately to another colleague and record the incident. You should also ensure the parents or guardians of the child are informed:

  • If you accidentally hurt a child.

  • If a child has an accident and injures themselves.

  • If a child seems distressed in any manner.

  • If a child appears to be sexually aroused by your actions.

  • If a child misunderstands or misinterprets something you have said or done.

 

Child Protection Officer

The role of the Club Child Protection Officer is to:

  • Help the club follow the guidelines laid down in the Carrickfergus Photographic Society Protection Policy.

  • Ensure that new initiatives and information from the Carrickfergus Photographic Society Child Protection Policy are communicated to the club and its members.

  • Ensure that the promotion of welfare and care of children and vulnerable adults is an item on the club committee meeting agendas.

  • Ensure that all club members working with children or vulnerable adults are suitably qualified to do so and that where required an Access NI Enhanced Background check is carried out.

  • Process club members’ applications to work with children or vulnerable adults including a possible interview, induction and any required clearances as detailed in this Policy, ensuring that confidentiality is maintained.

  • Know their own limits and know when to seek advice and support.

 

The role of the Club Child Protection Officer does not require him/her to be the recipient and 'solver' of club problems relating to children. Junior members will talk to those with whom they feel most confident and not necessarily to the Club Child Protection Officer.

 

What To Do - A Child Informs You of Abuse

Always

  • Stay calm and reassure the person.

  • Take the person seriously.

  • Be honest and explain that you will have to inform somebody else.

  • Make written notes of what the person said as soon as practically possible after the event; do not trust your memory.

  • Maintain confidentiality; only tell those that need to know, but do so as soon as is reasonably possible.

 

Please remember, a child could be informing you of abuse which is happening outside the club – i.e. At school, at home or possibly at another club. In these circumstances Carrickfergus Photographic Society must still act accordingly.

 

Never

  • Rush into inappropriate action.

  • Make promises you cannot keep.

  • Take sole responsibility - consult with somebody else as advised above.

 

Responding to Allegations or Suspicions

It is not the responsibility of Carrickfergus Photographic Society or its members to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities.

Carrickfergus Photographic Society will assure all members that it will fully support and protect anyone who in good faith reports his/her concern that a colleague is, or may be, abusing a child.

Where there is a complaint against a member of the club, there may be three types of investigation:

  • A criminal investigation

  • A child protection investigation

  • A disciplinary or misconduct investigation.

The results of the police and child protection investigation may well influence the disciplinary investigation, but not necessarily.

 

Concerns about poor practice

If, following consideration, the allegation is clearly about poor practice, the Club Child Protection Officer will deal with it as a misconduct issue.

If the allegation is about poor practice by the Club Child Protection Officer, or if the matter has been handled inadequately and concerns remain, it should be reported to the committee who will decide how to deal with the allegation and whether or not to initiate disciplinary proceedings.

 

Concerns about suspected abuse

  • Any suspicion that a child has been abused by a member of the club (or a visitor to the club) should be reported to the Club Child Protection Officer, who will take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child in question and any other child who may be at risk.

  • The Club Child Protection Officer will refer the allegation to the social services department which may involve the police, or go directly to the police if out of hours.

  • The parents or carers of the child will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the social services department.

  • The Club Child Protection Officer should also notify the committee members, particularly the secretary who will deal with any media enquiries.

  • If the Club Child Protection Officer is the subject of the suspicion/allegation, the report must be made to the committee who will refer the allegation to social services.

 

Confidentiality

Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned.

Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only.

This includes the following people:

  • The Club Child Protection Officer (s).

  • The parents of the person who is alleged to have been abused.

  • The person making the allegation.

  • Social services/police.

  • The alleged abuser (and parents if the alleged abuser is a child).

Seek social services advice on who should approach the alleged abuser.

Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection laws (eg that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure).

 

Internal enquiries and suspension

  • The Club Child Protection Officer will make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended pending further police and social services inquiries.

  • Irrespective of the findings of the social services or police inquiries the committee will assess all individual cases to decide whether a member of the club can be reinstated and how this can be sensitively handled. This may be a difficult decision, particularly where there is insufficient evidence to uphold any action by the police. In such cases, the committee must reach a decision based upon the available information, which could suggest that on a balance of probability, it is more likely than not that the allegation is true an immediate dismissal must be considered. The welfare of the child should remain of paramount importance throughout.

 

Support to deal with the aftermath of abuse

  • Consideration should be given to the kind of support that children, parents and members of staff may need. Use of helplines, support groups and open meetings will maintain an open culture and help the healing process.

  • Consideration should be given to what kind of support may be appropriate for the alleged perpetrator.

 

Allegations of previous abuse

Allegations of abuse may be made some time after the event (eg by an adult who was abused as a child or by a member of staff who is still currently working with children).

