Guidelines and procedures for safeguarding

Policies and guidance

Contextual statement

The following child protection procedures are underpinned by numerous pieces of legislation including Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has the right to protection from neglect and from physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

GBM acknowledges the duty of care to its members and is supportive of its volunteers in safeguarding the welfare of the children, young people and adults with whom they work. These guidelines and issues refer not just to children, but to young people and vulnerable adults too. If you have an event where vulnerable adults are present then ensure due care is taken in line with statutory regulations.

These procedures provide a framework to help enable GBM volunteers to respond appropriately to safeguarding issues and give information and guidance with regard to:

  • Safeguarding processes
  • Understanding what constitutes abuse
  • Awareness of signs which could be indicative of abuse
  • Dealing with disclosure
  • Reporting concerns and/or allegations
  • Good practice guidelines.

Safeguarding processes

  • All GBM volunteers, including emerging leaders aged 16 plus, who are working with children, young people or vulnerable adults must have a current enhanced DBS check renewed in line with GBM’s appointment policy for volunteers.
  • All contact with children and young people should be supervised until the required DBS clearance has been obtained.
  • GBM teams and the church should ensure that all GBM volunteers have access to a designated independent person with whom they can discuss concerns and from whom they can seek advice.
  • Regular GBM team meetings should be held, which will provide opportunities, not only for planning, but also for discussing any areas of concern.
  • Remember GBM groups legally belong to the church to whom they are attached and so should follow their church’s safeguarding procedures accordingly
  • GBM volunteers will undertake safeguarding training as part of their appointment process and should refresh this training at least every five years with safeguarding refresher training provided by the church, GBM or a relevant professional body. This will be monitored by the GBM Support Team.
  • All sleepovers should adhere to GBM’s sleepover guidelines, as detailed on the Sleepover Registration Form.
  • All residential events must meet the requirements listed in the publication Residential Events Toolkit, regarding qualification, registration, supervision and risk assessment.

Understanding what constitutes abuse

A person may abuse or neglect someone by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children, young people and adults may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting; by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger.

  • Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to someone, including fabricating the symptoms of, or deliberately causing, ill-health to someone.
  • Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of someone such as to cause adverse effects on their emotional development. It may involve conveying to them that they’re worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. Age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children or causing children frequently to feel frightened are also included in this concept.
  • Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing someone to take part in sexual activities, whether or not they are aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact or they may include being looked at or being involved in the production of pornographic material.
  • Neglect is the persistent failure to meet someone’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of their health or development, such as failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing or neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, their basic emotional needs.
  • Spiritual abuse is the term used when harm is caused by the inappropriate use of religious belief or practice. This can include the misuse of the authority of leadership or penitential discipline, oppressive teaching, or intrusive healing and deliverance ministries. Any of these could result in people experiencing physical, emotional or sexual harm. Other forms of spiritual harm include the denial to people of the right to faith or the opportunity to grow in the knowledge and love of God. Other forms of spiritual abuse are detailed in the government’s Prevent Strategy.
  • Other areas of abuse include domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, online abuse, child trafficking, deliberate self-harming, sexual exploitation, financial abuse and forced marriage.

Awareness of signs which could be indicative of abuse

The sustained abuse or neglect of children, young people and adults, physically, emotionally or sexually can have long-term effects on all aspects of their health, development and wellbeing. The abuse is also likely to have a significant impact on their self-image and self-esteem.

Signs of abuse could include:

  • Changes in behaviour
  • Displaying many behavioural difficulties
  • Unexplained mood swings Withdrawn, aggressive, bizarre or strange/harmfully addictive behaviours
  • Attention-seeking behaviour
  • Guarded and secretive behaviour
  • Difficulty in forming relationships
  • Repetitive injuries of a minor nature
  • Injuries which are not able to be explained
  • Inappropriate seeking of affection
  • Sexualised behaviour
  • Listless and unresponsive behaviour
  • Seriously or frequently dirty, unkempt appearance.

On their own, these signs may not constitute safeguarding issues however they could be indicative of abuse and should not be ignored.

