Child Safegaurding Policy

Little Island Policy on Safeguarding of Children

Revised April 2020

  1. Introduction

Little Island is committed to the safeguarding of children by ensuring that all elements of our work take place in safe and secure environments. We define ‘safeguarding’ as the action taken to promote the welfare of children and young people and protect them from harm. Little Island has agreed this child safeguarding policy which is binding upon all staff and employees and to be reviewed every year.

As a company with collaborative relations with other arts organisations, in particular the Arts Council, Children’s Books Ireland and Poetry Ireland, Little Island takes its lead in the matter of the safeguarding of children from such organisations. Poetry Ireland’s comprehensive policy on the safeguarding and welfare of children is a benchmark document for arts organisations in this area, and we have based our policy on that document. We are cognisant of Tusla guidelines and our policy is compliant with these.

The majority of our work does not involve direct engagement with children and young people. We mostly work alone or as a small team to publish books for the development and enjoyment of children. The main location for our work is Altona House, 232 Harrold’s Cross Road, Dublin 6W. Occasionally our team, authors, illustrators or other Little Island contracted employees attend activities and events that bring us into contact with children. At these events, including book launches, author visits to schools and libraries and book festivals, we aim to create a safe, enjoyable environment where children can engage with our books and team.

  1. Commitment to Child Safeguarding
    1. As a publisher of books for children and young people, we at Little Island are fully committed to the principles enshrined in the Children First Act 2015 and to the codes, practices and recommendations in Tusla’s Child Safeguarding: A Guide to Policy, Procedure and Practice and Poetry Ireland’s Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children and Young People in the Arts Sector.
    2. As a publishing house with limited direct contact with children, our main focus regarding the safeguarding of children is to ensure that Little Island staff members:
      1. Are aware of our Little Island Safeguarding Policy and uphold its principles.
      1. Understand the issues and know what and whom to consult to find out more as the need arises, especially when organising events for and with children and young people.
      1. Follow the codes of behaviour outlined in Tusla’s Child Safeguarding: A Guide and as summarised below (section 4)
      1. Communicate Little Island policy to authors (including writers, illustrators and occasionally other arts practitioners) and others associated with Little Island events (booksellers, photographers etc.)
      1. Report any concerns and ensure a confidential log of all reported incidents is maintained.
  1. Implementation
    1. In order to ensure that the principles outlined above (numbers 2.b/i–iv) are implemented, the following practices are in place:
      1. All staff members are required to familiarise themselves with Poetry Ireland’s guidelines: https://www.poetryireland.ie/content/files/Child_Safeguarding_Policy_2019_8.4.2019_NEW!.pdf and are encouraged to take the following e-learning programme: https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/children-first-e-learning-programme/
      1. All staff members are required to follow the codes of practice outlined in section 4 below, on the occasions when they come into contact with children and young people.
      1. All staff members are required to report any concerns on child protection/safeguarding, as outlined in section 5 below.
      1. On signature of a contract to publish, all authors receive a document which includes information on Little Island’s child safeguarding policy (this document) and are recommended to consult Poetry Ireland’s Guidelines for more information before they take on events involving children or young people.
      1. On the very rare occasions where it is judged that a particular author may not be willing to comply with our child safeguarding policy, staff members shall not organise events with children for that author in the interests of keeping children and young people safe and in the interests of upholding Little Island’s commitment to this policy.
      1. When recruiting staff, all candidates will undergo a comprehensive screening process, which includes interview and references. The prospective new staff member shall be made aware of Little Island’s safeguarding policy (this document) and, once appointed, shall be required to undergo garda vetting (except in the case of strictly administrative, office-based staff). All employees will be notified of the organisation’s code of conduct, the designated (mandated) liaison person and their role and the procedures taken if there are concerns regarding the safety of a child or young person.
      1. Persons whose garda vetting disclosure reveals them to be unsuitable for employment with children would normally be considered unsuitable for employment by Little Island, unless there was clear evidence to the contrary. When recruiting staff members that might come into contact with children, Little Island would also take into consideration any unsavoury attitude to children that might come to light in the course of the recruitment process or during the probation period.
      1. viii.In order to ensure the safe management of staff in respect of child safeguarding, Little Island keeps informed of Tusla recommendations and ensures that all staff are kept up to date on best practice. This document is signed, dated and reviewed annually.
  1. Code of Behaviour for Staff and Authors in Contact with Children/Young People
    1. Child-centred approach
      1. Treat all children and young people equally
      2. Use appropriate language (written and oral)
      3. Treat all children and young people as individuals
      4. Respect differences of ability, culture, religion, race and sexual orientation
      5. Avoid spending time alone with children – request to have another adult present at all times
    1. Inappropriate behaviour
      1. Do not use or allow offensive or sexually suggestive language
      2. Do not single out a particular child/young person (for unfair favouritism, criticism, ridicule, or unwelcome focus or attention)
      3. Do not allow or engage in inappropriate touching of any form
      4. Do not hit or physically chastise children/young people
      5. Do not socialise inappropriately with children or young people e.g. outside of structured organisational activities
    1. Physical contact

Physical touch should only occur when it is appropriate to the age/development of the child and in response to particular needs of the child. There will be instances when physical contact is unavoidable and in fact necessary.

