CHILD PROTECTION POLICY FOR RUMAH OZANAM
- Statements of Vision and Mission
Vision: Rumah Ozanam is committed to ensure every child in its care has the right to grow and develop to their full potential in a secure, nurturing and empowering environment free from all forms of maltreatment and exploitation.
Mission: To achieve this vision, Rumah Ozanam is committed to providing a safe and nurturing child-friendly environment that is conducive in promoting the survival, development, protection and the participation of the child in line with the Child Act (2001), United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), Safe Place Regulations 2007 and Care Centres Act 1993.
- Statement of Commitment
2.1 Rumah Ozanam is committed in ensuring the survival, development, protection and participation of the children under our care. In line with this, our commitment is as follows:
2.1.1 Rumah Ozanam is committed in providing a child-friendly and child-safe shelter and home environment for the children to ensure the best care, protection and development that is holistic physically, mentally, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.
2.1.2 Rumah Ozanam is committed in making education of the children in our home a priority for self development by ensuring:
(a) Vocational skills training for children for who are not academically inclined and tertiary education for those who are academically inclined.
(b) Educational opportunities for children who are slow learners.
(c) Tuition classes for academic enhancement as well as remedial classes for children with learning difficulties.
2.1.3 Rumah Ozanam is committed in ensuring an empowering environment in which the children are given the space and opportunity to speak, to voice their opinions and to participate in making responsible decisions regarding their lives.
2.1.4 Rumah Ozanam is committed in providing lifeskills learning, leadership training and appropriate social skills training to ensure children leave the home confident and prepared to reintegrate into society as a full functioning and contributing individual.
2.1.5 Rumah Ozanam in promising a child friendly and child safe environment, shall ensure that all forms of allegations or complaints of abuse or probable abuse be dealt with immediately and appropriately.
2.1.6 Rumah Ozanam is committed in fostering the reunification of children from the Home with their families through reconciliation and social readjustment programs.
2.1.7 Rumah Ozanam is committed in providing counselling and appropriate intervention for the emotionally, physically and psychologically abused.
2.1.8 Rumah Ozanam is committed in providing care with love, compassion, kindness and understanding to the children in the Home regardless of age, culture, nationality, race, gender and religion.
2.1.9 Rumah Ozanam is committed to educating all children in the Home about their rights and responsibilities as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
2.1.10 Rumah Ozanam is committed in ensuring all children in the Home be made aware of Rumah Ozanam’s Child Protection Policy and be briefed periodically on its relevance to their well-being and safety.
2.2 Definition of Child Abuse
Child abuse is defined as the following:
2.2.1 Physical abuse according to the Child Act (2001) S.17 (2) (a) is when a child is physically injured and if there is observable injury to any part of the child’s body as a result of the intentional application of force (hitting, shaking, burning, slapping, pinching, punching, kicking) or an agent to the child’s body that is evidenced by, amongst other things, a laceration, a contusion, an abrasion, a scar, a fracture or other bone injury, a dislocation, a sprain, haemorrhaging, a burn, a scald, the loss of consciousness or physiological functioning or the loss of hair or teeth. The abuse may be single or repeated incidents.
2.2.2 Emotional abuse according to the Child Act (2001) S. 17 (2) (b) is any actual or likely severe adverse effect on the emotional and behavioural development of a child caused by persistent or severe emotional ill treatment or rejection that is evidenced by, amongst other things, a mental or behavioural disorder, including anxiety, depression, withdrawal, aggression or delayed development. This may be as a result of the failure to provide an appropriate, supportive environment and/or a supportive primary caregiver. It includes restriction of movement, patterns of belittling, cursing, threatening, discriminating, ridiculing or other non-physical forms of hostile treatment.
2.2.3 Sexual abuse according to Child Act (2001) S.17 (2) (c) occurs when a child is sexually abused and has taken part in, sexual activities they do not truly comprehend, to which they are unable to give informed consent whether as a participant or an observer, for the purposes of:
(a) any pornographic, obscene or indecent material, photograph, recording, film, videotape or performance; or
(b) sexual exploitation by any person for that person’s or another person’s sexual gratification.
It includes vaginal, anal, and oral penetration, and touching and fondling. It also includes grooming for sexual activity. “Grooming” refers to any (including electronic) form of communication with a child to engage in or submit with the intention of procuring the child for sexual activity.
