Child Protection Policy

POLICY STATEMENT

Sherman Cymru aims to safeguard the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults participating in the Arts and will ensure that its managers, staff, partner organisations, contractors and any volunteers commit to good practice which protects children, young people and vulnerable adults from harm. In so doing it will comply with current legislation and take account of best practice. In particular, the company recognises that managers, staff and volunteers all have responsibilities under the Children Act 1989.

This Policy should be read alongside the Sherman Cymru "Guidelines for Working with Young People" contained in the staff handbook.

Scope and Focus of this Policy

This policy will relate to all activities undertaken by Sherman Cymru which involve children and young people. In practice, it will relate to activities at the home base (Sherman), in schools, community venues, theatres, outdoor sites and in particular to weekly classes and workshops, holiday activities and any intensive weekend schools or residencies. It will also relate to any activities involving Sherman Cymru staff that are run jointly with Councils or external partners and to school and college students on Work Placements.

Recruitment, Selection and Contracting Procedures

Recruitment, selection and contracting procedures will be applied to all personnel, whether paid or unpaid, staff or contractor, where the post involves direct contact with children and young people.

In each and every case:

Applicants must provide evidence of their identity and this process will be recorded [note 1]

Applicants must provide details of previous experience, paid or voluntary of working with children and young people. [note 2]

At least two references will be sought, at least one of which will make informed comment on the applicant's experience of paid or voluntary work with children and young people.

It will be made clear to applicants that the position is exempt from provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which means that all convictions however old must be declared. It will be stressed that this process is confidential. Applicants will be interviewed and this will be seen as an opportunity to assess the individual's experience of working with children and young people.

All paid and voluntary appointments will be conditional on the successful completion of a probationary period. [More information on Probationary Periods is included in the Staff Handbook.]

Health and Safety

All managers, staff, volunteers and contractors must be aware of the company's Health and Safety Policy and issues affecting the operation of performances, classes, workshops and other activities. [All current policies are contained in the Staff Handbook.]

A generic risk assessment for Youth Theatre activities will be developed and kept under review based on the delivery of classes, workshops and performances by experienced and qualified professional tutors both at the home base and other venues. [see “Guidelines for Working with Young People” in the Staff Handbook.]

Any additional local risk factors, any outdoor activity or additional sessions involving a different format will be assessed separately. [note 3]. There will be shared responsibility between the company, staff, volunteers and contractors to maintain effective communication on Health and Safety issues, so that any additional risks which may arise can be assessed.

Members of staff should be clear, at all times, who is responsible for young people on the home base premises particularly when the responsibility for a group is shared between workers in different departments. [note 4]

Members of staff should encourage safe and authorised use of different areas on the premises and should lead by example. Unsafe or inappropriate use of rooms or equipment should be actively discouraged.

Illegal drugs may not be brought onto the premises.

Prescribed drugs should be hidden out of sight and reach. [note 5] [please see the staff handbook "Alcohol and Drugs Policy" for further detail].

Procedures to ensure Children and Young People are protected from harm

  • Members of the company and tutors should have an understanding of the issues of assault and abuse as they relate to children and young people, and of the need to implement measures to avoid any such instances occurring within its projects or programmes (see Dealing with Challenging Behaviour).
  • Due to the relatively informal nature of the relationship between tutors/actors and children it is possible that an abused child may confide or 'let slip' some important information concerning their welfare. Do not agree to keep the issue secret and ensure they are clear you will need to report what they have said to your CPO at Sherman Cymru.
  • If something a child tells you leads you to suspect they are being abused you are obliged to report it to the CPO. (see What to do if you think a child is as risk procedure).
  • If a tutor finds themselves or the children in a threatening situation they should immediately inform the CPO. If the CPO or deputy is not available, and the situation is such that you have concerns about the immediate safety of a young person, then follow the steps in the "what to do if you think a child is at risk procedure" –ringing 101 for Police as a last resort only.

Training

All staff who work with or who have a responsibility for overseeing work with children and young people will be offered guidance on the implementation of this policy.

This policy will be reviewed and monitored by the Trustees according to the Schedule of Delegated Authority.

Appendices or attachments to the child protection policy

The Anger Rules

Dealing with Challenging Behaviour

Guidelines for Working with Young People

Staff Handbook

THE ANGER RULES

Note: Sherman Cymru recognises that the introduction of its child protection policy may entail training for members of staff who are likely to have to deal with situations they are unfamiliar with. The following therefore are ideas for guidance only and staff should not deal with any situation that they either feel uncomfortable with, or unable to handle with confidence without prior agreement with their MGM. If a situation occurs and a member of staff feels they should not deal with it, they should refer to an MGM if possible or to another colleague for support if necessary, or ask the perpetrator to leave the area/the building.

