Child and Vulnerable Persons’ Protection Policy

Lift Ireland Foundation

October 2022

Introduction

LIFT Ireland is fully committed to safeguarding the well-being of all children and vulnerable people with whom we engage in a limited capacity as part of LIFT Ireland business. This policy on child and vulnerable person’s protection reflects the LIFT Ireland’s compliance with the requirements of legislation and good practice. LIFT Ireland is committed to promoting the rights of the child and vulnerable people.

Established in 2018, LIFT Ireland is a non-profit initiative aimed at raising the standards of personal leadership across all sectors in Ireland. As part of this goal, LIFT has a focus on raising the awareness of and abilities in relation to Leadership, among young people. LIFT achieves this by training teachers and secondary school students in how to run LIFT Leadership Roundtables with their peers and other children.

LIFT carries out this training, mainly online or occasionally in person at schools or outside of the school premises.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to adopt the safest possible practices to minimise the risk of harm, or abuse, to children and vulnerable people and to provide a guideline to staff & volunteers that will ensure the safety of children and vulnerable people. LIFT Ireland aims to create a safe and healthy environment for children and vulnerable people and is committed at all times to safeguarding their welfare as an organisation.

The objectives of this policy are set out below;

  • To foster a commitment to keep children and vulnerable people safe from harm and display a child safeguarding statement.
  • To complete a risk assessment of any potential for harm to a child and vulnerable person while availing of LIFT Ireland Services.
  • To appoint a relevant person (“Designated Liaison Person”) to be the first point of contact in respect of communicating and acting on LIFT Ireland’s safeguarding policy.

Scope

This policy applies to all LIFT Ireland staff members, volunteers, facilitators, contractors and consultants.

 

Policy Statement

Compliance with the Act

LIFT Ireland has a number of obligations as set down by the Children First Act of 2015 (the “Act”). because it qualifies as the provider of a “relevant service” in respect of a limited number of activities.

A relevant service under the Act includes any work or activity, which consists of the provision of educational, research, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to children, whether or not for commercial or any other consideration. Educational activities of LIFT Ireland relate to, for example, school visits, class roundtables and the onsite work-experience of second level students. Social activities may include, but are not limited to, events like a children’s Christmas party.

Commitment to the Protection of Children and vulnerable people

As the provider of a relevant service, LIFT Ireland has produced a risk assessment and safeguarding statement (Appendix 1). It has further nominated a designated liaison person to deal safeguarding issues.

Safeguarding Statement and Risk Assessment

The safeguarding statement (Appendix 1) is a written statement that specifies the service being provided and the principles and procedures to be observed to ensure, as far as is practicable, that a child or vulnerable person availing of the service is safe from harm.

The statement will include a written assessment of the risks and specify the procedures in place to address specific issues identified in the Act.

The purpose of the risk assessment is to identify any potential harm that a child or vulnerable person could suffer while availing of the LIFT Ireland services. It should be noted that ‘risk’ in this context is the risk of harm as defined under the Act, and not a general health & safety risk. LIFT Ireland has used this risk assessment to prepare a safeguarding statement that outlines how these risks will be managed.

A risk assessment is an exercise where LIFT Ireland examines all aspects of its provision of the relevant service from a safeguarding perspective to establish whether there are any practices or features that have the potential to put children or vulnerable people at risk.

The child safeguarding statement will be reviewed every two years and more frequently in response to changes in legislation or national guidance. It will be displayed on the LIFT Ireland Website(s) and it will be made available to all parents and guardians, Tusla, and members of the public upon request.

Designated Liaisons

The Designated liaison Officer is the member of staff appointed by LIFT Ireland to be the first point of contact in respect of the safeguarding statement. They are responsible for ensuring that the standard reporting procedure is followed when reporting allegations or suspicions of abuse. The designated liaison person should record all reasonable concerns or allegations of abuse brought to their attention, and the actions taken in response to a concern or allegation of abuse.