Appropriate contact:

• Context-dependent touch within a controlled and supervised environment (e.g demonstrating a breathing technique)

• Preventing injury (e.g. catching a falling child, appropriate restraint)

• Handshake and “high fives”

• Fitting safety equipment (e.g. harness, safety restraint)

Inappropriate contact:

• Touch which is unnecessary, unexplained, out of context, without consent

• Any touch to breast, groin or buttocks areas

• Kissing or hugging

• Slapping/hitting (even in jest)

• Holding hands

• Sitting a child in an adult’s lap

    1. Health and safety
      1. Don’t leave children unattended or unsupervised
      2. Manage any dangerous materials
      3. Provide a safe environment
      4. In the case of an accident follow the procedures in place at the venue.
    1. Photographs
      1. Please note that photographs cannot be taken of children’s faces without the consent of their parents or guardians. Occasionally consent will be arranged by a school, library or festival, but this must be judged on a case by case basis. No photographs of children may be shared on social media or anywhere online without express consent of the guardians/parents.
    1. Procedure
      1. Should an allegation or complaint be made against a staff member, it will be referred to our designated liaison person, who will take the appropriate course of action.
  1. Complaints, Reporting and Designated Liaison Person
    1. Anyone associated with Little Island who has a concern that a child is in danger should report that concern to Little Island’s designated (mandated) liaison person for child protection. The designated liaison person is the main point of contact where there is an issue or concern about any aspect of a child’s or young person’s safety and welfare.

The designated liaison person will deal with all disclosures, retrospective or otherwise, in accordance with our policy.

    1. The designated liaison person (mandated) for Little Island is Jane O’Hanlon, who is a member of the Little Island board. She can be contacted at 01 6789815. The deputy designated liaison person is Siobhán Parkinson, who can be contacted on 01 4922224.
    1. It is the responsibility of the designated liaison person to advise staff about policy and procedures in relation to child protection and to ensure that procedures will be followed. The designated liaison person will support and advise staff in the event of a concern regarding child protection and welfare. 
    1. If a staff member or member of the public reports a concern to Little Island in relation to child protection issues, the designated liaison person will listen to their concern and ask them to compile a written report, including the date, time and people involved in the concern/disclosure. All reported information should be factual, with opinions supported by facts.
    1. All such complaints will be attended to immediately by Little Island.  The designated (mandated) liaison person or the most appropriate person should discuss the concern/consult with parents/carers/responsible adults, unless it is likely to put the child/young person at further risk.
    1. If there are reasonable grounds for concern, the designated liaison person will contact Tusla to make a verbal and written report.
    1. In the event of an allegation against a member of Little Island staff, the first priority is to ensure that no child or young person is exposed to unnecessary risk. The staff member in question will immediately be excluded from events where contact with children might be involved.
    1. The staff member will be informed that an allegation has been made against him/her and of the nature of the allegation. The staff member will be given the opportunity to respond. Any action following an allegation of abuse against an employee will be taken in consultation with Tusla and the gardaí. After consultation, Little Island will advise the accused person of the procedures to be followed.

Appendices

The information in the appendices to this document is taken from Tusla’s document Child Safeguarding: A Guide to Policy, Procedure and Practice 2017. Not all of it may be directly relevant to each individual situation, but it is included here for completeness, and so that information is available should any concerns arise.

For  further information, consult the full Tusla document, available here: https://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Tusla_-_Child_Safeguarding_-_A_Guide_for_Policy,_Procedure_and_Practice.pdf

Appendix 1

Types of child abuse

and how they may be recognised

Child abuse can be categorised into four different types: neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. A child may be subjected to one or more forms of abuse at any given time.

The definitions of neglect and abuse presented in this section are not legal definitions. They are intended to describe ways in which a child might experience abuse and how this abuse may be recognised.

Neglect

Neglect occurs when a child does not receive adequate care or supervision to the extent that the child is harmed physically or developmentally. It is generally defined in terms of an omission of care, where a child’s health, development or welfare is impaired by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, medical care, intellectual stimulation or supervision and safety.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is the systematic emotional or psychological ill-treatment of a child as part of the overall relationship between a caregiver and a child. Once-off and occasional difficulties between a parent/carer and child are not considered emotional abuse. Abuse occurs when a child’s basic need for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met, due to incapacity or indifference from their parent or caregiver.

Physical abuse

This occurs when someone deliberately hurts a child physically or puts them at risk of being physically hurt. It may occur as a single incident or as a pattern of incidents. A reasonable concern exists where the child’s health and/or development is, may be or has been damaged as a result of suspected physical abuse.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for his or her gratification or arousal, or for that of others. It includes the child being involved in sexual acts (masturbation, fondling, oral or penetrative sex) or exposing the child to sexual activity directly or through pornography.

Appendix 2

TUSLA social worker contact details

A list of TUSLA social workers may be found here:

https://www.tusla.ie/services/child-protection-welfare/contact-a-social-worker/

Appendix 3

Notification form

A copy of the Tusla Standard Notification Form and Guidance Note can be found here:

https://www.tusla.ie/services/child-protection-welfare/publications-and-forms/