A. Introduction and purpose
This policy applies to all Scottish Book Trust staff and the Board of Trustees, as well as to contractors, consultants, freelancers, creative practitioners, student placements, interns or anyone else working on behalf of Scottish Book Trust.
The purpose of this policy is to protect children and young people (those under the age of 18) who participate in Scottish Book Trust programmes.
It also provides staff, freelancers and volunteers with the basic principles that guide our approach to child protection.
Scottish Book Trust believes that a child or young person should never experience abuse of any kind. We have a responsibility to promote the welfare of all children and young people and to keep them safe, and we are committed to carrying out our activities in a way that protects them.
Child: For the purpose of this policy a child is someone under the age of 18.
Child protection is keeping a child safe from abuse or neglect. Protecting children means when to be concerned about their safety and recognising when and how to share these concerns.
Safeguarding: Child protection is part of our wider safeguarding policies. Safeguarding refers to promoting the welfare of children, young people and protected adults. This encompasses protecting children from abuse and maltreatment, preventing harm to children’s health or development, ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care, taking action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes.
Child abuse: Child abuse happens when a person – adult or child – harms a child. It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can also involve a lack of love, care and attention. Neglect can be just as damaging to a child as physical or sexual abuse.
Types of abuse
The following summary outlines the keys areas of abuse that children may be subject to.
- Physical abuse is deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts.
- Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs and is the most common form of child abuse. A child may be left hungry or dirty, without adequate clothing, shelter, supervision, medical or health care.
- Sexual abuse is when a child is forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn't have to be physical contact and it can happen online.
- Emotional abuse is the ongoing emotional maltreatment of a child. It's sometimes called psychological abuse. It can involve deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a child or isolating or ignoring them.
Who can be abusers
Anyone, including other young people.
Where can abuse happen?
Anywhere, including online.
Read more about spotting the signs of child abuse(this will open in a new window) on the NSPCC website.
C. Roles and responsibilities
1. Setting policy
Scottish Book Trust's Board of Trustees and the chief executive are responsible for ensuring an appropriate child protection policy is in place and staff are trained in the use of the policy. The policy is regularly reviewed annually by the Designated Child Protection Officer to ensure it is up-to-date and compliant with current legislation and best practice.
2. Lead officers
Scottish Book Trust has a Designated Child Protection Officer (DCPO), and a deputy, to whom staff can refer any concerns or issues regarding child protection or discuss and seek guidance on child protection more generally. The contact details are as follows:
Designated Child Protection Officer
Helena Barrett-Duncan, Reading Schools Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org(this will open in a new window)
Telephone: 0131 526 0160
Note: Helena is on maternity leave until 01.11.22
Deputy Designated Child Protection Officers
Caitrin Armstrong, Head of Writing Communities
email@example.com(this will open in a new window)
Telephone: 0131 524 0160
Heather Collins, School Communities Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org(this will open in a new window)
Telephone: 0131 524 0160
The Designated Child Protection Officer and Deputy Designated Child Protection Officers are supported by Alison Bunn, Director of Finance and Operations from Senior Management Team.
3. Team representatives
Each programme team has an elected child protection representative to risk assess and oversee team activities reporting back and supported by the Designated Child Protection Officer and Deputy Designated Child Protection Officers.
D. Policy statement
We recognise that:
- The welfare of the child is paramount
- All children, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation 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 and lived experiences
- Working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers and other agencies, is essential to promoting young people's welfare
We will seek to keep children and young people safe by:
- Valuing, respecting and listening to children and young people
- Appointing a Designated Child Protection Officer for children and young people and a Deputy Designated Child Protection Officer, to uphold this policy and to give staff and freelance staff the appropriate support to be able to put it into practice
- Maintaining an open and supportive organisational culture where staff can discuss any concerns or issues around child protection with their colleagues, manager or the Designated Child Protection Officer
- Taking seriously any concerns over a child or young person's safety or welfare and taking appropriate action as soon as possible
- Adopting child protection best practice through our policies, procedures and code of conduct for staff and freelancers
- Developing and implementing an effective digital child protection policy and related procedures
- Providing effective management of staff and freelancers through appropriate training, support and quality assurance measures
- Recruiting staff and freelancers safely, ensuring all necessary checks are carried out
- Recording and storing personal information securely
- Sharing information about child protection and good practice with participating children, their families, staff and freelancers, as appropriate to the work of the individual programmes
- Using our child protection procedures to share concerns and relevant information with any agencies who need to know, and involving children, young people, parents, families and carers, as appropriate
- Using our child protection procedures to appropriately manage any allegations against staff or freelancers
- Creating and maintaining an anti-bullying environment
- Ensuring we have effective complaints and whistleblowing measures in place
- Ensuring we provide a safe physical environment for children, young people, staff and freelancers, by applying health and safety measures and risk assessments in accordance with the law and regulatory guidance
E. Policy Context
This policy is informed by:
- Children in Scotland Act (1995)
- National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland (2014)
- National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland (2020)
- United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
Please see Appendix 2 for the full legal framework that informs this policy.