Please see Appendix 2 for a list of the designated liaisons.

They will act as a liaison with outside agencies and as a resource person to any staff member, facilitator, or volunteer who has safeguarding concerns. The designated liaison person is responsible for ensuring that the standard reporting procedure is followed when reporting allegations or suspicions of abuse to the Child and Family Agency (Tusla).

In respect of safeguarding training and information, including the identification of the occurrence of harm, the designated liaison person has completed the Tusla’s eLearning programme on the Children First Act.

Relevant Services

LIFT Ireland is considered a provider of relevant services under the Act because it engages in work or activity that consists of the provision of educational, research, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to children.

LIFT Ireland is involved in activities that bring staff and volunteers into contact with children, in a limited capacity. This primarily involves, but is not limited to, the holding of roundtables in person and online. When there is a scheduled activity involving interaction between LIFT staff/volunteers and children in another organisation, e.g. in a school, LIFT Ireland representatives will be guided by that organisation’s safeguarding; policies, procedures, and the direction of their own Designated Liaison Person(s).

Reporting Procedures and Responsibilities

LIFT roundtables are held on the assumption of confidentiality within the group at the roundtable. However confidentiality is not absolute. There is a duty to disclose where there is a concern about potential abuse,

The reporting procedure for dealing with disclosures, concerns or allegations of abuse is outlined in the following steps;

  • Where the issue has arisen at an external organisation, (e.g. a corporate/community partner or in a school), then person raising the issue should bring it to the attention of the external organisation’s Designated Liasion Person and follow their procedures.
    • The policy of the external organisation then takes precedence.
    • It is the responsibility of that organisation to make sure all participants are aware of the policy and how to recognise and report a concern.
    • If the person raising the issue brings it first to the LIFT Ireland Designated Liaison Person then the LIFT DLP must immediately bring the issue to the attention of the external organisation’s Designated Liaison Person, or relevant alternative.
    • The LIFT DLP must seek written acknowledgement of receipt of the issue.
    • On completion of the review by the external organisation if the LIFT DLP still has concerns they may independently report the issue to Tusla.
  • Where the issue has arisen at LIFT run activities, (e.g. in-person or online training/roundtables) the LIFT Ireland policy comes into effect.
    • Any staff member, volunteer, or other representative of LIFT Ireland who has received a disclosure of abuse, or who has reasonable concerns of abuse, should bring it to the attention of the designated liaison person immediately.
    • The designated liaison person must acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 24 hours of the report being received.
    • The designated liaison person must immediately assess and review the information that has been provided to determine where it has arisen and the next course of action. This review must be completed within 24 hours of the report being received.
      • The DLP must speak to all relevant parties
      • The LIFT Ireland designated liaison person may contact Tusla on a no-name basis for informal advice relating to the allegation, concern or disclosure.
      • After the review, the designated liaison will then take one of two courses of action;
        • Report the allegation, concern or disclosure to Tusla. The designated liaison will always inform Tusla if reasonable grounds for concern exist. The DLP must seek written acknowledgement of receipt of the report from Tusla.

          or;

          Not make a formal report to Tusla, but keep a record of the concerns on file. Any actions taken because of a concern should be recorded. The reasons for not reporting the allegation, concern or disclosure will also be clearly recorded.

      • The individual(s) who made the initial report will, within 5 working days, be given a clear written explanation of the result of the review including the reasons why the concern is or is not being reported to Tusla.
        • It is then open to the individual to make a formal report, directly to the relevant authority, if they feel this is necessary.

Contacting Tusla

A report to Tulsa can be made in person, by telephone, in writing, or by email. The DLP must seek written acknowledgement of receipt of the report from Tusla. Contact numbers for all Tusla offices are available on their website www.tusla.ie.

In an emergency, where Tusla is not available, and there is a concern for the safety of a child or vulnerable person, then a report should be made directly to An Garda Síochána.

