Child Protection Policy – Crich Baptist Church
General Principles Guiding Our Work Among The Young
1. We, as Crich Baptist Church, commit ourselves, God helping us, to instruct the young in the Christian faith (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).
2. As befits any work undertaken by Christians, the Bible is to be our rule for both the content of our teaching and for the manner in which it will be conducted.
3. We as a church, regardless of whether we are directly involved in young people’s work or not, strive to set a model of godliness, holiness and love to the rising generation.
4. We undertake to provide a loving and disciplined context in which to teach the young. As part of this commitment, a code of conduct will be used to establish ground rules of permissible and impermissible behaviour.
5. Parents entrusting their children to the oversight of the church have a right to expect their children will be safe, will be treated with dignity and respect, and will be taught the basics of the Christian faith including principles of Christian behaviour and conduct.
6. We will make all efforts to ensure the building and premises are safe and suitable.
7. We undertake to regularly pray for the children and their parents as we do not believe our efforts will avail anything unless the Lord makes our work effective and blesses His word to the rising generation.
Specific Principles Regarding Child Protection
1. Given the fallen world in which we live, we take it upon ourselves to be acquainted with the symptoms of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and to implement guidelines to govern our conduct, should allegations or reasonable suspicions of abuse arise
2. As part of our duty of care for the young, we will observe the statutory requirement to report cases of suspected or alleged sexual abuse and to take any appropriate actions where physical or emotional abuse is suspected or alleged. Any such actions will be undertaken with discretion, urgency, objectivity and compassion, subject to our own fallible condition. This includes the treatment of allegations made against church workers.
3. The church will appoint a Co-ordinator and Deputy Co-ordinator to deal with any allegations or suspicions of sexual abuse. These appointees will act in accordance with agreed guidelines.
4. As part of our aim to act responsibly in appointing people to work with children and young people, prospective workers will be required to fill in an application form. We are aware that we are fallible and that no system we can devise will be perfect.
5. We will ensure that workers with young people are given appropriate support and training.
6. We will aim to work in cooperation with the relevant statutory authorities and seek to implement ‘best practice’.
7. As far as we are able, we will attempt to help families involved in allegations of abuse.
8. We undertake to help those who are sexual offenders and to offer encouragement and counsel while recognising that safeguards need to be in place to avoid future re-offending.
9. We undertake to keep our work and procedures under constant review and will seek all valid and biblical means to increase our competence.
Appointing Workers With Young People
1. Church members or friends of the church wishing to be involved in young people’s work will be required to fill in an application form. This applies to those teaching in Sunday School, Young People’s Meetings, Camps and Outings.
2. The application form will require that the applicant:
– submit the names of two referees;
– be willing to have their name checked against the police register of sex offenders; and
– make a declaration that they have no previous convictions for offences against children.
3. The information supplied by church members and referees will not be divulged to others but will be treated confidentially by the officers of the church. Where child protection issues are raised in the process of application, these will be discussed privately with Church Officers or their representatives.
4. Where a person has been guilty of an offence against children, he or she will not be permitted to work with young people irrespective of proven Christian character and testimony.
5. The names of those working with the young people will be communicated to the Church Meeting. The Church Meeting is the ultimate authority for ratifying appointments.
6. The young people’s work, including the appointment of workers, will be subject to review and encouragement will be given to attend any relevant and appropriate training.
Appointment of Co-ordinator And Deputy Co-ordinator
1. In the event of an allegation against a young people’s worker or suspicion of abuse, the church will appoint, through the Church Meeting, a Church Member who will act as ‘Co-ordinator’ to liaise with the relevant statutory authorities and to conduct the necessary inquiries.
2. In the event that the ‘Co-ordinator’ is himself or herself unavailable or is the subject of a complaint or suspicion, the Church Meeting shall also appoint from among its Church Members a ‘Deputy Co-ordinator’ to carry out the responsibilities of the ‘Co-ordinator’.
3. In the event of both ‘Co-ordinator’ and ‘Deputy Co-ordinator’ being unavailable or themselves being the subject of a complaint or suspicion, contact should be made with an outside agency such as:
– Amber Valley Social Services
Tel : 01773 728000 Children’s Duty Officer 24 Hour (If out of office hours, an Answerphone message will inform what number to call)
– PCCA Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service
PO Box 133, Swanley, Kent, BR8 7UQ.
Tel : 01322 660011 or 667207.
Procedure In Event of Suspicion of Sexual Abuse
1. If a credible suspicion of abuse arises with respect to the conduct of a church worker or with respect to a child, these concerns must be reported immediately to the Co-ordinator. The Co-ordinator will then be responsible for contacting the relevant statutory agencies.
