Woodley Lighthouse – Safeguarding Policy for Children

 Introduction to the organisation

 Woodley Lighthouse is a service of the Woodley Pilot Light Trust that provides listening and counselling (including play therapy) for adults and children, as well as debt advice and budgeting. This document covers safeguarding of children during counselling.

Policy

Woodley Lighthouse is deeply committed to protecting children it works with from all forms of abuse, including sexual, physical and emotional abuse. It will also seek wherever possible to protect children it works with from neglect, abandonment and exploitation. Children in particular need safeguarding where they live (family or care home) as well as from any dangers posed at school, in the playground or elsewhere outside.

Woodley Lighthouse recognises that when child abuse is suspected, children often experience unintentional abuse by being interviewed by social services or the police, or even separated from family members or placed in care. It will seek wherever possible to put the child’s needs first in such situations by being involved as much as it can with the statutory organisations.

Procedures and systems

 Where abuse is suspected of or reported by a child being seen by Woodley Lighthouse, the person with the concern will in the first instance discuss the matter with the Safeguarding Officer, Mrs Jane Fulford (mobile number 07764 947495). If the child is at immediate risk the officer with make a direct call to the Diocese of Oxford Safeguarding Service, the local social services or the police. In cases where there is no immediate risk of harm to the child, the Officer will discuss the matter further with Woodley Lighthouse and seek advice from the Diocese of Oxford Safeguarding Service or the local social services.

All discussion of a child considered at risk will be written down with time and date and notes kept in a secure, locked cabinet. Confidentiality to protect the child’s rights will be respected unless the child’s safety is at risk. Everyone involved in discussion about a suspected incident of child abuse will agree to these levels of confidentiality.

Woodley Lighthouse will aim to provide appropriate therapy for the child and for others concerned. If the child is expected later to be called as a witness, the therapy will be conducted within the guidelines of the Crown Prosecution Service on provision of therapy for child witnesses (www.cps.gov.uk/publications/prosecution/therapychild.html), where therapy avoids direct discussion of details of the abuse until after the case has been heard in court.

Complaints about people working for Woodley Lighthouse should be addressed to Mrs Fulford. In the case of a complaint being made about a Woodley Lighthouse worker, Mrs Fulford, in conjunction with the trustees of the Woodley Pilot Light Trust, will take action as quickly as possible. Again, the Diocese of Oxford Safeguarding Service will be informed if appropriate.

Prevention

 Woodley Lighthouse requires anyone wanting to work for them with children in therapy to have undertaken a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) enhanced disclosure (see https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service). If the check shows convictions that are likely to put children at risk, Woodley Lighthouse reserves the right to refuse the services of the person, whether the services are voluntary or not. In addition, people providing child therapy will need to provide names of two people who can provide character references.

If abuse is later suspected by a person working for Woodley Lighthouse, the person concerned will be suspended while a full investigation is conducted by The Woodley Pilot Light Trust in conjunction with the Diocese of Oxford Safeguarding Service. If the abuse is confirmed, the person will be removed from the books of Woodley Lighthouse and recommended to undergo intensive therapy. He or she will be deemed a danger to children and steps may be taken to warn other groups of the person’s danger to children.

Codes of practice and behaviour

Woodley Lighthouse’s therapeutic work is undertaken in a way that ensures safe, ethical practice. If working in a school, the school’s safeguarding policy will be fully adhered to.

For any children’s counselling not done in a school, the therapist will make sure that someone else is present in the building where the work is being done. If that person is aware that therapy is going on, he or she can be attuned to any difficulties and available in case of problems.

Child clients are generally expected to stay in the room throughout the session. There are a few exceptions to this rule. These include children who have experienced being locked in their bedroom as a punishment and those who have not been allowed out of a room until they have engaged in a sexual activity with an abuser. In these rare instances the therapist gives the child permission to leave the room as often as she/he needs to.

 Woodley Lighthouse’s therapists may sometimes video or audio-record the session, with the agreement of the parent/carer and the child concerned. The video or recording is for note-taking and training and is kept in a locked cabinet. It is available for loan to the parent/carer only with the clear agreement of the child and the therapist.

 Since most issues with children impact on and are affected by the system (family, school, etc), it is sometimes appropriate to involve the parent/carer or brothers and sisters in some or all of the sessions. Having another person present, providing it is therapeutically justified, can also help with safeguarding. It is especially important with the child who is either flirtatious or is known to be acting out sexually.

In any training and supervision work, Woodley Lighthouse will help trainees and supervisees to identify any potential safeguarding issues in their work. It is for the trainee/supervisee to take forward any safeguarding measures needed, with support from Woodley Lighthouse.

Children often need physical contact. With this in mind Woodley Lighthouse uses a Safe Touch policy as described in the Appendix.

Special precautions are required when working with children who have a disability because of the increased risk of physical abuse or sexual exploitation. Only in very exceptional circumstances will a Woodley Lighthouse worker be alone with a disabled child. Helping the child change clothes or to go to the toilet must always be done with the door open and, if at all possible, in the presence of another adult.

Woodley Lighthouse child-child policy includes addressing any public or age-inappropriate sexualised behaviour with another child, whether or not the two children are of the same age. While such behaviour may provide useful therapeutic clues to the child’s possible problematic background, it is essential that such behaviour is addressed to avoid any abuse arising as a result.

Children will be encouraged strongly to respect each other at all times. This includes avoiding any physical or verbal aggression towards another child because of the child’s own anger problems.

 Acknowledgement

 This policy has been adapted, with permission, from the Safeguarding Children/Child Protection Policy of Brook Creative Therapy. www.brookcreativetherapy.com

Woodley Pilot Light Trust

July 2013

Appendix – Safe Touch Policy

 1. Always have other people around

Avoid being on your own with a child of any age. This will usually be provided by having therapy in a room with a window or with the door ajar, and having another person nearby who is able to observe.

2. Ensure that the child wants the physical contact you are offering

Where possible make eye contact with the child and indicate with gestures or verbally what you propose, waiting for the child’s clear agreement. This is whether you are offering a hug, touching a shoulder, holding a hand, tickling or play fighting. If you believe a child may have been abused, it is important to avoid hugging, tickling and play fighting until they have learned the difference between ‘good’ touching and ‘bad’ touching.

3. Touch in appropriate areas only

Consciously avoid touching the child in areas of the body that would be covered by a swimming costume. The only exceptions are when changing or washing a baby or very small child, or helping a disabled child in the toilet or washing themselves. Touching the leg above the knee is also generally not acceptable.

4. Be cautious about having a child on your lap

Men are strongly advised to avoid children sitting on their laps. In exceptional circumstances they may let a small child sit on the knee end of their lap.

5. Avoid face-to-face hugging of a girl who has begun to develop

This is especially important with men. Instead of a face-to-face hug, try an arm on the shoulder ‘sideways hug’. This satisfies the older girl’s need for closeness and avoids inappropriate physical contact.