Child protection policy

1. Child protection policy

      1.1. Introduction

      Everyone who participates in medical or dental school application preparation courses or services provided by theMSAG is entitled to do so in an enjoyable and safe environment. We have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that, when given responsibility for young people, our staff provide them with the highest possible standard of care.

      theMSAG is committed to devising and implementing policies so that everyone in the team accepts their responsibilities to safeguard children from harm and abuse. This means to follow procedures to protect children and report any concerns about their welfare to appropriate authorities. Safeguarding is the responsibility of everyone in the organisation and anyone can make a referral to the MASH team (Children’s Social Care) (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub Team) or the LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer). See Appendix 1 for contact numbers.   

      The aim of this policy is to promote good practice, providing children and young people with appropriate safety/protection whilst in the care of theMSAG and to allow staff and training partners to make informed and confident responses to specific child protection issues.

      1.2. Key Phrases

      Safeguarding = Prevention

      All agencies working with children and their families taking all reasonable measures to ensure that the risks of harm to children’s welfare are minimised.

      Child Protection = Protection

      Where there are concerns about children’s welfare, all agencies taking appropriate actions to address those concerns in full partnership with other local agencies. 

      Child at Risk

      A child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, action should be taken to protect that child. A referral to the Designated Safeguard Lead (DSL) and then to MASH/Police if crime committed 

      Child in Need

      Action should also be taken to promote the welfare of a child in need of additional support, even if they are not suffering harm or are not at immediate risk. A referral to the DSL (or DDSLs) and then to MASH

      1.3. Policy Statement

      TheMSAG is committed to: 

      • the welfare of the child
      • all children, whatever their age, culture, ability, gender, language, racial origin, religious belief and/or sexual identity should be able to participate in their medical or dental school application preparation services in a fun and safe environment
      • taking all reasonable steps to protect children from harm, discrimination and degrading treatment and to respect their rights, wishes and feelings
      • all suspicions and allegations of poor practice or abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately
      • all MSAG employees who work with children will be recruited with regard to their suitability for that responsibility, and will be provided with guidance and/or training in good practice and child protection procedures
      • working in partnership with teachers, parents and children is essential for the protection of children

      1.4. Monitoring and review of safeguarding policies

      Policies will be reviewed annually, unless any deficiencies or weaknesses in child protection arrangements require remedies without delay or any new guidance or procedures are produced (London Children’s Safeguarding Board, Department For Education etc).

      2. Promoting good practices

        2.1. Introduction 

        It is not always easy to distinguish poor practice from abuse. It is therefore NOT the responsibility of employees or participants to make judgements about whether or not abuse is taking place. It is, however, their responsibility to identify poor practice and possible abuse and act if they have concerns about the welfare of the child, as explained in section 4.

        This section will help you identify what is meant by good practice and poor practice.

         2.2. Good practice

        All team members should adhere to the following principles and action:

        • always work in an open environment (e.g. avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication with no secrets)
        • make the experience fun and enjoyable: promote fairness, confront and deal with bullying
        • treat all young people equally and with respect and dignity
        • always put the welfare of the young person first
        • maintain a safe and appropriate distance from students (e.g. it is not appropriate for staff or volunteers to have an intimate relationship with a child or to share a room with them)
        • Avoid unnecessary physical contact with young people. Where any form of manual/physical support is required during clinical examinations, it should be provided openly and with the consent of the young person. Physical contact can be appropriate so long as it is neither intrusive, nor disturbing and the young person’s consent has been given
        • Clinical examinations and training should always be performed in groups, and where possible with more than one adult present
        • Staff must never transport young people in their cars
        • For any courses where photography and/or videography is taking place for training or marketing purposes, consent from the child and their parent, caregiver and/or guardian will be sought after prior to signing up to avoid any embarrassment or concerns.
        • For any residential course, consent from parent, caregiver and/or guardian will be sought after prior to signing up
        • For any residential course, adults must not enter a young person’s room or invite a young person into their own room
        • theMSAG members of staff are expected to maintain an appropriate model of behaviour in front of young people. This includes not smoking or using profanities in front of young people in our care.
        • theMSAG team will always give enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism
        • We will recognise the developmental needs and capacity of the young person and not risk sacrificing welfare in a desire for personal achievements. This means avoiding excessive training or competition and not pushing them against their will
        • In the unlikely case of a injury taking place or harm coming to a child during one of our courses, we shall keep a written record of details at the time, along with details of any treatment given. Team members must escalate as appropriate to the DSL.

