Child Protection Procedures & Codes of Practice
Last updated: February 2021
- Safeguarding Procedures
- Definition of children and young people
- Statement of values and principles
- Designated persons
- Code of conduct
- Project planning, supervision, risk assessment and risk management
- Photographic procedures
- Recruitment procedures
- Other ATLAS Policies
1.10 Whistle-blowing and complaints procedures
- Response Procedures
- Responding to a child disclosing abuse
- Responding to signs or suspicions of abuse
- Responding to allegations of abuse against staff, workers or volunteers
- Recording and sharing information
- Confidentiality policy and retention and storage of documentation
- Consent form for the use of photographs and video
- Definitions of abuse
- What to do if you have concerns about a child’s welfare
- What to do if you have concerns about a member of staff or volunteer in relation to child protection
- Protection of vulnerable adults
- ATLAS guidelines for social networking
- ATLAS guidelines for telephone and digital platforms (such as Zoom)
- ATLAS guidelines on discipline
ATLAS Arts believes that a child or young person should never experience abuse of any kind. It is our policy to ensure that all participants in workshops, projects, events and other ATLAS activities are protected from physical, sexual and emotional harm whilst taking part.
In order to achieve these safeguards, ATLAS Arts requires all staff, including the board of trustees, paid staff, volunteers, artists and anyone working on behalf of ATLAS Arts working with children and young people to follow the Code of Good Practice set out below.
This policy is based on the ‘Getting it Right for Every Child’ approach (GIRFEC) and Creating Safety- Child Protection Guidelines for Scotland’s Arts, Screen and Creative Industries published in 2011 by Creative Scotland.
At the heart of good practice in protecting children lies an understanding of their rights. There are four key principles that should underpin all work with children whether this is within a large organisation or on an individual basis;
- The best interests of the child must always be a primary consideration
- All children and young people should be treated fairly and with dignity and respect
- All children have the right to protection from all forms of harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
- All children and young people have the right to express their views on matters that affect them.
Each of the above key principles are derived from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
1. Safeguarding Procedures
- Definition of children and young people
‘Children and young people’ means anyone up to the age of 18 years, those over 19 years who are receiving services as care leavers (young people who have been ‘looked after’ children), and those between 19 and 25 years with learning difficulties.
- Statement of values and principles
ATLAS believes that:
- All organisations have a duty of care to children and young people who use their services or take part in their activities.
- All children and young people should be encouraged to fulfil their potential and inequalities should be challenged.
- Everybody has a responsibility to support the care and protection of children.
1.3 Designated persons
‘Designated persons’ are those members of ATLAS staff who have specific responsibility for ensuring effective safeguarding and protection procedures. These are as follows:
The role of the designated person is to:
- Receive and record information from staff, volunteers, children or parents/carers who have child protection concerns.
- Assess the information properly and carefully, clarifying or obtaining more information about the matter as appropriate and consulting with senior colleagues if necessary.
- Consult initially with a statutory child protection agency to test out any doubts or concerns as soon as possible.
- If necessary, to make a formal referral to a statutory child protection agency without delay.
Specialist advice and training is made available to designated persons.
1.4 Code of Conduct
All ATLAS staff must:
- Treat all children and young people with respect.
- Provide an example of good conduct you wish others to follow.
- Ensure that whenever possible there is more than one adult present during activities with children and young people or at least that you are within sight or hearing of others.
- Respect a young person’s right to personal privacy and encourage young people to feel comfortable and caring enough to point out attitudes or behaviour they do not like.
- Remember that someone else might misinterpret your actions, no matter how well intentioned.
- Be aware that physical contact with a child or young person may be misinterpreted.
- Recognise that special caution is required when you are discussing sensitive issues with children or young people.
- Operate within the ATLAS’s specific procedures.
- Challenge unacceptable behaviour and report all allegations/suspicions of abuse.
- Give guidance and support to inexperienced helpers, for example, volunteer assistants who may be working with ATLAS temporarily.
Staff must not:
- Have inappropriate physical or verbal contact with children, young people or vulnerable adults.
- Be drawn into inappropriate attention-seeking behaviour/make suggestive or derogatory remarks or gestures in front of children or young people.
- Jump to conclusions about others without checking facts.
- Either exaggerate or trivialise child abuse issues.
- Show favouritism to any individual.
- Rely on your good name or that of the organisation to protect you.
- Believe “it could never happen to me”.
- Take a chance when common sense, policy or practice suggests another more prudent approach.
1.5 Project planning, supervision, risk assessment and risk management
ATLAS recognises that making arrangements for the proper supervision of children is one of the most effective ways of minimising opportunities for children to suffer harm whilst in our care.
