top of page

Child Safeguarding Policy

A. Purpose

CantoGather Education Limited ("CantoGather") is unwavering in our commitment to respecting, promoting, upholding, and protecting children's rights as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child at all times. We strive to create a secure and respectful environment that recognises the intrinsic value and dignity of every child.

This Child Safeguarding Policy is designed not only to safeguard children but also to shield Covered Persons from unfounded accusations and to maintain the distinguished reputation of CantoGather

B. Scope

Your responsibilities at CantoGather may directly or indirectly involve interactions with children. It is imperative that you adhere to the standards outlined in our Child Safeguarding Policy at all times.

 

Should anyone be found in violation of this Code, they will face disciplinary measures, which may include, but are not limited to, termination of engagement. Furthermore, if deemed necessary, the matter may also be referred to law enforcement agencies such as the police.

The guidelines provided below for acceptable and unacceptable conduct are not exhaustive. In the event of uncertainty or if you require assistance in responding to a particular situation, it is vital that you seek advice from our Child Protection Officer ("CPO") or consult an on-site supervisor when collaborating with partner organisations.

C. Definitions
  • Children: A child is defined as any individual who has not yet reached the age of 18 years.

  • Child-safeguarding: This refers to the comprehensive framework of organisational guidelines, procedures, practices, and responsibilities established to protect all children from the risk of harm or actual harm that might arise from the actions of the organisation's representatives, or as a result of its programmes or operations.

D. General Principles
  • Communication and Openness: We are committed to fostering an environment that encourages the sharing of knowledge regarding child safeguarding. It is vital that concerns can be raised and discussed openly without fear of reprisal.

  • Confidentiality: We treat all concerns and investigations related to safeguarding with the utmost confidentiality. Such matters will be shared strictly on a need-to-know basis, and all records and communications will be managed securely to protect sensitive information.

  • Timeliness: We recognise the critical importance of timely action in child safeguarding matters. Our reporting procedures mandate strict time frames for the reporting of concerns and subsequent responses, ensuring that issues are addressed promptly and effectively.

  • Compliance: All members of CantoGather must adhere to both our Child Safeguarding Policy and the relevant local laws. In certain instances, our internal guidelines and procedures may surpass local legal requirements, setting a higher standard of care and diligence.

 

E. Acceptable Standards of Behaviour
  • You are expected to interact with children with the utmost respect and dignity, irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, social background, language, religion, beliefs, disability, sexual orientation, or any other status. In all matters involving children, their best interests must be given paramount consideration.

  • Your behaviour towards children, including your conduct, language, and any physical contact, must remain appropriate and beyond reproach at all times.

  • You are required to foster a culture of transparency and shared responsibility; this is essential to ensure that concerns about child safeguarding can be brought to light and addressed openly. Additionally, it is imperative that you contribute to an environment where abusive behaviour is not only identifiable but also actively challenged.

  • Where feasible, you should endeavour to ensure that more than one adult is present during activities involving children to further safeguard their welfare.

  • In the event of an investigation concerning a breach or potential breach of child safeguarding protocols, your full cooperation is mandatory. This includes participating in interviews and providing access to any relevant documentation or information required to facilitate the investigation.

F. Unacceptable Standards of Behaviour
  • You are absolutely prohibited from engaging in any sexual activities with children or from using any device to access, create, download, or distribute sexual images of children.

  • You must never employ physical punishment or any form of physical coercion towards children.

  • You must always be mindful to avoid actions that could shame, humiliate, belittle, or degrade children, or which could be considered as any form of abuse.

  • You must not engage in any form of online abuse with children, which includes spreading rumours, posting offensive or embarrassing content, or engaging in sexualised conversations with children via texts or online.

  • You must not show preferential treatment to any child, such as promising gifts or enticements, to the exclusion of others.

  • You are strictly prohibited from being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any illegal substances whilst working with or being responsible for children

  • You should avoid being alone with a child in private spaces such as residences, rooms, closed spaces, or vehicles, unless it is absolutely necessary and/or you have obtained the explicit consent of the child's parents or guardians.

G. Identifying Child Abuse and Recognising Potential Harm

In your interactions with children, you are expected to remain alert to the signs of abuse. Recognising these indicators is crucial for identifying potential child abuse concerns and for facilitating effective communication with the child involved.

Harm can manifest in many different ways and is any detrimental effect on a child's physical or psychological well-being that results from abuse or neglect. Recognising the various forms of harm is essential for effective child protection.