         2.3. Poor practice 

        The following are regarded as poor practice and should be avoided by all personnel:

        • unnecessarily spending excessive amounts of time alone with young people away from others
        • taking young people alone in a car on journeys, however short
        • sharing a room with a young person
        • engaging in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay
        • allow or engage in inappropriate touching of any form
        • allowing young people to use inappropriate language unchallenged
        • making sexually suggestive comments to a young person, even in fun
        • reducing a young person to tears as a form of control
        • allow allegations made by a young person to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon

        When a case arises where it is impractical/impossible to avoid a certain situation e.g. transporting a young person on your car, the tasks should only be carried out with the full understanding and consent of the parent/care and the young person involved.

        If during your care you accidentally hurt a young person, the young person seems distressed in any manner, appears to be sexually aroused by your actions and/or if the young person misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done, report any such incidents as soon as possible to the DSL and make a written note of it. Parents should also be informed of the incident.

        2.4. Photography, videography and images 

        The vast majority of people who take or view photographs or videos of children do so for entirely innocent, understandable and acceptable reasons.  Sadly, some people abuse children through taking or using images, so we must ensure that we have some safeguards in place. 

        To protect young persons we will:

        • seek their consent for photographs to be taken or published (for example, on our website or marketing material)
        • seek parental consent
        • not use a young person’s name associated with footage or an image, unless expressed consent provided by young person and parent
        • encourage young person’s to tell us if they are worried about any photographs that are taken of them. 

        3. Defining child abuse

          3.1 Introduction

          Child abuse is any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm, it commonly occurs within a relationship of trust or responsibility and is an abuse of power or a breach of trust. Abuse can happen to a young person regardless of their age, gender, race or ability.

          There are four main types of abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.  

          The abuser may be a family member, someone the young person encounters in residential care or in the community, including sports and leisure activities. Any individual may abuse or neglect a young person directly, or may be responsible for abuse because they fail to prevent another person harming the young person.

          Abuse in all of its forms can affect a young person at any age. The effects can be so damaging that if not treated may follow the individual into adulthood.

          Young people with disabilities may be at increased risk of abuse through various factors such as stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination, isolation and a powerlessness to protect themselves or adequately communicate that abuse had occurred.

          3.2. Types of Abuse

          • Physical Abuse: where adults physically hurt or injure a young person e.g. hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, biting, scalding, suffocating, drowning. Giving young people alcohol or inappropriate drugs would also constitute child abuse.
          • Emotional Abuse: the persistent emotional ill treatment of a young person, likely to cause severe and lasting adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve telling a young person they are useless, worthless, unloved, inadequate or valued in terms of only meeting the needs of another person. It may feature expectations of young people that are not appropriate to their age or development. It may cause a young person to be frightened or in danger by being constantly shouted at, threatened or taunted which may make the young person frightened or withdrawn. 

          Ill-treatment of children, whatever form it takes, will always feature a degree of emotional abuse. 

          Emotional abuse may occur when the young person is constant criticised, given negative feedback, expected to perform at levels that are above their capability. Other forms of emotional abuse could take the form of name calling and bullying.

          • Bullying may come from another young person or an adult. Bullying is defined as deliberate hurtful behaviour, usually repeated over a period of time, where it is difficult for those bullied to defend themselves. There are three main types of bullying. 