- Project managers should plan and prepare a detailed programme of activities for the children involved in a project.
- Planning should ensure that all children should be adequately supervised and engaged in suitable activities at all times.
- Organisers should obtain, in writing, parental consent to children joining an organised project. The purchase of a ticket or place on a project shall be deemed to be such consent.
- Parents should be given full information about a project, including details of the programme of events, the activities, and the supervision ratios.
- Project managers must be satisfied that those workers and adults who work on projects are fully competent to do so and that appropriate checks have been made.
- Children must be supervised at all times, preferably by two or more adults.
- Children must not be left unsupervised at any venue, indoors or out.
- Workers should know at all times where children are and what they are doing.
- Any activity using potential dangerous equipment should have constant adult supervision.
- Dangerous behaviour by children should not be allowed.
1.5.2 Risk assessment in relation to child protection
The principle of risk assessment is to consider:
- The practical details of a project
- Things that could go wrong in a project
- The likelihood of things going wrong
- Impact of these things going wrong
Once this is done:
- You can identify measures to reduce the risk
- You can decide what to do if things go wrong
- You can allocate roles to monitor and manage child protection
Risk assessment and risk management should be carried out for every project and should involve as wide a range of project stakeholders as possible.
1.6 Photographic procedures
- Avoid using children’s names in photographic captions. If the child is named, avoid using their photograph. If the photograph is used, avoid naming the child.
- Always use a parental permission form to obtain consent for a child to be photographed/videoed (see Appendix 1 for an example permission form).
- Obtain the child’s permission to use their image.
- Only use images of children in suitable dress to reduce the risk of inappropriate use. Some activities – including drama – present a greater risk of potential misuse.
- Address the use of images of children on the organisation’s website. Avoid personal information about children which could be used by an individual to learn more about a child.
- Always issue written expectations of professional photographers or the press who are invited to an event, making clear the organisation’s expectations of them in relation to child protection.
- Do not allow photographers unsupervised access to children.
- Do not approve photography sessions outside the event or at a child’s home.
1.7 Recruitment procedures
The ATLAS has clearly defined recruitment procedures. In order to prevent unsuitable people working with children in the organisation, we will ensure that:
- Posts are clearly defined and those necessitating an enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service check, or registration on the PVG Scheme in Scotland, are clearly advertised as such.
- A copy of our Child Protection Policy will be sent to all staff.
- All applicants will be subject to DBS/PVG Scheme checks. All such information will be treated in confidence and will not be used against applicants unfairly.
- At interview for these posts, a question pertaining to good practice in working with children will be asked, and references obtained.
The ATLAS will provide suitable training to all staff and volunteers in the organisation that is relevant to their particular role. This will include:
- Induction Training which includes familiarisation with the organisation’s Child Protection Policy.
- Particular skills training.
- Comprehensive Child Protection Training available on request to all staff.
1.9 Other ATLAS policies
The Child Protection Policy must be read in conjunction with acas’ Equal Opportunities Policy, Complaints and Grievances Policy and Procedures; Disciplinary Policy and Procedures; Health and Safety Policy; Recruitment of Ex-offenders.
Additional recommendations for Health and Safety in arts practice include:
- Groups should not have more than 26 participants.
- An appropriate number of legally responsible adults are present.
- There must be adequate space.
- There must be access to a telephone in the building, or as an alternative, the practitioners must have a working mobile phone on their person.
- Equipment must meet safety standards.
- Risk assessments must be carried out.
- There must be a First Aid box which meets current Health and Safety (First Aid) regulations and a member of staff trained in First Aid.
- Regular and appropriate food and drinks are provided.
- Special needs are catered for.
- No child under 5 years of age should be left at events unless the parent, guardian or carer stays with the child.
- No school group, youth group or group from a care setting (i.e. a group which operates in loco parentis) should be left without a legally responsible staff member present e.g. a teacher for a school group.
- The artists/arts facilitators should know the evacuation procedures and should tell the group.
- Children and young people should have a ‘named person’ to whom they may report any worries or concerns.
- Contact names and telephone numbers for ‘named people’ should be visibly displayed.
- Staff and children should use separate toilets wherever possible, or if this is not possible, they should not use them at the same time as one another.
- The group guidelines on the use of social media must be adhered to at all times. See Appendix 6 for guidelines for social networking.
- Whistle-blowing and complaints procedures
The ATLAS wishes to promote a culture in which staff may express any concerns they may have about a colleague’s behaviour in relation to child protection.
