It is not the responsibility of anyone from MAD Academy 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.
MAD Academy will fully support and protect anyone who in good faith reports his/her concern that a colleague is, or may be, abusing a child.
Where there is a complaint against a franchisee or agent there may be three types of investigation:
- a criminal investigation
- a child protection investigation
- a disciplinary or misconduct investigation
The results of the police and child protection investigation may well influence the disciplinary investigation, but not necessarily.
If a franchisee or agent suspects that a child has been abused by another franchisee or agent, they must report the matter to the Child Protection Officer (Sedge Gooding), who will take such steps considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child in question and any other child who may be at risk. The Child Protection Officer will refer the allegation to the social services department which may involve the police, or go directly to the police if out-of-hours. The parents or carers of the child will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the social services department.
Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only.
Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection laws (eg that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure).
The Child Protection Officer will make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended pending further police and social services inquiries.
Irrespective of the findings of the social services or police inquiries, MAD Academy will assess all individual cases to decide whether a franchisee or agent can be reinstated and how this can be sensitively handled. The welfare of the child should remain of paramount importance throughout.
Should suspicions of abuse concern those outside of the immediate MAD Academy class environment, franchisees and agents should again report concerns to the Child Protection Officer (Sedge Gooding), who should contact social services or the police as soon as possible.
If the Child Protection Officer is not available, the person being told of or discovering the abuse should contact social services or the police immediately.
Social services and the Child Protection Officer will decide how to involve the parents/carers.
To ensure the information for the police is as helpful as possible, a detailed record should always be made at the time of the concern arises, which should include the following:
- The child’s name, age and date of birth of the child.
- The child’s home address and telephone number.
- Whether or not the person making the report is expressing their own concerns or those of someone else.
- The nature of the allegation. Include dates, times, any special factors and other relevant information.
- Make a clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay.
- A description of any visible bruising or other injuries. Also any indirect signs, such as behavioural changes.
- Details of witnesses to the incidents.
- The child’s account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising or other injuries occurred.
- Have the parents been contacted?
- If so, what has been said?
- Has anyone else been consulted? If so, record details.
- If the child was not the person who reported the incident, has the child been spoken to? If so, what was said?
- Has anyone been alleged to be the abuser? Record details.
- Where possible referral to the police or social services should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours and the name of the contact who took the referral should be recorded.