It is recognised that children and young people are more at risk than adults due to their immaturity, developmental stage and relative powerlessness compared to adults. It is necessary therefore to ensure they are protected and this is everyone’s responsibility.
Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC)
Scottish Book Trust supports the basic principles and values of Getting it Right for Every Child so that every child can grow up feeling loved, safe and respected, and realise their full potential. The Getting it Right for Every Child framework provides opportunities to work with other agencies to report any issues or concerns we might have to the child's named person using the Getting it Right for Every Child wellbeing concern form. We will use the SHANARRI Wellbeing Indicators (Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included) to structure any records of specific concerns. More information on Getting it Right for Every Child and the SHANARRI indicators can be found in Appendix 3.
F. Recording and reporting concerns
In the course of our work, it is important to maintain an open and supportive culture around child protection with Scottish Book Trust staff, our partners and the communities we work with. Therefore, we should communicate any concerns about a child or young person's safety as soon as we become aware of it.
The majority of Scottish Book Trust work with children and young people happens in community settings such as schools and libraries, where children are in groups and accompanied by teachers/librarians and/or carers, as well as our staff. Staff members or freelancers should never be left alone with children or in sole charge; other responsible adults are usually leading the groups or children.
In these circumstances, if a staff member has a concern about a child's safety or welfare, they should speak to the 'named person' or responsible adult in the school, library or other community venue they are working in. This adult may well be aware of the situation and be able to reassure the staff member that the issue is being dealt with or agree that they will make a note of the concern and refer it through the usual 'named person' channels of reporting. The issue should still be reported by the staff member on their return to the office, to their line manager and the Designated Child Protection Officer. Staff should contact their line manager, the Designated Child Protection Officer or deputy if they wish to discuss any urgent action or seek advice around child protection whilst they are away from the office. If the concern is about the 'named person' or responsible adult in the school, or the setting itself concerns should be raised directly with the Designated Child Protection Officer immediately.
However, if the situation is urgent and the child's safety is in immediate danger, the staff member should call the local authority Social Services duty officer, the police or the emergency services, whichever is appropriate to the nature of the risk.
Whilst it is unlikely that staff or freelancers will encounter an abuse situation or disclosure, should this happen, it is important to take it seriously and act as soon as possible.
Responding to disclosures of abuse
It can be very hard for children and young people to speak out about abuse. Often they fear there may be negative consequences if they tell anyone what's happening or has happened to them. It is vital therefore that whoever they tell takes them seriously and acts on what they've been told.
Even if a child doesn't tell someone verbally about what's happened to them, there may be other indicators that something is wrong. For more guidance on recognising signs of abuse(this will open in a new window) see the NSPCC website.
Disclosure is the process by which children and young people start to share their experiences of abuse with others. Children may disclose directly or indirectly. Not all disclosures will lead to an 'official allegation' of abuse or a case being taken to court, but all disclosures should be taken seriously.
Responding to abuse disclosures
In a situation where a child discloses potential abuse, there are a number of steps that should be taken.
- Explain confidentiality. Make sure you make it clear at the beginning of the conversation that you cannot keep this disclosure to yourself if the child or anyone else is at risk of harm, abuse or neglect in any way.
- Listen carefully to the child. Avoid commenting on the matter or showing reactions like shock or disbelief which could cause the child to retract or stop talking.
- Don't ask leading questions. Let the child describe the incident in their own words and avoid asking leading questions. Keep questions to a minimum.
- Let them know they've done the right thing. Reassurance can make a big impact on a child who may have been keeping the abuse secret.
- Tell them it's not their fault. Abuse is never the child's fault and they need to know this.
- Say you will take them seriously. A child could keep abuse secret in fear they won't be taken seriously. They've spoken out because they want help and trust that someone will listen to and support them.
- Don't talk to the alleged abuser. Confronting the alleged abuser about what the child has told you could make the situation a lot worse for the child.
- Explain what you'll do next. If age appropriate, explain to the child that this will need to be reported to someone who will be able to help them.
- Make a record. Try to record exactly what the child has said to you in their words as soon as possible as this may be useful to people investigating the allegation.