When the issue arises at an event run by an external organisation (e.g. a school) then the reporting procedure of the host organisation policy will take precedence over this policy.  It is the responsibility of that organisation to make sure all participants are aware of the policy and how to recognise and report a concern.

In making a report on suspected or actual abuse communicated at or through a LIFT Ireland run event, the individual and DLP must ensure that the first priority is always for the safety and welfare of the suspected victim. Parents/legal guardians of the child or vulnerable person will be informed of the allegation, concern or disclosure unless:

  • Informing the parents/guardians is likely to endanger the child or vulnerable person.
  • Informing the parents/guardians may place the DLP or the initial reporter at risk of harm.
  • The family’s knowledge of the report could impair Tusla’s ability to carry out an assessment.

All records relating to any incident relating to this policy will be retained in a secure place. The designated liaison person will have access to relevant records when required. The retention of records will be in accordance with standard HR practice and LIFT Ireland’s data protection policy.

Parental Consent and Legal Protections

Parental Consent

Where LIFT service/activity is conducted at/for an external organisation (e.g. a school) LIFT Ireland will adhere to that organisation’s policy on parental consent.

Where LIFT service/activity is provided directly by LIFT Ireland (e.g. training or roundtables) then LIFT Ireland will seek parental/guardian consent for the involvement of anyone under the age of 18.

Legal Protections

The Protections for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 makes provisions for certain protections from civil liability of persons who have formed their opinion and communicated child abuse concerns ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to designated officers of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) or to any member of An Garda Síochána.  These protections apply to organisations as well as to individuals. This Act also extends certain protections to employees whereby employers may not penalise employees for forming opinions and communicating concerns ‘reasonably and in good faith’ also.

Any abuse allegation must be dealt with sensitively, and support and, if necessary, counselling may be provided. While the primary goal must be to protect the child or vulnerable person, care must be taken to ensure that the staff member is treated fairly. It is critical that a proportionate response is taken to each case that arises specifically because of the nature and type of abuse that could be the subject of the allegation.

Policy Review

This Policy will be reviewed by the Designated Liaison Person and approved by the LIFT Ireland Board every two years.

Roles and Responsibilities

Roles Responsibilities
Operations Manager ·         Policy Owner
Designated Liaison Person ·         First point of contact in respect of the safeguarding concerns

·         Ensure that the standard reporting procedure are followed when reporting allegations or suspicions of abuse

·         Record all reasonable concerns or allegations of abuse brought to their attention, and the actions taken in response to a concern or allegation of abuse

Staff members, facilitators, volunteers, third party contractors and consultants ·         Comply with all aspects of the Protection Policy.

·         Report any disclosures of abuse, or reasonable concerns of abuse to the designated liaison person.

 

Appendices

Appendix 1 –Safeguarding Statement

  1. Service being provided:

LIFT Ireland provide the following services/activities which may be accessed by children and vulnerable people:

  • In person and online LIFT Roundtables facilitated by LIFT staff
  • In Person and online LIFT Roundtables held by non-LIFT staff
  • In person and online Leadership Training by LIFT staff
  • Leadership Talks and Training

2. Principles to safeguard children and vulnerable people from harm:

LIFT Ireland believes that the best interests of children and vulnerable people attending our Service is paramount. Children are defined as anyone under the age of 18. For the purposes of this policy a wide definition of vulnerable people will be applied. It includes anyone who may be at risk of harm either from others or self harm or who may no longer be at risk but report past cases of abuse. Anyone concerned about another individual should feel able to report that concern to the Designated Liaison Person.

Our guiding principles are underpinned by best practice such as Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, Tusla’s Child Safeguarding: A Guide for Policy, Procedure and Practice, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and current legislation such as the Children First Act 2015, Child Care Act 1991, Protections for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 and the National Vetting Bureau Act 2012.