          It may be physical (e.g. hitting, kicking, slapping), verbal (e.g. racist or homophobic remarks, name calling, graffiti, threats, abusive text messages), emotional (e.g. tormenting, ridiculing, humiliating, ignoring, isolating form the group), or sexual (e.g. unwanted physical contact or abusive comments).

          • Neglect occurs when an adult fails to meet the young person’s physical and/or psychological needs, to an extent that is likely to result in serious impairment of the child’s health or development. For example, failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failing to protect from physical harm or danger, or failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.

          Refusal to give love, affection and attention can also be a form of neglect.

          • Sexual Abuse occurs when adults (male and female) use children to meet their own sexual needs. This could include full sexual intercourse, masturbation, oral sex, anal intercourse and fondling. Showing young people pornography or talking to them in a sexually explicit manner are also forms of sexual abuse.

          Activities which might involve physical contact with young people could potentially create situations where sexual abuse may go unnoticed. Also, the power of the coach/teacher over young students, if misused, may lead to abusive situations developing.

          3.3. Indicators of Abuse

          Even for those experienced in working with child abuse, it is not always easy to recognise a situation where abuse may occur or has already taken place. Most people are not experts in such recognition, but indications that a child is being abused may include one or more of the following:

          • unexplained or suspicious injuries such as bruising, cuts or burns, particularly if situated on a part of the body not normally prone to such injuries
          • an injury for which an explanation seems inconsistent
          • the young person describes what appears to be an abusive act involving them
          • another young person or adult expresses concern about the welfare of a young person
          • unexplained changes in a young person’s behavior e.g. becoming very upset, quiet, withdrawn or displaying sudden outburst of temper
          • inappropriate sexual awareness
          • engaging in sexually explicit behavior
          • distrust of adult’s, particularly those whom a close relationship would normally be expected
          • being prevented from socialising with others
          • displaying variations in eating patterns including overeating or loss of appetite
          • losing weight for no apparent reason
          • becoming increasingly dirty or unkempt

          Signs of bullying include: 

          • behavioural changes such as reduced concentration and/or becoming withdrawn, clingy, depressed, tearful, emotionally up and down, reluctance to go training or competitions
          • an unexplained drop off in performance
          • physical signs such as stomach aches, headaches, difficulty in sleeping, bed wetting, scratching and bruising, damaged clothes, bingeing e.g. on food, alcohol or cigarettes
          • a shortage of money or frequent loss of possessions 

          It must be recognised that the above list is not exhaustive, but also that the presence of one or more of the indications is not proof that abuse is taking place. It is NOT the responsibility of those working at theMSAG to decide that child abuse is occurring. It IS their responsibility to act on any concerns.

          4. Responding to Suspicions and Allegations

            4.1. Introduction 

            It is not the responsibility of anyone working at theMSAG in a paid or unpaid capacity to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities so that they can then make inquiries and take necessary action to protect the young person.

            This applies BOTH to allegations/suspicions of abuse occurring within theMSAG and to allegations/suspicions that abuse is taking place elsewhere.

            This section explains how to respond to allegations/suspicions.

            4.2. Receiving Evidence of Possible Abuse 

            We may become aware of possible abuse in various ways. We may see it happening, we may suspect it happening because of signs such as those listed in section 3 of this document, it may be reported to us by someone else or directly by the young person affected.

            In the last of these cases, it is particularly important to respond appropriately. If a young person says or indicates that they are being abused, you should:

            • stay calm so as not to frighten the young person
            • reassure the child that they are not to blame and that it was right of them to talk to you
            • listen to the child, showing that you are taking them seriously
            • keep questions to a minimum so that there is a clear and accurate understanding of what has been said. The law is very strict and child abuse cases have been dismissed where it is felt that the child has been led or words and ideas have been suggested during questioning. Only ask questions to clarify information.
            • inform the child that you have to inform other people about what they have told you. Tell the child this is to help stop the abuse continuing.
            • safety of the child is paramount. If the child needs urgent medical attention call an ambulance, inform the doctors of the concern and ensure they are made aware that this is a child protection issue
            • record all information in written format
            • report the incident to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) – Dr Ashish Mandavia (ashish.mandavia@themsag.com) and the management team. 