Helping people deal with anger

To help people have their feelings accepted and respected you can:

Listen quietly and attentively.

Acknowledge their feelings, and do not deny them.

Get them to tell you how they experience the feeling in their body, e.g. my stomach is turning over, I'm sweating etc.

Avoid offering advice or pity.

Suggest ways in which they can reduce the anger 'cleanly' (but not if the anger is directed at you).

Use fantasy to allow the angry feelings to be released.

Encourage them to use the anger as energy for change.

All feelings can be accepted, but the actions taken should not lead to hurts: (below)

The Anger Rules It's fine to be angry but

Do not hurt others

Do not hurt yourself

Do not hurt property

Do talk about it

DEALING WITH CHALLENGING BEHAVIOUR

Challenging behaviour is behaviour which has a disturbing and disrupting effect on the group of people or systems (family, school, youth club etc.) of which the individual is a member.

Within the framework of the session challenging behaviour is disrupting and disturbing because:

It threatens the physical safety of an individual or group

It threatens the emotional safety of an individual or group

It prevents the peaceful continuation of the designated activity of the individual or group

It prevents the rest of the group or individuals understanding instructions and/or information.

In dealing with challenging behaviour we are faced with two interrelated problems. Firstly how we feel and secondly what we do. The former profoundly affects the latter and knowing what to do will influence how we feel positively. In order to deal effectively with challenging behaviour we must be able to acknowledge how we feel and know what to do.

HOW WE FEEL

Meeting challenging behaviour, whether this is verbal or physical abuse will elicit varied feelings which may be any combination of the following – put down, inadequate, frustrated, angry, upset, worried, physically hurt, in need of support, uncertain, tearful, want to kill, shocked, surprised, irrational, negative generally. If we are feeling any/all of the above then we need to ask someone else to deal with the challenger. Having strong negative feelings can prevent effective resolution of a situation of conflict. It is a sign of strength and maturity to ask for help, not a sign of weakness.

WHAT TO DO

  1. ASSESSMENT – is there an audience whose response is likely to escalate any challenging behaviour? An audience will also make it very hard for anybody to back down. The fear of losing face means public apologies are far less likely to occur than private ones. So, in short, if there is an audience either remove the challenger to another area or conversely ask the audience to move to another area. If the challenger has to be physically moved get help and ensure that the challenger has a same sex adult with him/her to act as supporter and/or witness. If there is no audience then deal with the challenger in situ, with a witness.
  2. QUESTION – Ask the challenger in a calm and unprovocative manner what they think has happened. Their perception of their actions is unlikely to be the same as anyone else's and we could have missed a crucial incident before the challenging behaviour erupted. Being angry before the challenger has given a full explanation may make matters worse.
  3. LISTEN – Having asked, listen, try and maintain eye contact and concentrate. Don't interrupt. Even if their behaviour was way out of line listening well demonstrates and exemplifies good practice.
  4. EXPLAIN – Explain clearly and calmly why their behaviour was challenging. Reiterate the rules of the session, if necessary repeat and explain again.
  5. SANCTIONS – the sanction will be dictated by what sort of challenging behaviour has occurred. The following are guidelines depending on severity.

6.1) Time-out – 5 minutes, either alone or with a play worker.

6.2) Exclusion from a particular activity for the rest of the session.

6.3) Exclusion from rest of session, taken home by no fewer than two people.

6.4) 1 days ban.

6.5) On return have a 'minder' to ensure accurate feedback to rest of workers/volunteers and also to act as support.

1) Permanent exclusion – drastic last step and discussed by all at a meeting.

THINGS TO AVOID

Put downs, private or public

Verbal abuse

Physical abuse

Last but not least, such is the chaotic nature of some home lives that in an environment of acceptance, emotional warmth and tolerance young people will 'act out' their feelings and behave in a challenging way. In a funny sort of way we may be able to see this as a compliment to the integrity and competence of the workers rather than a personal threat.

Above all else, if you're struggling, ask for help.

Notes

  1. Bank details on signature of Contract and completion of Employee details form.
  2. Details will be taken from application forms and from previous employers (not necessarily the applicants' referees).
  3. By the appropriate SMT.
  4. Youth Theatre: Youth Theatre Leader and Associate Director.  Christmas shows: Chaperone.
  5. Please see the Alcohol and Drugs Policy in the Staff Handbook.

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