Newcastle Buddhist Centre Child Protection Policy 2021

Newcastle Buddhist Centre

187 Westgate Road

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE4 6AA

Email: newcastlebuddhistcentre@gmail.com

www.newcastlebuddhistcentre.org

Registered charity no: 1044379

Chair of Newcastle Buddhist Centre

Order name and legal name: Akuppa / John Wigham

Email address: newcastlebuddhistcentre@gmail.com

Phone number:

Safeguarding trustee of Newcastle Buddhist Centre

The Chair of the Centre (see above)

Insurance company details

Policy number:

Email address:

Phone number:

Introduction

Triratna is a worldwide network of friends in the Buddhist life. This is for many of us a source of great richness, support and strength. However, it also carries a risk that we may fail to notice, question or act on behaviours of concern, out of naivety, loyalty to friends or lack of awareness, or an assumption that “it couldn’t happen here” or “they would never do a thing like that.”

This policy is an expression of the first ethical precept taught by the Buddha: to protect living beings from harm. It is based on law and good practice in England and Wales. 

The purpose of this policy

This document is for Friends, Mitras and Order members involved in Newcastle Buddhist Centre activities (and those of any outreach groups run by this charity) as employees, volunteers, leaders, teachers or parents.

It aims to provide

  • protection for children (anyone under 18) who visit Newcastle Buddhist Centre or take part in its activities including children of Buddhists and other users of this Buddhist centre and
  • protection for Friends, Mitras and Order members who may have contact with children in the course of Newcastle Buddhist Centre activities.

It sets out 

  • practices and procedures contributing to the prevention of abuse of children. 
  • what to do if abuse is suspected.

Our values

Our activities include children, from time to time: in the form of school group visits.

The trustees of Newcastle Buddhist Centre recognise their responsibility to Safeguard those aged under 18 visiting or involved in our activities, as set out by the Charity Commission in its latest guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/safeguarding-duties-for-charity-trustees

Helen Clarke and Mary Lowe are our Safeguarding officers. They are responsible for co-ordinating the protection of children and adults Newcastle Buddhist Centre. (See also our Safeguarding Adults policy.)

The Chair of the centre is our Safeguarding trustee. They are responsible for making sure Safeguarding is taken seriously by the trustees and appears regularly on their agendas, ensuring the trustees comply with their Safeguarding obligations as required by the Charity Commission. 

We recognise that:

  • the welfare of the child is paramount. 
  • all children, regardless of age, disability, gender, ethnicity, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity, have the right to equal protection from harm. 
  • partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers and other agencies is essential in promoting young people’s welfare. 

This policy applies to all staff, including the centre team and trustees, paid staff, volunteers,

parents and anyone else working on behalf of Newcastle Buddhist Centre, whether as a Friend, Mitra or Order member, teaching, leading or supporting. 

We will seek to safeguard children and young people by: 

  • valuing them, listening to and respecting them. 
  • adopting child protection guidelines and a code of conduct for staff and volunteers. 
  • recruiting staff and volunteers safely, ensuring checks are made where necessary. 
  • sharing information about child protection and good practice with children, parents, 

staff and volunteers. 

  • sharing information about concerns with agencies who need to know, and involving 

parents and children appropriately. 

  • providing effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, support 

and training.

Who is a “child”?
For the purposes of this policy a child is a person who is not yet 18, regardless of the age of majority any particular jurisdiction.

What is child abuse?
Please see appendix.

Recognising signs of abuse
Please see appendix.

Engaging safely with children in person
Outside our own personal and family relationships, in connection with this charity’s activities we will not arrange to meet any child under 15 individually anywhere if unaccompanied by a parent/guardian.

We understand that before meeting those aged 15-17 it is good Safeguarding practice to make contact with their parent/guardian. We will take care to meet in public spaces where others are present, such as our Buddhist centre reception area or a room with the door open.