The following list outlines different types of harm to which children may be vulnerable, along with some signs that may indicate a child is being harmed. This guidance is intended to help identify situations where a child may need protection.

Physical Abuse - Intentional infliction of physical injury or pain

  • Look for unexplained bruises, burns, or fractures.

  • Be alert to children who seem frightened of adults or shrink away from physical contact.

 

Emotional Abuse - Persistent emotional maltreatment impacting a child's emotional development

  • Notice if a child is excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong.

  • Pay attention to reports of a child being belittled or berated by adults.

 

Sexual Abuse - Forced or enticed engagement of a child in sexual activities

  • Be aware of talk of sexual acts beyond a child's age, or physical signs of abuse.

  • Recognise any reluctance or distress about changing clothes or engaging in physical activities.

Neglect - Persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs

  • Keep an eye out for signs of malnutrition, poor hygiene, or inadequate clothing.

  • Note if a child is consistently left alone or has unattended medical needs.

As a guide for identifying when a child might need help or protection, consider the following indicators:

  •  Unexplained injuries or a pattern of injuries.

  •  Absence or withdrawal from programs without reasonable explanation.

  •  Sudden loss of contact or change in communication patterns.

  •  Constant fear or signs of excessive vigilance.

  •  A child's disclosure of being coerced into marriage or other harmful family practices.

 

H. Addressing Concerns of Child Abuse with Sensitivity

 

When engaging with a child who may have experienced abuse or maltreatment, it's crucial to approach the conversation with care and sensitivity. The impact of your words on the child cannot be overstated; they can either provide comfort or cause further distress.

Urgent action is required under these conditions:

  • The suspicion of a criminal offence requires immediate reporting to the local authorities for investigation.

  • A child in need of medical examination or treatment needs prompt attention.

  • Removal of the child from an environment where harm has occurred is essential for their safety.

 

If a child confides in you about abuse, here are some helpful guidelines to follow:

Do...

  • Prioritise safety: Address any immediate danger or medical needs first and foremost.

  • Listen attentively: Allow the child to speak without interruption, offering your full attention.

  • Acknowledge their courage: Commend the child for their bravery in sharing sensitive information.

  • Keep a level head: Exhibit calmness to provide a sense of security and support.

  • Ensure privacy: Choose a confidential setting for the discussion to make the child feel safe.

  • Be mindful of personal space: Seek permission before making any comforting gestures, such as a touch.

  • Emphasise their innocence: It's critical to reassure the child that they are not at fault.

  • Clarify subsequent actions: Explain the next steps in an understandable manner, informing the child of who will be involved.

  • Document their words carefully: When filling out an Incident Report Form, record the child's narrative using their exact language.

  • Offer balanced attention: Remain available for support while allowing the child space to engage in normal activities.

Do not...

  • Inquire intrusively: Refrain from pressing the child for more details than they are comfortable sharing.

  • Make promises of secrecy: Be clear that while the child's privacy is paramount, you may need to share the information with other professionals who can provide assistance.

  • Display strong reactions: Avoid showing any personal emotions such as shock or anger, which could be unsettling for the child.

  • Denigrate the alleged perpetrator: The child may have complex feelings about the person involved, so it is advisable to avoid negative remarks.

  • Utilise complex language: Communicate in simple, age-appropriate language, avoiding technical jargon or adult expressions that might bewilder the child.

 

I. Handling Potential Incidents of Child Abuse

Should there be a complaint, the individual concerned will be treated equitably and in a manner consistent with the principles of natural justice. This includes ensuring there is no bias and that the individual has the right to a fair hearing. Investigations will be impartial, objective, transparent, and will seek external professional expertise and support when necessary.

To the extent practicable, CantoGather will endeavour to maintain the confidentiality of the individual affected, in accordance with legal obligations and the necessity of conducting a thorough investigation. CantoGather may need to disclose information concerning the allegations or the results of the investigation to the pertinent authorities, as required by law.

A. Response

  • If you suspect, detect, or witness any form of child abuse, you must report the incident while following the guidelines detailed in Section H.

  • You must also take appropriate measures to ensure the immediate safety, health, and well-being of the child involved and any other children who may be affected.