In order to achieve this, staff are encouraged to share any such concerns with a designated person without delay; concerns will be treated seriously and in the strictest confidence. Equally, the ATLAS recognises that a culture in which people are made to feel anxious and vulnerable is undesirable and it will use the Child Protection training course to manage this area sensitively on behalf of all members of staff.
2. Response Procedures
The ATLAS recognises the importance of having clear procedures to enable staff to handle situations where an appropriate response is needed to child protection concern.
Please see Appendix 3 for definitions of abuse.
2.1 Responding to a child disclosing abuse
- Stay calm.
- Listen carefully to what is said.
- Find an appropriately early opportunity to explain, in age appropriate terms, that it is likely that the information will need to be shared with others – do not promise to keep secrets.
- Attempt to get another person to also listen or ensure someone knows why you are with the child.
- Listen carefully to what is said
- 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. Do not pass judgement.
- 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 date, time, any names mentioned, to whom the information was given and ensure that the record is signed and dated.
- Contact your designated person.
REMEMBER: It is important that everyone in the organisation is aware that the person who first encounters a case of alleged or suspected abuse is not responsible for deciding whether or not abuse has occurred. That is a task for the professional child protection agencies following a referral to them of concern about a child. If something is divulged to you remember to seek support for yourself. Agencies such as NSPCC and Childline will be able to help you. However anything that has been divulged must be kept confidential.
- Responding to signs or suspicions of abuse
Please see Appendix 4 for a flow chart on what to do in this situation.
2.3 Responding to allegations of abuse against staff, workers or volunteers
Please see Appendix 5 for a flow chart on what to do in this situation.
2.4 Recording and sharing information
In all situations, including those in which the cause of concern arises from a disclosure made in confidence, it is vitally important to record the details of an allegation or reported incident, regardless of whether or not the concerns are shared with a statutory child protection agency.
An accurate note should be made of:
- Date and time of the incident or disclosure
- Parties who were involved
- What was said or done and by whom
- Any action taken by the organisation to investigate the matter
- Any further action e.g. suspension of a worker
- Where relevant, reasons why there is no referral to a statutory agency
- Names of persons reporting and to whom reported.
- Be careful not put in personal feelings.
The record should be clear and factual as it may be needed by child protection agencies investigating the incident and may, in the future, be used as evidence in court. Keeping such a record may also help protect the ATLAS.
Please see Appendix 6 for an example checklist for reporting suspected abuse.
2.5 Confidentiality policy, and retention and storage of documentation
As a general rule, all personal information that is acquired or held in the course of working with children and young people should be treated as confidential. Particular care should be taken with sensitive information.
Consideration should also be given to the Data Protection Act 1998 which requires that information is obtained and processed fairly and lawfully; that it is accurate, relevant and not held for longer than is necessary; and kept securely. The ATLAS has a written policy on these matters which is available to those who wish to see it on request.
2.5.1 Handling and Safekeeping of Disclosure Information
As an organisation using the Disclosure and Barring Service to help assess the suitability of applicants for positions of trust, the ATLAS complies fully with the DBS Code of Practice regarding the correct handling, use, storage, retention and disposal of Disclosures and Disclosure Information.
The ATLAS hold countersignatory codes for the processing of the PVG scheme in Scotland. It will therefore only record the date of a Disclosure and its reference number. It no longer holds any Disclosures itself, as a matter of good practice:
- Disclosure information will never be kept in an applicant’s personnel file and is only passed to those who are authorised to receive it.
- We recognise that it is a criminal offence to pass this information to anyone who is not entitled to receive it.
- We do not keep disclosure information for any longer than is absolutely necessary. This is generally a period of up to six months to allow for consideration and resolution of any disputes.
Appendix 1: Consent form for the use of photographs and video (children and vulnerable adults)
In accordance with our child protection policy we will not permit photographs, video or other images of children and young people to be taken without the consent of the guardian /carers and children.
I understand that any contribution may be used to promote the project prior to and after the event and may also be included in documentation of the project. It should be noted that there is no guarantee that an individual’s image will be used.
I agree that photographs containing either my image or someone I represent, may be used to promote this project; by ATLAS Arts or by the Artist on their websites on Social Media platforms and in an artist’s publication. I understand that the photographs may be distributed in any medium.
I ………………………..……………….. (guardian/carer) consent to the ATLAS photographing or
videoing ……………………………………………….. (name of child).
I ……………………………………………….. (name of child) consent to the ATLAS photographing or videoing my involvement in ……………………………(event).
Signature: …………………………………………………………….. Date: …………………………
Appendix 2: Definitions of abuse
What is abuse?