Where it is agreed that (in connection with any of our charity’s activities) that one of our employees or volunteers may give a lift to a person under 18 (with or without anyone else in the car) 

  • our Safeguarding officer must ensure that the driver is well known to us, has read our Child Protection Code of Conduct and Child Protection Policy and signed to confirm they will abide by them. 
  • Our Safeguarding officer must have the written agreement of the child’s parent/carer for the child to travel in the car of this named driver.
  •  The driver must be over 18, have a full driving licence, adequate insurance and a vehicle which is roadworthy.
  • The child must sit in the back seat.

If we do not feel able to implement these criteria we will require that no employee or volunteer offers lifts to those under 18 in connection with our charity’s activities.

See also the guidance document ‘Caring for teenagers in Triratna 2021’. 

Engaging with under-18s using email and social media
We are aware that individual contact with people of any age using email or social media carries the risk of accusations of “grooming”; relationships established with a view to sexual contact.

We will not engage by email, text or social media with anyone under 15, except where they are seeking information about Buddhism as part of school work or personal study, when we may engage, by email only, from the charity’s email account only. Having answered their questions, we will not engage in further personal correspondence.

We will engage with those 15-17 only with the written permission of a parent/guardian, by email or letter, which will be stored by our Safeguarding officer.

For more detail on this, see the guidance document ‘Caring for teenagers in Triratna 2021’.

DBS checks /Background security checks

If in any doubt about the requirements for DBS checks our Safeguarding officer will check with external Safeguarding experts such as Thirtyone:eight (www.thirtyoneeight.org) to ensure that anyone required to have a DBS check has been checked, and to the correct level. Thirtyone:eight provide an advice line and online DBS service.

We understand that 

  1. the Charity Commission states that wherever there is a legal entitlement to obtain a DBS check in respect of a trustee, employee or volunteer, a DBS check should be carried out. In detail, this means that
  2. anyone working or volunteering for our charity in any capacity is eligible for a Basic DBS check. We are free to request these of any such person, but if we have a great many volunteers and staff we may focus on obtaining Basic checks for those with particularly significant responsibility: eg Chair, trustees and those working with the charity’s money and finances; also our Safeguarding officer, Safeguarding trustee and anyone working with under 18s (eg leading school visits) who does not qualify for an Enhanced DBS check. (See C.)
  3. those running non-residential activities or events specifically intended for, or including, those under 18 can and must obtain an Enhanced DBS check with check of the Children’s Barred List, but only if they work with children, for our charity, on more than 3 days in a 30-day period.
  4. if any of our staff and volunteers is working with children in non-residential activities on more than 3 days in a 30-day period, as described in C) all our trustees can and must have an Enhanced DBS check (without check of the Children’s Barred List). This applies even if a trustee has no personal involvement in the activities including children.
  5. Where a person who is a trustee is also running non-residential activities involving children on more than 3 days in a 30-day period, or managing someone who is running activities involving children on more than 3 days in a 30-day period, it may be that that trustee can and therefore must obtain, an Enhanced DBS check with a check of the Children’s Barred List.
  6. Where under-18s stay overnight in the course of residential activities, without their parents or guardians present, any volunteer or employee who cares for, supervises, teaches, leads or advises those children (other than their own) with the opportunity for face to face contact – even if only on one occasion – can and must have an Enhanced DBS check with a check of the Children’s Barred List and
  7. It is regarded as good practice that any DBS certificate should be less than three years old.

No DBS checks are required in relation to irregular or one-off non-residential activities involving those under 18, or to general non-residential activities which someone under 18 may happen to attend. This is because children are most at risk where it is known in advance that children are likely to be attending; those who wish to gain access to children look for opportunities to become a familiar and trusted figure to children, for example seeking to join the team running regular children’s activities.

Welcoming school visits safely
School groups and other youth groups visit our Buddhist centre. We will require every group to bring at least two adults capable of supervising all members of the group at all times. We will make clear that none of our staff or volunteers is to be left alone with their pupils.