Where such an allegation is made, the club should follow the procedures as detailed above and report the matter to the social services or the police. This is because other children, either within or outside Carrickfergus Photographic Society, may be at risk from this person. Anyone who has a previous criminal conviction for offences related to abuse is automatically excluded from working with children.

 

Action if bullying is suspected

If bullying is suspected, the same procedure should be followed as set out in 'Responding to suspicions or allegations' above.

 

Action to help the victim and prevent bullying

  • Take all signs of bullying very seriously.

  • Encourage all children to speak and share their concerns (It is believed that up to 12 children per year commit suicide as a result of bullying, so if anyone talks about or threatens suicide, seek professional help immediately). Help the victim to speak out and tell the person in charge or someone in authority.

  • Investigate all allegations and take action to ensure the victim is safe. Speak with the victim and the bully(ies) separately.

  • Reassure the victim that you can be trusted and will help them, although you cannot promise to tell no one else.

  • Keep records of what is said (what happened, by whom, when).

  • Report any concerns to the Club Welfare Officer or the school (wherever the bullying is occurring).

 

Action towards the bully(ies)

  • Talk with the bully(ies), explain the situation, and try to get the bully(ies) to understand the consequences of their behaviour. Seek an apology to the victim(s).

  • Inform the bully(ies)’s parents.

  • Insist on the return of 'borrowed' items and that the bully(ies) compensate the victim.

  • Impose sanctions as necessary.

  • Encourage and support the bully(ies) to change behaviour.

  • Hold meetings with the families to report on progress.

  • Inform all organisation members of action taken.

  • Keep a written record of action taken.

 

Concerns outside the immediate club environment

  • Report your concerns to the Club Child Protection Officer, who should contact social services or the police as soon as possible.

  • If the Club Child Protection Officer is not available, the person being told of or discovering the abuse should contact social services or the police immediately.

  • Social services and the Club Child Protection Officer will decide how to involve the parents/carers.

  • The Club Child Protection Officer should also report the incident to the committee. The committee should ascertain whether or not the person/(s) involved in the incident play a role in the club and act accordingly.

  • Maintain confidentiality on a need to know basis only.

 

Information for Social Services / Police about suspected abuse

To ensure that this information is as helpful as possible, a detailed record should always be made at the time of the disclosure/concern, which should include the following:

  • The child's name, age and date of birth of the child.

  • The child's home address and telephone number.

  • Whether or not the person making the report is expressing their own concerns or those of someone else.

  • The nature of the allegation. Include dates, times, any special factors and other relevant information.

  • Make a clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay.

  • A description of any visible bruising or other injuries. Also any indirect signs, such as behavioural changes.

  • Details of witnesses to the incidents.

  • The child’s account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising or other injuries occurred.

  • Have the parents been contacted?

  • If so, what has been said?

  • Has anyone else been consulted? If so, record details.

  • If the child was not the person who reported the incident, has the child been spoken to? If so, what was said?

  • Has anyone been alleged to be the abuser? Record details.

  • Where possible referral to the police or social services should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours and the name of the contact who took the referral should be recorded.

 

If you are worried about sharing concerns about abuse with members of the committee, you can contact Social Services or the Police direct, or the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline on 0808 800 5000, or Childline on 0800 1111.

 

Guide for Parents, Guardians and Carers

Whilst this Club has a moral and statutory duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure the general welfare and protection of children and vulnerable adult members, in particular during the actual act of photography and photographic techniques, the Club will not undertake the all encompassing responsibilities of those acting in the role of guardians or carers unless specifically arranged.

Our activities at the club or when out on location do not finish at a regular time. It is therefore your responsibility to ensure the well being of your charge over and above arranging a predetermined collection time. Should you wish to leave a child or a vulnerable adult at the club or photographic location, it is your responsibility to arrange for one of the club members to supervise him/her during your absence and, if necessary, make arrangements for the member to be able to make contact with you.

Should your child have any special medical or physical needs you are required to advise the Club in writing.

Should physical contact be required during club activities or out on location or any other purposes these will be explained to you and you will be required to record your agreement in writing defining the type and limits of contact.

Should the Club wish to use a photographic image of your child, the Club or club member will require a model release form stating the date, model name (or child’s name), type of photography (or shoot) to be signed and approved by you.

A membership form must be countersigned by the parent or guardian if the applicant is under 18 years of age or by the authorised carer of a vulnerable adult, thereby signifying acceptance of the conditions of membership.

Should you wish to discuss any issue, have any concerns or have suggestions on how we may improve our policies, then please contact: any committee member or contact one of the help lines (above) as you deem appropriate.

Do encourage your child or child / children in your charge to talk about their training and the club environment and ensure that they know how to express their concerns if they are unhappy about any aspect of their care. If you have any doubts, contact any committee member or contact any of the help lines (above).

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