2.2.4 Neglect, abandonment and Ill-treatment or exposure of children Child Act (2001) S. 31 (1) (a, b) refers to a situation in which any person or Organisation having the responsibility of care of a child:
(a) abuses, neglects, abandons or exposes the child in a manner likely to cause him physical, emotional and psychological injury or causes or permits him to be so abused, neglected, abandoned or exposed; or
(b) sexually abuses the child or causes or permits him to be so abused.
(c) fails to meet the child’s physical and emotional needs (in terms of health, education, emotional development, nutrition, appropriate shelter and safe living conditions), or fail to protect the child from danger.
2.2.5 Bullying is a hurtful behaviour, repeated over a period of time where it is difficult for those being bullied to defend themselves. Children can be bullied by adults as well as their peers in the Home or school. Bullying can take the following forms:
(a) Physical e.g. hitting, kicking, theft or damage to personal belongings.
(b) Verbal e.g. teasing, racist remarks, spreading rumours, threats or name-calling, ridicule or humiliation.
(c) Emotional e.g. isolating a child from activities or segregation especially by peer group.
(d) Harassment e.g. using abusive, insulting or manipulative behaviour in a manner intended to cause alarm or distress.
2.2.6 Corporal Punishment refers to the intentional application of physical pain as a method of changing behaviour or as a form of discipline e.g. hitting, spanking, whipping, punching, kicking, pinching, shaking, choking, slapping or forced to perform painful body postures or prevention of urine or stool elimination perpetrated by adults or older children against younger children.
- Protocol on The Conduct of Staff, Board Members, Committee Members, Visitors, Volunteers and Service Providers to the Children in the Home.
3.1 All persons who come in contact with the children at the Home must acknowledge, understand and collaborate to implement the Child Protection Policy.
3.2 All visitors and service providers must be briefed on the Child Protection Policy and adhere to its implementation.
3.3 All persons who come in contact with the children must at all times regard the children at the home with utmost respect as an individual and human being regardless of their background, gender, race, nationality and religious beliefs.
3.4 In accordance to the child-friendly and child-safe environment at the Home the following good practices shall be encouraged and practised:
(a) No adult can be alone with a child in a secluded space or room where no one can see them.
(b) No child will come in immediate contact with first time visitors. First time and non regular visitors will be confined to the main office with minimal contact with the children. (Note: regular visitors have access to the children only in the presence of a staff).
(c) In the event that a situation warrants an adult to be alone with a child, a witness must be present at all times.
(d) Ensure that children are accompanied by adults who are responsible and accountable for the child’s safety and well being during outings which have to be approved by the Management Committee.
(e) No child can be taken out of the Home for home visits without the written permission of the President or an authorized Board member. This restriction will apply to Committee members and volunteers as well.
(f) Smoking is prohibited within the premises of Rumah Ozanam as well as in the presence of the children.
(g) All visitors and Committee members are to be cautious of the message their clothing may send. Strict adherence to the dress code is a must:
- Ensure appropriate dressing/attire by the adults as well as the residents.
- Smart casual dressing is encouraged.
- No clothing with potentially offensive language or images.
- Ensure skirts are of appropriate length (no mini skirts or shorts).
- No transparent or see-through clothing.
- No low-cut tops.
- No “spaghetti-strapped” or bare midriff shirts.
- No lowwaist pants or jeans.
(h) Ensure that there is no rough play with the residents or any activity that maybe construed as immoral or obscene.
(i) Bringing into the Home of items that bring harm to a child shall be prohibited. Such items will include – weapons of all kinds and drugs. The children shall be briefed on the list of items that would be prohibited to be brought into the Home.
(j) No pornographic material is allowed within the premises of the Home. The Home reserves the right to screen the children’s mobile phones or volunteer’s mobile phones when circumstance necessitates.
(k) Gambling is not allowed within the premises of the Home.
(m) Ensure that all children are taught safe and unsafe touches and a clear system of reporting of abuse with one committee member dedicated to that responsibility.
(n) Adheres to a strict regiment of checking all new residents and all returning residents after home stay for signs of abuse. Any discrepansies will immediately be reported according to the set reporting system.
(o) Ensure all relevant contact numbers for Protection officers, doctors, and therapists be available and accessible. It is vital for every child in the Home to be made aware of the helpline contact: Childline15999.
3.6 With due respect to the child’s need for privacy and confidentiality:
(a) The Home will prohibit the recording of the children’s images on video, any digital equipment or handphone for public use. (Refer to Appendix I for Media Guidelines).
