CHILD PROTECTION &
SAFEGUARDING POLICY

Date Adopted: 01/01/2022
Date of last review: July 2021
To be reviewed next before/on: 12 months MAX

Purpose and Statement:

Children and young people have the right to be safe and happy whilst participating in activities organised by StageAbility.  The company therefore takes all reasonable precautions to safeguard the welfare of the young people who work and train with us.

This child protection policy and associated procedures have been drawn up for the benefit of children and young people under the age of 18, or adults who may be considered vulnerable.  They apply to all the teaching and support staff, voluntary class assistants and artists engaged by the company.

In accordance with the provisions of The Children Act 1989, the “welfare of children is paramount”.  This means that some of the usual considerations of confidentiality may be superseded by the need to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults (collectively referred to as ‘young people’ in this document).

The person at who has overall responsibility for child protection issues with StageAbility is JACKIE STUART(07721 565898).  They have received training in the protection of young people and is responsible for ensuring that the company’s policies and procedures are kept up to date and adhered to by StageAbility’s staff.  She is also the person to whom any concerns regarding suspected child abuse should be addressed. Jackie Stuart is also responsible for health and safety matters within the company. However, it is not their role to decide whether a young person has been abused or not; this is the job of the statutory authorities to whom she has a duty to report possible child abuse.

Distribution:

  • To ensure distribution to all permanent and freelance staff
  • Confirmation of receipt of information

Review and monitoring of policy:

  • Reviewed annually or in instances of legislative change
  • Monitoring is part of Management and Supervision

The following policy is based on the below principles:

  • The welfare of the child is paramount
  • All children, whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin religious beliefs and/or sexual identity have the right to protection from abuse
  • All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately
  • All staff (paid/unpaid) have a responsibility to report concerns to the Designated Person with responsibility for child protection

Staff/volunteers are not trained to deal with situations of abuse or to decide if abuse has occurred

We will aim to safeguard children by:

  • Adopting child protection guidelines through procedures and a code of conduct for staff and volunteers
  • Sharing information about child protection and good practice with children, parents and carers, staff and volunteers
  • Sharing information about concerns with agencies who need to know, and involving parents and children appropriately
  • Carefully following the procedures for recruitment and selection of staff and volunteers
  • Providing effective management for staff and volunteers through support, supervision and training
  • We are committed to reviewing our policy and good practice regularly

Child Protection:
When recruiting staff and volunteers, the company takes up a minimum of two references and requires an Enhanced Disclosure certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service. This is a check that reveals whether the prospective member of staff is known to the police in relation to committing offences against children and any other convictions and/or cautions.

Every StageAbility activity has a teacher or other responsible adult who is in charge and has overall responsibility for the welfare of the participants.

StageAbility aims to have at least two members of staff present during each class, workshop, rehearsal etc.  This will usually be the class teacher and an assistant. Exceptions may occasionally be made for small groups of under 15.  However, until references and police checks have been completed, new staff will not be left in sole charge of young people.

Young people will be supervised by adults throughout the session, including during breaks.  However, this only applies from the advertised start of the session and if children arrive early then parents and carers should take steps to ensure they are properly looked after until the session starts. Parents and carers also need to ensure that children are collected promptly at the end of sessions.

All activities organised by StageAbility are subject to risk assessments both during the planning stage and by monitoring the activity.  Appropriate steps are taken to minimise any risks identified. 

Arts activities often involve physical contact between participants and between staff and participants.  Physical contact will only be made when it is necessary in relation to the particular arts activity and with the agreement of the young people involved.

We will not use photographic images of young people, for example for publicity purposes, without written permission from the legal guardian.  Even when such permission is given, the young person’s full name and address will not be revealed.

We keep records about participants so that we know whom to contact in case of an emergency, whether they suffer from any allergies, have a medical condition or a disability/special need and for monitoring purposes.  These records are treated as confidential except where relevant information is given to class teachers/persons in charge. If a participant sustains an injury during a session, this will be recorded in the company’s Accident Book and treatment given if appropriate.  In the event of a serious incident, the parent/carer will be contacted immediately. A telephone (landline or mobile) is always available for staff to use in case of an emergency.