Members of our sangha leading school group visits to our Buddhist Centre can and therefore must have Enhanced DBS checks without check of the Children’s Barred List. (This does not apply to a person leading a one-off visit.)

See also the guidance document ‘Caring for teenagers in Triratna 2021’.

Safer recruitment more generally

DBS/security checks are only one aspect of safer recruitment.

  • We will seek references for anyone, volunteer or employee, seeking to work with those under 18 in the course of our activities, including short-term volunteers, even if they have been DBS checked or will be supervised by people who have been DBS checked.
  • Any volunteer or employee, seeking to work with those under 18 in the course of our activities must read and sign our Child Protection Policy and Code of conduct, even if only helping on a one-off occasion.

Where parents are not present
We understand that where under 18’s attend a Centre event, if parents are not present at all, or are elsewhere on the premises, the Safeguarding officer must make contact with their parent/guardian to ensure they know this is happening, and to record in writing that contact has been made, along with contact details and any medical conditions we need to know about.

Managing those who pose a risk to children
In the course of our charity’s own activities we will not allow someone who is likely to pose a risk to children to have contact with anyone under 18 (for example, a person who is known to have a previous criminal conviction for sexual or other violent offences, someone who is under investigation for possible sexual or other violent offences or someone who has disclosed a sexual interest in children).

Such a person will be asked by the Safeguarding officer to agree a behaviour contract setting out the terms of their continued participation in Newcastle Buddhist Centre activities within agreed boundaries and based on a risk assessment carried out by an Order member with professional experience in risk assessment. If our Safeguarding officer is not qualified to do this we will ask for help from the ECA Safeguarding team or another professionally qualified Order member. (See the document ‘Managing those who pose a risk 2021’.)

Such a person cannot be asked to sign the Child Protection Code of Conduct 2021 as it would conflict with the terms of their behaviour contract and in any case it would be very unwise to permit such a person to have any contact with those under 18 in the course of Triratna activities.

Where it is felt that the charity does not have the resources to manage this relationship safely, we reserve the right to ask the person not to attend our activities.

See also the guidance document ‘Caring for teenagers in Triratna 2021’.

Lettings/hireouts
We understand that there is joint responsibility on our charity and those renting/using our premises for the Safeguarding of children and adults taking part in such activities, but that our trustees bear ultimate responsibility for the Safeguarding in all activities on our premises. 

Therefore we will ask any organisation or individual using our premises to sign a lettings agreement which says they have read our Safeguarding policies and agree to abide by them, or that they have shown us their own Safeguarding policy, in which case their policy should be compatible with our own policy and should be written to an equal or higher standard.


Reporting concerns or allegations
All reports or suspicions of abuse must be treated seriously. They may include

  • something we have seen
  • something we have been told by someone else 
  • rumours about a person’s previous behaviour 
  • behaviour we have observed in a child and
  • disclosure from a child directly.

What we will do if a person under 18 alleges abuse

·       We need to be aware the child may have been threatened and may be very afraid.

·       We need to look directly at the child.

·       We need to keep calm and reassure the child that they are doing the right thing and are not to blame, even if they have broken some rules.

·       We need to accept what the child says without judgment, never suggesting that they may be wrong or mistaken. Our responsibility is to take them seriously and take action, not to decide whether what they are saying is true.

·       We need to avoid pushing for information or question the child but let them say as much as they are ready to say.

·       We need to make it clear we cannot promise total confidentiality, and that we will need to tell another trusted adult if we believe the child is at immediate risk of harm. 

·       We need to tell them we need to get help for them but that we will try to agree with them what will happen next. This means we will need to share what they say with others – on a need-to-know basis only.

