Policy and procedures for adoption and adaptation
In 2006-2007 the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) stated in its first annual report – with specific reference to open access play provision – that ‘only 66 per cent of services had an adequate child protection policy or procedure in place’1. This is a key part of the framework for the protection of children and must be addressed in the remaining 34 per cent. In response to this identified shortcoming, Play Wales produced its first information sheet about safeguarding children. This is a timely update that includes recent developments.
Introduction As providers of staffed play settings we all need to be aware of our responsibility to protect children from harm and also, know what to do when faced with a safeguarding concern. The All Wales Child Protection Procedures (AWCPP) were first written in 2002. They were updated in 2008 in response to recommendations of the Victoria Climbie Inquiry Report 2003 and the Children Act 2004. They state that the purpose of the AWCPP is to protect children by providing professionals with a ‘framework within which individual child protection referrals, actions, decisions and plans are made and carried out.’ They go on to say that ‘the protection of children from harm is the responsibility of all individuals and agencies working with children and families ... ’2 It is everyone’s responsibility. The April 2013 NSPCC How safe are our children? report compiled information from across the UK using a variety of indicators. It concluded that ‘despite some improvements in children’s safety, worrying levels of child maltreatment still exist.’ It goes on to say that ‘The majority of child abuse and neglect never comes to the attention of statutory authorities and services are unlikely to ever to reach all children in such circumstances.’ It is also recognised that although ‘we should always encourage children to speak out if they are being abused, this alone will never be sufficient.’3 The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is a Non-Departmental Public Body; it helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. It was
created by merging the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). This is central Government’s contribution to the safeguarding children agenda. The following can be used as a basis for adoption and adaptation for staffed play settings to use or adapt to create their own policy. However a policy is only meaningful if it is shared by all staff and volunteers who will understand its implications and their responsibilities.
Definitions of child abuse and neglect All adults working with children and young people (anyone under the age of 18) should have an awareness of the categories of abuse. Therefore this play setting, ensures all staff, paid and voluntary, are made aware of the definitions of child abuse and neglect by providing staff with the following definitions taken directly from the All Wales Child Protection Procedures (2008). ‘A child is abused or neglected when someone inflicts harm, or fails to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family, in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely by a stranger. A child or young person up to the age of 18 years can suffer abuse or neglect and require protection via an inter-agency child protection plan.’ Physical abuse Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, 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 or induces an illness in a child whom they are looking after.
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Emotional abuse Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of the child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to the child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only in so far as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. It may involve domestic abuse within the home or being bullied, or, the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill treatment of a child, though it may occur alone. Sexual abuse Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include non contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Neglect 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. It may involve a parent or caregiver failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs. In addition, neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance misuse.4
Some possible indicators of abuse All staff at this play setting will be made aware of possible indicators of abuse by being provided with the necessary information. Staff will share any observations and concerns with their professional colleagues. ‘Effective sharing and exchange of relevant information between professionals is essential in order to safeguard children.’5 A concern raised by one agency may link into a concern raised by another agency, which may then build a picture of a child at risk of harm. Emotional abuse is also a factor in all other forms of abuse.
This list of possible indicators is not exhaustive. Physical abuse • Bruising to parts of the body
Listen • Listen and accept what is being said.
• Burns and scalds
• Do not express verbally or non-verbally how it makes you feel, that is a separate issue for you to deal with later.
• Bone fractures
• Make notes.
• Aggressive behaviour • Withdrawn, timid behaviour
Reassure • Reassure the child as much as you can.
Emotional abuse • Aggressive behaviour
• Disclosing abuse is a very hard thing for a child to do and it is important to let them know you take them seriously.
• Withdrawn, timid behaviour • Failure to make, and, or maintain relationships • Low self esteem • Lack of self-confidence Sexual abuse • School phobia • Withdrawn behaviour • Inappropriate sexual knowledge • Sexualised behaviour • Pregnancy • Promiscuity • Some physical signs, bruising and soreness Neglect • Medical appointments that are not kept • Poor health and hygiene, leading to a failure to thrive. • Inadequate clothing for the weather conditions • Lack of love and attention • Lack of protection and supervision
What to do if you are told of abuse – guidelines Staff in this play setting will follow these guidelines in the event that a child discloses information to them. Remember that the child chooses whom to talk to, so it may not be the person at the play setting with the most, or even any, experience and/or training in dealing with disclosures.
• Tell the child that you will help or will ensure they receive the help they need. • Do not make false promises, such as ‘I won’t say anything’.
React • React to the conversation only so far as is needed for you to know whether a referral to Social Services is necessary. • Ask open-ended questions such as ‘Is there anything else you would like to tell me?’ • Make it clear to the child what you have to do next and who you have to talk to. • Make it clear in such a way that there is no criticism directed at the perpetrator, who the child may love. • Do not ask or allow the child to repeat anything to other staff. Write • Write up notes in as full a way as possible, without throwing away any original notes. • Use the child’s words rather than your words for any body parts or activities described. • Include date, time, place, any non-verbal behaviour the child displays whilst talking to you, for example moments of distress and when they occurred in the conversation. • If there is any bruising or marks noticed, draw a diagram to show where they are. Follow • Follow the procedures for the play setting.