Dealing with disclosures or allegations

Responding to the person…

Do:

  • Listen carefully: a person who alleges that abuse has taken place must be listened to
  • Respect their point of view
  • Reassure them that they’ve done the right thing in telling you/someone
  • Allow them to tell the story without prompting
  • Be honest about your responsibility and explain what actions you must take
  • Use language appropriate to the age and understanding of the person
  • Be aware of the effect of your own attitudes and values
  • Make a written record of events, conversations and observations
  • Write what they have shared using their own words
  • Make a written record of all action taken
  • Follow your church and/or GBM procedure for reporting abuse
  • Seek advice from designated/appropriate people.

Don’t:

  • Promise confidentiality or to keep secrets
  • Over question them, but try to clarify information
  • Ask leading questions, which direct them to certain answers
  • Make assumptions or jump to conclusions
  • Offer personal opinions or dismiss the claims of the child/person
  • Attempt to deal with the problem alone
  • Delay in following procedures or in taking action to protect them
  • Panic – remain calm.

Reporting concerns and/or allegations

All volunteers have a role in the prevention of abuse and a duty to report any suspicion, concern or allegation of abuse. All incidents of suspected or alleged abuse should be acted upon immediately, following the safeguarding procedures of the local church, if established, or by following the procedures of GBM below. See also the Flowchart for the procedure when concerns are raised about a child/person’s safety or welfare or if they disclose abuse which shows what action should be taken.

In brief:

  • Inform the team leader/GBM leader in charge
  • Consult with the church and/or GBM safeguarding designated person and agree on a course of action
  • If advised by church/GBM safeguarding designated person, inform parents/carers of the concerns
  • GBM’s Support Centre should be told about the concern for its records and to offer support
  • If agreed, in consultation with the designated person, Children’s Services (Social Services) or police departments should be informed and their advice followed
  • Make a written record of the events, conversations and observations, which should be signed and dated. You can use the Reporting concerns about a child/person’s safety/welfare or they disclose abuse template available to download for free from the GB leaders’ online resource base.
  • Support should be offered to the GBM volunteer making the report
  • If the allegation of abuse is against a GBM volunteer, follow these guidelines in conjunction with the Guidelines and procedures for dealing with complaints (Page 23) specifically noting that there should be no contact between the volunteer and the child/person who may have been abused, until enquiries are completed and an outcome agreed.

Good practice guidelines

Volunteers should always:

  • Seek to promote the Christian faith through their role in GBM in a safe, caring and empowering manner
  • Ensure that there’s a minimum of two adults aged 18 plus, working with any group of children and young people, one of whom must have completed GBM’s equipping training
  • Respect the privacy of children and young people in changing rooms
  • Ensure that a GBM leader is always present when children and young people are working with external visitors
  • Ensure that children are collected by an adult known to the volunteers or by someone authorised by the carer/parent
  • Ensure that young people have permission from parents/carers to go to/leave GBM activities on their own, if appropriate.
  • Ensure that any joint activities have both male and female supervision
  • Promote anti-discriminatory practice in GBM
  • Ensure that parental/carer’s consent is obtained for transport and activities off-site
  • Allow children, young people or adults to discuss a problem with the person with whom they feel most comfortable
  • Be consistent and work together as a GBM team.

Volunteers should never:

  • Make themselves vulnerable by working alone with a single child or young person
  • Invite children, young people or vulnerable adults to their home alone
  • Do things of a personal nature for children or vulnerable adults, which they are able to do for themselves
  • Have unnecessary physical contact with children, young people and vulnerable adults
  • Allow children or young people to use inappropriate language unchallenged
  • Tolerate prejudice, discrimination or bullying.

GB Ministries expects all volunteers to carry out their role:

  • In harmony with the guidelines established by the denomination of the churches with whom they are partnering in mission
  • In accordance with the guidelines established by GBM
  • In an understanding manner and working in partnership with parents/carers
  • In co-operation with the professional agencies responsible for the implementation of statutory safeguarding procedures.

Safeguarding procedures in isolation can’t protect the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults.

It’s those who access the procedures through the course of their involvement who will collectively contribute to the protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults.

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