eXp in all its work with children and young people seeks to ensure the physical, emotional and spiritual well- being and development of each child or young person. Within this context, eXp is committed to the protection of children and young people from all forms of abuse.
In all matters relating to decisions regarding children and young persons who may or may not have been abused, the child or young person’s welfare will be the paramount consideration.
eXp will refer all incidents of concern, disclosures or allegations of abuse to the appropriate authorities. It is not eXp’s responsibility to investigate them.
If a child discloses a situation of abuse, the number of times he or she is questioned will be kept to the absolute minimum. Young people should not be asked to repeat what they have already said.
eXp will support staff and volunteers during the process of any child protection investigation or inquiry, as appropriate in each circumstance.
Scope of eXp’s Child Protection Policy and Procedures
Children and young people, when they are in contact with eXp, should have the highest possible standard of care and protection afforded to them from adult staff and volunteers.
This policy has been formulated with that aim in mind and applies to all eXp events, including camps, holiday clubs, out of school activities, weekends away, inter-school events, trips, etc.
Where an eXp camp is being run as an SU Scotland event, Team Leaders should comply with SU Scotland’s child protection policy and procedures in the first instance.
Where a group is being run in the school, at lunchtime, immediately after school, or any other time when the school staff are responsible and the group is run with the support of the school management, then eXp would expect that the group leaders would comply fully with the school’s child protection policy and procedures in the first instance.
Some terms are used throughout this document as follows:
- eXp Trustee Decision Maker: The Chair of the eXp Trustees, or delegated representative, authorised by the Trustees to act as its representative in approving the referral of incidents or issues to external agencies.
- Duty member of staff: A senior member of eXp trained to provide a first-line response.
- eXp: “Experiencing Faith in Cowal” an established charitable organisation (SCIO).
- Team Leader: The person approved by eXp to take overall responsibility for the event, group or activity. Currently (2020) this person is often also the Duty Member of Staff.
- Team Member: Any person vetted through eXp’s procedures and reporting to a Team Leader.
1.1 eXp’s Child Protection Policy and Procedures address three separate issues:
- a disclosure by a young person of alleged abuse which has occurred/is occurring out with the eXp activity
- a concern that a young person may be being, or have been, abused
- an allegation made about a Team Leader or team member
1.2 Whilst working in eXp settings, team members are often told about all kinds of personal issues which the children and young people are facing, for example, fears and concerns about bereavement, divorce and separation, bullying and offending.
1.2.1 In the majority of situations, being able and prepared to give the time to listen and care without being judgmental will be of great value and assistance. In other cases, it may be possible and appropriate to offer advice and guidance.
1.2.2 It also has to be recognised that a percentage of children and young people in Britain today have suffered or are suffering some kind of abusive experience are living in situations which put them ‘at risk’ for various reasons or are trying to cope with problems which threaten their happiness, emotional stability and even their physical safety.
1.2.3 During eXp activities individuals may be told about experiences which require more than a caring response and a sympathetic ea The very nature of our work may increase the likelihood of children and young people sharing such issues or abusive experiences with team members because they are seen as caring and trustworthy adults.
1.2.4 There may be examples of children and young people disclosing to team members incidents of abuse and neglect which are more serious and which potentially indicate a very real threat to the child or young person’s safety. Whilst such situations are rare, they must be dealt with in the best possible way in the interests of all concerned.
1.2.5 eXp has developed procedures for team members to follow if a child or young person makes known details of an incident or incidents which may constitute abuse, or which may suggest they are “at-risk” or that a criminal offence has been committed against them.
1.3 eXp has developed procedures for Team Leaders and duty members of staff to follow if a child alleges that they have been abused at an eXp activity.
1.4 eXp has developed procedures for Team Leaders and duty members of staff to follow if there is a concern or suspicion that a young person may be suffering from abuse.
2.1 eXp in all its work with children and young people seeks to ensure the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing and development of each child or young person. Within this context, eXp is committed to the protection of children and young people from all forms of abuse, and all staff and volunteers have a responsibility to implement this policy.
2.2 For the purposes of this policy eXp accepts the working definitions of abuse detailed within The Scottish Office Guidance “National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2010”: “Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting, or by failing to act to prevent, significant harm to the child. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a strange Assessments will need to consider whether abuse has occurred or is likely to occur.” The different forms of abuse are outlined in section 3 below.
2.3 eXp acknowledges its role as outlined in “National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2010”:
It is widely recognised that many churches and faith communities provide regulated care as well as a wide range of voluntary services for children and young people. Religious leaders, staff and volunteers have an important role in protecting children and supporting children and families.
Churches and faith communities provide carefully planned activities for children and young people, supporting families under stress, caring for those hurt by abuse in the past, and ministering to and managing those who have caused harm. It is because of these varied ministries that all reasonable steps are taken to provide a safe environment that promotes and supports the well-being of children and young people. This will include carefully selecting and appointing those who work with children and responding robustly where concerns arise.
All major denominations in Scotland now employ paid professional staff to advise and guide their church in child protection matters. These staff are available for consultation and will work with social workers and police officers as and when required.
2.4 In all matters relating to decisions regarding children and young persons who may or may not have been abused, the child or young person’s welfare will be the paramount consideration (Children (Scotland) Act 1995).
2.5 In reaching any decision regarding a child or young person due regard will be given to the child or young person’s view, taking into account their age and maturity (Children (Scotland) Act 1995).