(b) The Home reserves the right to search said properties in the event that a suspected breach of the above ruling has been violated.
(c) Even with due permission, the usage of children’s images for public use will abide by Section 15 provision of the Child Act (2001) on restrictions on media reporting and publication which prohibits the revelation of the nature of abuse, name, address or educational institution, or include any particulars calculated to lead to the identification of any child so concerned. The dignity of the child is to be upheld at all times and as such it is prohibited to photograph them as victims. Where photographs of children are used special care has to be used to ensure that they are decent and respectful. They should be adequately clothed and poses that could be interpreted as sexually suggestive should be avoided.
(d) Children in the Home will be educated on the impact of social media and be taught the laws governing the use of their own images and the dangers when these images spill into the public arena.
(e) The Home assures the child that all private information will be kept confidential. However, any information that is deemed harmful to the child will be brought to the attention of the relevant people – the President of the Home and/or the In-House Therapist.
3.7 The Home recognises the children’s emotional needs and therefore will endeavour to provide appropriate psychosocial support and treatment for the child when in need. The Home shall be aware of the individual child’s developmental needs and capability in performing an activity or duty.
3.8 All staff is mandated to report and record statements and behaviour that might give clues to the child’s mental well-being.
3.9 Children who show signs of depression and suicide will be put on an alert mode, assigning a staff to monitor their well-being. The Home will:
(a) Put in place a Risk Assessment evaluation.
(b) Assign a ‘buddy system’ with the child concerned.
(c) Put in place a plan of action in the event of suicide and/or emergency, including managing the press (press coverage) and the children. Staff shall attend grief and loss counselling in the event of death as well as training for staff on suicide watch.
3.10 In line with the Home’s child- friendly and child- safe environment:
(a) The Home seeks to promote a positive relationship between the Home’s Staff, Board members, Committee members, volunteers and the children based on clear communication guidelines and understanding of the Child Protection Policy.
(b) The positive relationship in (a) will be nurtured through ‘one on one’ time and shared group actvities.
3.11 On the matters of discipline:
(a) The Home has to educate the children on the methods of discipline, the house rules and the home practices.
(b) The Home encourages positive and constructive feedback instead of correcting behaviours by punishments.
(c) The Home refers light offences to additional duties as detailed in the handbook on Discipline.
(d) The Home refers the serious offences (involving violence, and theft) to a Discipline Committee comprising of two committee members, a senior staff, and two child representatives from the Resident Committee. The Home offers the accused ample opportunties to defend himself or to justify his act.
(e) For repeat offenders, a punishment based on deprivation of privileges or extra household chores will be implemented. In some cases a more inclusive approach may be taken to build self esteem by placing the offender in a leadership training program.
3.12 On the matters of education and personal development:
(a) In line with the Home’s priority in helping the child develop as optimally as possible, the Home will first identify, assess and fulfill the child’s developmental needs. This would include:
(i) Psychological Assessments
(ii) Academic aptitutde and progress
(iii) Talents and proclivities
(iv) Social skills
(b) Information on sexual reproduction and reproductive health education must be implemented for all children which would include age, appropriate education on personal hygiene, STI and HIV/AIDS, and self-resilience.
(c) In helping to prepare the child for a vocational pursuit, the child will be exposed to a vocation of his/her choice through visits and short term apprenticeship.
(d) In respecting the child as an individual with opinions and ideas, the Home, recognises the contribution of the child in decisions on matters that affect his life. A Resident Committee shall be established in the Home for this purpose.
3.13 In providing optimal care for the children, the Home also provides insurance coverage for all children, full time staff and part time staff. All outings will be insured.
3.14 In preparing the children for leaving the Home when they reach 18 years of age, every effort will be made to track existing family members and a reunification programme will be implemented.
3.15 Should a conflict arise with regards to action plans for the child, the principle ‘in the best interest of the child’ shall prevail.
3.16 In line with the overall commitment of the Home to provide the best possible child-friendly and child-safe space for the child, all Staff, Board and Committee members and volunteers must report any breach in the Child Protection Policy.
- The Hiring and Screening of Staff
4.1 The Home shall hire staff through formal channels by way of a formal interview and background checks:
(a) Police check for criminal record, (if available).
(b) Medical check for history of substance abuse as well as history of communicable diseases.
(c) Recommendations from 2 referees.
All efforts shall be taken to ensure that only suitable personnel are employed to work with the children.
