Safeguarding Children Policy

The aim of this policy is to enable children and young people to engage with Amnesty International UK in a safe way.

The purpose of the policy is:

  • to protect children and young people who engage with Amnesty International UK
  • to provide staff, volunteers and activists with the overarching principles that guide our approach to safeguarding and child protection.

A child is defined as anyone under the age of 18. Amnesty International UK believes that all children and young people have the right to enjoy activities of any group in a happy, secure and safe environment.

The abuse of children and young people (physically, emotionally, sexually and neglect) is a reality that everybody should be aware of. Children and young people may be abused regardless of their age, gender, religious beliefs, race, sexual orientation, culture or ability. Most often abuse is perpetrated by a person known by the child.

In March 2015 the government updated its interagency guide for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children: Working Together to Safeguard Children, this document outlines the need for community groups to be aware of

  • their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children
  • how they should respond to child protection concerns and
  • how to make a referral to local authority children’s social care or the police if necessary.

All staff, volunteers and activists who have contact with children and young people will be made aware of this responsibility. This is reflected in this policy.

Who this policy applies to

The following people must comply with the Child Safeguarding Policy:

  • Amnesty International UK staff, AIUK Section and Charitable Trust board members, volunteers, activists and/or anyone engaging with youth activities.
  • Staff and representatives of other agencies and any other individual guests of Amnesty International UK who will participate in activities that involves them having contact with children/young people - unless it has been agreed expressly that the partner organisation may enforce its own safeguarding or protection policy.

Legal framework

This policy has been drawn up on the basis of law and guidance that seeks to protect children, including:

  • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • The Children’s Act 1989
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015
  • The Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014
  • Scottish Government (2014) National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland
  • The Human Rights Act
  • The Code of Fundraising Practice
  • The General Data Protection Regulation

Policy statement

Amnesty International has an ambitious international youth strategy aimed at growing the number of children and young people taking part in Amnesty’s movement and providing the opportunity for them to contribute meaningfully to Amnesty’s human rights work.

Amnesty International UK is committed to the protection of children and the safeguarding of their welfare. We are totally committed to the right of all children to grow, develop and thrive in a safe, caring environment. Protecting children from abuse is an integral part of the policy and intrinsic to Amnesty International UK objectives.

We recognise that:

  • The welfare of the child is paramount, as enshrined in the Children Act 1989
  • All children, regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity have a right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse
  • Some children are additionally vulnerable because of the impact of previous experiences, their level of dependency, communication needs or other issues
  • Working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers and other agencies is essential in promoting young people’s welfare

We will seek to keep children safe by:

  • Valuing them, listening to and respecting them
  • Appointing a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) for children and young people, two deputies and a lead board member for safeguarding as follows:
    • Designated Safeguarding Lead - Director of Supporter Campaigning and Communications, Amnesty International UK
    • Deputy Safeguarding Leads - Community Organising Manager, Education Officer (Youth and Schools)
    • Board Safeguarding Lead
  • Adopting child protection and safeguarding practices through procedures and a code of conduct for staff, board and activists
  • Using our safeguarding procedures to share concerns and relevant information with agencies who need to know and involving children, young people, parents, families and carers appropriately
  • Providing effective management and information for staff, volunteers and activists through supervision, support, training and quality assurance measures
  • Providing guidance for staff, volunteers and activists on how to engage with children in a safe way
  • Recording and storing information professionally and securely, and sharing information about safeguarding and good practice with children, their families, staff, volunteers and activists
  • Using our procedures to manage any allegations against staff, volunteers and activists appropriately
  • Ensuring that we have effective complaints and whistleblowing measures in place
  • Ensuring that we provide a safe physical environment for children, young people, staff, volunteers and activists, by applying health and safety measures in accordance with the law and regulatory guidance
  • That there will be a minimum of 1 dedicated safeguarding lead at AIUK-organised events where children may be present
  • Designing our public communications to be accessible to and suitable for an audience aged 14 plus.
  • Setting the following minimum age requirements for how children can engage with AIUK:
    • We require parental, carer or guardian consent for digital communications with any child under the age of 13, in line with ICO guidance.
    • Children can join Amnesty International UK from the age of 14.
    • Children can volunteer in our bookshops from the age of 16
    • We require a signed consent form from the relevant parent, carer or guardian for all young people attending AIUK residential events under the age of 18. *
  • Complying with the Fundraising Code of Practice (section 3 – Working with Children) in relation to how we involve children in our fundraising. We employ all best efforts to avoid soliciting regular donations, such as Direct Debits, from under 18s.
  • All our staff, volunteers and board members conducting themselves/ourselves in a manner that respects the dignity, pride and identity of children or young people;
  • Ensuring that all staff, volunteers and activist are aware of this policy and the procedures through which they may raise concerns and express their concerns about the welfare of children/young people;
  • Ensuring all staff, volunteers, board members are subjected to safer recruitment procedures and any relevant DBS checks
  • Wherever possible we will work in co-operation with other agencies to ensure that the safety and welfare of the children comes first and is paramount to our aims and objectives;
  • Ensuring that all organisations who work with Amnesty International UK abide by this Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy. 