Government guidelines in Working Together to Safeguard Children categorises abuse as:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
What is physical abuse?
Physical abuse includes hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning or misuse of medications, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer feigns the symptoms or deliberately causes ill health to a child whom they are looking after.
What is emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a person such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on that person’s emotional development. It may involve making the individual feel or believe that they are worthless, unloved or inadequate. It may also involve causing the person to feel often frightened or in danger. It may involve exploitation or corruption.
What is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child or young person is aware of, or consents to, what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. Sexual abuse also includes non-contact activities such as involving children or young people in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging them to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Sexual abuse may be same sex or opposite sex, may be by other children, young people or adults. People from all walks of life may be sexual abusers.
What is neglect?
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s or young person’s basic physical and or/psychological needs, likely to result in the severe impairment of the person’s health or development. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failure to protect a child or young person from physical harm or danger, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
Appendix 3: What to do if you have concerns about a child’s welfare
Appendix 4: What to do if you have concerns about a member of staff or a volunteer in relation to child protection
Appendix 5: Protection of vulnerable adults
Definition of a vulnerable adult
A vulnerable adult is someone who is aged 18 years or over who ‘is or may be in need of community care services by reasons of mental health or other disability, age or illness’ and ‘is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation’.
A vulnerable adult may be a person who
- Is elderly or frail
- Has learning disabilities
- Suffers from mental illness
- Has a physical disability
- Is a substance mis-user
- Is homeless
- Is in an abusive relationship
It should be noted that disability or age alone does not signify that an adult is vulnerable.
Abuse of adults
Abuse can consist of a single or repeated act of harm or exploitation. It may be perpetrated as a result of deliberate intent, negligence or ignorance. Abuse can be verbal, physical, emotional, psychological, or a result of neglect or an omission to act. Abuse can also occur when a vulnerable adult is persuaded to enter into a financial arrangement or sexual relationship to which they have not, or could not, consent to or understand e.g. as a result of physical or mental incapacity.
What to do if abuse is suspected
If abuse is suspected or reported, employees should act in line with local policies and procedures to:
- Take reasonable steps to ensure the adult is in no immediate danger
- Contact the police if it is believed a crime may have been committed
- Obtain permission from the vulnerable adult before disclosing confidential information about them
- Where appropriate, discuss concerns with the relevant manager or person responsible for overseeing the care of the vulnerable adult.
- If, after discussion, abuse or neglect is still considered to be a possibility, referral should be made to the Social Services Department.
- The referral must be reported to all appropriate Local Authority Designated Officer. (LADO)
Appendix 6: ATLAS guidelines for social networking.
Section one for employees of ATLAS
- ATLAS staff use social networking (such as Facebook and Twitter) to promote programmes and projects to their audiences and partners, as well as driving ticket bookings for events. All staff also use social media to update our audiences about events, post photographs and further engage with our audience
- Social media is also useful to maintain connections between group participants and form a legacy network after an event or course.
- Public Engagement - key objectives for social media use:
- Legacy relationships with participants of projects or courses.
- Maintaining awareness of our activities
- Encouraging repeat engagement with individuals
- Encouraging loyal advocates for ATLAS
- Communicating with participants in the manner most familiar to them.
Ground rules and best practice
- Best practice is to use ATLAS’s official account rather than your personal accounts, and to set up an event or group on Facebook for particular events and to use a dedicated hashtag on twitter. ATLAS's Programme and Admin Assistant oversees social media, and will set up events, advise on hashtags or assist with any other social media use.
- Never become friends with or connect personally with young participants on social media. It may be necessary on some platforms such as facebook to contact young people on social media if email or phone is a less reliable manner of communication. All communications should be professional, occur within office hours and relate only to the project or event being discussed. In these cases, please share with the team the occasions young people are being contacted in this way to ensure transparency and safeguarding.
- Be vigilant about privacy settings (e.g. using closed groups on Facebook, and restricting admin settings).
- Encourage colleagues to engage with your social media activity on a work basis but strictly restrict admin status.
- Only appropriate ATLAS staff should have log in details and admin access to ATLAS social media accounts. Passwords should never be disclosed to anyone out with the organisation.
- Discuss social networking with groups of young people so as to give them a few ground rules about representing ATLAS online and let them know you can help with any issues.
- Never disclose via social media:
- Offensive or inappropriate pictures or comments about ATLAS its customers or its staff
- Confidential information about ATLAS, its customers or its staff
- Information that could embarrass you, your participants, your colleagues, your customers or ATLAS
- Comments or material which could damage ATLAS’s reputation
- Company logos without written consent.