4.2 The Home shall not employ staff with a criminal record, especially with records of any abuses against children.
4.3 All new staff shall be closely monitored during the probationary period of six months and for a period of a year after that.
4.4 The Home shall ensure that suppliers, delivery services personnel, maintenance personnel and contractors are hired on recommendations and referrals. They will be briefed on the Child Protection protocols. They will not be left unattended while at the premises.
4.5 All Staff, Board and Committee members and volunteers shall undergo compulsory training on the Child Protection Policy which must be documented and acknowledged.
- The Handling of Abuse Complaints
5.1. All Staff, Board and Committee members and volunteers are to be trained in child abuse and in the process of handling and reporting abuse. The handling process is as follows:
(a) Listen to the child’s complaint of abuse and believe the child whatever the circumstance. (Refer to Appendix II)
(b) Make arrangements for the child’s safety.
(c) Record the complaint/allegation using the format for reporting allegations of abuse. (Refer to Appendix III)
(d) Report the complaint/allegation to the person in charge of abuse reports. (Refer to Appendix IV)
(e) Within 24 hours of receiving a report on abuse the President of the Home together with the Board Members to form a strategy to address the issue including immediate investigation to verify and obtain evidence of abuse.
(f) When there is enough evidence, lodge an official report to the Officer in Charge in the Selangor State Welfare Department or the Child Protection Officer or District Welfare Officer.
- Communication with and about the children
6.1 Ensure all Staff, Board and Committee members and volunteers understand the clear channel of communication in the event there is an allegation of abuse of the children in the Home.
6.2 Offer clearly defined channels for children to communicate what they feel when they are not brave enough to speak up, or share an opinion with an adult. Children can refer their concerns to the Resident committee.
6.3 Ensure communication with the children is pitched at their respective age level. Language that implies a relationship of power should be avoided. All staff will be given training in communication for this purpose.
6.4 Insists on the use of appropriate language when speaking with the children. The use of lewd or suggestive remarks, insensitive, racist, derogatory and discriminatory remarks that offend, embarrass or hurt a child is prohibited.
6.5 Allow for non-verbal communication e.g. setting up of a message box.
6.6 Ensure all staff are aware of the body language and are trained in recognising ‘red flags’ indicating signs of physical, emotional and psychological abuse communicated by the children under their care.
6.7 Regulations regarding confidentiality, media reporting and publication are to adhere to Section 15 provision of the Child Act (2001).
6.8 Disclosure of information about the background, past or present abuse of children and any of the person(s) involved will be limited to only the authorised persons. In Rumah Ozanam it shall be the Board members. To all other members and full time volunteers information regarding the children will be on a ‘need to’ basis.
- Training in Child Protection
7.1 All Staff, Board and Committee members and volunteers will receive compulsory basic training in understanding the needs of a hurt child as well as on the Child Protection Policy and child protection skills.
7.2 Regular briefing and training will be implemented to ensure everyone is knowledgeable on the reporting procedure of abuse and the Child Protection Policy.
7.3 Orientation of new staff is mandatory especially on operations as well as the Child Protection Policy.
7.4 Debrief of staff is mandatory to ensure they are mentally healthy to continue to do their work.
7.5 Self-care training for staff is mandatory.
- Monitoring and Evaluation
8.1 Close monitoring of staff and psychosocial support for staff is mandatory. Staff assessment and reviews will be conducted by the Management on a yearly basis to ensure the safe and correct handling of the children in line with the Child Protection Policy.
8.2 The Board of Management is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Child Protection Policy with a view to ensuring that all safeguards are in place and are being applied.
8.3 The Board of Management shall conduct an annual evaluation and review of the Home’s Child Protection Policy and shall make such changes to this policy as may be appropriate in the light of the evaluation report and any additional or amended legislation aimed at making the Child Protection Policy relevant and effective.
Endorsed by the Board of Management Rumah Ozanam on
1st January 2014
DECLARATION OF COMMITTMENT
CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
I ____________________________________________ have read and understand all (Name)
the provisions and regulations in the Child Protection Policy for Rumah Ozanam.
NRIC No. :_____________________________________________________________
Witnessed by President/Head of _________________________________________________
GUIDELINES FOR PHOTOGRAPHY AND MEDIA COVERAGE
To ensure that all necessary steps are taken to protect children from inappropriate use of their images in resources and media publications, on the internet and elsewhere, organisers of events involving the children of the Home will be provided with a guideline on the terms of content and behaviour on taking photographs/videos/films at the Home and elsewhere.