Tusla, Child and Family Agency website provides information for organisations working with children and families regarding child protection and welfare and the types of abuse or harm that children may be victims of.  This information is available to download at https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/

The key principles LIFT Ireland adhere to are:

  • The safety and welfare of children or vulnerable people is everyone’s responsibility.
  • The best interests of the child or vulnerable person should be paramount.
  • The overall aim in all dealings with children and their families is to intervene proportionately to support families to keep children safe from harm.
  • Interventions by the State should build on existing strengths and protective factors in the family.
  • Early intervention is key to getting better outcomes. Where it is necessary for the State to intervene to keep children safe, the minimum intervention necessary should be used.
  • Children should only be separated from parents/guardians when alternative means of protecting them have been exhausted.
  • Children have a right to be heard, listened to and taken seriously. Taking account of their age and understanding, they should be consulted and involved in all matters and decisions that may affect their lives.
  • Parents/guardians have a right to respect, and should be consulted and involved in matters that concern their family.
  • A proper balance must be struck between protecting children and respecting the rights and needs of parents/guardians and families. Where there is conflict, the child’s welfare must come first.
  • Child protection is a multiagency, multidisciplinary activity. Agencies and professionals must work together in the interests of children.

Our guiding principles apply to our management, board, all paid staff, volunteers, and students on work placement within our organisation. All staff, volunteers and students must abide by these guiding principles and our child safeguarding procedures. We will review our guiding principles and safeguarding procedures every two years or sooner if necessary due to service issues or changes in legislation or national policy.

3. Risk assessment

LIFT Ireland has carried out an assessment of any potential for harm to occur to a child while availing of our services. Below is a list of the areas of risk identified and the list of procedures for managing these risks

Risk Identified Procedure in place to manage risk identified
Potential for LIFT Staff or independent facilitators (who are not connected with LIFT Ireland beyond having

gone through LIFT training) to take advantage of children participating in the Roundtable groups and/or to be present physically with a child or children with no other person being present. This has potential to create an environment in which there is risk of abuse to the child and also presents a risk of accusation against the adult

·         All LIFT staff or formal volunteers whose role involves them having contact with children as a major part of their roles should be garda vetted as required.

·         All LIFT staff have undertaken Tusla’s online e-learning training programme, available at https://www.tusla.ie/

·         Other than in situations where LIFT Facilitation is happening in a family or school setting with a teacher acting as the LIFT Facilitator or otherwise being present at the time of the Roundtable, no LIFT Facilitator or LIFT Facilitation trainer should, at any time, conduct a LIFT Roundtable  or LIFT Facilitation training with a child without the presence of at least one other adult.

·         No LIFT Facilitator or LIFT Facilitation trainer should, at any time, contact children directly via social media, phone or other digital device without prior parental approval.

·         All contact should be through the child’s parent, guardian or teacher as appropriate.

Risk of harm caused by LIFT Facilitator communicating with children in an inappropriate manner via  social media, texting, digital device or other manner ·         No LIFT Facilitator or LIFT Facilitation trainer should, at any time, contact children directly via social media, phone or other digital device without prior parental approval.

·         All contact should be through the child’s parent, guardian or teacher as appropriate.

Risk of harm caused by LIFT Facilitator accessing/circulating inappropriate material

via social media, texting, digital device or other manner

·         No LIFT Facilitator or LIFT Facilitation trainer should, at any time, contact children directly via social media, phone or other digital device without prior parental approval.

·         All contact should be through the child’s parent, guardian or teacher as appropriate.

A participant indicates that they are/were an abuser or expresses a desire to abuse a child or vulnerable person in the future. ·         The issue should be immediately reported to the DLP who to in turn will immediately start a review and follow the steps in the protection policy.
Children may be left alone with LIFT Staff or volunteers.

 

·         LIFT activities never occur on a one-to-one basis with a child
Concern raised to DLP regarding the behaviour/actions of a LIFT staff member or volunteer. ·         DLP to immediately start a review and follow the steps in the protection policy
Concern raised to DLP regarding something communicated during a roundtable or training. ·         DLP to immediately start a review and follow the steps in the protection policy
Risk of a child’s vulnerability not being recognised by a Facilitator who is a member of LIFT Staff or child and vulnerable person safety protection policy is not understood by LIFT staff. ·         All LIFT Staff trained on their duties under the Protection Policy.

