JOSEPHITE CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
(NB : The two protection policies - child protection and the protection of vulnerable adults – were approved in English by the 2016 General Chapter but the French version presented to the Chapter contained some errors of translation and phrasing and was not approved. A new translation by Sr Agnès DMJ was presented to, and approved by, the Enlarged General Council of 2017.)
Every person has a value and dignity which comes directly from being created in God’s own image and likeness. Among other things this implies a duty to value all people as bearing the image of God and therefore to protect them from harm. This, when taken together with the care for children which was so evident in the life of Christ, is the inspiration behind Our Josephite Child Protection Policy.
As the young are among the most vulnerable human beings, the safety and welfare of children will always be a central concern and so the Congregation of Josephites welcomes its role in supporting children to achieve their full potential in an environment where they are protected from exploitation, abuse and maltreatment at school and when participating in parish liturgies and activities.
Fundamental to the Josephite Educational Ethos is the Josephite Family Spirit which encompasses the need of all to show Politesse and Douceur to one another and for Josephites to behave as parents (mothers and fathers) to the children and students in their care.
The Congregation of Josephites is, therefore, totally committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and requires all Josephites to share this commitment. We uphold the child’s right to protection, respect, care and encouragement in his or her spiritual journey through life. Consistent with these obligations, it is the collective responsibility of every Josephite involved, to ensure that participating children are safe and protected from abuse.
Anyone who brings concerns or allegations to the notice of the Congregation will be responded to sensitively, respectfully and seriously. All concerns and allegations will be dealt with seriously in line with civil and canonical law; national procedures; and in a timely manner.
Pastoral care and support will be made available to children and their families and to other relevant people where there have been concerns and allegations of some form of harm or maltreatment of a child;
The term ‘child’ and ‘young people’ are used throughout this policy for the sake of simplicity to cover both children and young people
under the age of eighteen.
Pastoral care and support will be given to Josephites during and after concerns and allegations against them are investigated. Pastoral support offered must not compromise any future enquiries nor put children at further risk. Any suspension of a Josephite from his ministry during the investigation of an allegation will always conform to the national civil norms and those norms found in canon law. Under no circumstances should the same support person be provided for the child or adult making the allegation and for the Josephite against whom the allegation has been made.
Prevention – Protection – Support
In our schools and Parishes:
• Include in the curriculum opportunities that equip children with the skills they need to recognise and stay safe from abuse.
• Establish and maintain an environment where children feel secure, are encouraged to talk, and are always listened to.
• Ensure children know that there are adults whom they can approach if they are worried or in difficulty.
All Josephites who work with children should act professionally and aim to provide a safe and supportive environment which secures the well-being and very best outcomes for children and young people in their care. However, it is recognised that in this area of work tensions and misunderstandings can occur. It is here that the behaviour of Josephites can give rise to allegations of abuse being made against them.
Allegations may be malicious or misplaced. They may arise from differing perceptions of the same event, but when they occur, they are inevitably distressing and difficult for all concerned. Equally, it must be recognised that some allegations will be genuine and there are adults who will deliberately seek out, create or exploit opportunities to abuse children. It is therefore essential that all possible steps are taken to safeguard children and young people and ensure that Josephites working with them are safe to do so.
The Congregation of Josephites accepts its obligation to support its school, parishes and those working with children in exercising their primary responsibility for those entrusted to them. The Congregation is therefore committed to encouraging partnership with all diocesan, statutory and voluntary safeguarding agencies to ensure it follows best practice in its schools and parishes.
The Congregation will:
• keep itself informed of research and policy developments in good safeguarding practice;
• regularly review and update Church policy and practice, taking account of the latest safeguarding information available;
• ensure that there are appropriate systems of accountability and supervision at all levels, and that disciplinary and employment procedures are robust enough to manage risk;
• ensure that all Josephites, lay teachers and other workers are carefully selected and trained, and that their training equips them for their safeguarding responsibilities in work with children;
• provide training and support for workers who have responsibilities for children’s work, so that they can undertake their tasks with confidence and without being unduly fearful of unfounded allegations being made against them.
Each country will have a nominated Josephite who is responsible for leading and managing the Congregation’s Child Protection Policy and its implementation. The role of the Safeguarding Representative is to ensure best training and practice in the prevention of Child Abuse and to liaise with the local Diocesan Safeguarding Commission (or equivalent) when allegations are made. Safeguarding Representatives must undertake training in inter-agency working before commencing in this role and undertake refresher training every two years. Safeguarding Representatives will ensure that all Josephites in their country have basic child protection training which is kept up to date by refresher training at least every three years.
Covenant of Care
A Covenant of Care is an agreement between a Religious Congregation and the local Diocesan Safeguarding Commission (or equivalent) which allows a religious who has (or who is alleged to have) committed abuse to live in the diocese. These written agreements are to ensure public protection and over the course of time they may be altered to take account of changes in the circumstances of individuals.
Where an allegation or complaint is made against a member of the Josephite Congregation who has any connection whatsoever with a school or parish, the same procedures will be followed as for allegations against other staff members in the school or parish. In addition where a member of the Josephite Congregation is suspended, he will also be required to live away from school and parish based communities during the period of his suspension.