            In all cases if you are not sure what to do you can gain help from the NSPCC 24-hour help line Tel No: 0800 800 500. Alternatively, contact theMSAG DSL – Dr Ashish Mandavia (ashish.mandavia@themsag.com; 07595 960472)

            4.3. Recording information 

            To ensure that information is as helpful as possible, a detailed record should always be made at the time of the disclosure/concern. In your recording, you should confine yourself to the facts and distinguish what is your personal knowledge and what others have told you. Do not include your own opinions.

            Information should include the following:

            • The child’s name, age and date of birth
            • The child’s home address and telephone number
            • Whether or not the person making the report is expressing their concern or someone else’s
            • The nature of the allegation, including dates, times and any other relevant information
            • A description of any visible bruising or injury, location, size etc. Also, any indirect signs, such as behavioural changes
            • Details of witnesses to the incident/s
            • The child’s account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising/injuries occurred
            • A record of whether the parents have been contacted or not
            • A record of a discussion with anyone else, in regard to this matter, has taken place
            • A record of anyone who is alleged to be the abuser

            4.4. Reporting the concern

            All suspicions and allegations MUST be reported appropriately. It is recognised that strong emotions can be aroused particularly in cases where sexual abuse is suspected or where there is misplaced loyalty to a colleague. It is important to understand these feelings but not allow them to interfere with your judgement about any action to take.

            TheMSAG expects its team members to discuss any concerns they may have about the welfare of a child immediately with the person in charge of delivering the service, the DSL (Designated Safeguarding Lead) and subsequently to check that appropriate action has been taken.

            If the DSL or the management team are not available, you should take responsibility and seek advice from the NSPCC helpline, the duty officer at your local social services department or the police. Telephone numbers can be found in Appendix 1.

            TheMSAG are not child protection experts and it is not their responsibility to determine whether or not abuse has taken place. All suspicions and allegations must be shared with professional agencies that are responsible for child protection.

            Social services have a legal responsibility under The Children Act 1989 to investigate all child protection referrals by talking to the child and family (where appropriate), gathering information from other people who know the child and making inquiries jointly with the police.

            NB: If there is any doubt, you must report the incident: it may be just one of a series of other incidences which together cause concern

            Any suspicion that a child has been abused by an employee or a member of our team should be reported to the DSL and the management team, who will take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the child in question and any other child who may be at risk.

            This will include the following:

            • TheMSAG will report the matter to Social Services
            • The parent/carer of the child will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the social services department

            Allegations of abuse are sometimes made after the event. Where such allegation is made, you should follow the same procedures and have the matter reported to social services. This is because other children may be at risk from the alleged abuser. Anyone who has a previous conviction for offences related to abuse against children is automatically excluded from working with children.

            4.5. Concerns outside of the training environment (e.g. about parents or caregivers)

            If you suspect that child abuse has taken place, related to a child’s parents or caregiver, please do not hesitate to report your concerns to theMSAG (ashish.mandavia@themsag.com, 07595 960472).

            If the DSL or management team are not available, the person being told or discovering the abuse should contact their local social services department or the police immediately.

            Social Services and theMSAG team will decide how to inform the parents/caregivers. Please ensure that you maintain confidentiality, where possible. 

            4.6. Confidentiality

            Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only. This includes the following people:

            • The DSL
            • TheMSAG management
            • The parents of the child
            • The person making the allegation
            • Social services/ police
            • The alleged abuser (and parents if the alleged abuser is a child)

            Seek social services advice on who should approach the alleged abuser.

            All information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection laws.

            4.7. Internal Inquiries and Suspension 

            TheMSAG management team will make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended pending further police and social services inquiries.

