This guidance provides an overview of the main principles that should be contained in a child safeguarding policy, for those Church bodies working in countries other than Ireland. The broad principles are outlined in this guidance which are then replicated in S4.59.
- Begin the Child Safeguarding Policy by stating your commitment to safeguarding children which will be based on agreed principles. The principles which should underpin a child safeguarding policy, irrespective of geographic boundaries are:
- Gospel Values – Children had a special place in the heart of Jesus (Luke 18:17) and therefore there is a sacred obligation on the Church to ensure that children are welcomed, cherished and protected in a manner consistent with gospel values and children’s central place in the life of the church. It would be helpful if reference to the charism of the Church body is included here.
- Children’s Rights, National and Canon Law – The UNCRC outlines the 42 rights to be implemented by those who have signed and ratified the convention (including the Holy See and most countries across the world). This section should also include reference to legislation which safeguards children; and Canon law requirements of the Holy See including reference to grave delicts against children and norms issued by the Holy See.
- Identify what is abuse in line with canon and civil law of the country
- Outline the commitments Church personnel should honour. In Ireland the following commitments are included:
- Caring for children by creating environments which are safe (this includes codes of behaviour and the safety of children in the physical planning and development of projects (e.g. open spaces, etc.)
- Reporting allegations of abuse to the statutory authorities (police and social services). This may include information on what to do, if it is unsafe to report to equivalent authorities in each country.
- Caring for complaints of abuse through pastoral support and counselling.
- Caring for those who have been accused through offering counselling, but also by ensuring that risk is assessed and managed including taking appropriate canonical action if necessary, to restrict the respondent’s ministry.
- Caring for others affected by providing training for all members in relation to good safeguarding practice; offering support; having good communication about your policy and procedures (newsletters, resources etc).
- Set Safeguarding Standards
- These will largely be based on the commitments above. The standards of Ireland can be used as an example these can be viewed at www.safeguarding.ie
- If there are two or more Church bodies ministering, identify who is accountable and what policies will be followed.
5, Get agreement from all members to follow standards It is important that all members read and understand the policy of the Church body. There should be a personal commitment to following these, through the signing of an agreement.
6.Put training and induction in place. All Church personnel must have an understanding of what constitutes child abuse and what to do to prevent abuse, as well as how to respond if there is a concern. There must be clear statements about what is acceptable and not acceptable when ministering with children within the congregation.
- Set out governance arrangements
- Superior General accountability
- Local Leader responsibilities
- Review and evaluation
- State how often you will do refresher training with staff
- Ensure that safeguarding practice is mainstreamed across all project, programme and organisational reviews