The Chiltern Academy of Martial Arts (CAOMA) takes its Child Safety responsibilities very seriously. Please find below a copy of our Child Safety Policy:
Everyone working in CAOMA whether paid or in a voluntary capacity, together with those working in affiliated organisations, has a role to play in safeguarding the welfare of children and preventing their abuse.
We have a responsibility to:
a) Safeguard and promote the interests and well being of children with whom we are working.
b) Take all reasonable practical steps to protect them from harm, discrimination or degrading treatment and
c) Protect their rights, wishes and feelings.
Children protection procedures can:
a) Offer safeguards to the children with whom we work and to members of staff, volunteers and those in affiliated organisations
b) Help maintain the professionalism and standards of practice expected of us.
Obviously any procedure is only as effective as the ability and skill of those who operate it. We are therefore committed to sound recruitment, the provision of support, appropriate training and adequate supervision so that staff can work together with parents/carers and children to ensure that the needs and welfare of children remains paramount.
2.1 Recruitment & Selection of Staff
a) It is essential that the same procedure is used consistently whether staff are paid or unpaid, part time or full time.
b) Request the applicant to complete an application in full.
c) When interviewing ask relevant questions concerning the applicant’s qualifications, ability, and past work experience paying particular attention to any gaps in employment which may be evident from the application form and which may indicate a criminal record.
d) Obtain the applicant’s consent to a police and social services check.
e) Obtain at least two references one of which should be in relation to previous work with children.
f) Check with the DSS the applicant’s suitability to work with children (i.e. have they any evidence or previous unsuitable connections with children). The DS will contact the police as part of their checking process.
g) All information concerning individual members of staff must be treated as CONFIDENTIAL.
2.2 Policy & Procedure
a) All staff must be aware of the child protection policy and should know what to do if they are concerned that abuse is taking place. (see section 2.8).
a) All staff who work with children must receive appropriate training. This should include an understanding of “good practice in the care of children”, (see section 3.5) the levels of supervision which will take place and what to do if abuse is suspected, (section 2.8).
b) The management team, as part of their normal supervisory routine, conduct regular checks of those activities where staff are working closely with children.
c) Support should be given to anyone expressing concern about a possible case of abuse and the matter brought to the attention of the senior team as a matter of urgency.
2.5 Good Practice in the Care of Children
The following examples of good practice relate to good practice when working in a martial art context.
a) Always publicly open when working with children. Avoid situations where a teacher/coach and individuals are completely unobserved.
b) Where any form of manual support is required this should be provided only. The teacher should also be extremely careful as it is difficult to maintain hand positions when the child is constantly moving. Some parents are becoming increasingly sensitive about manual support and their views should always be carefully considered.
If manual support is considered necessary, the parent should be advised and consulted before the class takes place.
c) Parents, where present, must take responsibility for their children in the changing rooms and toilet areas.
d) In addition as a general rule IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE TO:
– Spend excessive amounts of time alone with children away from others
– Take children alone on car journeys , however short
– Take children home where they will be alone with an adult
Whilst the last two items may be outside the control of the Centre, staff should report to their Centre Director if they are aware another member of staff is participating in these activities without the full knowledge and consent of parents or the Centre Director.
– Engage in rough physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay.
– Share a room (changing room) with a child.
– Allow or engage in inappropriate touching of any form.
– Allow children to use inappropriate language unchallenged.
– Make sexually suggestive comments to a child even in fun.
– Let allegations a child makes go unchallenged, unrecorded, or not acted upon.
– Do things of a personal nature that children can do for themselves.
– Have children stay at your home with you unsupervised.
g) If during a lesson a child is accidentally hurt, the child seems distressed in any manner, appears to be sexually aroused by your actions, or misunderstands or misinterprets anything a member of staff has done the incident MUST be reported to the Centre Director as soon as possible. A brief written note should also be supplied.
The Instructor must advise the parent or carer of the incident as soon as possible.
2.6 Recognition of Abuse
a) Abuse is not easy to recognise and it is realised that staff are not trained to identify it. However, some indications that a child is being abused are as follows:
– Unexplained or suspicious injuries such as bruising, cuts or burns,
particularly if situated on a part of the body not normally prone to such injuries.
– An injury for which the explanation seems inconsistent.