This policy sets out agreed guidelines relating to the following areas:

  • Responding to allegations of abuse, including those made against staff and volunteers
  • Recruitment and vetting of staff and volunteers

Supervision of organisational activities

Definitions of abuse: These definitions are based on those from Working Together to Safeguard Children (Department of Health, Home office, Department for Education and Employment, 1999)  

Physical abuse Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes ill health to a child whom they are looking after. This situation is commonly described as factitious illness, fabricated or induced illness in children or “Munchausen Syndrome by proxy” after the person who first identified this situation. A person might do this because they enjoy or need the attention they get through having a sick child. Physical abuse, as well as being the result of a deliberate act, can also be caused through omission or the failure to act to protect. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is also classed as physical abuse. FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985. In 2003 it also became a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to take their child abroad to have female genital mutilation.   Emotional abuse Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve making a child feel or believe they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of the other person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. It may also involve causing children to feel frequently frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of a child.   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, or consents to, what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative acts such as rape, buggery or oral sex, or non-penetrative acts such as fondling. Sexual abuse may also 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. Boys and girls can be sexually abused by males and or females, by adults and by other young people. This includes people from all different walks of life.  

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 a carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, leaving a young child home alone or the failure to ensure that a child gets appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs. It is accepted that in all forms of abuse there are elements of emotional abuse, and that some children are subjected to more than one form of abuse at any time. These four definitions do not minimise other forms of maltreatment.  

Note Recent guidance notes other sources of stress for children and families, such as social exclusion, domestic violence, the mental illness of a parent or carer, or drug and alcohol misuse. These may have a negative impact on a child’s health and development and may be noticed by an organisation caring for a child. If it is felt that a child’s well-being is adversely affected by any of these areas, the same procedures should be followed.  
Recognising and Responding to Abuse: The following signs may or may not be indicators that abuse has taken place, but the possibility should be considered.  

Physical signs of abuse Any injuries not consistent with the explanation given for them Injuries which occur to the body in places which are not normally exposed to falls or games Unexplained bruising, marks or injuries on any part of the body Bruises which reflect hand marks or fingertips (from slapping or pinching) Cigarette burns Bite marks Broken bones Scalds Injuries which have not received medical attention Neglect-under nourishment, failure to grow, constant hunger, stealing or gorging food, untreated illnesses, inadequate care Repeated urinary infections or unexplained stomach pains Female Genital Mutilation

Changes in behaviour which can also indicate physical abuse Fear of parents being approached for an explanation Aggressive behaviour or severe temper outbursts Flinching when approached or touched Reluctance to get changed, for example, wearing long sleeves in hot weather Depression Withdrawn behaviour Running away from home  

Emotional signs of abuse The physical signs of emotional abuse may include: A failure to thrive or grow particularly if a child puts on weight in other circumstances e.g. in hospital or away from their parents’ care Sudden speech disorders Persistent tiredness Development delay, either in terms of physical or emotional progress

Changes in behaviour which can also indicate emotional abuse include: Obsessions or phobias Sudden under-achievement or lack of concentration Inappropriate relationships with peers and/or adults Being unable to play Attention seeking behaviour Fear of making mistakes Self-harm Fear of parent being approached regarding their behaviour  

Sexual Abuse The physical signs of sexual abuse may include: Pain or itching in the genital/anal area Bruising or bleeding near genital/anal areas Sexually transmitted disease Vaginal discharge or infection Stomach pains Discomfort when walking or sitting down Pregnancy

Changes in behaviour which can also indicate sexual abuse include: Sudden or unexplained changes in behaviour e.g. becoming withdrawn or aggressive Fear of being left with a specific person or group of people Having nightmares Running away from home Sexual knowledge which is beyond their age or developmental level Sexual drawings or language Bedwetting Eating problems such as over-eating or anorexia Self-harm or mutilation, sometimes leading to suicide attempts Saying they have secrets they cannot tell anyone about Substance or drug abuse Suddenly having unexplained sources of money Not allowed to have friends (particularly in adolescence) Acting in a sexually explicit way with adults  

Neglect The physical signs of neglect may include: Constant hunger, sometimes stealing food from other children Constantly dirty or smelly Loss of weight or being constantly underweight Inappropriate dress for the conditions