·         Protection Policy included in onboarding process for all new staff

·         Online resources updated to include details on policy and reporting

·         Printed materials updated to include details on policy and reporting

Risk of a child’s vulnerability not being recognised by an external Facilitator or child and vulnerable person safety protection policy is not understood by an external Facilitator ·         Where the roundtable/activity is hosted by an external organisation (e.g. school)

o   The host organisation’s safeguarding policy takes precedence and it is the responsibility of that organisation to make sure all participants are aware of the policy.

·         Where the roundtable/activity is hosted by LIFT:

o   New facilitators to be made aware of the LIFT safeguarding policy during training. Training updated to make them aware of and direct them to the LIFT safety protection policy and reporting.

o   Existing facilitators to be made aware of the LIFT safeguarding policy via the website and sharepoint site.

o   Online resources updated to include details on where to find the policy

o   Printed materials updated to include details on where to find the policy.

Participants, including Children may not know how to report a concern. ·         Where the roundtable/activity is hosted by an external organisation (e.g. school)

o   The host organisation’s safeguarding policy takes precedence and it is the responsibility of that organisation to make sure all participants are aware of the policy.

·         Where the roundtable/activity is hosted by an external organisation

o   Training updated to include details on the safety policy

o   Online resources updated to include details on safety policy.

·         Printed materials updated to include details on safety policy

No parental consent for child to avail of LIFT Services ·         For roundtables etc held by an external organisation (e.g. a school) then LIFT activity is covered by the Parental Consent policy of that organisation and separate parental consent is not required by LIFT.

·         For LIFT run services LIFT staff must ensure parental consent form are  signed before commencing service.

Designated liaison person(s) are not appropriately assigned. ·         Designated Liaison Person(s) appointed and contact details available online. In the event of the position becoming vacant it must be filled within 10 working days.
DLP may be unavailable or issue of concern may involve the DLP ·         Deputy Designated Liaison Person appointed and contact details available online
Designated liaisons may not recognise abuse or may not report a concern.

 

·         Designated liaisons have completed Tulsa’s e-learning programme on the Children First Act.

TUSLA or external organisation may not act on the report and may claim they never received it.

·         DLP must seek written acknowledgement of receipt of the report from TUSLA or the external organisation.

Appendix 2 – Designated Liaisons

Our Designated Liaison Person is Colm Flynn.

Their contact details are: colm@liftireland.ie

Our Deputy Designated Liaison Person is Anne Wilson.

Their contact details are: anne@liftireland.ie

Role of the Designated Liaisons:

The Designated Liaison Person in LIFT Ireland has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the child and vulnerable person protection and welfare policy is promoted and implemented.

The role of the Designated Liaison Person involves the following duties:

  • Be fully familiar with LIFT Ireland’s duties in relation to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people.
  • Have good knowledge of LIFT Ireland’s guiding principles and safeguarding procedures.
  • Ensure that the LIFT Ireland’s reporting procedure is followed, so that protection and welfare concerns are promptly and properly dealt with.
  • Consult informally with relevant authorities such as School staff, Tusla Duty Social Worker etc if necessary.
  • Where appropriate, make a formal report of a protection or welfare concern to Tusla on behalf of LIFT Ireland.
  • Seek written acknowledgement of receipt of the report from Tusla.
  • Inform the child’s or vulnerable person’s parents/guardians that a report is to be submitted to Tusla or An Garda Síochána, unless:
    • Informing the parents/guardians is likely to endanger the child or vulnerable person;
    • Informing the parents/guardians may place you as the reporter at risk of harm from the family;
    • The family’s knowledge of the report could impair Tusla’s ability to carry out an assessment.
  • Record all concerns or allegations of abuse brought to their attention as well as any action/inaction taken in response to these concerns.
  • Provide feedback to the referrer, as appropriate.
  • Ensure that a secure system is in place to manage confidential records.
  • Act as a liaison with School Staff, Tusla and An Garda Síochána, as appropriate.

