If you’re a charity trustee in the UK, it is your responsibility to protect everyone who interacts with your organisation from harm.
This includes implementing safeguarding procedures, policies and measures that protect any children you come into contact with and ensuring that every member of your charity knows how to deal with any safeguarding issues and is aware of their safeguarding responsibilities.
Safeguarding duties to children apply to any charity that works with or comes into contact with anyone under the age of 18.
These duties are put in place to protect children from abuse and maltreatment, prevent harm to their development and health and ensure that all children grow up with safe and effective care.
The statutory requirement for anyone who works with children in the UK is that they must keep up-to-date on all safeguarding policy, legislation and guidance.
If your charity works with children then you must adhere to this rule, and make sure that new training is delivered to all members of staff if any legislation changes.
As a charity that works with children, you must:
● Implement safeguarding procedures and policies for all members of staff, volunteers and trustees of your charity. These must align with the policies set out by your local authority safeguarding partner or your local safeguarding children or adults board
● Provide regular training on child protection to all staff and volunteers
● Appoint a member of your charity as a safeguarding officer who interacts with local authority safeguarding board and can create a procedure in the case of overseas safeguarding concerns
● Manage all complaints, concerns and allegations relating to child protection
● Establish clear policies for when DBS checks are needed, which level of DBS check is necessary, and how the information needed for these is handled
The child safeguarding legislation requires that you work with local authorities safeguarding children or adults board. This can be found online and will provide you with all the safeguarding procedures you need to follow.
What Are the Key Child Safeguarding Terms?
Cause for concern
This term refers to a reason why you might be worried about the development, health or welfare of a child you have come into contact with, and is a cause that you believe could be prevented by seeking help.
The process of protecting individual children who have been identified as suffering from or at risk of suffering from harm, as the result of neglect or abuse.
Child protection enquiry
An investigation carried out under section 47 of the 1989 Children Act when there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is at risk of or is suffering from significant harm.
Child Protection Plan
A detailed plan of action that sets out what steps will be taken to prevent a child from further harm, support their family and promote their health and welfare.
Also referred to as the ‘Team Around the Child’, this is a group of people brought together when a child is subject to a protection plan. Members could be parents, carers or individuals who work with the child and their family.
Guidelines that can be used to judge whether a child can fully understand a question, give their consent or express an opinion.
Parental Responsibility (PR)
This is a legal term from The Children Act (1989) that refers to ‘all the rights, duties, powers and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.’ PR is held by a child’s mother and by their father is the parents are legally married or if he is registered legally as the child’s father.
Significant harm is a threshold outlined by The Children Act (1989) that established where it is justified to intervene in family life for the best interest of a child or children.
Types of Abuse
As part of your responsibility with child safeguarding, you will have to be aware of the different types of child abuse and report any cases where you are worried that abuse might be taking place.
There are four main types of child abuse, which are more likely to be found happening in combination with each other than on their own.
Characterised by injuries that have resulted from physically harming a child. Signs of physical abuse may be a parent having no explanation for their child’s injuries or using unnecessary physical discipline, or a child with noticeable injuries who may also seem afraid of their caregiver and flinches away from other adults.
Characterised by the rape, molestation or distribution, production and possession of child pornography. There are many different signs of sexual abuse in children, but one of the biggest indicators is if a child suddenly exhibits inappropriate behaviour, knowledge or interest in sexual acts, or total sudden avoidance of anything related to sexuality and their body.
Characterised by a pattern of failing to meet a child’s basic needs. This could take the form of physical neglect, medical neglect, educational neglect or emotional neglect. Signs of neglect include a child who appears overly hungry, dirty, tired or doesn’t seem to be being supervised.
Characterised by actions or behaviours that interfere with a child’s social development and mental health. Emotional abuse in children is one of the most difficult forms of abuse to spot, but can be indicated by extreme behaviour, a lack of attachment to their parent or appears to be limited in their physical or emotional development/
What to Do If You Suspect Abuse
It can be very difficult to know whether a child is suffering from abuse, especially if you only come into contact with them briefly through your charity.
Having child safeguarding policies in place means that your appointed safeguarding officer should be your first point of call if you are worried about a child, as they can report any instances where child abuse is suspected to the relevant organisation.
Most safeguarding reports begin with filling in a form, which will then be submitted to a higher safeguarding authority. If your concerns are followed up you may be required to provide more information, but this will vary depending on the case.
If you think a child is in immediate danger, you should call the police on 999 straight away.
How to Get a DBS and Advanced DBS Check
In many cases, if you are working with or around children as part of your charity’s work then you will be required to get a DBS check.
This used to be referred to as a CRB check and is an assessment of your criminal record by the Disclosure and Barring Service.
You can request a basic DBS check online, which will require your passport, driving licence and national insurance number.
Your charity may also be able to organise and pay for a basic DBS check. An advanced DBS check may be required for those who work more closely or more frequently with children and is a more thorough check of your criminal record and any cautions, warnings or reprimands.
These can only be applied for through the organisation you work for.
Safeguarding is an essential part of working with children that protects both you and the children that you interact with from harm.
Whilst most people don’t ever need to act on the safeguarding training that they receive, it is still important that everyone who works with children through a charity remains up-to-date on all safeguarding protocol, and regularly receives training as legislation changes and is updated.
Depending on your charity and its work with children, you will need to undertake different levels of safeguarding training that covers everything relevant to your role and responsibilities.
There are many online options for safeguarding training that allows teams or individuals to learn all the necessary procedures for working safely with children, and ensure that your charity work keeps everyone involved safe and healthy.