What we will do next

  • We understand that our first concern must be the safety and wellbeing of the child and that we must not be distracted from this by loyalty to the person accused or a desire to maintain the good name of Triratna or our charity.
  • If the person receiving the disclosure is not our Safeguarding officer, they must tell the Safeguarding officer only, who will co-ordinate the handling of the matter on behalf of the charity’s trustees. However, if the Safeguarding officer is not immediately available the matter should be communicated to the Chair of the charity, or the Safeguarding trustee. If the child may be in immediate danger the Safeguarding officer, Chair, Safeguarding trustee or person receiving the disclosure will phone the police and Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) at our local social services straight away. A telephone referral will be confirmed in writing within 24 hours.

    If necessary, our Safeguarding officer will contact Triratna’s ECA Safeguarding team for advice: safeguarding@triratna.community
  • We understand that every person has a legal right to privacy under the International Convention on Human Rights and data protection legislation; therefore, having taken any urgent actions necessary, if possible we should get the consent of the child’s parent or guardian to share the information they have disclosed.
  • However, it may be necessary, and therefore legally ‘reasonable’, to report without parental consent, if we believe that the child is suffering, or at risk of, significant harm and that informing parents/guardians would not be in the child’s interest.
  • Meanwhile, the person receiving the disclosure will make detailed factual notes about the conversation/concern/incident as soon as possible, including time, date and location, and pass them to the charity’s Safeguarding officer. (See ‘Secure, confidential record-keeping’ below.)  As far as possible what a child has said should be recorded in their own words, as these could be used in court.
  • We understand that no sangha member should attempt to investigate a criminal allegation, that this is the job of the police and that to attempt this could prejudice a court case and put the parties in danger.
  • Finally, in England and Wales we understand that we may need to make a Serious Incident Report to the Charity Commission: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-report-a-serious-incident-in-your-charity. We will consult the ECA Safeguarding team for guidance on this: safeguarding@triratna.community

Who else needs to know?
We understand that confidentiality, sharing information only on a need-to-know basis, is very important. Under data protection legislation nobody has a right to know about the matter – except, for Safeguarding purposes, those in a position to prevent further harm, and our Chair, who holds ultimate responsibility for the governance of the charity. For example, where there is a criminal allegation against a Mitra it could be justifiable for the Safeguarding officer, Safeguarding trustee, Chair and Mitra convenor to know about it.

This is not a matter of concealment but is intended to protect all concerned from further harm. It will also protect our sangha from fear, rumour and disharmony which will make it much harder to deal with the matter effectively without causing further harm.

Where a person is believed/has been found to pose a risk to children it is often thought that parents have a right to know. However, this is not the case. Proper implementation of our Safeguarding policy and procedures will ensure that our sangha’s children are as safe from such a person as they are from any others who pose a risk but have not been identified as such.

What to do if a sangha member discloses a criminal act against a child

We understand that the law does not protect confidentiality where criminal acts are confessed. If a Friend, Mitra or Order member discloses to any other sangha member (whether or not in a formal confession) that they have physically or sexually abused a child, or have viewed indecent images of children online, the person receiving this disclosure or confession must inform our Safeguarding officer immediately, who must report to our local police immediately. This applies whether the behaviour disclosed is recent or historic.

If a child may be in immediate danger the Safeguarding officer, Chair, Safeguarding trustee or person receiving the disclosure will phone the police and Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) at our local social services straight away. A telephone referral will be confirmed in writing within 24 hours.

If necessary, our Safeguarding officer will contact Triratna’s ECA Safeguarding team for advice: safeguarding@triratna.community

Secure, confidential record-keeping
We understand our responsibility for secure and careful record-keeping. Our Safeguarding officer will keep a detailed log of all Safeguarding-related incidents as well as conversations, actions and the reasoning behind them. These can be stored on the charity’s computer, only if in a password-protected section accessible only to the Safeguarding officer and one or two others approved by our trustees. 

If this is not practicable, we will keep them on an external hard drive or memory stick. To guard against loss in case the files, hard drive or memory stick become corrupted these will be backed up to another hard drive or memory stick and/or printed off. Any such memory sticks, hard drives and paper copies will be stored in a locked cabinet, box or drawer accessible only to the Safeguarding officer and one or two others approved by our trustees. We understand that such records must not be stored on individuals’ own private computers.

