Child Abuse Issues
In recent years the issues surrounding Child Abuse have been brought to the forefront within the media and society in general. Many cases of child abuse within churches have been uncovered - the Roman Catholics have had to apologise for repeated sexual abuse by their clergy and the obvious lack of action and cover-ups; the J.W.'s similarly have faced a lot of criticism in this area as victims have come forward and their stories have been confirmed. While we as a community have not had the same media coverage, this does not mean that we are innocent of all such abuses.
In most childcare settings it is normal for anyone working with or attending to children to undergo a Police check (known as a Disclosure) to ensure that they do not have any previous convictions for child sexual offences. This is normal policy and a necessity for helping to prevent our children being the victims of paedophiles, which at the very least can cause considerable emotional damage to our children, and at worst can result in their death (by murder or suicide). We must not fool ourselves into believing that there are no such people or instances within our community, that it does not happen. Furthermore, where we DO discover that a Brother or Sister has been the perpetrator of sexual abuse on a child (whether it is seen as serious assault or not), we MUST report them to the authorities to try to protect other children from the same abuse.
The following resources are designed to help in the preparation of Child Protection Guidelines and to help ensure a safe environment for our children within an ecclesial setting. Though they are based on the UK, they may be of interest to ecclesias in other countries across the world as general indicators on the type of guidelines and policies to put in place:
Many of our ecclesias are trying to put safe-guards in place to try to avoid the possibility of children in our care being the victims of sexual abuse in particular, by implementing legislation on providing guidelines for youth workers. For anyone involved in so doing, the "Child Protection Guidelines" designed by the UK Care Group may be of some assistance. They are in three parts:
and can all be viewed and downloaded from the UK Care Group website (in PDF format). Furthermore, the "Child Protection Responsibilities" (also in PDF format) can be downloaded from the same page, and give an overview of Review and Update meeting held 17th May 2003 - part of the Child Protection Seminar 2003.
In April 2002, new arrangements were introduced to enable employers and other bodies to run criminal checks on people being appointed to provide care, training or supervision of children or as Trustees as children's charities, or where they will be providing care to vulnerable adults. Applications for these checks have to be through a registered body to the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), the government agency set up to administer the scheme. Churches and other organisations who are not registered in their own right will be able to make application via an "umbrella organisation" registered with the CRB - CCPAS being one such organisation (see links and resources below).
Disclosures will reveal whether or not an applicant has a criminal record and, if so, will give details. The Disclosure will form part of the basis on which decisions to appoint can be made. These checks should be seen as just one of the processes forming part of a structured recruitment policy. Good staff supervision, training and support, is also vital. These and other matters should form part of a child protection policy prepared in accordance with the principles contained in Safe from Harm (Home Office, 1993) and Working Together to Safeguard Children (DoH and other government departments, 1999).
A Disclosure is a document containing information held by the police and government departments. It enables organisations to check the background of job applicants (paid or voluntary) to ensure that they do not have a history that would make them unsuitable for the post they are wanting to fill. Disclosures would provide details of a person's criminal record, including convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the police national computer (PNC). If the position involves working with children, Disclosures will also contain details from lists held by the Department of Health (DoH) and the Department for Education & Skills (DfES) and those considered unsuitable for this type of work. Depending upon the level of Disclosure, it might also contain information held by local police forces.
Enhanced Disclosures are for posts involving a substantial degree of contact with children or vulnerable adults. In general the type of work would involve regularly caring for, supervising, training or being in sole charge of such people and would include children's workers, Sunday school teachers and so on. This level of Disclosure includes a check of local police records.
An example of the type of information which could be contained in Child Protection Guidelines is reproduced here.
How to create a child-safe organisation
This toolkit has been developed by ChildHope and aims to provide organisations, particularly those in developing countries with a set of tools and techniques to enable them to develop organisational child protection policies and procedures. The toolkit includes information and guidelines on the recommended principles and steps involved in developing organisational child protection policies and procedures, and a set of exercises which are designed to provide relevant practice to help users to understand and work through the steps described.
The toolkit can be downloaded from the site in pdf format, or alternatively, for a donation of £15, it can be ordered as a CD Rom and includes further material, including a Powerpoint presentation for facilitators, to enable the material contained within the toolkit to be adapted into a training course.
Related Sites by Christadelphians
This page was last updated April 2005