Safeguarding of Children Policy
Beckenham Theatre believes that:
- The welfare of children is paramount.
- All children, whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious beliefs and/or sexual identity have the right to protection from abuse.
- All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
- All members have a responsibility to report concerns to the appropriate Child Protection Officer(s) (currently Fiona Vail).
To the best of its ability Beckenham Theatre Centre will ensure that children and young people are provided with appropriate safety and protection whilst on its premises.
A child is defined as under 18 according to The Children Act 1989.
Beckenham Theatre will hold a register of every child participating in workshops and productions and will retain a contact name and number close at hand in case of emergencies. Emergency telephone numbers, such as Social Services, will be kept with the register and accident/incident report book.
Promoting good practice
Beckenham Theatre will encourage the following:
- Always working in an open environment where possible (e.g. avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging an open environment i.e. no secrets).
- Treating all young people equally, and with respect and dignity.
- Always putting the welfare of each young person first, before winning or achieving goals.
- Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance with adult members (e.g. it is not appropriate to have an intimate relationship with a child or to share a dressing room with them).
- Making drama and productions fun, enjoyable and promoting fair play.
- Ensuring that if any form of manual/physical support is required, it should be provided openly and sensitively.
- Adults will seek the consent of the child prior to any physical contact and the purpose of the contact shall be made clear, either on or off stage.
- Involving parents/carers wherever possible (e.g. as registered chaperones or helping backstage/front of house). Children in dressing rooms and backstage in productions will always be supervised by a registered chaperone.
- There will always be a minimum ratio of 1 chaperone to 12 children for performances. Rehearsals will be supervised by 1 registered chaperone and another responsible adult.
- Being an excellent role model.
- Giving enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.
- Recognising the developments, needs and capacity of young people – avoiding excessive training or competition and not pushing them against their will.
- Securing parental consent in writing to act in loco parentis, if the need arises to give permission for the administration of emergency first aid and/or other medical treatment.
- Keeping a written record of any injury that occurs, along with the details of any treatment given.
Practice to be avoided
The following should be avoided except in emergencies. If cases arise where these situations are unavoidable they should only occur with the full knowledge and consent of a parent/carer.
- Avoid spending excessive amounts of time alone with children away from others.
- Avoid taking children to your home where they will be alone with you
- Avoid giving children lifts home. If absolutely necessary, ensure a parent/chaperone/Trustee accompanies you and the child’s parent has given verbal consent.
Practice never to be sanctioned
The following should never be sanctioned. You should never:
- Engage in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay.
- Share a changing room with a child.
- Allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching, e.g. children sitting on adult laps
- Allow children to use inappropriate language unchallenged.
- Make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun.
- Reduce a child to tears as a form of control.
- Allow allegations made by a child to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon.
- Do things of a personal nature for children that they can do for themselves.
Responding to suspicions or allegations
It is not the responsibility of anyone at Beckenham Theatre to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities. Further information regarding this is available.
Beckenham Theatre will assure all members that it will fully support and protect anyone, who in good faith reports his or her concern that an adult is or may be abusing a child.
When there is a complaint against a member there may be three types of investigation:
- A criminal investigation
- A child protection investigation
- An investigation by Trustees which may result in membership being revoked.
The results of the police and child protection investigation may well influence the disciplinary investigation, but not necessarily.
If a child confides in you that abuse has taken place:
- Remain calm and in control but do not delay taking action.
- Listen carefully to what has been said. Allow the child to tell you at their own pace and ask questions only for clarification. Don’t ask questions that suggest a particular answer.
- Don’t promise to keep it a secret. Use the first opportunity you have to share the information with the person with responsibility for child protection. Make it clear to the child that you will need to share this information with others. Make it clear that you will only tell the people who need to know and who should be able to help.
- Reassure the child that ‘they did the right thing’ in telling someone.
- Tell the child what you are going to do next.
- Speak immediately to the person with responsibility for child protection. It is that person’s responsibility to liaise with the relevant authorities, usually social services or the police.
- As soon as possible after the disclosing conversation, make a note of what was said, using the child’s own words. Note the date, time, any names that were involved or mentioned, and who you gave the information to. Make sure you sign and date your record.
Any suspicion that a child has been abused by any adult should be reported to the named Child Protection Officers who will take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child in question and any other child who may be at risk. Don’t ask questions that suggest a particular answer.
Beckenham Theatre will not tolerate bullying in any form, including physical, emotional, verbal or written.
Beckenham Theatre will:
- Take all signs of bullying seriously.
- Encourage all children to speak and share their concerns. Help children to speak out and tell the person in charge or someone in authority. Create an open environment.
- Investigate all allegations speaking to children separately where necessary.
- Reassure children that you can be trusted and will help them, although you cannot promise to tell no one else.
- Keep records of what is said (what happened by whom, when etc).
- Report any concerns to parents and Trustees, when necessary.
- If a child’s behaviour or actions are deemed detrimental to the well being, safety and enjoyment of others, their place in workshops or productions may be withdrawn.
Photographs and images of children
Photograph permission will be obtained from parents to allow the use of photographs in publicity for the theatre, including the internet. Children’s full names will not be published next to their photograph for any external publicity.
Taking photographs and videos is forbidden in dressing rooms.
- To avoid accidents, chaperones and children will be advised of “house rules” regarding health and safety and will be notified of areas that are out of bounds.
- Children and parents will be advised of appropriate clothing and footwear to the work that will be undertaken.
- If a child is injured while in the care of the society, first-aid will be administered and the injury will be recorded in the society’s accident book.
Criminal Record Disclosures
- Any director, workshop co-ordinator or member working unsupervised with children will need a CRB check. The society will ensure that information contained in the disclosure is not misused and is only shared with the named child protection officers and Trustees.
- Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and 1963
- Children (Performance) Regulations 1968
- Chaperones Guide (London Borough of Bromley)
- Recognising Child Abuse (London Borough of Bromley)
Beckenham Theatre has safeguarding procedures which accompany this policy. Beckenham Theatre Centre has a dedicated Safeguarding/ Child Protection Officer, who is in charge of ensuring that the safeguarding policy and procedures are adhered to.