2. In the event of the Co-ordinator being absent or himself or herself being the subject of the suspicion, the concerns should be passed immediately on to the Deputy Co-ordinator.
3. If both the Co-ordinator and Deputy Co-ordinator are either absent or implicated in the suspected abuse, the concerned person will then contact the relevant agencies listed above.
4. Regardless of the above procedure, anyone having credible grounds for suspecting abuse is at liberty to contact the relevant statutory agencies themselves.
Allegations of Abuse
1. If allegations of sexual abuse are made by a child, either relating to members of their family or a member of the church, a procedure is to be followed to record what the child has reported.
2. Handwritten notes should be made, ideally within an hour of speaking with the child, detailing;
– the time and place of the disclosure;
– how the disclosure came to be made including what activities preceded it; and
– the questions posed by the church worker during the ‘interview’ and the answers given.
3. Notes that are taken should be kept in a secure place and the originals should not destroyed even if they have subsequently been typed out.
4. The Co-ordinator or Deputy Co-ordinator should be informed immediately subject to the provisos under ‘Procedure in event of suspicion of abuse’ above.
5. The allegation will not be discussed with any one else.
6. If the allegation is of such pressing urgency that to send the child home would be to court unacceptable risk, the relevant statutory agencies should be informed immediately.
Suspicion of Physical Injury or Neglect
1. It will be the main responsibility of the Co-ordinator to take adequate steps if there is a credible suspicion that a child is suffering from neglect or is the subject of physical abuse.
2. The Co-ordinator will be responsible for carrying out the relevant steps including liaising with parents, doctors and statutory authorities.
3. In the absence of the Co-ordinator or Deputy Co-ordinator, the worker discovering evidence of neglect or physical abuse will contact Social Services and, if urgent attention is needed, call the doctor.
Guidelines For Workers
1. Workers with children and young people will be issued with guidelines to assist them.
2. These guidelines will cover the following areas:
– Code of Conduct for Children attending church–based or church-organised events and outings;
– Guidelines on ‘Definitions of Abuse’;
– Guidelines on ‘Recognising and Responding to Abuse’;
– Guidelines on ‘What to do if you suspect abuse has occurred’; and
– Guidelines on ‘How to respond to a child wanting to talk about abuse’
3. Guidelines will be subject to review and may be altered to accommodate ‘best practice’ or changes in legislation.
1. In the event of someone attending the church who has a conviction for offences committed under the Child Protection Act, there is not to be automatic disclosure of this to every church member. Each Church Officer will be informed and others on a ‘need to know’ basis.
2. Anyone with a conviction for a sex offence with children is debarred from working with or having unsupervised contact with children.
3. A conviction for such an offence is not an automatic reason to debar from church membership where there is credible evidence of conversion.
4. Church Officers will undertake to pray for, encourage and offer pastoral support to any Christians who have been convicted of these offences.
Pastoral support will be offered, as far as is practicable, to families involved in allegations of this nature, or where there is neglect or physical injury caused to children. This will include those who are the victims of a baseless suspicion.
Definitions of Abuse
The definitions of child abuse recommended as criteria for registration by the Department of Health, “Working Together under the Children Act 1989” are as follows:
Actual or likely physical injury to a child, or failure to prevent physical injury (or suffering) to a child, including deliberate poisoning, suffocation and Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy (ie inflicting harm on a child).
Actual or likely sexual exploitation of a child or adolescent. The child may be dependent and/or developmentally immature.*
• Sexual exploitation represents the involvement of dependent, developmentally immature children and adolescents in sexual activities they do not truly comprehend, to which they are unable to give informed consent or that violate social taboos or family roles.
The persistent or severe neglect of a child or the failure to protect a child from exposure to any kind of danger, including cold and starvation or extreme failure to carry out important aspects of care, resulting in the significant improvement of the child’s health or development, including non-organic failure to thrive.
Actual or likely severe adverse effect on the emotional and behavioural development of a child caused by persistent or severe emotional ill-treatment or rejection. All abuse involves some emotional ill-treatment. This category is used where it is the main or sole form of abuse.
Other guidelines define organised abuse as sexual abuse where there is more than a single abuser and the adults concerned appear to act in concert to abuse children and/or where an adult uses an institutional framework or position of authority to recruit children for sexual abuse.