- Don't delay reporting the abuse. The sooner the abuse is reported after the child discloses the better. Report as soon as possible so details are fresh in the mind and action can be taken quickly.
Any child protection concerns or disclosures should be recorded by the staff member as soon as possible following the awareness or disclosure. In the first instance, this can be in the form of a confidential written note which can then be used to write up a fuller formal report where necessary.The following key information should be noted:
- The date and time of the incident or concern arising
- The setting and/or circumstances
- Who else was present
- The nature of the concern or disclosure
- A note of the actual words spoken by the child/young person about the incident or issue
- Who the information was shared with
- What action was taken
For wellbeing concerns please use our Child Protection – Wellbeing Concern Form.
For disclosures of abuse please use our Child Protection – Disclosure Record Form.
If you are a partner or affiliate please contact your Scottish Book Trust representative if you need these forms.The Designated Child Protection Officer/Deputy or line manager will review this, confirm any further action required and make a note of it. If the situation merits, this information can also be passed on to the named person or any other agency which becomes involved. The Designated Child Protection Officer will respond to any concerns raised within 24 hours of being notified.
The information will be stored securely, in accordance with our data protection policy, and signed off by the staff member as an accurate record.
If merited, the incident will also be reported to the Board under the Significant Incident Reporting system.
Notwithstanding the need to report concerns as soon as possible to the relevant named/responsible adult and/or the staff member's line manager/Designated Child Protection Officer, it is important that in the course of reporting such concerns, confidentiality is managed internally and we should not involve other staff unnecessarily. Any decision to share information related to these concerns beyond the responsible adult/named person should be taken in consultation with the line manager or Designated Child Protection Officer, unless the situation is urgent, is an emergency or a young person is at risk of serious harm, in which case other agencies should be alerted as appropriate.
Please see Appendix 4 for places to go for further support when dealing with child welfare concerns.
G. Allegations against staff
If staff have concerns about the behaviour of/need to pass on allegations about another member of staff or a freelancer working on our behalf, they should speak to the Designated Child Protection Officer/Deputy.If staff have concerns about the behaviour of the Designated Child Protection Officer or Deputy, they should speak to a member of the Senior Management Team.
H. Risk assessment and general good practice
When planning and carrying out our work involving children, the following general rules should help to provide a supportive and safe environment for staff and children:
- Avoid being alone with a child one-to-one, work with another adult, use a 'buddy' system
- Always plan to work in a co-ordinated team of at least three responsible adults when working with a group of children (helps avoid one-to-one, in an emergency helps two staying with a group/child while another adult goes for help)
- While planning, risk assess your activities and the environment from a child's perspective, as well as your own
- Model good behaviour, maintain appropriate boundaries
- Even if they are not fully-developed, respect the agency and expressions of children whilst also explaining to them why there are rules about behaviour and activities.
When working with partners, establish who the lead is, clearly define responsibilities, share and agree the importance of monitoring child protection to our standards.
Staff should use one of the available risk assessment templates, as appropriate to the programme/event being planned.
If you are a partner or affiliate please contact your Scottish Book Trust representative if you need these templates.
I. Recruitment and Disclosure Scotland
An important element of Scottish Book Trust's child protection policy is to recruit appropriately trained and experienced staff into post. All staff who, through their work with Scottish Book Trust, have access to children or young people in any form (e.g. face to face, telephone, online, through our programme submissions) must have basic clearance from Disclosure Scotland.
PVG scheme membership is required for staff or freelancers delivering our programmes who work with children and young people as part of their regulated work on an ongoing basis.
This clearance is obtained as part of the recruitment and appointment process and is renewed every three years for continuing staff. In addition, the appraisal process checks annually whether there is any change to the nature of a staff member's role which requires a new disclosure or a higher level of disclosure i.e. membership of the PVG scheme.
The HR and Operations Team is responsible for ensuring the appropriate disclosure checks/memberships are made prior to appointment and reviewed at the three year anniversary.
Line managers are responsible for checking annually during the appraisal process that the Disclosure level is appropriate and in place before signing off the appraisal.
Line managers and Heads of Team must ensure that all staff who work with children as part of their role at Scottish Book Trust have attended the in-house Child Protection training or have completed the NSPCC (Scotland) online training course. The completion certificate should be handed to the HR administrator for storing.
Scottish Book Trust nominates a Designated Child Protection Officer who is required to complete the NSPCC (Scotland) Designated Child Protection Officer training or refresher course prior to appointment to this role. Refresher training should be undertaken where changes to legislation occur but at least every three years. The Deputy must complete the NSPCC (Scotland) online training course, as a minimum.
