This policy statement is aimed at providing a safe environment where children and young people may enjoy social contact, personal and spiritual development within the congregation of Union Road Presbyterian Church.
Adults selected to work within children’s and youth ministries should be secure in the knowledge that they have the full support of the Kirk Session.
The policy statement will be issued to each member of Session and all Leaders in Charge and Leaders of organisations working with children/young people.
Adoption of Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Child Protection Guidelines: The Kirk Session of Union Road Presbyterian Church has adopted The Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Child Protection Guidelines, Taking Care Two, approved by the General Assembly and revised 2011.
The Kirk Session will oversee the monitoring and implementation of the Policy.
All organisations involving young people i.e. under 18 years of age must adhere to these guidelines as agreed by the General Assembly in 2008.
The organisations affected include: Sunday School, Crèche, Children’s Church, Children’s / Youth Choir and Solid Rock Youth Club.
This policy also applies to irregular children’s/youth events, which must have correct leader/child ratios and trained leaders in place.
A copy of the guidelines will be held in the Minister’s Room. All leaders in charge and leaders can access the full guidelines online at www.presbyterianireland.org/takingcare
Any outside organisation using the church facilities are expected to either have their own policy or to abide by this policy.
The Kirk Session believes that the recruitment and appointment process outlined in the Section 5 of the Taking Care Guidelines greatly assist the assessment of a person’s suitability to work with children and young people. As a result of implementing such procedures, leaders and helpers within this congregation will be more assured of their position and of the confidence placed in them by the Kirk Session.
The following procedures must be followed for the appointment of leaders/helpers who will be 18 years or over.
The Designated Person, in conjunction with the Kirk Session, and Leader in Charge will oversee the following procedures:
- All potential leaders will be required to complete an application form for leaders. The application form includes the vetting process according to legislation and good practice.
- The applicant must download and complete page 1 & part of page 2 of the ‘Application form for Leaders’ (AFL) from the Taking Care website www.presbyterianireland.org/Resources/Congregational-Resources/Child-Protection/Access-NI-and-Garda-Vetting?ID=1371
- The applicant must also fill in the online Access NI from http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/accessni-applications
- All potential leaders must read the ‘We Care 4 U’ Two leaflet access the Taking Care Two guidelines at www.presbyterianireland.org/takingcare
- The Child Protection Policy (this document) and associated information will be provided before the interview.
- The Kirk Session will appoint up to two interviewers to interview the applicant.
- Any leader with a break in leadership service of more than two years will be required to re-submit to the selection procedure.
- Applicants will be required to provide two references by persons who are not relatives.
- At the discretion of the Minister, Kirk Session or Leader in Charge, a young person who is acting as a helper in an organisation will be asked to submit an application form and attend an interview.
- The Leader in Charge must report any concerns regarding new leaders within the first six months of appointment.
- A letter of approval will be sent to the Designated Person from the Taking Care office.
- All Leaders must be retrained every 3 years.
Reporting of Concerns
The leaders in each of our organisations will be fully conversant with the reporting procedure where there is a concern about the welfare of a child, as outlined in Section 3 of the Taking Care Two Guidelines. Leaders must not hesitate to report a concern about a child if they are at any time worried about their welfare.
The Kirk Session has appointed a:
Designated Person: Margaret Wilkins who will provide consultation, advice and support to organisations and to the Kirk Session on matters concerning the welfare of children and young people.
The Kirk Session will keep organisational leaders updated with the name of the Designated Person. Any matter brought to the attention of the Designated Person will be treated in strict confidence. Information will be divulged only where there is a legitimate need to know.
Parental Consent Forms
All Leaders in Charge must ensure that every parent has registered their child by parental consent form (forms will be available from each organisational leader, generally at the start of a new season). It is the responsibility of the Leader in charge to have contact numbers, medical information and parental signatures, close to hand, for every child/young people in their organisation. Special consent forms should be used for any “off the premises” activity and residentials.
Good Standards of Practice
Each Leader in Charge of an organisation will be expected to ensure their organisation complies with the Good Standards of Practice as outlined in Section 7 of the Guidelines. This includes: physical contact, recommended ratios, transport, residential programmes and outings, church sleepovers, photographs and working with children who have special needs.
It is important that all leaders know the boundaries and rules of an organisation and that these are explained to children and parents. A code of conduct for children and young people will be drawn up at the commencement of the year’s activities in each organisation. A code of conduct will help to create a safe, secure environment and an atmosphere where children will feel that they can relate to the leaders and helpers. ALL LEADERS MUST ABIDE BY THE DISCIPLINE GUIDELINES AS SET OUT IN SECTION 6.4 OF THE GUIDELINES.