 

Appendix 3 – Parental Consent Form

Parental Consent for LIFT Ireland events

 

Event:   ______________________________________________

Date(s): _______________________

LIFT Person In Charge: ______________________________________________

Participants Details

Name: ______________________________________________

Address:_______________________________________________________________________

Date of Birth:     _______________________

Necessary information (e.g. Medical requirements)

I confirm that I have given consent for my child named above to attend the above event.

Parent/Guardian Name: (Block Capitals) _________________________________

Parent/Guardian Signature: ___________________________________________

Contact Telephone: _______________________

Contact Email: _______________________

 

Appendix 4

Types of abuse and how they may be recognised

Child abuse occurs when the behaviour of someone in a position of greater power than a child causes the child harm. As children can be abused in a number of ways, sometimes at the same time, it is not always easy to categorise it, but four broad definitions can be considered and may be briefly summarised as neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse.

Definitions of the four types of abuse and how to recognise abuse are detailed below and are based on Children First – National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children. However, no one indicator should be seen as conclusive in itself of abuse. It may indicate conditions other than child abuse. All signs and symptoms must be examined in the context of the child’s situation and family circumstances.

The following examples would constitute reasonable grounds of concern2 (taken from Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children, Section 2.2):

  • Evidence, for example an injury or behaviour, that is consistent with abuse and is unlikely to have been caused in any other way
  • Any concern about possible sexual abuse
  • Consistent signs that a child is suffering from emotional or physical neglect
  • A child saying or indicating by other means that he or she has been abused
  • Admission or indication by an adult or a child of an alleged abuse they committed
  • An account from a person who saw the child being abused

The ability to recognise child abuse can depend as much on a person’s willingness to accept the possibility of its existence as it does on their knowledge and information. There are commonly three stages in the identification of child abuse:

  • Considering the possibility,
    • The possibility of child abuse should be considered if a child appears to have suffered a suspicious injury for which no reasonable explanation can be offered. It should also be considered if the child seems distressed without obvious reason or displays persistent or new behavioural problems. The possibility of child abuse should also be considered if the child displays unusual or fearful responses to parents/carers.
  • Looking out for signs of abuse,
    • Signs of abuse can be physical, behavioural or developmental. They can exist in the relationship between children and parents/carers, between children and other family members/other persons and amongst their peers. A cluster or pattern of signs is likely to be more indicative of abuse. Children who are being abused may hint that they are being harmed and sometimes make direct disclosures. Disclosures should always be believed. Most signs of abuse are non-specific and must be considered in the child’s social and family context. It is important to always be open to alternative explanations for physical or behavioural signs of abuse. Sometimes a specialist assessment may be required to clarify if particular concerns constitute abuse.
  • Recording of information.
    • If abuse is suspected, it is important to establish the grounds for concern by obtaining as much detailed information as possible. Observations should be accurately recorded and should include dates, times, names, locations, context and any other information that may be relevant. This information should be communicated to the appropriate DLP as soon as possible and without delay. If the event has taken place at an external organisation running LIFT roundtables (e.g. a school or corporate partner) then the DLP of that organisation should be contacted. If it is an event hosted by LIFT Ireland then the LIFT Ireland DLP should be contacted.

Definition and recognition of Child Abuse

Based on “Children First; National guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017”

Child abuse can be categorised into four different types: neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. A child may be subjected to one or more forms of abuse at any given time. Abuse and neglect can occur within the family, in the community or in an institutional setting. The abuser may be someone known to the child or a stranger, and can be an adult or another child. In a situation where abuse is alleged to have been carried out by another child, you should consider it a child welfare and protection issue for both children and you should follow child protection procedures for both the victim and the alleged abuser.