Where such an allegation leads to the Josephite being convicted or barred from working with children by the relevant church or civil authorities, the Congregation will ensure that members of the Congregation continue to live away
from schools and parishes.
A single record for each Region/Province will be implemented giving a full history of child protection matters for that Region/Province of the Congregation will be given to successive Superior Generals and his General Council. This record will help the Congregation in upholding the highest standards of safeguarding.
What is abuse?
The recognition of child abuse is never easy or straightforward even for those professionals who work in this area. Nevertheless it is important that those working with children are aware not only of the different types of abuse that a child may experience, but also that a child may suffer more than one type of abuse. For the purpose of this policy document, abuse is categorised under five broad headings: physical abuse; emotional abuse; sexual abuse; spiritual abuse and neglect. Those working with children need to be aware of the general indicators of abuse, which can be divided into both behavioural and physical signs.
What is physical abuse?
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.
What is Emotional abuse?
Emotional Abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only in so far as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ridiculing what they say or how they communicate.
Emotional abuse may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may also involve: seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another, for example in domestic violence situations; serious bullying (including cyber-bullying); causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger; exploitation or corruption of children.
Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child but it may occur as the sole or main form of abuse.
What is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as the production of and/or the distribution of sexual images of children, looking at sexual images of children and, in the presence of children, looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet).
What is Spiritual Abuse?
This can include the misuse of the authority of leadership or penitential discipline, oppressive teaching, or intrusive healing and deliverance ministries. Any of these could result in children experiencing physical, emotional or sexual harm. Careful teaching, supervision and mentoring of those entrusted with the pastoral care of children should help to prevent harm occurring in this way.
What is Neglect?
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may involve failing to provide adequate food, clothing and shelter; protection a child from physical and emotional harm or danger; a lack of adequate supervision. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
Signs of Abuse
Children and young people often find it very difficult to talk about the abuse they are experiencing. So adults have a vital role to play in looking out for the possible signs. Although it is sometimes hard to be 100% certain that a child is being abused, there are some of the signs to watch out for:
• A child who is often bruised or injured
• A child who is often very withdrawn
• A child who is often very dirty or smelly
• A child who is often hungry, or under or over-dressed for the time of year
• A child who is often left at home alone
• A child who is often left in unsafe situations, or without medical attention when they need it
• A child who is constantly ‘put down’, insulted, sworn at or humiliated
• A child who seems very afraid of particular adults, and reluctant to be alone with them
• A child who has unexplained changeable emotions, such as depression, anxiety or severe aggression
• A child who shows sexual knowledge or behaviour that is inappropriate for their age
• A child who is growing up in a home where there is domestic violence
• A child who is living with parents or carers who are involved in serious drug or alcohol abuse.
In some cases these signs may have an acceptable explanation. On the other hand, this list does not cover every possibility and other things in the child's behaviour or circumstances may raise concerns that need to be addressed.
Guidance for Safer Working Practice for Adults who work with Children and Young People.
Guidance is provided for Josephites and those involved in schools and parishes to ensure that their behaviour and actions do not place pupils or themselves at risk of harm or of allegations of harm to a pupil. Examples of poor practice which can put adults in a vulnerable position include:
• One-to-one tuition in private behind closed doors
• Engaging in inappropriate electronic communication with a student
• Conveying a single student in a staff car
• Unreasonable use of physical force to restrain a student
• Physical contact without asking permission or in an inappropriate manner or context
• Joining in competitively while sports coaching
• Keeping photographic images of students at home
The Congregation will ensure this guidance for staff is provided through staff induction programmes and Safeguarding training to ensure that their behaviour and actions do not place students or themselves at risk of harm or allegations of harm to a student.
The responsibilities of those who work in Josephite schools and parishes
All staff should:
• Treat everyone with Politesse, Douceur, Respect, Honesty and Compassion.
• Be example for others.
• Respect a young person’s right to privacy.
• Provide access for young people to talk to others about any concerns they may have.
• Recognise, and allow for, the special needs of young people disabilities and learning difficulties.
• Encourage young people and adults to point out attitudes or behaviour that they do not like.
• Ensure that all teaching is done in a sensitive way taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child and in line with school/parish policies.
• Remember that someone else might misinterpret actions, no matter how well intended.
• Recognise that special caution is required in sensitive moments of counselling when dealing with bullying, bereavement or abuse.
• Respect the cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds of those you work with.
• Operate robust and sensible health & safety procedures.
• Ensure that teachers and others who are innocent are not prejudiced by false allegations.
• Deal appropriately with every suspicion or complaint of abuse. Staff should not:
• Permit abusive peer activities (e.g. bullying, racial harassment etc.)
• Have any inappropriate physical contact with young people
• Show inappropriate or age-restricted media to young people
• Jump to conclusions about others without checking the facts
• Show favouritism to any individual
• Be drawn into inappropriate attention seeking behaviour such as crushes or tantrums
• Make suggestive remarks or gestures
• Believe ‘it could never happen to them’
• Interview vulnerable young people on their own.