Child Protection

Last Updated: 14 July 2015

Policy Statement

Heads Above The Waves is a Community Interest Company that, through merchandise, workshops, online content, and research, aims to provide benefit to anyone struggling to cope with the pressures of everyday life, with a particular focus on young people in Wales and England from 11-25 years old demonstrating harmful behaviours to themselves.

This policy applies to all staff, including senior managers, paid staff, volunteers, sessional works, agency staff, students or anyone working on behalf of Heads Above The Waves.

Throughout this policy, the terms “child” and “young person” shall refer to anyone under the age of 18.

The purpose of this policy

To protect children and young people who receive the services of Heads Above The Waves. This includes children of any adults who use our services;
To provide staff and volunteers with the overarching principles that guide our approach to child protection.
Heads Above The Waves believes that a child or young person should never experience abuse of any kind, including face to face, and via the use of digital technology. We have a responsibility to promote the welfare of all children and young people to keep them safe. We are committed to practise a way that protects them.

Legal framework

This policy has been drawn up on the basis of law and guidance that seeks to protect children, namely:

  • Children Act 1989
  • United Convention of the Rights of the Child 1991
  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • Children Act 2004
  • Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
  • Relevant government guidance on safeguarding children

We recognise that:

  • the welfare of the child is paramount, as enshrined in the Children Act 1989
  • all children, regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity, have a right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse
  • some children may have additional needs, especially around communication, due to disability and/or ethnic background
  • some children are additionally vulnerable because of the impact of previous experiences, their level of dependency, communication needs or other issues
  • working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers and other agencies is essential in promoting young people’s welfare.

We will seek to keep children and young people safe by:

  • valuing them, listening to and respecting them
  • adopting child protection practices through procedures and a code of conduct for staff and volunteers
  • developing and implementing an effective e-safety policy and related procedures
  • providing effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, support and training
  • recruiting staff and volunteers safely, ensuring DBS checks are made before any work with Heads Above The Waves commences.
  • sharing information about child protection and good practise with children, parents, staff and volunteers
  • sharing concerns with agencies who need to know, and involving parents and children appropriately

We are committed to reviewing our policy and good practise continually.

Steps Taken to Ensure Child Protection

Any workers/volunteers/employees/staff working on behalf of Heads Above The Waves will be required to produce a valid and up to date DBS Certificate, and may be subject to an interview carried out by the board of directors. Anyone working with children on behalf of Heads Above The Waves will be issued with a copy of the child protection policy, and any other relevant documentation.

Definitions of Abuse

Heads Above The Waves identifies 5 different forms of child abuse, all of which can cause long term damage to a child. Most types of child abuse can take one or several of the below forms, as defined by the NSPCC.

Sexual Abuse

A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn’t have to be physical contact, and it can happen online. Sometimes the child won’t understand that what’s happening to them is abuse. They may not even understand that it’s wrong.

There are two different types of child sexual abuse: contact abuse and non-contact abuse. Contact abuse is where an abuser makes physical contact with a child, including penetration. Non-contact abuse covers other acts where the abuser doesn’t touch the child, such as grooming, exploitation, persuading children to perform sexual acts over the internet and flashing.

Child sexual abuse involves:

  • Sexual touching of any part of the body, clothed or unclothed, including using an object
  • Assault by penetration, including rape or penetration of the mouth with an object or part of the body
  • Encouraging a child to engage in sexual activity, including:
    • Sexual acts with someone else
    • Making a child strip or masturbate
    • Intentionally engaging in sexual activity in front of a child
  • Not taking proper measures to prevent a child being exposed to sexual activities by others
  • Meeting a child following sexual grooming, with the intent of abusing them
  • Taking, making, allowing someone to take, distributing, showing or advertising indecent images of children
  • Paying for the sexual services of a child
  • Encouraging a child into prostitution or pornography
  • Encouraging a child to send sexually explicit content, including photographs, videos, or via webcams, messages or across any social media platforms.
  • Showing a child images of sexual activity, including photographs, videos or via webcams.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns, or cuts. It isn’t accidental – children who are physically abused suffer violence such as being hit, kicked, poisoned, burned, slapped, or having objects thrown at them, resulting in physical harm to the child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.

Online Abuse

Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the web, however it is accessed, including through social networks, playing online games or using mobile phones. Children and young people may experience cyberbullying, grooming, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or emotional abuse.

Children can be at risk of online abuse from people they know, as well as from strangers. Online abuse may be part of abuse that is taking place in the real world, or it may be that the abuse only happens online.