  • Should a child safeguarding report be filed, or concerns be raised, the person who reported the issue will not face any retaliatory action, even if the situation is ultimately found to be without merit. However, if a report is determined to have been made maliciously or with reckless disregard for the truth, the Board of Directors ("Board") will consider appropriate disciplinary actions. Any Covered Person who is the subject of allegations that are found to be unsubstantiated after investigation will continue to receive support from CantoGather.

  • In the event that an allegation of abuse is made against a staff member or a Director of the Board ("Director"), the individual's duties within CantoGather will be temporarily suspended. The investigation into the matter will proceed without the involvement of the individual concerned. This suspension will remain in effect until the allegation is resolved and found to be without basis.

 

B. Reporting

  • You must promptly report any concerns, suspicions, allegations, disclosures, and incidents of child abuse, including suspected child abuse or any other violation of this Policy (collectively referred to as "Reportable Matters") through the standard reporting procedures established by CantoGather.

  • All reports should be made in accordance with the reporting procedures outlined in this Policy. The process for reporting and addressing disclosures or suspected violations of this Policy is as follows:

  • Should the alleged incident occur during a programme associated with CantoGather, you must complete and submit an Incident Report Form immediately, and no later than 24 hours after becoming aware of the incident. It is important to include as much detail about the incident or suspicion as possible.

  • In cases where there is a high risk of harm to the child, or if there is a medical emergency, the matter must be reported immediately to the CPO. The CPO will then promptly report the situation to emergency services and/or local authorities if a crime is believed to have been committed or is suspected. Additionally, the parent or guardian of the child must be informed without delay.

  • Given the sensitive nature of these issues, confidentiality is paramount. All written communications concerning these matters must be marked "Private & Confidential" and should only be shared with individuals on a "need-to-know" basis.

C. Investigation

Upon receipt of an Incident Report, the CPO will conduct a confidential investigation to determine the appropriate course of action. The initial investigation should be completed within 14 days of receiving the report unless the severity or urgency of the issue requires swifter intervention. Following the investigation, feedback will be provided to the relevant parties, including clear instructions on the subsequent steps to be taken. If the incident involves partner organisations, their designated contact person(s) will be notified as well.

Should a more comprehensive investigation be warranted following the initial findings, the CPO will consult with the Chairperson of the Board ("Board Chair"). The Board Chair may establish an independent investigation committee to further examine the matter. The Board may also seek assistance from external experts as deemed necessary. A thorough investigation will be conducted in the event of a breach of this Policy.

Appropriate administrative actions will be taken to temporarily suspend any interaction or caregiving activities with the child and other children by the individuals involved. This measure is to facilitate the ongoing investigation and to protect the child in question as well as other children from potential harm.

The investigation process should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • The investigation should be carried out impartially, ensuring that conflicts of interest or roles are avoided to maintain the integrity of the process.

  • Throughout the disciplinary investigation, the organisation should refrain from subjecting the child or other children involved to repeated meetings, to avoid additional stress or trauma.

  • The utmost confidentiality must be observed during investigations to encourage witnesses and other individuals involved to provide information openly and without fear of reprisal.

  • If there is an immediate risk of harm to the child, or if urgent assistance is required, the Covered Person must contact local child safeguarding services without delay.

  • In the event that the incident constitutes a criminal offence, it is the responsibility of the Board to report the matter to the local authorities.

  • When the incident involves a contractor or partner, it may be necessary to inform the management team of the corresponding contractor or partner organisation. This should be followed up in due course to ensure that proper measures are being taken.

  • In cases where the incident involves any Covered Person, the Board (excluding any Directors who may be implicated) will determine the appropriate response, which may involve disciplinary actions or dismissal proceedings. Under no circumstances should any member of CantoGather enter into private agreements or compromises with the Covered Person in question, such as proposing to halt ongoing investigations in exchange for the individual's resignation.

Upon concluding an investigation, the Board is responsible for taking the following actions:

  • Report the allegation, investigation, and its findings to the relevant authorities, as deemed necessary based on the nature and outcome of the investigation.

  • Propose any essential revisions to this Child Safeguarding Policy and its related procedures with the aim of minimizing the risk of child abuse and preventing a recurrence of the reported incident.

  • Securely and confidentially file the child safeguarding report within CantoGather's records. Access to this report should be strictly limited to individuals with a legitimate need to know the information contained within it, in order to protect the privacy of all parties involved and maintain the integrity of the process.

CantonGatherWebVector_Subscribe.png

Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss our latest news!

Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page