Changes in behaviour which can also indicate neglect include: Complaining of being tired all the time Not requesting medical assistance and/or failing to attend appointments Having few friends Mentioning being left alone or unsupervised
 

What to do if you suspect that abuse may have occurred (parent, carer or another adult):


1. You must report the concerns immediately to the designated person: [Jackie Stuart]

The role of the designated person is to:

  • Obtain information from staff, volunteers, children or parents and carers who have child protection concerns and to record this information
  • Assess the information quickly and carefully and ask for further information as appropriate
  • They should also consult with a statutory child protection agency such as the local social services department or the NSPCC to clarify any doubts or worries. In this case, or if she feels it to be appropriate anyway, the designated person would either contact the local council for that child (Social Services Duty Childcare Co-ordinator) or the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline (0808 800 5000)
  • The designated person should make a referral to a statutory child protection agency or the police without delay

The designated person has been nominated by StageAbility to refer allegations or suspicions of neglect or abuse to the statutory authorities. In the absence of Jackie Stuart, the matter should be brought to the attention of social services.

2. Suspicions will not be discussed with anyone other than those nominated above.

3. The FGM Mandatory reporting duty. When a girl under 18 discloses she has suffered FGM, or when the professional sees this: report is to be made to the police via the 101 non-emergency number.

Please Note:

It is the right of any individual to make direct referrals to the child protection agencies. If for any reason you believe that the designated persons have not responded appropriately to your concerns, then it is up to you to contact the child protection agencies directly.

Allegations of physical injury or neglect (parent, carer or another adult):
If a child has a symptom of physical injury or neglect the designated person will:  
1. Contact Social Services for advice in cases of deliberate injury or concerns about the safety of the child. The parents should not be informed by the organisation in these circumstances
2. Where emergency medical attention is necessary it will be sought immediately. The designated person will inform the doctor of any suspicions of abuse.
3. In other circumstances speak with the parent/carer/guardian and suggest that medical help/attention is sought for the child. The doctor will then initiate further action if necessary
4. If appropriate the parent/carer will be encouraged to seek help from Social Services. If the parent/care/guardian fails to act the designated person should in case of real concern contact social services for advice
5. Where the designated person is unsure whether to refer a case to Social Services then advice from the Area Child Protection Committee will be sought.  

Allegations of sexual abuse (parent, carer or another adult):

In the event of allegations or suspicions of sexual abuse the designated person will:

  1. Contact the Social Service duty social worker for children and families directly. The designated person will not speak to the parent (or anyone else)
  2. If the designated person is unsure whether to follow the above guidance, then advice from the Area Child protection Committee will be sought
  3. Under no circumstances is the designated person to attempt to carry out any investigation into the allegation or suspicions of sexual abuse. The role of the designated person is to collect and clarify the precise details of the allegation or suspicion and to provide this information to Social Services whose task it is to investigate the matter under section 47 of the Children Act.
  4. Whilst allegations or suspicions of sexual abuse should normally be reported to the designated person, their absence should not delay referral to Social Services

Responding to a child making an allegation of abuse:

  • Stay calm, listen carefully to what is being said
  • Find an appropriate early opportunity to explain that it is likely that the information will need to be shared with others – do not promise to keep secrets
  • Allow the child to continue at his/her own pace
  • Ask questions for clarification only and at all times avoid asking questions that suggest a particular answer
  • Reassure the child that they have done the right thing in telling you
  • Tell them what you will do next and with whom the information will be shared
  • Record in writing what was said using the child’s own words as soon as possible, note the date, time, any names mentioned, to whom the information was given and ensure that the record is signed and dated

Helpful statements to make

  • I believe you (or showing acceptance of what the child says)
  • Thank you for telling me
  • It’s not your fault
  • I will help you

Do not say

  • Why didn’t you tell anyone before?
  • I can’t believe it!
  • Are you sure that this is true?
  • Why? Who? When? Where?

Never make false promises

What to do after a child has talked to you about abuse:

  1. Make notes as soon as possible. Ideally within 1 hour of being told you should write down exactly what the child has said and what you said in reply and what was happening immediately before being told (i.e. the activity being delivered). You should record the dates and times of when you made the record. All hand-written notes should be kept securely.