Neglect

Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs. A child may be left hungry or dirty, without adequate clothing, shelter, supervision, medical or health care. Neglect can also be defined as a child being put in danger, or not protected from physical or emotional harm. They may not get the love, care and attention they need from their parents. Neglect may involve not ensuring adequate supervision, including access to inadequate care givers. Neglect happens when parents or carers can’t or won’t meet a child’s needs. This may be because they don’t have the skills or support needed, or it may be due to other problems such as mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems, or poverty.

Neglect can be broadly split into 4 types:

Physical neglect

Failing to provide for a child’s basic needs such as food, clothing or shelter. Failing to adequately supervise a child or provide for their safety.
Educational neglect
Failing to ensure a child receives an education.

Emotional neglect

Failing to meet a child’s needs for nurture and stimulation, perhaps by ignoring, humiliating, intimidating or isolating them.

Medical neglect

Failing to provide appropriate health care, including dental care, and refusal of care or ignoring medical recommendations.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is the ongoing emotional maltreatment or emotional neglect of a child.

Emotional abuse includes:

  • humiliating or constantly criticising a child
  • threatening, shouting at a child or calling them names
  • making the child the subject of jokes or using sarcasm to hurt a child
  • blaming, scapegoating
  • making a child perform degrading acts
  • not recognising a child’s own individuality, trying to control their lives
  • pushing a child too hard or not recognising their limitations
  • exposing a child to distressing events or interactions such as domestic abuse or drug taking
  • failing to promote a child’s social development
  • not allowing them to have friends
  • persistently ignoring them
  • being absent
  • manipulating a child
  • never saying anything kind, expressing positive feelings or congratulating a child on success
  • never showing any emotions in interactions with a child (also known as emotional neglect).

Recognising Abuse

Abuse may be bought to your attention when:

  • A child might make a direct disclosure about him or herself
  • A child might make a direct disclosure about another child
  • A child might offer information that is worrying but not a direct disclosure
  • A member of staff might be concerned about a child’s appearance or behaviour or about the behaviour of a parent or carer towards a child
  • A parent or carer might make a disclosure about abuse that a child is suffering or at risk of suffering
  • A parent might offer information about a child that is worrying but not a direct disclosure.

Signs that a child may be experiencing abuse include if she or he is:

  • frequently dirty, hungry, or inadequately dressed
  • left in unsafe situations or without medical attention
  • constantly “put down”, insulted, sworn at, or humiliated
  • seemingly afraid of parents, carers, or an authority figure
  • severely bruised or injured, particularly in “hidden” areas, for example, the torso
  • displaying sexual behaviour which doesn’t seem appropriate for their age
  • growing up in a home where there is domestic violence
  • living with parents or carers involved in serious drug or alcohol abuse.

This list is by no means comprehensive.

It is the duty and responsibility of all staff, volunteers, or workers, working with young people through Heads Above The Waves to be vigilant in spotting these signs, and take the appropriate steps, as outlined below.

When a Child Discloses Abuse

  • Reassure the child that telling someone about it was the right thing to do.
  • Tell him/her that you now have to do what you can to keep him/her (or another child who is the subject of the allegation) safe.
  • Let the child know what you are going to do next and who else needs to know about it.
  • Let the child tell his or her whole story. Don’t try to investigate or quiz the child, but make sure that you’re clear as to what he/she is saying.
  • Keep a record of everything the child says, using their own words as much as possible.
  • Ask the child what he/she would like to happen as a result of what he/she has said, but don’t make or infer promises you can’t keep.
  • Do NOT ask the child to repeat his or her account of events to anyone.
  • Give the child the ChildLine phone number: 0800 1111

Helping a Child in Immediate Danger or Need of Emergency Medical Treatment

  • If the child is in immediate danger and is with you, remain with him/her and call the police on 999.
  • If the child is elsewhere, contact the police and explain the situation to them.
  • If he/she needs emergency medical attention, call an ambulance, and while you are waiting for it to arrive, get help from a first aider.
  • If a first aider is not available, use any first aid knowledge that you may have yourself to help the child.
  • You also need to contact your supervisor/manager or named person for child protection (Hannah Morgan for Heads Above The Waves) and let them know what is happening.

A decision will need to be made about who should inform the child’s family and the local authority children’s social care department, and when they should be informed. If you have involved the police and/or the health services, they should be part of this decision. Consider the welfare of the child in your decision making as the highest priority.

Issues that will need to be taken into account are:

  • the child’s wishes and feelings
  • the parent’s right to know (unless this would place the child or someone else in danger, or would interfere with a criminal investigation)
  • the impact of telling or not telling the parent
  • the current assessment of the risk to the child and the source of that risk
  • any risk management plans that currently exist

Making a Referral

A referral involves giving Social Services or the Police information about concerns relating to an individual or family in order that enquiries can be undertaken by the appropriate agency followed by any necessary action.

