Child Safeguarding Statement and Guidelines
The Longchen Foundation is a charity, which aims to advance the study and practice of the religion of Buddhism, according to all the traditions of Buddhism and particularly the Maha-Ati tradition. It provides a range of courses, publications and recordings, available to the public.
The aim of this policy is to ensure that protection is provided to any children who are present at or involved in the activities of the Longchen Foundation.
It can also be seen as an expression of the ethical precept taught by the Buddha: to avoid harming living beings.
The Longchen Foundation does not provide any services for children or activities that are specifically for children and there are currently no plans to do so in the future. However children are welcome to attend many of the events and activities of the organisation, provided they are accompanied by a parent of carer.
We recognise that the welfare and interests of children are paramount in all circumstances.
We recognise that partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers and other agencies is essential in promoting young people’s welfare.
We aim to ensure that regardless of age, ability or disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, socio-economic background, all children are protected from abuse whilst attending our events.
Who is a child?
In the UK a “child” is a person who has not yet passed their 18th birthday.
What is “child abuse?”
The world Health Organisation defines “child abuse” as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill – treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.
Types of abuse
Physical abuse, including hurting or injuring a child, inflicting pain, poisoning, drowning, or smothering.
Sexual abuse, including direct or indirect sexual exploitation or corruption of children by involving them (or threatening to involve them) in inappropriate sexual activities. Emotional abuse: Repeatedly rejecting children, humiliating them or denying their worth and rights as human beings.
Neglect: The persistent lack of appropriate care of children, including love, stimulation, safety, nourishment, warmth, education, and medical attention.
A child who is being abused may experience more than one type of cruelty. Discrimination,harassment, and bullying are also abusive and can harm a child, both physically and emotionally.
Guidelines for engaging safely with children in person:
Treat all children and young people with respect and dignity. Value children’s opinions and listen to them.
Do not be alone with a child where other adults or children cannot see you.
Do not invade the privacy of children when they are showering, changing or using the toilet.
Do not engage in intrusive touching.
Do not tease or joke in a way that might be misunderstood by the child and cause hurt.
Do not share sleeping accommodation with children.
Do not invite a child to your home on their own. Invite a group or ensure someone else is in the house. Make sure the parents know where the child is.
Do not give lifts to children on their own, other than for very short journeys. If they are alone, ask them to sit in the back of the car.
Do not allow someone who is likely to pose a risk to children to have contact with children (i.e. a known sex offender or someone who has disclosed a sexual interest in children).
Engaging safely with children online and on social media
Individual contact with under 18s online or using social media carries the risk of accusations of “grooming”; relationships established with a view to sexual contact.
Do not engage personally by email, text or online with anyone under 16 using social media, for example by friending them on Facebook or including them in WhatsApp groups or similar.
As a Buddhist Organisation, we may receive emails from school pupils wanting information about Buddhism.
Having answered their questions, do not engage in more personal correspondence.
Reporting concerns or allegations
All reports or suspicions about abuse must be treated seriously. They may include
- something you see
- something you are told by someone else
- rumours about a person’s previous behaviour
- behaviour you observe in a child and
- disclosure from a child directly.
What to do if a person under 18 alleges abuse
- Be aware the child may have been threatened and may be very afraid
- Look directly at the child.
- Keep calm and reassure the child that they are doing the right thing and are not to blame, even if they have broken some rules.
- Accept what the child says without judgment. Never suggest that the child may be wrong or mistaken. Your responsibility is to take them seriously, not to decide whether what they are saying is true.
- Never push for information or question the child. Let them tell you as much as they are ready to tell you.
- Be honest. Do not promise confidentiality; let them know you will have to get help for them but that you will try to agree with them what should happen next. This means that you will need to share what they say with others – on a need-to-know basis only.
What to do next
- Your first concern is the safety and wellbeing of of the child. Do not be distracted from this by loyalty to the person who has been accused or your desire to maintain the good name of the organisation.
- If you think the child is in immediate danger phone local social services or police straight away. A telephone referral should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours.
- Every person has a legal right to privacy under the International Convention on Human Rights; therefore, if possible, try to get the child’s consent to share the information they have given you, within the limits described here.
- However, if necessary, it is legal to report without their consent, if you believe they may be at risk of significant harm.
- All allegations and concerns should be reported to the Spiritual Director and the Trustees, who will advise on what action should be taken.
- Make detailed factual notes about the discussion as soon as possible, including time, date and location and keep these notes either locked away or password protected.
- Confidentiality, sharing information only on a need-to-know basis, is very important. Nobody else has a right to know about the matter. This is not a matter of concealment but is intended to protect all concerned.
- No sangha member should attempt to investigate a criminal allegation. This is the job of the police and to attempt this could prejudice a court case and put the person in danger.
- If the allegation is criminal, without giving full details, the trustees will have a duty to tell the Charity Commission that there has been a Safeguarding incident, that our charity has addressed it according to our Safeguarding policy and that the police have been informed.
Secure, confidential record-keeping
We have a responsibility for secure and careful record-keeping. A detailed record of all safeguarding-related incidents, as well as conversations and actions related
to them, will be kept either in a locked cabinet or safe or in a password-protected electronic file on our computer system. Access to these records will only be to one or two people
approved by our trustees.
Useful Contact details:
The Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board: telephone: 01868 815843 email: email@example.com