The guidelines are as follows:
- A written consent has to be obtained from the Board of Management as well as the children for their images to be taken and used.
- The Organisers will be required to give in writing to the Board of Management the scope and purpose of the media coverage in the Home.
- The photographer/filming or video operators will be issued with an identification tag which must be worn at all times during the duration of the event. The organisers will be required to give the following details if there is to be any photography/video/filming or media coverage:
- Name and address of the person(s) using the media equipment.
- Scope of the photography/video/filming. (area /subjects to be featured)
- Intended use of the images taken or recorded in writing.
- Signed declaration that the information provided is valid and that the images will only be used for the reasons given in writing.
- Photographers will not be allowed unsupervised access to children on one to one photo sessions at the event.
- Visitors and friends at the function are strictly not allowed to take photographs of the children with their mobile phones, Ipad, PDAs or any other media gadget for their own or official recording.
- Only wide angle photography or general photos of the event and children are allowed.
- Avoid close up shots of an individual child. If a child is named, his or her photograph is not to be used in the news article or write up.
- Avoid the use of surname of individual children in a photograph/video/film. This is to reduce the risk of inappropriate and unsolicited attention from the public that would not be in the best interest of the child.
- Only images of children in suitable attire and in appropriate poses are to be taken to reduce the risk of inappropriate use of the images.
- 10. Visitors and guests to the event are strictly not allowed to question the children on their personal details, family background or reasons for them being in the Shelter. In the event, the child volunteers information about themselves the visitors and guests are to discourage this and to inform the Home personnel.
WHAT TO DO IF A CHILD TELLS YOU ABOUT ABUSE
All allegations of abuse are to be taken seriously. False allegations are very rare. If a child says or indicates he/she is being abused or information is obtained that gives concern that a child is being abused, the information must be responded to on the same day in accordance with the following procedure.
- A. Respond
- React calmly so as not to frighten the child.
- 2. Listen to the child and take what he/she says seriously. Do not show disbelief.
3. Reassure the child he/she is not to blame and was right to tell someone.
- Be aware of interpreting what a child says.
- Do not assume that the experience was bad or painful – it may have been neutral or even pleasurable.
6. Avoid projecting your own reactions onto the child.
- 7. If possible, avoid asking questions. If necessary, only ask enough questions to gain basic information to establish the possibility that abuse may have occurred. Do not ask leading questions.
8. Do not introduce personal information from either your own experiences or those of other children.
- B. Avoid
- 1. Panicking.
- 2. Showing shock or distaste.
- 3. Probing for more information than is offered.
- 4. Speculating or making assumptions.
- 5. Making negative comments about the person against whom the allegation has been made.
- 6. Approaching the individual against whom the allegation has been made.
- 7. Making promises or agreeing to keep secrets and giving a guarantee of confidentiality.
- C. Record
Make a written record of the information as soon as possible using the Child Protection Report (see Appendix III), completing as much of it as possible. The information will help the CPO or any agencies involved in the case to decide what action to take.
- D. Sharing Concerns with Parents/Guardians/Caregivers
Where there are concerns that the parent(s)/guardian(s)/caregiver(s) may be responsible for or have knowledge of the abuse, sharing concerns with them may place the child at further risk. In such cases, advice must always first be sought from the CPO or the Daerah Petaling Welfare Department.
If you are uncertain about what to do with the information, consult a Child Protection Officer (CPO) or the Daerah Petaling Welfare Officers for advice on the appropriate course of action.
They have a statutory responsibility for the protection of children. Record any advice given.
FORMAT FOR REPORTING ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE
About Your Concern
1. Give a brief description of what has prompted the concerns (include dates and times of any specific incidents, photographic evidence, place the abuse took place and witness(es) name and statements, if any).
2. What have you observed? Physical signs? Behavioural signs?
3. Have you spoken to the child? If so, what was said?
4. Has anybody been alleged to be the abuser? If so, give details.
5. Does the child require medical attention?
About You (Anonymous reports will not be investigated)
1. Your name, phone numbers and email address:
2. Your relationship to Rumah Ozanam.
3. Your relationship to the child/children concerned, if relevant:
About the Child/ren
2. Age(s) and date(s) of birth
3. Whom do the child/children live with?
Signature ………………………… Date…………………………………………
PROCEDURE FOR REPORTING CHILD ABUSE/NEGLECT IN RUMAH OZANAM