Protection Policy for Children & Vulnerable Adults
The Southern Skirmish Association has a duty of care under English Law to safeguard all children and young persons involved in re-enacting with the Association. The purpose of this policy is to safeguard the welfare of all children and young persons at its events and venues by protecting them from physical, sexual and emotional harm or from neglect. It also intends to apply the same safeguards for vulnerable adults of all ages.
For the purposes of this policy, the following terminology may be used:
- Child means any person up to and including the age of 13 years.
- Young person means any person of age between 14 and up to 18 years
- Disabled or vulnerable adult means a person of any age with any medical physical or mental disability that impairs them, and for which they have been so Medically Certified.
The position of children and young people and vulnerable adults within the Association
The Association recognises children as either family or cadet members, but does not allow them “onto the field” to participate in battles. Those aged between 14 and 18 must have parental or guardian approval before they are permitted participate in battles.
All members covered by this policy may all participate in other events, such as living history, camping, parades etc. where it is historically accurate; where there is a responsible adult available and willing to supervise them, and where their parent, guardian or primary carer is in agreement.
Good Practice Guidelines
All members of SOSKAN should be aware of these guidelines, and are expected to demonstrate behaviour of an impeccable nature in order to protect themselves from false allegations, and assure parents and carers that the Association is a safe and conscientious organisation.
The following are recommended actions which should be carried out by all members, particularly adults:
- Always avoid private/unobserved one-to-one situations
- Treat all children, young people and vulnerable adults fairly and equally – do not show favouritism or special attention to any one individual
- Treat all children, young people and vulnerable adults with respect and dignity and acknowledge their right to personal privacy.
- Secure parental consent (in writing if practicable) to administer emergency first aid and any other medical treatment if the need arises.
- Keep a written record of any injury or incident that may occur, along with details of any treatment given.
Practices to be avoided
- Avoid spending excessive amounts of time alone with any child young person or vulnerable adult: always have other people present, or remain at least within sight and hearing of others.
- Never engage in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay.
- Never involve any young person in any hand-to-hand combat during battle situations. (This should be policed by ALL NCO’s and Officers).
- Never engage in any form of what could be considered as inappropriate touching (this includes being careful when searching the dead on a battlefield re-enactment).
- Never share a tent with a child young person or vulnerable adult unless that person is a family member or you have parental/carers consent (if applicable).
- Never allow children young people or vulnerable adults to use inappropriate language or behaviour without positively challenging it.
- Never make sexually suggestive comments to a child, young person or vulnerable adult or make such comments in their presence, even in fun.
- Avoid control or punishments which reduce a child, young person or vulnerable adult to tears, such as physical violence or aggressive shouting.
- Do not do things for the individual of a personal nature, which they can do for themselves (helping with clothing, toileting etc). Sometimes it may be necessary for members to do things of a personal nature for an individual if they are very young or have a disability, but these tasks should only be carried out with the consent of the individual and the parents/carer.
- Never allow allegations made by a child, young person or vulnerable adult to go unchallenged or unrecorded, and investigated by independent person.
- Avoid being drawn into inappropriate attention seeking behaviour e.g. tantrums, demanding behaviour and crushes
Incidents that must be reported to the Executive Committee and recorded
- If any member accidentally hurts a child, young person or vulnerable adult
- If a child, young person or vulnerable adult seems distressed by a specific incident
- If a child, young person or vulnerable adult misunderstands/misinterprets something a member may have done or said
Allegations and Suspicions
It is not the responsibility of any member of SOSKAN to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. There is, however, a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities. The Association assures all members that it will fully support and protect anyone, who in good faith, reports a concern that another member is, or may be abusing a child, young person or vulnerable adult (whether physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect).
Any member SOSKAN, who observes injuries which appear to be non-accidental, or who are told anything significant, MUST report their concerns to a member of the Executive Committee at the earliest possible opportunity. It will then be the responsibility of the Executive Committee to decide how to progress the complaint, by:
(a) taking such action within the powers and responsibilities of SOSKAN as they deem appropriate,
(b) referring the matter on to specialist agencies or the police if appropriate.
Where there is a complaint against a member there may be:
- a criminal investigation
- a child protection investigation
- an Association investigation.
The results of any police and/or child protection investigation may influence a SOSKAN investigation, but not necessarily.
Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. Information should be handled on a need-to-know basis. This includes:
- The parents or guardian of the child or young person who is alleged to have been abused, or the primary carer of a vulnerable adult
- The person making the allegation
- Social Services and/or Police
- The alleged abuser
- The Executive Committee of SOSKAN
Social Services and/or Police advice should be sought on who should approach the alleged abuser. Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people to conform to data protection laws.
The Executive Committee of SOSKAN should make the decision as to whether a member who has been accused of abuse should be suspended or expelled from the Association or otherwise dealt with pending evidence or a decision from the appropriate authorities.
The welfare of the child and/or young person and/or disabled person should be of paramount importance. However, any decisions regarding the member must be made in the light of accurate and fair information provision, not on unsubstantiated or malicious accusations.
Allegations of Previous Abuse
Sometimes allegations of abuse may be made some time after the event. The Association should act immediately, as above.
Information for Social Services/Police about suspected abuse.
The following information regarding the abused person may be required:
- Age and date of birth
- Home address and telephone numbers
- SOSKAN regiment, battalion and Officer in charge
- Whether person is making known their own concerns or is making it on behalf of someone else
- Nature of the allegation
- Description of any injuries including behavioural differences
- Details of any witnesses and any witness statements
- The abused persons account of what happened
- Details of the alleged abuser
- Any referral to Police/Social Services should be confirmed in writing as soon as possible
Bullying is a form of abuse, which is often carried out by the victim’s peers as well as adults. If bullying is suspected, it is important to:
- Take all signs or reports of bullying seriously
- Encourage all victims and on-lookers to speak and share their concerns.
- Investigate all allegations – never “turn a blind eye”
- Keep records of all that was said by everybody concerned
- Talk with bully(ies), explain the situation and speak about the consequences of their actions. An appropriate person should be designated by the Chairman (or any other Executive Committee member in the absence of the above) to speak to both victim and bully(ies), and their families if necessary
The main purpose of these actions is to prevent the bullying continuing, and to encourage the bullies to recognise the results of their actions.
In order to do this it is valuable to attempt the following:
- Seek an apology to the victim
- Inform and engage the bully’s parents/guardian in addressing the situation
- Encourage the bully to change their behaviour
- Keep a written record of all action taken