The important factor in deciding whether the behaviour is abuse or neglect is the impact of that behaviour on the child rather than the intention of the parent/carer.

The definitions of neglect and abuse presented in this section are not legal definitions. They are intended to describe ways in which a child might experience abuse and how this abuse may be recognised.

NEGLECT

Child neglect is the most frequently reported category of abuse, both in Ireland and internationally. Ongoing chronic neglect is recognised as being extremely harmful to the development and well-being of the child and may have serious long-term negative consequences.

Neglect occurs when a child does not receive adequate care or supervision to the extent that the child is harmed physically or developmentally. It is generally defined in terms of an omission of care, where a child’s health, development or welfare is impaired by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, medical care, intellectual stimulation or supervision and safety. Emotional neglect may also lead to the child having attachment difficulties. The extent of the damage to the child’s health, development or welfare is influenced by a range of factors. These factors include the extent, if any, of positive influence in the child’s life as well as the age of the child and the frequency and consistency of neglect.

Neglect is associated with poverty but not necessarily caused by it. It is strongly linked to parental substance misuse, domestic violence, and parental mental illness and disability.

A reasonable concern for the child’s welfare would exist when neglect becomes typical of the relationship between the child and the parent or carer. This may become apparent where you see the child over a period of time, or the effects of neglect may be obvious based on having seen the child once.

The following are features of child neglect:

  • Children being left alone without adequate care and supervision
  • Malnourishment, lacking food, unsuitable food or erratic feeding
  • Non-organic failure to thrive, i.e. a child not gaining weight due not only to malnutrition but also emotional deprivation
  • Failure to provide adequate care for the child’s medical and developmental needs, including intellectual stimulation
  • Inadequate living conditions – unhygienic conditions, environmental issues, including lack of adequate heating and furniture
  • Lack of adequate clothing
  • Inattention to basic hygiene
  • Lack of protection and exposure to danger, including moral danger,
  • or lack of supervision appropriate to the child’s age
  • Persistent failure to attend school
  • Abandonment or desertion

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is the systematic emotional or psychological ill-treatment of a child as part of the overall relationship between a caregiver and a child. Once-off and occasional difficulties between a parent/carer and child are not considered emotional abuse. Abuse occurs when a child’s basic need for attention, affection, approval, consistency and security are not met, due to incapacity or indifference from their parent or caregiver. Emotional abuse can also occur when adults responsible for taking care of children are unaware of and unable (for a range of reasons) to meet their children’s emotional and developmental needs. Emotional abuse is not easy to recognise because the effects are not easily seen.relationship between the child and the parent or carer. This may become apparent where you see the child over a period of time, or the effects of neglect may be obvious based on having seen the child once.

A reasonable concern for the child’s welfare would exist when the behaviour becomes typical of the relationship between the child and the parent or carer.

Emotional abuse may be seen in some of the following ways:

  • Rejection
  • Lack of comfort and love
  • Lack of attachment
  • Lack of proper stimulation (e.g. fun and play)
  • Lack of continuity of care (e.g. frequent moves, particularly unplanned)
  • Continuous lack of praise and encouragement
  • Bullying
  • Conditional parenting in which care or affection of a child depends on his or her behaviours or actions
  • Extreme overprotectiveness
  • Inappropriate non-physical punishment (e.g. locking child in bedroom)
  • Ongoing family conflicts and family violence
  • Seriously inappropriate expectations of a child relative to his/her age and stage of development

There may be no physical signs of emotional abuse unless it occurs with another type of abuse. A child may show signs of emotional abuse through their actions or emotions in several ways. These include insecure attachment, unhappiness, low self-esteem, educational and developmental underachievement, risk taking and aggressive behaviour.

It should be noted that no one indicator is conclusive evidence of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is more likely to impact negatively on a child where it is persistent over time and where there is a lack of other protective factors. A reasonable concern for the child’s welfare would exist when the behaviour becomes typical of the relationship between the child and the parent or carer.