The leaders in each of our organisations are expected to adhere to the following guidelines on technology.
Please adhere to the guidelines: The church website will be regularly monitored by a responsible person. Leaders/helpers of all organisations should under no circumstances engage in personal communication with young people via Internet chat rooms e.g. Facebook, twitter, myspace, MSN, snapchat etc.
‘Closed’ Facebook pages can be used to publicise events as long as the content and membership is closely monitored by the leader in charge. Leaders must not be friends with any young person in our organisations on Facebook. This is to protect both leaders and young people and to ensure that all communication is above board.
Leaders/helpers in CHILDREN’S ORGANISATIONS should not communicate with children via text messages, phone calls or email. Contact with children should be made via parents in a letter or by phone.
Leaders/helpers in YOUTH ORGANISATIONS should use text messages, phone calls or email with extreme caution. Mobile phones and emails are a modern and useful form of communicating with young people in organisations. However, they can be open to misinterpretation.
- Texting or emailing should only be used in relation to the organisation’s programme, or to encourage young people in their faith, or if they haven’t been to the organisation for a while.
- All emails to young people must be copied to another leader. The leader in charge will allocate leader responsibility.
- Leaders must be accountable to another leader or the Leader in Charge when texting young people. Any texts that raise concern should be saved and passed on to the Leader in Charge.
- Where possible use group rather than individual texting.
- Please use clear, unambiguous language to reduce the risk of misinterpretation. Avoid using abbreviations like ‘lol’ etc. which could mean ‘laugh out loud’ or ‘lots of love’.
Organisations wishing to take photographs, videos and web cams must obtain permission (verbal or written) from all the people (adults and children) who will appear in the photograph. Our parental consent form contains a section requesting parental consent for use of images of children for general church purposes. For further information on photographs see section 7.6 of the guidelines.
All accidents which happen on the premises during an organisation’s activities must be recorded and witnessed. There is an accident form in section 12 of the guidelines, which can be used for this purpose. Copies of this form are available in the Minister’s Room. A copy of all recorded accidents must be given to the Clerk of session.
Parents must be informed if a child/young person has had an accident during the organisation.
First Aid boxes are located in the Kitchen.
Organisations are expected to adhere to the guidance in section 7.3 of the Guidelines relating to use of private cars and minibuses for transporting children/young people to and from youth activities. R-drivers must not be used to transport children/young people to any weekends away or outings held by the organisation.
Health and Safety
The Kirk Session expects organisations to adhere to the guidance on safety matters outlined in section 9 of the Guidelines. A Risk Assessment Form should be completed by each organisation at the start of each new session, as well as for any outings or occasional events. There is a Risk Assessment Form in section 12 of the guidelines for this purpose.
Guidance for Leaders in Charge on insurance is provided in section 12.24 of the Taking Care guidelines. Should there be any query regarding insurance cover for general activities, special events, transport matters or any area where there is concern, these can be addressed to Church Committee.
Implementation and Review
The Kirk Session, in consultation with the Designated Person will review this policy every three years with the Leaders in Charge of children’s/youth organisations and will report to the Kirk Session.
All organisational leaders must respect a child/young person’s confidentiality and not disclose information about them to others. There are some situations where confidentiality needs to be broken, specifically, if you are concerned that a child/young person is in danger, either to him/herself or from someone else, or you suspect that an offence may have been committed. Never promise a child or young person that you will keep secret any information that they disclose to you.
WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE?
There are four main types of child abuse:
Physical Abuse: This may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child.
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 and development. Neglect may occur when an adult leaves a child alone, does not give them enough to eat or does not take them to the doctor when they are ill.
Emotional Abuse: Is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may occur when the adult with responsibility for caring for the child says nasty things to them and does not have appropriate physical contact with them.
Sexual Abuse: occurs when an adult or other young person touches a child’s private parts in a way which makes the child feel worried or unhappy. Some adults or other young people, who sexually abuse children, also ask the child to touch parts of their body or try to show them pornographic pictures or videos. See section 2 on abuse for further information and signs.
This policy statement has been agreed by the Kirk Session, as we believe that the safety/well-being of the children and young people in our care is of the utmost importance. We are grateful towards all our leaders who give of their time willingly and voluntarily in service for Christ and His church. Therefore, we commend this policy as good practice and as part of our gospel witness in our community.