Definition of Children
Under the Child Care Act (1991) a “child” is deemed to be “anyone under the age of 18 years other than a person who is or has been married.”
General Policy Statement
The protection of children is a priority. Every measure will be taken by every leader to ensure that the children are safe in all their activities from any physical, emotional or sexual harm.
- In all activities, children are treated equally regardless of colour, race, religion, disability, or gender.
- There will be no physical punishment or abuse allowed by the leaders.
- Under no circumstances will any emotional pressure be put on a child, nor will they be forced to make any spiritual decisions.
- We believe that any commitment made to Jesus Christ is a work of the Holy Spirit and must be made willingly.
- All leaders will behave responsibly and maturely in their relationships with each other and the children. This includes appropriate dress, conduct, and conversation.
- Smoking, consumption of alcohol, or the misuse of any substance or stimulant will not be permitted by either leaders or children at any of our activities.
- We commit ourselves to praying to our heavenly Father for the nurturing, protection and safekeeping of all children and young people among us.
- We recognise that the paramount responsibility for children and young people lies with their parents, and so we wish to support and strengthen parental responsibility for them.
Guideline 1 — The assembly shall ensure that
- These guidelines are to be readily accessible to the public on request.
- Two written references are obtained for leaders who have been with us less than two years, or who have been away for the last two years.
- There is a probationary period of at least 6 months for all youth leaders/helpers appointed.
- Annual reviews are held for all leaders/helpers with the person responsible for them.
- At least one Designated Person is appointed to whom all allegations or suspicions of child abuse may be referred.
- A Report Book is to be kept by the Designated Person in which to enter details of all accidents involving young people, e.g. date, accident, action taken, how and when parents/guardians informed, names and addresses of witnesses.
- A register of children is to be kept based on information from forms given to all parents/guardians to fill in, including names, address(es), contact numbers, notes of medical or other problems, together with the granting of consent by the parents/guardians to involvement by their children in the group’s activities.
- All new leaders/helpers shall complete an application form, provide references, and sign a declaration concerning their suitability for children’s work.
- A policy of openness with parents is developed as much as possible.
Guideline 2 — Good practice with children
Children have a right to be treated with respect and dignity since they are all created in the image of God. To this end, each leader or worker should:
- Treat all children with respect and dignity befitting their age, taking care to control language, tone of voice, and body language.
- Not engage in or tolerate any of the following:
- invading the privacy of children when they are showering or toileting
- rough, physical or sexually provocative games
- making sexually suggestive comments about or to a young person, even in ‘fun’
- inappropriate or intrusive touching
- Learn to control and discipline children without using physical punishment.
- Not let youngsters involve them in excessive attention-seeking.
- Always seek prior permission from a parent or guardian to contact children outside official church activities, in particular contact by mobile phone or email.
- Ensure that they are not alone with a child where they cannot be seen, even when privacy or confidentiality is required. This may mean leaving doors open, or having two leaders stay with the child.
- Leaders are encouraged not to give lifts to children or young people on their own. If they are alone, ask them to sit in the rear of the car. In some circumstances, it may be unwise to carry a particular child on their own. It is good practice to arrange for a different child to be the last dropped home on each occasion.
- Avoid overloading vehicles and ensure all seat belts are worn.
- Avoid sharing sleeping accommodation with children if you take a group away. If this is unavoidable, make sure there are at least two leaders in any room or tent.
- Never tolerate abusive youth activities (e.g. initiation ceremonies, bullying etc.)
- Avoid showing favouritism to any individual.
Guideline 3 — Good practice with colleagues
- It is important to be clear about individual responsibilities in a team.
- If you see another leader or worker acting in ways which might be inappropriate or misconstrued, be prepared to speak to them or to your supervisor about your concerns.
- Leaders should encourage an atmosphere of mutual support and care which allows all workers to be comfortable enough to discuss inappropriate attitudes or behaviour.
- Where another leader is a young person under the age of eighteen, then leaders who are eighteen or over should be careful to treat such younger leaders with the same care with which they would treat young persons under these guidelines.
- These measures will also protect leaders and workers from false accusations
Guideline 4 — Dealing with Discipline
- What is discipline?
- Discipline is the education of a person’s character. It includes nurturing, training, instruction, chastisement, verbal rebuke, teaching and encouragement.
- Why discipline?
- It brings security, produces character, prepares for life, is evidence of love and is God’s heart. See Hebrews 12:5-12 and Proverbs 22:6.
- Do’s and don’ts of discipline in children’s work:
- We need to be insistent, consistent, and persistent.
- NEVER smack or hit a child.
- Discipline out of love NEVER anger. (Call on support from other leaders if you feel you may deal with the situation unwisely in your anger.)
- Do not shout in anger or put down a child.
- Lay down ground rules (e.g. no swearing, racism, or calling each other names; a respect for property), consulting the children where appropriate.
- Keep the ground rules simple and clear, and make sure the children understand what procedures will be taken if they are not kept.
- Talk to a child away from the ‘group’, not publicly. (Explain what they have done wrong, encourage remorse, leave them on a positive note.)
- Never reject a child, just the behaviour. (Encourage the child that you want them, but you are not willing to accept the behaviour.)