PHYSICAL ABUSE

Physical abuse is when someone deliberately hurts a child physically or puts them at risk of being physically hurt. It may occur as a single incident or as a pattern of incidents. A reasonable concern exists where the child’s health and/ or development is, may be, or has been damaged as a result of suspected physical abuse.

  • Physical abuse can include the following:
  • Physical punishment
  • Beating, slapping, hitting or kicking
  • Pushing, shaking or throwing
  • Pinching, biting, choking or hair-pulling
  • Use of excessive force in handling
  • Deliberate poisoning
  • Suffocation
  • Fabricated/induced illness
  • Female genital mutilation

The Children First Act 2015 includes a provision that abolishes the common law defence of reasonable chastisement in court proceedings. This defence could previously be invoked by a parent or other person in authority who physically disciplined a child. The change in the legislation now means that in prosecutions relating to assault or physical cruelty, a person who administers such punishment to a child cannot rely on the defence of reasonable chastisement in the legal proceedings. The result of this is that the protections in law relating to assault now apply to a child in the same way as they do to an adult.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for his or her gratification or arousal, or for that of others. It includes the child being involved in sexual acts (masturbation, fondling, oral or penetrative sex) or exposing the child to sexual activity directly or through pornography. Child sexual abuse may cover a wide spectrum of abusive activities. It rarely involves just a single incident and in some instances occurs over a number of years. Child sexual abuse most commonly happens within the family, including older siblings and extended family members. Cases of sexual abuse mainly come to light through disclosure by the child or his or her siblings/friends, from the suspicions of an adult, and/or by physical symptoms.

It should be remembered that sexual activity involving a young person may be sexual abuse even if the young person concerned does not themselves recognise it as abusive.

Examples of child sexual abuse include the following:

  • Any sexual act intentionally performed in the presence of a child
  • An invitation to sexual touching or intentional touching or molesting of a child’s body whether by a person or object for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification
  • Masturbation in the presence of a child or the involvement of a child in an act of masturbation
  • Sexual intercourse with a child, whether oral, vaginal or anal
  • Sexual exploitation of a child, which includes:
    • Inviting, inducing or coercing a child to engage in prostitution or the production of child pornography [for example, exhibition, modelling or posing for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification or sexual act, including its recording (on film, videotape or other media) or the manipulation, for those purposes, of an image by computer or other means).
    • Inviting, coercing or inducing a child to participate in, or to observe, any sexual, indecent or obscene act
    • Showing sexually explicit material to children, which is often a feature of the ‘grooming’ process by perpetrators of abuse
    • Exposing a child to inappropriate or abusive material through information and communication technology
    • Consensual sexual activity involving an adult and an underage person

An Garda Síochána will deal with any criminal aspects of a sexual abuse case under the relevant criminal justice legislation. The prosecution of a sexual offence against a child will be considered within the wider objective of child welfare and protection. The safety of the child is paramount and at no stage should a child’s safety be compromised because of concern for the integrity of a criminal investigation.

In relation to child sexual abuse, it should be noted that in criminal law the age of consent to sexual intercourse is 17 years for both boys and girls. Any sexual relationship where one or both parties are under the age of 17 is illegal. However, it may not necessarily be regarded as child sexual abuse. Details on exemptions for mandated reporting of certain cases of underage consensual sexual activity can be found in Chapter 3 of Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children.

Address

LIFT Ireland
16 Fitzwilliam Street
Dublin 2 | Ireland

Connect

ABOUT

LIFT Ireland Is A Social Enterprise Initiative Aimed At Increasing The Level Of Positive Leadership Capabilities In Ireland.

CRM Direct

CONTACT US AT
  • Dublin | Ireland
  • info@liftireland.ie
Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Copyright LIFT Ireland 2022. All Rights Reserved

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Youtube
Consent to display content from Youtube
Vimeo
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google