Child Protection Policy

Storytellers of Ireland/ Aos Scéal Eireann
Child Protection Policy

*Storytellers of Ireland/Aos Scéal Éireann regret that there is not a statutory vetting system for all those who work with young people and vulnerable adults in the Republic of Ireland and will continue to lobby for this*

Policy Statement

Storytellers Of Ireland / Aos Scéal Éireann are committed to the promotion of Storytelling in a safe environment for all. Our Child Protection Policy is just one in a series of best practice policies we are currently working on. While SOI do not employ or hire out Storytellers we advise all story tellers to adhere to the Child Protection Policy. This Policy has been drawn up in line with ‘Children First’ The National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children.
In addition to this policy in promotion of safe working environments with children, Storytellers of Ireland / Aos Scéal Éireann also undertake to make members aware of any Child Protection Courses available to them and organize such courses from time to time for members.

Places where a Storyteller might find themselves working with children
Schools
Libraries
Youth Clubs
Summer Project Activities
Birthday Parties
Festivals
Workshops
Club Halls
After School Projects
Crèches
Hospitals
Detention Centers
Cultural Centers

Every Group Working with Children is required to have its own Child Protection Policies in Place. These should be available to anyone working with that group and you should feel free to ask to see them if you wish.
If in doubt follow the policies of the hiring group. Other Policies to ask for include, Accident procedure, Discipline and Emergency Procedures (in case of Fire etc.)

For the Hosting Group and Storyteller: Issues to be aware of

In the present climate of child protection awareness more and more groups need to be able to stand over the choices the make for their activity programme. They will be required by Boards of Management and organizing committees to ask certain questions before they hire any artist. Be prepared therefore you may be asked;

If you have attended a child protection course.
If you have a Child Protection Policy
For a references from places where you have recently worked. (It would be no harm to ask each school or youth group you work in if you can pass on their number as a reference should you be asked for one.)
You may be asked to sign a declaration form to say you know of no reason why you should not work with children

Likewise there may be questions you would like to ask the hosting group before undertaking a particular booking.

The age of the children
The number of children per session
Ethnic mix / religious mix / special needs
Taboo subjects (different religions or cultures have different topics the consider taboo for children)
That there will be a responsible adult from the hosting group present for the duration of your session or workshop (This is very important by law you should never be left on your own)
Any policies or procedures you would like to be aware of before beginning the session (Child Protection, Discipline, Accidents, Emergency et)

Code of Behaviour for Storytellers

Treat all young people as individuals, equally and with respect, regardless of gender, age, religion, ethnicity,
Involve the children where appropriate in decision making.
Offer constructive age appropriate criticism, encouragement and praise
Use material appropriate to the age and wishes of the group.
Have fun and encourage a positive atmosphere
Respect a child’s or young person’s personal space
Discuss discipline procedures with the hosting group before hand and be familiar with their policy
Never spend time alone with children. If meeting with children individually do so as openly as possible, leave the door open inform another responsible adult of the meeting
Do not use or allow the use of offensive or sexually suggestive physical or verbal language to go unchallenged
Do not single out an individual child for unfair favoritism, criticism, ridicule or unwelcome focus of attention.
Do not allow or engage in inappropriate touching of any form. However there may be unavoidable such as providing comfort or reassurance to a distressed child. Or in story drama situations. In all cases physical contact should only take place with the consent of the child.
Do not physically chastise children or young people
Do not socialize inappropriately with children or young people outside of structured organizational activities
Do not take children to your home
Do not take children alone on car journeys, if this is unavoidable do so only with the full consent and knowledge of the parents and someone in the hosting organization.
Do not do things of a personal nature for children that they can do for themselves.
Do not allow allegations a child makes go without being recorded and addressed

Reporting incidents

All Groups working with children should have a designated person to deal with any issues or concerns to a child’s welfare and safety.
Should you have a concern for any child you are working with whether because of their response to a story or the content of a story they created, speak to the group leader and designated person
In a school this would be the Classroom teacher first and then the designated person of each school
In a library speak to the organizing librarian
In a Youth Group the Group leader of the day and find out who the designated person of the club is.
The Designated Person from Storytellers of Ireland / Aos Sceal Eireann is Aideen McBride, (085 1605028) she is also available to guide you through the steps you need to make.
If you have reasonable grounds for concern contact the duty social worker for the area in which the child lives (SOI designated person has a list of all these numbers)
Be aware that a HSE social worker may want to talk to you to hear your direct observations or what the child said to you.

Do’s and Don’ts of dealing with Disclosure

It may happen that a child might make a disclosure to you, should this happen;

Stay Calm
Listen to the child rather than question them directly. Don’t ask leading questions
Offer them reassurance and take them seriously
NEVER PROMISE TO KEEP A SECRET
Explain (age appropriately) that you will have to tell a designated person and who that is if you know
In all cases record the concern in writing for yourself as soon as possible and in as much factual accuracy as you can. Leave out any assumptions or conclusions on your own part. Record what was said, or what happened, when and where it occurred, who was present and what action was taken
Go directly to the host Group’s Child protection Officer who will initiate the group’s own procedure.

Confidentiality

Information will be passed on a need to know basis
Giving such info to others for the protection of a child is not breach of confidentiality
Confidentiality re a disclosure cannot be promised to a child

Photos

Never take photographs without permission, be aware that some children are not permitted to be photographed.
Photos clearly identifying a child or children should not be used without the permission of the parents.
Printed Photo’s should never appear with the full name of the children included.
Where possible take pictures which do not leave a child identifiable form the picture.

Recruitment / courses web info re courses attended

All Storytellers appearing on SOI/ ASE Website are asked to sign a vetting cert to have their name cleared by Gardaí as soon as a procedure is in place by Gardaí to do same.
It will be marked clearly on Web entries if a Storyteller has completed a Child Protection Course.
SOI will advertise Child Protection Courses run by themselves and other organizations which members can attend.

Allegations against Staff

In the event of an formal allegation being made against a member of SOI, full co-corporation will be given to the authorities
Two separate procedures will be followed The Designated Person within SOI will deal with any issues to do with the child or Hosting Group.
The Chairperson of SOI will deal with any issues to do with the Storyteller
If the allegation as against the Designated Person the deputy Designated person should be contacted.
Following an emergency Committee meeting the member will be informed of the allegation and the nature of the allegation.
They will be given an opportunity to respond
Should a Garda investigation follow the The Committee will remove the member’s name and page from the SOI website for the duration of the investigation until the investigation is over.
Should their name be cleared their web the member’s name and page will be reinstated.
Should the person a conviction follow their name will be removed permanently from the Website.

Health and Safety

Never leave children unsupervised.
Provide a Safe environment
In case of an accident follow the policies and procedures of the hosting group. Let a responsible adult from the group take over.
Make a written record of any incidents for yourself with the time date and nature of the incident and response and give a copy to the hosting group.
Be aware of Fire Drill notices etc and should the fire alarm sound let the responsible adult from the hosting group take over, remember all such incidents require a calm response from all adults present.

Designated Person
The Designated Person for Storytellers Of Ireland / Aos Scéal Éireann is:
Aideen McBride, 8A Ard na Meala, Ballymun, D 11.
085 1605028 email ammcbride@eircom.net.

Deputy Designated Person
Pat Speight 087 8679943.