            Irrespective of the findings of the social services or police inquiries, a Disciplinary Committee will be assigned to assess any cases and decide whether a member of staff can be reinstated and how this can be sensitively handled. This may be a difficult decision; especially where there is insufficient evidence to uphold any action by the police. In such cases the Disciplinary Committee must reach a decision based upon the available information which could suggest that on the balance of probability, it is more likely than not that the allegation is true. The welfare of the child should remain of paramount importance throughout. 

            5. Recruiting and selecting Personnel with Children

              5.1. Introduction

              It is important that all reasonable steps are taken to prevent unsuitable people from working with children. This applies equally to paid staff and volunteers, both full and part-time. To ensure unsuitable people are prevented from working with children the following steps should be taken when recruiting.

              5.2. Controlling Access to Children

              The following measures are put in place by theMSAG to ensure appropriate recruiting with child safeguarding in mind:

              • All staff and volunteers should complete an application form. The application form will elicit information about the applicants past and a self-disclosure about any criminal record.
              • Staff must provide an up-to-date copy of a DBS check when joining theMSAG.
              • If no up-to-date copy can be provided and theMSAG still wants to proceed with the recruitment process, theMSAG will carry out a DBS check on the staff member when they join 

              5.3. Interview and Induction

              All employees and volunteers will be required to undertake an interview carried out to acceptable protocol and recommendations. All employees and volunteers should receive formal or informal induction during which:

              • A check should be made that the application form has been completed in full, including sections on criminal records and self disclosures
              • Their qualifications should be substantiated
              • The job requirements and responsibilities should be clarified
              • Child Protection Procedures are explained, and training needs identified e.g. basic child protection awareness

               5.4. Training

              In addition to pre-selection checks, the safeguarding process includes training after recruitment to help staff and volunteers to:

              • Analyse their own practice against what is deemed good practice, and to ensure their practice is likely to protect them from allegations
              • Recognise their responsibilities and report any concerns about suspected poor practice and/or abuse
              • Respond to concerns expressed by a child
              • Work safely and effectively with children 

              Appendix 1: Contact numbers

              Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)

              The DSL representative for theMSAG is: Dr Ashish Mandavia.
              His role is: Products and Services Director
              He is contactable at: ashish.mandavia@themsag.com or 07595 960472

              Local Authority Designated Officer - LADO

              Anyone can make a referral to, or gain advice from the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) regarding concerns or suspicions about behaviour towards children by staff or volunteers.  The LADO will decide whether the allegation made is a potential criminal offence in which case a referral will be made to the Police. If the allegation indicates a child or children may be at risk of significant harm then a child protection investigation will be undertaken by Children’s Social Care.

              The LADO is contacted when it is believed that a member of staff or volunteer has: 

              • behaved in a way that has harmed or may have harmed a child
              • possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child
              • behaved towards a child in a way that indicates they are unsuitable to work with children. 

              A LADO provides advice and presides over the investigation of any allegation or suspicion of abuse directed against anyone working in the school.

              LADO Contact Numbers

              Children and Family Services
              4 Frampton Street, London, NW8 8LF
              020 7641 4000
              accesstochildrensservices@westminster.gov.uk. 

              MASH Team - Referral and Assessment Team

              Local Safeguarding Children Board
              Hammersmith & Fulham | Kensington & Chelsea | Westminster

              The MASH is made up of co-located staff from Childrens Social Care, Police and Health from across the three boroughs with named link workers for Probation Housing and Youth Offending Team. A dedicated Education Worker coordinates MASH links with schools.

              The MASH operates from 09:00 - 17:00 Monday to Friday, and is based in Frampton Street, London NW8 8LF.

              If you have a concern about a child, please make your referral to the relevant local authority front door, and were appropriate, the local authority will refer cases to the MASH team. 

              For MASH general enquiries please contact the Tri-Borough MASH Team Manager, Catherine Hoy at choy@westminster.gov.uk

              If you think a child is in immediate danger, contact the Police on 999, or call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, without delay.