In certain cases the level of concern will lead straight to a referral without external consultation being necessary.

Parents/carers should be informed if a referral is being made unless the parent/carer is the cause for concern.
If your concern is about abuse or risk of abuse from a family member or someone known to the children, you should make a telephone referral to your local Social Services Office.

However, inability to inform parents for any reason should not prevent a referral being made. It would then become a joint decision with Social Services about how and when the parents should be approached and by whom.

If your concern is about abuse or risk of abuse from someone NOT known to the child or child’s family, you should make a telephone referral directly to the police and consult with the parents.

Information Required

Be prepared to give as much of the following information as possible (in emergency situations all of this information may not be available). Unavailability of some information should not stop you making a referral.

  • Your name, telephone number, position and request the same of the person to whom you are speaking
  • The child’s full name and address, telephone number of family, date of birth of child and siblings
  • Gender, ethnicity, first language, any special needs of the child
  • Names, dates of birth and relationship of household members and any significant others
  • The names of professionals known to be involved with the child/family eg: GP, Health Visitor, School
  • The nature of the concerns; and foundation for them
  • An opinion on whether the child may need urgent action to make them safe
  • Your view of what appears to be the needs of the child and family
  • Whether the consent of a parent with parental responsibility has been given to the referral being made

Action to be taken following the referral

  • Ensure that you keep an accurate record of your concern(s) made at the time.
  • Put your concerns in writing to Social Services following the referral (within 48 hours).
  • Accurately record the action agreed or that no further action is to be taken and the reasons for this decision.

Keeping a Record of Your Concerns

Use the reporting form to record the concern and how it is dealt with. The relevant sections of the form should be completed and signed at each stage of the procedure. It can be used to forward information to the statutory child protection authorities if a referral to them is needed.

The form should be signed and dated by all those involved in its completion and kept confidentially on the child’s file, in a locked drawer or on a secure online server. The name of the person making the notes should be written alongside each entry.

If a Child is Unhappy with the Actions Taken

Heads Above The Waves will, wherever possible, keep up to date with the progress of a referral, and the actions taken as a result of it. This will be either in person, if regular contact with the child remains, or through a third party (e.g. a school). If a child is not happy with the service provided or the actions taken, Heads Above The Waves will commit to resolving this by either taking further action, or supporting the child to make an official complaint.

Allegations Against a Member of Staff

Heads Above The Waves will take steps to ensure that staff/workers are not vulnerable to false allegation. This includes developing the following code of conduct:

  • A worker will never work with a child or young person unless another member of staff or professional is in the same building.
  • All one-to-one work with children or young people will take place with visual access into the room.
  • Heads Above The Waves staff must not touch or restrain young people, other than in exceptional circumstances, where not doing so could result in that young person, or someone else, being injured. Examples may include:
    • Holding back a young person if they are stepping out in front of vehicle
    • Any first aid action required
    • Restraint to prevent a young person seriously harming themselves

Any restraint used to prevent injury to a young person must been deemed ‘reasonable’. Staff should balance any decision to use physical restraint against the likelihood of serious harm to the young person if they do not do so, also taking into account the worker’s own safety.

Staff should not get involved physically in any fight between young people, but should seek immediate assistance from other colleagues. It is generally more effective to diffuse a volatile situation by using an authoritative tone, than by becoming involved at a physical level.

Heads Above The Waves will fully support and protect anyone, who in good faith, reports his or her concern that a member of staff is, or may be, abusing a child or young person. Where there is a complaint about a member of staff allegedly abusing children, there will be a disciplinary or misconduct investigation, which will involve the member of staff being suspended on full pay (if applicable), for the duration of the investigation. The investigation will be carried out by the Directors – unless it is felt that this would be a conflict of interest – in association with any affiliated bodies. The investigation will seek to determine the facts of the event leading to the allegation, and then the appropriate action to be taken as a result. Information will be shared within the service and Heads Above The Waves on a need to know basis only.

There may also be:

  • A criminal investigation
  • A child protection investigation

Useful Contact Details

Named person for child protection: Hannah Morgan – 07792365362 – Hannah@hatw.co.uk
South Wales Police non-urgent crime: 101
South Wales Police general enquiries: 01656 655 555
Cardiff Children Social Care Department: 02920 536490 (Out of hours: 02920 788 570)
NSPCC Helpline: 0808 800 5000 – help@nspcc.org.uk
ChildLine: 0800 1111 (textphone: 0800 400 222) – childline.org.uk

Training

All staff in Heads Above The Waves services should read this policy and sign to record having done so, and that they understand their responsibilities in relation to safeguarding children. All staff should attend Safeguarding Children training and regular refresher training. Reporting Child Protection Concerns