We also understand that under data protection law we need to word our records in a form we would be happy for the subjects to read if they ask to, as is their legal right. This means notes should be factual and respectful, free of interpretations and value-judgements.

Keeping confidential records
We understand that because many abuse cases come to light 30 or more years later our insurers may require us to keep our logs for up to 50 years. (This is a requirement of the UK’s Buddhist Insurance Scheme.)

If our charity closes down, we will give our records to another Triratna Buddhist centre/charity to keep with their own confidential Safeguarding logs.

Reviewing our policies annually

This document was adopted by the trustees of Newcastle Buddhist Centre on 6th April 2021 and will be reviewed and updated by the Safeguarding officer and trustees  on or before 6th April 2022.

Triratna Buddhist Community (Newcastle)

Chair’s name and email address: Akuppa, newcastlebuddhistcentre@gmail.com

Chair’s signature

Safeguarding officer’s name and email address: Helen Clarke & Mary Lowe  safeguarding.nbc@protonmail.com

Safeguarding officer’s signature 

Date  6 April 2021

This Newcastle Buddhist Centre Child Protection Policy 2021 is to be read in conjunction with

Appendices

  1. What is child abuse?
    The World Health Organisation defines “child abuse” as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.”

    2. Defining child abuse
    Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. A person may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm.

Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting; by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger. They may be abused by an adult or adults or another child or children. 

Child protection legislation throughout the UK is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Each nation within the UK has incorporated the convention within its legislation and guidance.

The four definitions (and a few additional categories) of abuse below operate in England, based on the government guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018)’. 

Outside England you may wish to use this material or replace with locally applicable material.

Definitions of abuse and neglect

Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger for example, via the internet. They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children.

Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:

  • provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
  • protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
  • ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
  • ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology

Extremism goes beyond terrorism and includes people who target the vulnerable – including the young – by seeking to sow division between communities on the basis of race, faith or denomination; justify discrimination towards women and girls; persuade others that minorities are inferior; or argue against the primacy of democracy and the rule of law in our society.

  • Signs of abuse in children
    The following signs could be indicators that abuse has taken place but should be considered in the context of the child’s whole life.

Physical 

  • Injuries not consistent with the explanation given for them 
  • Injuries that occur in places not normally exposed to falls, rough games, etc 
  • Injuries that have not received medical attention 
  • Reluctance to change for, or participate in, games or swimming 
  • Repeated urinary infections or unexplained tummy pains 
  • Bruises on babies, bites, burns, fractures etc which do not have an accidental explanation* 
  • Cuts/scratches/substance abuse* 

Sexual 

  • Any allegations made concerning sexual abuse 
  • Excessive preoccupation with sexual matters and detailed knowledge of adult sexual behaviour 
  • Age-inappropriate sexual activity through words, play or drawing 
  • Behaving in a sexually provocative or seductive manner with adults 
  • Inappropriate bed-sharing arrangements at home 
  • Severe sleep disturbances with fears, phobias, vivid dreams or nightmares, sometimes with overt or veiled sexual connotations
  • Eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia* 

Emotional 

  • Changes or regression in mood or behaviour, particularly where a child withdraws or becomes clinging. 
  • Depression, aggression, extreme anxiety. 
  • Nervousness, frozen watchfulness 
  • Obsessions or phobias 
  • Sudden under-achievement or lack of concentration 
  • Inappropriate relationships with peers and/or adults 
  • Attention-seeking behaviour 
  • Persistent tiredness 
  • Running away/stealing/lying 

Neglect 

  • Under nourishment, failure to grow, constant hunger, stealing or gorging food, untreated illnesses, inadequate care, etc 

*These indicate the possibility that a child or young person is self-harming. Approximately 20,000 children are treated for self-harm in accident and emergency departments in the UK each year.This information used with permission from Thirtyone:eight, external specialists in Safeguarding for UK faith.