A report by the NSPCC has highlighted the key messages organisations need to be aware of, and act upon, to ensure the children who come into contact with their employees are kept safe from harm. Towards Safer Organisations reports on the findings of interviews with adults who had abused children whilst working in positions of trust. The report identifies the organisational factors which facilitated abuse and makes recommendations about policy and practice to help prevent child abuse within organisations.
The key message was that vetting and recruitment checks aren’t enough on their own to protect children from abuse. The culture of the organisation was found to be extremely important. A culture best placed to protect children from abuse is one where everyone prioritises child welfare, where everyone is aware of what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, and where everyone knows how to recognise signs of abuse and are confident in how to report concerns.
Factors, other than recruitment processes, found to be significant in facilitating abuse included:
- A lack of a clear messages about the organisations commitment to children’s welfare; basic messages given about child protection during interview or induction weren’t reinforced.
- Insufficient clarity about rules and regulations; in particular, expectations about relationships between staff and children or young people weren’t clear or enforced;
- Organisations appearing more committed to managing children’s behaviour than looking after the children’s welfare;
- Where colleagues had some level of awareness abuse was occurring they did not act on that knowledge. In some cases due to concerns that the perpetrator may ‘get in trouble’ over riding their concerns for the welfare of the child.
The adopting of whole organisation policies, procedures and training programmes focusing on child protection would help to address these factors. Child Protection measures and messages that are ongoing, and given value and priority by the whole organisation will help to change organisational culture. Training needs to be consistent with latest government and local policy and guidance to ensure organisations and their staff have a child focus to improve the prevention of child abuse.
For more information on training and policies to assist your organisation in its child protection practice click here