How To Respond To A Child Wanting To Talk About Abuse
It is not easy to give precise guidance but the following may help:
• Show acceptance of what the child says (however unlikely the story may sound)
• Keep calm
• Look at the child directly
• Be honest
• Tell the child you will need to let someone else know – don’t promise confidentiality
• Even when a child has broken a rule, they are not to blame for the abuse
• Be aware that the child may have been threatened or bribed not to tell
• Never push for information. If the child decides not to tell you after all, then accept that and let them know that you are always ready to listen
Helpful Things You May Say Or Show
• I believe you ( or showing acceptance of what the child says)
• Thank you for telling me
• It’s not your fault
• I will help you
• Why didn’t you tell anyone before?
• I can’t believe it!
• Are you sure this is true?
• Why? When? Where? How? Who?
• Never make false promises
• Never make such statements as “I am shocked, don’t tell anyone else.”
• Again reassure the child that they were right to tell you and show acceptance.
• Let the child know what you are going to do next and that you will let them know what happens (you might have to consider referring to Social Services or the Police to prevent a child or young person returning home if you consider them to be seriously at risk of further abuse)
• Contact the person in the church responsible for co-ordinating church protection concerns or contact an agency such as CCPAS for advice or go directly to Social Services/Police/NSPCC
• Consider your own feelings and seek pastoral support
Make notes as soon as possible (preferably within one hour of the child talking to you), writing down exactly what the child said, what you said in reply, and what was happening immediately beforehand (eg a description of the activity). Record dates and times of these events and when you made the record. Keep all hand written notes, even if subsequently typed. Such records should be kept safely for an indefinite period.
Recognising And Responding To Abuse
The following signs may or may not be indications that abuse has taken place, but the possibility should be considered.
Physical Signs Of Abuse
• Any injuries not consistent with the explanation given for them.
• Injuries which occur to the body in places which are not normally exposed to falls, rough games etc.
• Injuries which have not received medial attention
• Neglect – under nourishment, failure to grow, constant hunger, stealing or gorging food, untreated illnesses and inadequate care
• Reluctance to change for, or participate in, games or swimming
• Repeated urinary infections or unexplained tummy pains.
• Bruises, bites, burns, fractures etc. which do not have an accidental explanation
• Cuts/scratches/substance abuse
Indicators of Possible Sexual Abuse
• Any allegations made by a child concerning sexual abuse
• Child with excessive preoccupation with sexual matters and detailed knowledge of adult sexual behaviour or who regularly engages in age-inappropriate sexual play
• Sexual activity through words, play or drawing
• Child who is sexually provocative or seductive with adults
• Inappropriate bed-sharing arrangements at home
• Severe sleep disturbance with fears, phobias, vivid dreams or nightmares, sometimes with overt or veiled sexual connotations
• Eating disorders – anorexia and bulimia.
Emotional Signs of Abuse
• Changes or regression in mood or behaviour, particularly where a child withdraws or becomes clinging. Also depression/aggression and extreme anxiety.
• Nervousness and frozen watchfulness
• Obsessions or phobias
• Sudden under-achievement or lack of concentration
• Inappropriate relationships with peers and/or adults
• Attention-seeking behaviour
• Persistent tiredness
• Running away/stealing/lying
What To Do If You Suspect Abuse Has Occurred
1. In the first instance report your concerns to Pastor Christopher C. Hand who is acting as liaison with the relevant statutory authorities, including, as necessary, the Church Insurers.
2. In the event that the suspicion or allegation relates to the above-mentioned person, then the concerns should be relayed to Mrs. Jenny Croote who also has authority to liaise with the relevant statutory authorities.
3. In the event that the suspicion or allegation relates to both the above-mentioned Church Members, then the concerns should be passed on to PCCA Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS), PO Box 133, Swanley, Kent, BR8 7UQ (Tel: 01322 660011 or 01322 667207).
4. Suspicions or allegations regarding abuse should not be discussed with anyone other than those who are named above. This is the ideal procedure to be observed although it is of course within the right of any individual with concerns to approach the relevant child protection agencies or CCPAS.
Code of Conduct
We expect the children we are teaching and caring for to:
• Be polite and considerate to everyone at all times.
• Treat the church premises with respect.
• Not to vandalise any property.
• Respect the safety of others and to act calmly and peacefully toward others.
• Not behave roughly and at any times nor swear or speak violently to anyone.
• Respect the belongings of others.
• Respect the feelings of other people.
• Be obedient at all times and not to answer back.
While being aware that accidents do happen and that children coming from non-Christian homes are not so likely to demonstrate the required standard of conduct, persistent failure to observe the guidelines laid down here will lead, after verbal warning, to the child being ‘grounded’ for a week.
If a child is in danger of harming themselves or others, it may be necessary to restrain them. This should only be done in exceptional circumstances and may take the form of a bear-hug from behind until the child has become calm.