Disclosure and confidentiality

If a child/young person comes to any Amnesty International UK staff, activist, volunteer or board member with an abuse disclosure/or there is any suspicion that abuse has or may take place: the individual should take immediate action in accordance with the Procedures for Children at Possible Risk of Harm or Abuse.

As far as possible, confidentiality is crucial - but the welfare of any child/young person is paramount. The law requires you within limits, to disclose the information to the appropriate body whether it is the management of the organisation we are visiting, social services or the police.

Definitions

Child abuse is significant harm caused to any child (including third party abuse) by neglect, physical injury, sexual abuse or emotional damage.

  • NEGLECT as the persistent or severe neglect of a child, or the failure to protect a child from exposure to any kind of danger, including cold or starvation, or extreme failure to carry out important aspects of care, resulting in the significant impairment of the child’s health or development, including non-organic failure to thrive;
  • PHYSICAL INJURY is the actual or likely physical injury to a child or young person, or failure to prevent physical injury (or suffering) to a child;
  • SEXUAL ABUSE is the actual or likely sexual exploitation of a child or young person; and
  • EMOTIONAL ABUSE is the actual or likely severe adverse effect on the emotional and behavioural development of a child by persistent or severe emotional ill treatment or rejection

Signs and symptoms of child abuse

Some signs of physical abuse

  • Unexplained burns, cuts, bruises, or welts in the shape of an object
  • Bite marks
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Problems in school
  • Fear of adults
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Self-destructive or suicidal behaviour
  • Depression or poor self-image

Some signs of emotional abuse

  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Hostility
  • Lack of concentration
  • Eating disorders

Some signs of sexual abuse

  • Inappropriate interest in or knowledge of sexual acts
  • Seductiveness
  • Avoidance of things related to sexuality, or rejection of own genitals or bodies
  • Nightmares and bed wetting
  • Drastic changes in appetite
  • Over compliance or excessive aggression
  • Fear of a particular person or family member
  • Withdrawal, secretiveness, or depression
  • Suicidal behaviour
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-injury


Sometimes there are no obvious physical signs of sexual abuse, and a physician must examine the child to confirm the abuse.

Some signs of neglect:

  • Unsuitable clothing for weather
  • Being dirty or unbathed
  • Extreme hunger
  • Lack of supervision

Who can abuse?

You can’t tell by looking at a person whether they are an abuser – they don’t appear different from the rest of the society.

  • Abusers come from all positions of society and all professions.
  • Abuse of children may sometimes be carried by strangers but it is much more common that the abuser is known to the child and is in a position of trust and /or authority.
  • It is not only adults who abuse children; children may suffer abuse from other children and young people.

Abusers might include:

  • Adults who are unable to provide consistent care
  • Some adults, including professionals, who manipulate themselves into positions of trust where they can exploit children and young people, emotionally and sexually.
  • Some adults, including professionals, who by behaving inappropriately towards children and young people can cause them to suffer physical or emotional harm.
  • It is very important to draw the distinction between sexual abuse and the other ways in which children may suffer harm – the reasons for the sexual abuse of children and young people are very different from the reasons why people physically abuse or neglect them.

Related policies, procedures, processes forms, guidelines and other resources:

This policy is supported by the following policies and process, in order to enable our staff to implement this policy.

Policy Statements

  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Health and Safety
  • Privacy Statement

Procedures

  • Procedure for Children at Possible Risk of Harm or Abuse
  • DBS check procedure
  • Safeguarding training procedures across staff, board and activists
  • Consent gathering and recording procedure
  • Information sharing protocol
  • Responding to concerns around : E- Safety, domestic violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, children who live away from home or go missing, child sexual exploitation, race and racism and extremism

Processes

  • Safeguarding incident reporting and recording process
  • Consent gathering and recording process for children’s involvement with Amnesty

Guidelines

  • Staff, Board and Activist Codes of Conduct
  • Engaging safely with children for Amnesty - do’s and don’ts
  • AIUK Shops Operational Handbook
  • AIUK Social Media guidelines

How is this policy shared?

Policy will be shared on our website, with staff and volunteers and lead activists.

Copyright and legal information

This policy is for information only, and therefore is not a binding contract and does not confer legal rights on any person. Amnesty International UK reserves all rights (including copyright) in any information and materials provided under this policy.

Feedback

Listening and responding to feedback from our supporters and members is very important to Amnesty International UK. We will acknowledge a complaint about any aspect of our safeguarding policy or procedure within 5 working days and aim to resolve complaints within 10 working days of receipt.

If you are dissatisfied with our response to your enquiry or complaint, please contact the Feedback Oversight Panel at feedback@amnesty.org.uk.

Who is responsible for this policy?

Amnesty International UK’s Director is ultimately responsible for compliance with this policy, with the support of Amnesty International UK’s Senior Management Team.

Author/policy contact: Kerry Moscogiuri and Sharon Lovell

Sign off: SMT

Approved by/approval level: AIUK Section Board and AIUK Charitable Trust Board

Date effective: June 2018

Last reviewed or updated: New policy

Frequency of review: Annual

Next Review Date: June 2019

Supersedes: Safeguarding Policy Aug 2016

Downloads
Safeguarding Incident Reporting Form