NERI CLINIC POLICY ON CHILD PROTECTION
In 1992 the UN Convention on the Rights of the child was ratified by Ireland. Part of this Bill of Rights for Children is especially relevant to child protection. It stated that parties shall take appropriate action, legislative, administrative, social and educational to protect a child from any/all forms of physical and mental violence, injury or abuse.
Neri Clinics aim to ensure that it operates best practice in terms of child protection policies and recognises the legal guidelines governing child protection in both Ireland and Zambia.
The principle functions of this policy are the prevention of child abuse and the protection of staff through the application of Code of Behaviour.
The safety and welfare of children is of prime importance. The primary function of this policy is to prevent abuse occurring. The secondary function is to educate staff on the subject and build their capacity to pre-empt abuse. Finally the protection of staff from false claims is also of prime importance and the aim of the code of behaviour is to protect staff from allegations of such claims.
A set of guidelines is attached to this policy to assist with its implementation in practice.
Neri Clinic’s child protection policy will be distributed to all home and overseas personnel and is applicable to all staff in Neri Clinic. Within this policy there are a number of procedures as follows:
-Recruitment and selection procedure
– Procedure for reporting and handling a complaint
-Code of behaviour (to be signed)
This policy is applicable to all staff employed by Neri Clinic. It is the responsibility of the clinic manager to ensure that all staff members receive a copy of the child protection policy and understand and sign the code of behaviour.
Copies of the policy and the code of behaviour will be sent out with the letter offer of employment and must be signed and returned with the contract of employment.
This policy is also mandatory for any person carrying out work on behalf of Neri Clinic on a consultancy or voluntary basis that has or may have contact with children or young persons. It is the responsibility of any staff member requesting a third party to undertake work that may bring that person into contact with children to ensure that the third party receives a copy of the child protection policy and understands and signs the code of behaviour.
1.2 DEFINITIONS OF CHILD ABUSE AND CHILD/YOUTH
1.2.1 CHILD OR YOUTH: Neri Clinic considers a child or young person to be under the age of 18 years. Adults with mental impairment require individual consideration and may also be considered under this definition.
1.2.2 CHILD ABUSE: is considered under the following headings
1.2.3 PHYSICAL ABUSE is actual or likely physical injury to a child such as hitting, kicking or shaking whereby the action itself or the inaction to report its happening constitute child abuse
1.2.4 EMOTIONAL ABUSE refers to persistent or severe emotional ill-treatment or rejection such as degrading punishment, threats, withholding of care and affection, bullying that may have an adverse affect on a child’s behaviour and or emotional development and requires intervention by an adult.
1.2.5 NEGLECT occurs when basic needs such as medical care are knowingly and unnecessarily withheld from the child or when there is a failure to protect a child exposed to likely danger.
1.2.6 SEXUAL ABUSE occurs if a child is forced or manipulated to take part in any kind of sexual activity. Sexual abuse includes incest, rape, fondling and non-contact activities such as showing pornographic images or other internet based activity such as knowingly engaging a child in chat room activity.
1.2.7 SEXUAL ACTIVITY that may occur between an individual and a youth under the age of 18 even though it may be consenting or the individual was unaware of the youth’s age is not acceptable in any circumstance, irrespective of the age of consent in the residing country.
1.2.8 ACTION OR INACTION applies to all of the above cases of the abuse to the fact that a person may be responsible for the abuse and or know about abuse occurring. Both are considered as serious as the other terms of responsibility for the abuse.
1.3 TIME CONSTRAINTS
Abuse may be current, recent or historical. There are no time constraints for reporting and taking action within each procedure.
CHILD PROTECTION PROCEDURES
2.0 RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION PROCEDURE
(a) Have you ever been convicted of or charged with an offence related to children?
(b) May we put a similar question to your referees?
(c) May we obtain a police clearance form for you?
2.1 PROCEDURE FOR REPORTING & HANDLING A COMPLAINT
Neri Clinics understands and expects that any allegations/suspicion of child abuse should be reported immediately and handled objectively and fairly with regard to all parties involved. Neri Clinic will endeavour to act upon any such report swiftly.
2.1.1 Dealing with allegations and suspicion
Neri Clinic recognises that when specific allegations and or suspicion i.e. when concern is expressed about abuse that may have taken place or be in prospect of abuse are made against a named individual or individuals this should always be investigated and acted upon swiftly making the welfare of children paramount consideration. Any information offered in confidence should be received on the basis that it will be shared with relevant people in authority this would include members of the senior management team and if appropriate child protection personnel in statutory agencies. Parents or carers will also be informed if appropriate.
2.1.2 Reporting a Complaint
(a) the identity of the complainant
(b) the identity of the person(s) against whom the complaint is being made
(c) the nature of the complaint
Any complaint will necessitate sharing with the relevant members of senior management and the child’s parent/carer if relevant and/or the statutory agencies if relevant in order to investigate the allegation.
2.1.3 Reporting a complaint
On receipt of an allegation or suspicion of abuse the designated contact will
If an allegation of a breach of the code of behaviour is upheld it may constitute gross misconduct and therefore immediate dismissal in accordance with Neri Clinics Disciplinary procedure.
2.2 Staff Protection procedure
As part of the policy on child protection, Neri clinics have developed a Code of behaviour and implantation guidelines. We believe that by following it children and young people will be protected from child abuse. It will also protect Neri Clinic staff and those involved with Neri Clinic from their actions being misinterpreted and perhaps leading to false allegations of child abuse.
Neri Clinic endeavours to protect staff from false allegations of child abuse through the application of this policy the code of behaviour and the implementation guidelines associated with this policy. Alleged breaches of Neri Clinics code of behaviour regarding another staff member should be made under the procedure outlined above. If a breach of code of behaviour is founded following an investigation action will be taken under Neri Clinics Disciplinary procedure.
Staff members are protected in making allegations of breaches of the code of behaviour against another staff member provided the allegations are made reasonably and in good faith. If an allegation of a breach of the code of behaviour is found to be made unreasonably and not in good faith the staff member whom the allegation was made against may make a complaint under the Neri Clinic grievance procedures.
The normal application of the rules of suspension as outlined under the Neri clinic grievance procedures will apply if required in order to carry out an investigation of a breach of the code of behaviour.
2.3 Provision of support
If an alleged incident of child abuse takes place in connection with Neri Clinics activities, Neri Clinic undertakes to provide support for the alleged victims and the alleged abuser whilst any investigation either by the statutory authorities or internally takes place. Neri Clinic will seek to ensure that any continuing support needed after the situation has been resolved is made available.
2.4 Training and awareness
3.0 Neri Clinics code of behaviour in relation to children/youth
We expect that everyone working with children and young people for Neri Clinics will follow the guidelines below to avoid situations that could be misinterpreted or lead to false allegations of child abuse. By setting out appropriate and inappropriate behaviour this code will not only help to protect children but also staff, volunteers, consultants and any other person who is working with children for Neri Clinics.