2.6 eXp has fully developed child protection procedures for responding to incidents or disclosures of abuse, or suspicion of abuse. These will be regularly reviewed in the light of legislative and practice development.
2.7 eXp will refer all incidents of concern, disclosures or allegations of abuse to the appropriate authorities.
2.8 As part of a package promoting good practice in all aspects of work with children and young people, all eXp volunteers and staff will be made aware of and have accepted eXp’s policy and procedures on child protection prior to undertaking direct work with children or young people.
2.9 eXp will provide context-appropriate training to enable its volunteers and staff to acquire knowledge and understanding of child protection issues, and eXp’s child protection policy and procedure This will be at a level consistent with the responsibility held by each individual.
2.10 A duty staff member will have the responsibility for co-ordinating adherence to eXp procedures should the disclosure of abuse or actual incidents of such abuse occur.
2.11 eXp will assist and co-operate fully with any police investigation or enquiries into any allegation of abuse involving staff, volunteers or children or young people involved with eXp.
2.12 eXp will support staff and volunteers during the process of any child protection investigation or inquiry, as appropriate in each circumstance.
Definition of Child Abuse
3.1 eXp accepts the working definitions of abuse detailed within The Scottish Office Guidance “National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2010”: “Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting, or by failing to act to prevent, significant harm to the child. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a strange Assessments will need to consider whether abuse has occurred or is likely to occur.”
3.2 Categories of abuse are defined as follows:
Physical abuse is the causing of physical harm to a child or young person. Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning or suffocating. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes, ill health to a child they are looking after.
Emotional abuse is persistent emotional neglect or ill-treatment that has severe and persistent adverse effects on a child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may involve the imposition of age- or developmentally-inappropriate expectations on a child. It may involve causing children to feel frightened or in danger, or exploiting or corrupting children. Some level of emotional abuse is present in all types of ill-treatment of a child; it can also occur independently of other forms of abuse.
Sexual abuse is any act that involves the child in any activity for the sexual gratification of another person, whether or not it is claimed that the child either consented or assented. Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or in watching sexual activities, using sexual language towards a child or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
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 carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, to protect a child from physical harm or danger, or to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or failure to respond to, a child’s basic emotional needs. Neglect may also result in the child being diagnosed as suffering from ‘non-organic failure to thrive’, where they have significantly failed to reach normal weight and growth or development milestones and where physical and genetic reasons have been medically eliminated. In its extreme form children can be at serious risk from the effects of malnutrition, lack of nurturing and stimulation. This can lead to serious long-term effects such as greater susceptibility to serious childhood illnesses and reduction in potential stature. With young children, in particular, the consequences may be life-threatening within a relatively short period of time.
3.3 In most cases, child abuse will be as the result of deliberate or avoidable behaviour and child abuse may still occur. However, in exceptional cases through disabling causes (such as substance abuse or mental health problems) a parent or carer may not be in control of their behaviour and child abuse may still occur. However, the cause of the abuse may be of little consequence to the abused child. It is therefore important that even where abusive behaviour was not deliberate, such cases should nevertheless be dealt with under the eXp child protection procedures to ensure the provision of an appropriate considered response.
Child Protection Investigations
4.1 Where a child or young person discloses an incident of abuse, or potential abuse, eXp procedures require that such information is passed to the eXp Duty Staff Member. Directions are contained within the detailed operational Instructions for Team Leaders and team members.
4.2 Where information is passed to the Duty Staff Member and where there are grounds for concern a referral will be made to the relevant external authorities. These authorities will decide appropriate action to take. Such action may include initiating a full child protection investigation involving police and social work officers.
4.3 A child or young person who discloses an incident of abuse or potential abuse should never be asked to repeat their statement. It may be necessary to ask whether they have told anyone else, and if so, what that person is doing about it. Apart from this, a Team Leader should not speak to a child further before the matter is referred (after agreement with the Trustee Decision Maker) to external authorities. An additional interview of the child may take place if social work or police have requested it.
4.4 Any action taken on behalf of, or in the name of, eXp must be consistent with the action plan approved by the eXp Trustee Decision Maker.
4.5 eXp volunteers or staff may be called upon to give evidence or to help support a child or young person during any child protection investigation or inquiry initiated. They may also be called to give evidence in subsequent court proceedings.
Supporting the Child
5.1 Children who disclose abuse may need considerable reassurance and help to deal with their feelings, whether it transpires that the child or young person has been abused or not, the process of any child protection procedure/investigation can be very unsettling or even distressing.
5.2 Children who have been abused often feel very bad about themselves, feeling they are to blame. It is therefore important that they should not also have to cope with the feelings of the adults around the adults need to understand there may be circumstances where the child may have very mixed feelings, wanting the abuse to stop but not wanting to harm the abuser.
Supporting Staff and Volunteers
6.1 Being involved with a child or young person who discloses that they have been subject to an incident of child abuse or neglect can be very distressing for the adults concerned. In some cases, the child or young person’s situation may raise unresolved issues from the adult’s own past and they will need help and support dealing with their own feelings. This must be kept in mind by people managing the situation at all levels.
6.2 eXp will seek to offer such staff or volunteers support at an early stage and in a manner that is most appropriate to their situation or wishes. This support will be offered, during the period of the incident, directly by the immediate voluntary or staff line-manager and where appropriate, following the incident, from someone who is not closely involved with the situation.