- Each child is unique, special, and individual, and each child needs a different method of being dealt with. We, therefore, need to ask ourselves “Why is the child behaving like that?”
- Ask God for wisdom, discernment and understanding and pray for the child.
- Decide on the best method for discipline and how to encourage that child.
- Work on each individual child’s positives, not comparing them to each other, but encourage and build them up.
Guideline 5 – Dealing with Child Abuse
Definition of abuse
There are three broad types of abuse:
- Physical – where children’s bodies are hurt by ill treatment, failure to protect them, inadequate care, or neglect of their basic needs;
- Sexual – where an older child or adult uses a child for their own sexual gratification or where children are encouraged or forced to observe or participate in any form of sexual activity;
- Emotional – where children are persistently or severely emotionally neglected or rejected, for example by not being given enough love or attention, by not being taken seriously or by being intimidated by threats or taunts.
Procedures for dealing with suspected abuse
- If physical, sexual or emotional abuse is suspected:
- Do not delay
- Do not act alone
- Do not start to investigate
- Consult with the Designated Person
- Do not mention the matter to anyone else
- If a child discloses abuse:
- Do listen carefully
- Don’t panic
- Do ask open-ended, non-leading questions
- Don’t enquire into details of the abuse – trained professionals will do this properly
- Do reassure the child that you believe him or her – the vast majority of children who disclose are telling the truth
- Don’t imply blame to the abuser/parents
- Do tell the child that it was not his or her fault
- Don’t promise confidentiality or to keep the disclosure secret
- Do tell your Designated Person as soon as possible
- Don’t try and deal with the matter on your own
- Do make a written summary of what was said, noting the date of the conversation and the date of telling the Designated Person
- Don’t tell the child that everything will be fine now
- Do praise the child for telling you and reassure them that they did the right thing
- Do keep your own emotions under control when talking to the child but do express them afterwards to the Designated Person
Guideline 5 — CHILD SAFETY
Supervision of Children
- Children should be adequately supervised at all times. Where possible the ratio of children to leaders should be as follows:
- 2-3 years — 1 leader to 4 children
- 3-7 years — 1 leader to 8 children
- Over 7 years — 2 leaders for up to 20 children (Preferably one of each gender)
- An additional leader for every 10 extra children;
- In any of the above groups there should always be a minimum of two leaders.
- It is recommended that leaders wear distinctive clothing (uniform, cap, badge, sweatshirt, etc.) to make them easily recognisable by children.
- Leaders must be familiar with all necessary safety procedures with regard to fire safety, medical emergency, abuse, hygiene, etc.
- The U N Convention, Article 16, states that children have the right to privacy, and everything will be done to ensure that this right is upheld.
- First Aid equipment must be easily accessible at all times.
- A medical history of each child will be sought, and parents’ number obtained in case of emergencies.
- Toilet facilities must be easily accessible except when the activities are taking place outside church premises.
- These should always be segregated between male and female users.
- Waterford Christian Assembly maintains adequate insurance for accidents and Public Liability.
- A Report Book must be kept which will record every:
- Accident or emergency, noting date and time, action taken, and witnesses
- Any allegation of abuse, recording date and time, nature of abuse, action taken, and witnesses
- These accidents or allegations should be signed by the leader and countersigned by one of the Coordinators.
Responsibilities of Children
- In all situations, leaders will endeavour to supervise children as closely as they possibly can. However, a certain responsibility rests with the child to accept the guidance of the leader and to obey the rules and regulations.
- Leaders will not tolerate a child’s blatant refusal to adhere to reasonable instruction and advice.
The Constitutional Rights of parents will always be kept in mind when working with children.
- Parental consent for children attending meetings, clubs, etc. will be sought.
- All parents/guardians have the right to come with their children to meetings, and access to their children will not be withheld in any circumstances.
- The only exception to the above is where there is a legal separation or divorce between parents. In this case the person with parental responsibility must also give written authorisation for the other separated or divorced parent to visit. No parent who has been legally barred from seeing a child at home will have the right to visit them when they are in our care.
OUR “CHILDREN FIRST” COMMITMENT
All leaders will abide by the following commitment:
- I will focus my attention on the children and not on my own needs during activities.
- I will treat the children with respect, using their real names at all times. I will respect their right to privacy.
- No name calling, mocking or inappropriate jokes.
- I will encourage and build up those around me, especially the children.
- I will be especially sensitive when discussing spiritual matters, respecting that the children come from a variety of spiritual backgrounds. I will not force anyone to make a decision of a spiritual nature.
- I will think “Safety First”, in accordance with the Safety Policy.
- I will make myself aware of all policies relating to this work including those relating to discipline, disclosures of child abuse, and dealing with incidents/accidents, and follow the procedures outlined.
- I will behave in an appropriate manner at all times and be especially careful with regard to physical contact with children.
- I will not enter into any communications with children I’m working with outside of church activities without the knowledge and permission of their parent(s) or guardian(s)
- I will read the Child Safety Policy before working with children at Waterford Christian Assembly.
We recognise that it is impossible to cover every eventuality in a document like this. We know that unforeseen circumstances will arise. In such a situation leaders will always act with the safety of the child at heart, using common sense, and looking to God for wisdom and guidance to do what is right.
Amended July 2012