You should use the form “Reporting allegations or suspicions of abuse”. This form is attached at the back of this policy. (Appendix 1)

  • You should report your discussion with the designated person as soon as possible. If this person is implicated, you need to report to Social Services
  • You should under no circumstances discuss your suspicions or allegations with anyone other than those nominated above
  • After a child has disclosed abuse the designated persons should carefully consider whether it is safe for a child to return home to a potentially abusive situation. On these rare occasions, it may be necessary to take immediate action to contact Social Services to discuss putting safety measures into effect

Recruitment and appointment of workers and volunteers:

In recruiting and appointing workers StageAbility will be responsible for the following:

  • Identifyingthe tasks and responsibilities involved and the type of person most suitable for the job
  • Drawing up the selection criteria andputting together a list of essential and desirable qualifications, skills and experience
  • All applicants should apply in writing and their application will cover their personal details, previous and current work/volunteering experience
  • We will always send a copy of our child protection policy with the application pack
  • We willmake sure that we measure the application against the selection criteria
  • We will request two written references prior to interview from people who are not family members or friends and who have knowledge of the applicant’s experience of working with children. We will ask the referee to also comment on their suitability for working with children and ask for any known safeguarding concerns.
  • We willask for photographic evidence to confirm the identity of the applicant and their right to work in the UK e.g. their passport
  • We willrequest to see documentation of any qualifications detailed by the applicant
  • We will always interview our candidates face-to-face.
  • We willensure that our successful applicant obtains or shows an enhanced check from the Disclosure and Barring Service.
  • DBS Checks will be renewed and check every 3 years after initial appointment
  • The same principles above apply to volunteers and young people who have been involved with the organisation and have become volunteers

Appropriate Physical Touch:

As Performing Arts practitioners and facilitators, there may be occasions when physical touch between students and staff, and students and other students is appropriate.

Touch Between Students and Staff:
There are three reasons why contact between student/staff could be deemed appropriate.

A) A distressed pupil needs comfort and reassurance which may include physical comfort such as a caring parent would give. Staff should use their discretion in such cases to ensure that what is, and what is seen to be by others present, normal and natural, does not become unnecessary and unjustified contact, particularly with the same pupil over a period of time. Where a member of staff has a particular concern about the need to provide this type of care and reassurance, he/she should seek the advice of Jackie Stuart.

(B) Some staff are likely to come into physical contact with pupils from time to time in the course of their duties. An example is demonstrating a movement or position during class. Staff should be aware of the limits within which such contact should properly take place and of the possibility of such contact being misinterpreted.

(C) There may be occasions where it is necessary for staff to restrain a pupil physically to prevent him/her from inflicting injury to others or self-injury, damaging property, or causing disruption. In such cases only the minimum force necessary may be used and any action taken must be to restrain the pupil. Where an employee has taken action to physically restrain a pupil, he/she should make a written report of the incident & submit it to the DSL, Jackie Stuart immediately.

Touch Between Student and Student:

During the course of StageAbility activities students may find physical touch an important part of their learning and development. Such as dramatic scenes, improvisation and chorography.

Facilitators should be encouraged to keep this to a minimum, and ensure all students involved feel comfortable with any touch involved. Physical contact should be limited to what the facilitator deems necessary and should never be sexual/violent in content. If touch between students becomes violent, the DSL must be informed immediately, and a full incident report written. 

Supervisory arrangements for the management of StageAbility activities and services.

We will aim to protect children from abuse and our team members from false allegations by adopting the following guidelines:

  • We will keep a register of all children attending our activities
  • We will keep a register of all team members (both paid staff members and volunteers)
  • Our team members will record any unusual events on the incident form
  • Where possible our team members should not be alone with a child, although we recognise that there may be times when this may be necessary or helpful
  • Team members should escort children to the toilet but are not expected to be involved with toileting, unless the child has a special need that has been brought to our attention by the parent/guardian
  • We recognise that physical touch between adults and children can be healthy and acceptable in public places. However, our team members will be discouraged from this in circumstances where an adult or child are left alone
  • All team members should treat all children with dignity and respect in both attitude language and actions

Support and Training:

We, StageAbility, are committed to the provision of child protection training for all our team members. The Designated Person(s) will update their/his/her Child Safeguarding Officer training every three years or after legislative change, whichever occurs first.