Preventing children from future sexual harm
• If a referral is necessary make sure you have all the information.
The previous section refers to what to do when an allegation of abuse has been made but there also needs to be an awareness of what behaviors are occurring before any sexual abuse takes place. An understanding of behavioural indicators associated with sexual grooming may help us prevent sexual abuse occurring.
Talk • Talk to a senior member of staff and explain what’s happened, remembering confidentiality. • Acknowledge how you feel. It is safer emotionally, and often physically, to explain what feelings you have to a trusted adult than to leave work feeling upset, anxious and uncertain.
The Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) states in its June 2010 Understanding the Grooming or Entrapment Process briefing that ‘Grooming is defined by the Home Office as communication with a child where this is an intention to meet and commit a sex offence. More generally it can be seen as the process by which an individual manipulates those around them – particularly, but not exclusively, the child – to provide opportunities to abuse and reduce the likelihood of being reported and discovered.’6
The characteristics of people who groom children can also be the characteristics of good playworkers in that they can be caring, kind, engage with children and be very interested in their lives. We should recognise that groomers also engage in grooming the adults around the child. This creates a complex scenario where parents and carers may unwittingly provide increased opportunities for the groomer, having been reassured of their interest in and support for their child. There are however some indicators that may help to identify what grooming behavior looks like. The following list is not exhaustive and is no substitute for rigorous recruitment procedures, clear and explicit guidelines for conduct of playworkers and volunteers and trusting your own feelings about the way an individual behaves towards children in the play setting. Some possible adult grooming behaviours: • Physical contact when not appropriate or wanted by the child. • Encouraging only one, or a select few children for extra attention when it has not been requested. • Wanting to be alone with a child for no obvious reason, even more alarming if it is always the same child. • Lack of adult friendships and relationships and a lot of child orientated leisure activities. • Frequent offers of help to the parents/carers of one or a select few children. • May buy gifts for the parents/carers of the child or gifts for the child. • May make themselves indispensible to the family through acts of ‘helpfulness’. The above broadly state some examples of grooming behaviours without being overly prescriptive, however it is not exhaustive. It is for each play provider and every member of staff to maintain a vigilant stance and communicate concerns to Social Services or the Stop It Now! Helpline on 0808 1000 900 or www.stopitnow.org.uk
Reporting concerns to Social Services ‘If any person has knowledge, concerns or suspicions that a child is suffering, has suffered or is likely to be at risk of harm, it is their responsibility to ensure that the concerns are referred to social services or the police, who have statutory duties and powers to make enquiries and intervene when necessary.’7
If a member of a staff team has any concerns Social Services should be phoned as soon as possible; always within 24 hours. If it is outside office hours then a duty social worker is available in the out of hours/emergency duty team (EDT). If you are not sure whether your information warrants a referral, ask for advice. Following a telephone referral, written confirmation will be required within two days.
Responsibility and training recommendations The following points should be considered and adopted as appropriate: • All play settings will have access to, and comply with the All Wales Child Protection Procedures. • Everyone in contact or working with children should receive training that is appropriate for their level of responsibility in their particular play setting. • Play settings with year round provision, have a named child protection officer, (the most senior person) who receives regular training. • Play settings that are seasonal will undertake training at an appropriate level for staff. • Seasonal play settings that are part of a larger umbrella organisation will nominate a child protection officer in that organisation. This nominated child protection officer will act for smaller seasonal provision and will receive regular training. • All staff, working together and communicating effectively, share the responsibility for safeguarding the children with whom they work.
Conclusion Whilst child protection may feel like a huge responsibility for play providers, in whatever capacity, it is no greater or smaller responsibility than the work of ensuring that play opportunities enrich the childâ€™s physical, social, emotional, physiological and psychological health. It is all a part of ensuring that the lives of the children in Wales are the best that they can be.
Bibliography 1. Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (2007) Care Services in Wales Annual Report 2006-2007
4. The All Wales Child Protection Procedures
2. The All Wales Child Protection Procedures (2008) Produced on behalf of all Local Safeguarding Childrenâ€™s Boards in Wales
6. Child Protection in Sport Unit (2010) Understanding the Grooming or Entrapment Process
3. Harker, L., Jutte, S., Murphy, T., Bentley, H. Miller, P., and Fitch, K. (2013) How safe are our children? London: NSPCC
7. The All Wales Child Protection Procedures
Additional resources Lord Laming (2003) The Victoria Climbie Inquiry Report. House of Commons: The Stationary Office Limited
NSPCC (2006) Firstcheck: a step-by-step guide for organisations to safeguard Children.
March 2013 © Play Wales
This information is written by Sue Bradshaw and funded by the Welsh Government.
Play Wales is the national organisation for children’s play, an independent charity supported by the Welsh Government to uphold children’s right to play and to provide advice and guidance on play-related matters.
Registered charity, no. 1068926 A company limited by guarantee, no 3507258 Registered in Wales
This information sheet provides policy and procedures in relation to safeguarding children for adoption and adaptation at play settings. It...
Published on Oct 21, 2013
This information sheet provides policy and procedures in relation to safeguarding children for adoption and adaptation at play settings. It...