The Designated Child Protection Officer/Deputy Designated Child Protection Officer will hold workshops or one-to-one sessions as required to ensure new staff, or staff new to a post, where working with children is a significant part of their role are confident they understand the child protection policy and know how to implement it.
The Designated Child Protection Officer and Deputy Designated Child Protection Officer will monitor through newsletters and other networking channels any changes to legislation and best practice and ensure the child protection policy is kept up-to-date. Changes to the child protection policy will be flagged to staff and relevant training given if the changes are significant.
Appendix 1: Digital Child Protection Policy
Whilst working in online and digital spaces presents unique challenges to existing child protection procedures, adherence and awareness of our existing policies and procedures is essential.
Some children are additionally vulnerable or at risk through digital platforms, and we are required to be aware of those risks. Child protection in a digital context is the responsibility of every adult working in this setting.
A. What are the potential risks?
- Children may be exposed to upsetting or inappropriate content online, particularly if the platform doesn't have robust privacy and security settings. This content might be sexually explicit or violent or harmful in other ways.
- Children may be at risk of being groomed, particularly if they have means through which they can be contacted privately.
- Children's posts or profile information may expose personal information and put them at risk. For example, they may talk about their home life, feelings, or thoughts they've been having. There may be information that makes them identifiable such as locations of events they are taking part in or visual clues in photographs. Perpetrators may use this information to groom, abuse or exploit children.
- Identifiable information being exposed online may also put children at risk from cyberbullying, which can include sending, porting or sharing negative, harmful false or mean content, including personal or private information. This is especially prevalent through social media.
- Perpetrators of abuse may create fake profiles to try to contact children and young people, an adult may pose child to gain trust. They may also create anonymous accounts and engage in cyberbullying or trolling. People known to a child can also perpetrate abuse.
- On many platforms, children can be contacted anywhere and at any time through private messaging or notification alerts. This means it can be hard for them to escape from abusive messages or other upsetting content.
We will seek to keep children and young people safe by:
- Valuing, respecting and listening to children and young people
- Being mindful of the language we use when we communicate with young people
- Risk assessing digital activities with children as we would any other activity
- Choosing online platforms that are suitable for the project and that keep children and young people safe
- Being mindful of communication channels, especially between participants
- When working with under 16-year-olds, encouraging parental/guardian participation as much as possible
- Considering how personal information is shared, especially in a context where you can't be sure of everyone's identities
- Ensuring that consent is obtained for all recorded workshops
- Ensuring no adult is ever alone with a child one-to-one in an online setting
- Always ensure oversight from at least three responsible adults when working with a group of children and ensure that everyone is aware of proper channels for communicating concerns. This could involve (but is not limited to) other adults being present in online spaces or having access to records and chat logs
- Modelling good behaviour and maintaining appropriate boundaries
- Respecting the agency and expressions of children, even if their means of communicating them are not fully developed, whilst also explaining why there are rules about behaviour and activities
B. Online workshops, events and livestreams
To create a safe environment for children in any livestream we will take safety considerations into account, in addition to following our safeguarding policies and procedures.
For activities not hosted by Scottish Book Trust, we will:
- Familiarise ourselves with the type of content to be used in the stream and check it's appropriate and relevant
- Find out how the stream will be used by the host in future, in particular, if it will be kept for archive purposes and whether it will be broadcast as a recorded event
- Familiarise ourselves with the privacy settings of the platform being used and how to report any offensive or abusive content
- If children are participating in the livestream, make sure the activity is monitored by appropriate adults
For activities hosted by Scottish Book Trust, we will:
Before any livestream, remind children of the following, whether they are watching or participating:
- Live streaming is live, in real time. Any comments children make will be seen by others, and they may not be able to delete or edit what's been said. It can become part of their digital footprint.
- Children shouldn't share any personal information during a livestream. Remind them what personal information is and not to respond to contact requests from people they don't know.
- Make sure they know who to tell if they see or hear anything upsetting or inappropriate.
Be mindful that, even if a participating child can't be seen, there may still be identifying information such as their name, email address or a link to their social media account.
Ensure an appropriate level of staffing is present for any activity. Three staff members should be present at a minimum, though some events may require additional staffing. Giving each member a defined role, such as moderating discussions, or engaging with the audience.
Never reveal the full identity of individual participants and keep any identifying information private, and be particularly sensitive to the needs of those who may be at an additional risk, such as those from care-experienced backgrounds.
If the event is public, ensure to the best of our ability that people are who they say they are, and only include those who should be there. This can include asking the audience to register to watch the stream and issuing a log in and password.
Always ensure we use an appropriate platform for the activity, being aware that some platforms do not allow you to restrict the audience.