Concerns to be aware of
- Representing ATLAS accurately and positively
- Balancing the time spent to maintain social media presence and the success of its use
- Child protection issues pertaining to internet safety
- Photographs, tagging, permissions
- Never post a photograph without signed photography permission forms from those included in it.
- Make sure a sentence relating to social media is included in your photography permission forms.
- Never tag individuals in photographs – but it is not possible to prevent others from tagging themselves or others.
- Managing the way participants of all ages post comments, blogs, photos etc relating to ATLAS
- Cyber bullying
- If you are alerted to a serious case of cyber bullying, i.e. where bullies set up a hate site. It should be reported in the same way as a Child Protection issue and reported to the appropriate social media operator. Advice can be obtained from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
- Remember, any content posted via social media can often be re-posted elsewhere on the internet.
- The Internet Watch Foundation operates a hotline reporting system for members of the public and IT professionals to report their exposure to potentially illegal content online.
Section two for freelance practitioners.
Ground rules for freelance practitioners.
Always consult your contact at ATLAS before embarking on any social media activity relating to ATLAS activity.
Never become ‘friends’ with or connect personally with participants, particularly young people under the age of 18 before, during or after your period of work with ATLAS.
Never disclose via social media:
- Offensive or inappropriate pictures or comments about ATLAS, its customers or its staff, and project participants;
- Confidential information about ATLAS, its customers or its staff;
- Information that could embarrass you, your colleagues, your participants, students or ATLAS;
- Comments or material which could damage ATLAS’s reputation;
- Company logos without written consent.
Refrain from using inappropriate language or refer to explicit content or behaviour on a site where you can be identified as an employee of ATLAS. It is an act of gross misconduct to associate the Company name with any explicit material.
Never post a photograph without signed photography permission forms from those included in it – always liaise with the Producer or Director about such permissions.
Never tag individuals in photographs.
ATLAS reserves the right to request that certain subjects are avoided for safeguarding reasons. We may ask you to withdraw certain posts, and remove inappropriate comments.
- Any social media activity relating to ATLAS projects, events or courses should be conducted through the official channels.
- Always consult ATLAS before embarking on any social media activity relating to ATLAS activity.
- Never become friends with or connect personally with young participants.
Appendix 7: ATLAS guidelines for telephone and digital platforms (such as Zoom)
In addition to adhering to social networking guidelines in Appendix 7, all staff and freelancers should ensure the following, when working with children via telephone and Zoom (or similar video / telephone conferencing platforms):
- The same child protection guidance and reporting procedures apply, whether meeting online or in person.
- 1-1 online meetings or phone calls should be avoided where possible.
- Where 1-1 sessions are deemed important or valuable to the project, this should be discussed with the Producer and Director, and risk assessed. Parental permission should be agreed. Your personal phone number should not be shared - use an ATLAS telephone number, or withhold your own number.
- An appropriate (non participating) adult should be present during any 1-1 conversations online or via phone with anyone under the age of 18, to ensure safeguarding.
Appendix 8: ATLAS guidelines on discipline
Working with children can be challenging so before commencing work with a group of children be clear in your own mind how you are going to deal with difficult behavior. You should spend time at the beginning of the session (or before the session with the person delivering the workshop/ session) involving the children in considering rules for the activity, how they should be enforced and any sanctions for their infringement. If you are working for a third party ensure you discuss the issue of discipline in advance with someone who knows the children.
- Develop a set of rules outlining acceptable and non acceptable behavior
- Involve children in developing these rules
- Ensure that all adults and children agree to abide by the rules
- Ensure that the rules are implemented fairly and consistently.
- Physical punishment should never be used as a sanction. As well as having adverse physical and emotional effects on children, it is likely to constitute an offence in law.
During large events, children must be supervised by a parent/ adult caregiver in the venue being used. In public building’s it is in the child’s best interest that they remain supervised at all times.
Young children should not be allowed to move around food or drinks serving or preparations areas freely as this can cause accidents with waiting staff and other customers. Young children should also be accompanied to the toilets by their caregiver.
Any child taking part in an event in the ATLAS office (but not run by ATLAS) without their care giver present (eg a reading group) is the responsibility of the workshop/ activity leader while participating in that activity. All workshop/ activity leaders have a responsibility to be fully disclosed.
ATLAS staff have an overall responsibility and duty of care for all office users, including children and young people and so must ensure that activities are being carried out in a safe and appropriate way and that children and young people are moving through the building and using the building safely. Any concerns should be noted with the activity leader and also noted formally so that incidents can be followed up.