– The child describes what appears to be an abusive act involving him/her.
– Someone else – a child or adult, expresses concern about the welfare of another child.
– Unexplained changes in behaviour e.g. becoming very quiet, withdrawn, or displaying sudden outburst of temper.
– Inappropriate sexual awareness.
– Engages in sexually explicit behaviour in games.
– Is distrustful of adult, particularly those with whom a close relationship will normally be expected.
– Has difficulty making friends.
– Is prevented from socialising with other children.
– Loses weight for no apparent reason.
– Becomes increasingly dirty or unkempt.
b) It must be noted that this list is not exhaustive and the presence of any of these indicators is not proof that abuse is taking place. It is not the responsibility of anyone working with children to decide whether abuse is occurring, but it is their responsibility to act on any concerns, (see section 2.8).
2.7 Main forms of abuse
a) In sport the main forms of abuse are as follows:
– Physical abuse:
Where the nature and intensity of training disregard the capacity of the child’s immature and growing body.
– Sexual abuse:
Any activity which might involve physical contact with children could potentially create situations where sexual abuse may go unnoticed. Also the power of the coach over young people if misused, may lead to abuse situations developing.
– Emotional abuse:
Where children are subjected to unrealistic pressure by the parents or coach or bullied in order to consistently perform to high expectations.
A coach or teacher not ensuring children are safe or exposing them to undue cold.
2.8 Action if a case of abuse is suspected.
Suspicion of allegation against anyone other than a member of staff.
a) It is not our responsibility to investigate or decide whether abuse is occurring but it is our responsibility to report a suspected case of abuse.
The Social Services Department has a statutory duty under the Children Act 1989 to ensure the welfare of a child and have a legal responsibility to investigate any referral made to them.
b) There is always a commitment to work in partnership with parents or carers where there are concerns about their children and therefore in most situations it is important to clarify any concerns with them. A child appearing withdrawn may be as a result of a recent bereavement in the family.
c) However, where it is considered that a parent or carer may be involved the member of staff must report their concerns to the senior team who must contact the social services or the police.
In these circumstances the social services or police will decide how and when to inform the parent or carer.
d) Information passed to the social services and police must be as detailed as possible and should include the following:
– The nature of the allegation
– A description of any visible bruising or other injuries
– The child’s account, if he or she can give it, of what happened and how the bruising or injuries occurred.
– Any times, dates or other relevant information
– A clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay.
e) Reporting the matter should not be delayed by attempts to gain more
f) Do not cross examine children, allow them to speak to the member of staff if they wish and ensure the conversation is noted but leave any further questions to those people trained to do so.
g) Record the name and designation of the person in social services or the police to whom the incident is reported together with the date and time of the report.
Suspicion of allegation against a member of staff:
h) If in doubt whether a reported incident is as a result of poor practice rather than abuse the senior team should contact the social services department and seek their advice. It is possible that the incident is one of a series of incidents which may cause concern.
i) The person reporting the incident should be reassured that their actions will be fully supported.
j) If following consideration the allegation is clearly about poor practice then the senior team must deal with the incident as a misconduct issue assuming the person involved has been fully trained and is aware of the good practice principles involved.
k) If the senior team believes the incident to be one of abuse he/she must report the matter to the social services or police.
DO NOT DISCUSS THE MATTER WITH THE MEMBER OF STAFF OR PARENTS UNTIL ADVISED BY SOCIAL SERVICES OR THE POLICE.
l) When the member of staff is contacted they should be suspended from duty until a thorough investigation has taken place.
m) The matter must be dealt in strict confidentiality.
n) Irrespective of the findings of the social services or the police inquiries the senior team must assess the case using the disciplinary procedure to decide whether the member of staff may be re-instated.
This may be difficult especially where there is insufficient evidence for the police to uphold any action. In such cases a decision must be taken upon the information available based on the balance of probabilities. The welfare of children is paramount.
o) All interviews and conversations must be recorded and the record signed and dated.
CHILD PROTECTION POLICY SUMMARY
1. Check application forms when recruiting and follow up any “gaps in employment”.
2. Seek two references – one from a previous “child” related occupation.
3. Undertake a Social Services / Police Check.
4. Ensure all staff are aware of “good practice” procedures.
5. If abuse is suspected report to Master Instructors immediately.