Ensure the platform has appropriate tools for moderating comments, questions and user names. This should include familiarising staff with functionality and available tools.
Be sensitive to the needs of individual children, for example those who may be sensitive to particular topics or issues that may arise during the livestream.
Make sure the platform we use is accessible to d/Deaf and disabled children.
Anyone working on behalf of Scottish Book Trust appearing in the livestream will make sure their surroundings and environment are appropriate – they should be in a neutral area where nothing personal or inappropriate can be seen or heard in the background.
C. Social Media
Scottish Book Trust staff
Certain staff members may on occasion, need to contact children through social media or other online communication channels. This section outlines a code of conduct for adults in this situation.We will always:
- Use accounts that have been authorised by Scottish Book Trust to communicate with children and young people, and never use personal accounts for work with young people-related activity
- Never contact a young person directly through any social media channel
- Turn on privacy settings on accounts that are used to interact with children and young people
- Use an organisational device to communicate with young people (in a situation where this isn't possible, managers should authorise individual staff and volunteers to use a personal device on a case-by-case basis and keep a record of this authorisation)
- Ensure all communications are relevant to the work of the project and organisation
- Use age-appropriate language.
Creative practitioners and delivery partners
Authors, illustrators, creative practitioners or other freelancers working on behalf of Scottish Book Trust may use social media for their own professional and private use. While this policy covers work specifically with Scottish Book Trust, it is not intended to cover all social media activity by those working on our behalf. However, there are some additional considerations that should be observed for those in that situation.
- Never engage in direct and repeat contact with children and young people through social media. This includes responding to direct messaging or posts.
- Be mindful of the other content on your social media and whether it is suitable for a younger audience.
- Be mindful of giving out information about your social media while working with children and young people.
- Use age-appropriate language.
- If a concern is raised by a third party, we will address this concern through the procedure outlined in section D of the child protection policy.
Legal framework and link to other Scottish Book Trust policies
This policy has been drawn up on the basis of legislation, policy and guidance that seeks to protect children in Scotland:
- Children (Scotland) 1995
- Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1991
- Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) (Scottish Government, 2018)
- National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland, Scottish Government, 2014
- Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007
- Human Rights Act 1998
- European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
- Data Protection Act 2019
Other Scottish Book Trust policies and procedures connected to child protection are:
- Working with Children - Risk Assessment
- Media Authorisation Forms and process
- Recruitment Policy (including Disclosure Scotland processes)
- Health and Safety Policy
- Data Protection Policy (including Data Sharing)
- Equal Opportunities Policy
- Bullying & Harassment Policy
- Email, Internet and Social Networking Policy
- Complaints Policy
- Whistleblowing Policy
- Significant Incident Reporting
- Social media guidelines
Getting It Right For Every Child practitioners summary – key practice points
- The wellbeing of children and young people is everyone's job and everyone's responsibility.
- Doing nothing is not an option; do not delay unnecessarily – act quickly.
- Ask yourself the five key Getting It Right For Every Child questions – if the answer is no or you do not know gather information to find out:
- What is getting in the way of this child or young person's well-being?
- Do I have all the information I need to help child or young person?
- What can I do now to help this child or young person?
- What can my agency do to help this child or young person?
- What additional help, if any, may be needed from others?
- Adopt a common sense approach.
- Good practice is to discuss your concern with the parents/carers and child and tell them why information is being is shared unless it is detrimental to the child’s wellbeing or interferes with a criminal investigation or other judicial process.
- Use your professional judgment, knowledge and skills – gut feelings.
- Seek help and support in doing so – line manager/supervisor or if your concern is one of safety follow the inter-agency Child Protection Procedures Edinburgh and the Lothians (2012).
- Share what you consider to be necessary, appropriate and proportionate – on a need-to-know basis only.
- Always share your concern with the child or young person's Named Person.
- Always record your decision and the reasons for it.
- Follow your agency's policies and procedures and your professional guidelines. Consider the alternatives and/or implications of not sharing information.
Find out more about Getting It Right For Every Child(this will open in a new window).
Appendix 4: further support
Signposting children for further support
Through Childline, children and young people can access a range of support including:
- Information and advice
- Online and telephone counselling
- Peer support message boards
- Therapeutic tools
- Childline website(this will open in a new window) or telephone 0800 1111
Further support can be found from:
- Named Person (often the Guidance Teacher or Head Teacher at their school)
- Barnardos(this will open in a new window)
- Stress Heads(this will open in a new window)
- Their GP
Signposting concerned adults for further support
- NSPCC (UK)
- Parentline Scotland
- Police Scotland
- The child's GP
- Named Person (often the Guidance Teacher at school)