Policies for safeguarding children and young people

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This resource contains information which may be useful for performing care or advocacy work, or describes overall policy and principles.

This protocol is a draft. It has not yet been accepted as protocol and may be incorrect or poorly cited. Please do not use this in your work until it has been accepted.

Please see #protocols on Slack to discuss this protocol further.

These are the guiding policies QueerCare uses to develop protocol for safeguarding children and young people.

The bracketed numbers on the end of each policy refer to Principles for Safeguarding Children and Young People.

Treating Young People with Respect

  1. In meetings and discussions facilitators should be conscious of whose opinions are being heard to ensure that the opinions of young people and people from other under-represented or marginalised groups are not dismissed. (7, 14)
  2. Before commenting on a young person or on their work people aged 20+ should consider how they would feel if the comment they are about to give was given to them and whether it is patronising. (7, 9, 10)
  3. If a young person is expressing their opinions in a way that feels ‘old for their age’ or, conversely, ‘young for their age’ or ‘childish’ this should not impact how seriously their views are taken. People aged 20+ should ask clarifying questions to help them understand what the young person is saying and then treat their opinion seriously and with the same respect and significance as all other opinions in the discussion. (10)
  4. If a young person expresses an opinion that is contradicting opinions being expressed by people aged 20+ this should also be taken seriously and comments suggesting that the young person is ‘being manipulated’ or ‘doesn’t know what they think’ must not be made. (10)
  5. If a young person doesn’t know something or asks a question that seems ‘obvious’ to people aged 20+, people aged 20+ should explain/answer the question without commenting or making assumptions based on the lack of knowledge. (9, 10)
  6. Young people should be respected for the work they do in QueerCare and their involvement in other organisations or spaces should not be commented on unless it is directly relevant to a discussion. (9)

Organising Work - General

  1. People aged 13+ can attend QueerCare training and work within QueerCare. (1)
  2. QueerCare Young Folk have a private Slack channel which is not accessible to people aged 20+. They have separate email accounts and Signal chats for organising care, advocacy and internal support, which are also not accessible to people aged 20+. (2)
  3. People aged 18 and 19 can organise both in 13-19 spaces and 18+, as these ages are often transition ages between doing care for young people and doing care for adults. (1, 2)
  4. If someone aged 18+ needs to speak to someone aged 13-17 for QueerCare work and there isn’t an existing channel or chat to discuss in, they should message the person they need to talk to to ask if they are okay to talk in one-to-one DMs or if they would prefer to make a group chat with, for example, another person aged 13-17 and potentially another adult present. (4, 7, 8)
  5. When messages are posted on Slack or Signal about work people can get involved with, the person posting them should write ‘emoji react to this message to get involved’ or ‘add a message in this thread to get involved’, instead of ‘DM me to get involved’. (7, 8)
  6. Adults must explicitly ask young people about their boundaries (including around topics such as communication, communication platforms, topics they are willing to discuss, swearing etc) instead of assuming. These boundaries must be respected. (4, 8)

Organising Work - Care and Advocacy

  1. QueerCare supports people aged 13+ with care and advocacy support. (1, 2, 5, 6)
  2. People aged 13-17 must not do care or advocacy through QueerCare for people aged 20+. People aged 13-15 must not do care or advocacy through QueerCare for people aged 18-19. (2, 4, 6)
  3. Requests for care and/or advocacy for people aged 18-19 should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. It is generally preferable for requests for people aged 18-19 to go through the 18+ chat but in some situations it may be most appropriate to make a buddy group formed of people aged 16+ in QueerCare Young Folk and people in the 18+ dispatch chat - for example, some CAMHS and YOT services go up to 19, in which case it may be more appropriate to have advocates aged 16-19 as they are more likely to have experience in these areas, whilst other 18-19 year olds are in adult services. (6, 7, 8)
  4. People aged 20+ must not buddy with people aged 13-17 for care or advocacy other than in specific situations, eg. where specific knowledge that only certain people in the organisation have is needed or some cases of supporting people aged 18-19 as outlined above. In these situations, buddy groups should be at least three people - ideally, more than one adult and more than one young person, but if this is not possible, two young people and the adult. (4, 6, 7, 8)
  5. People aged 18-19 should generally not buddy for care or advocacy with people aged 13-17 unless this is unavoidable or necessary. (4, 6, 8)
  6. People aged 18-19 doing care or advocacy for people aged 20+ must be buddied by someone at least a few years older who has experience in care work, especially in care situations where age-related harm towards carers is a possibility. (4, 6, 7, 8)
  7. QueerCare Young Folks organises general buddy pairs of people aged 18-19 who are buddied with others aged 18-19. When these buddy pairs join 18+ care and advocacy dispatch chats they should be buddied with a general buddy pair of people aged 20+ to allow for skillsharing and support as they move from doing care and advocacy for young people to care and advocacy for adults. (12)

Organising Work - Protest First Aid

  1. People aged 13+ can attend Protest First Aid training and attend protests as QueerCare First Aiders. (1)
  2. When buddies are being sorted out for First Aid work at protests it must not be assumed that young people are comfortable being buddied with people aged 20+. People arranging buddies should ask young people if they would prefer to be buddied with another teenager. (6, 7, 8)
  3. First Aid experience level should not be assumed to correlate with age. (9)

Organising Work - Other QueerCare Work

  1. Young people can be involved in general QueerCare work such as logistics and admin. These are generally organised in public Slack channels and Zooms. Where possible there should be more than one young person and more than one person aged 20+ present in these. (7, 8, 9)
  2. Young people can manage and respond to QueerCare emails and messages on QueerCare social media platforms. If a message is received that a young person doesn't feel comfortable responding to, they should ask on the relevant Slack channel if someone else who is involved in this work can deal with it. (4, 8, 9)
  3. When buddies are being sorted out for specific projects or pieces of work it must not be assumed that young people are comfortable being buddied with people aged 20+. People arranging buddies should ask young people if they would prefer to be buddied with another teenager. (6, 7, 8)

Safeguarding Support

  1. There will be two Safeguarding Leads who are 18-19 and two Deputy Safeguarding Leads who are 20+. (3, 4, 11, 12)
  2. Safeguarding Leads and Deputy Safeguarding Leads must have a Signal group in which only they are in and which has disappearing messages enabled. (10)
  3. Safeguarding Leads and Deputy Safeguarding Leads must all have a Level 3 Safeguarding certificate. (12, 13)
  4. Safeguarding Leads and Deputy Safeguarding Leads should rotate every year or two years. (11, 12)
  5. If a child or young person experiences harm from an adult whilst organising in or doing care, advocacy or First Aid as QueerCare they should inform a 'Safeguarding Lead or Deputy Safeguarding Lead (whoever they feel most comfortable talking to). There must be a clear system for young people to communicate with these people. The person contacted should, with the young person's consent, discuss what the young person has raised with the other Safeguarding Leads and Deputy Safeguarding Leads. They should reassess what the person who has caused harm is doing within QueerCare and the conditions that enabled the harm to happen, to ensure the risk is mitigated going forwards. The Safeguarding Leads and Deputy Safeguarding Leads must ensure the young person is accessing appropriate support - eg. care from other young people in QueerCare, therapy expensed to QueerCare and/or support from outside services. (3, 4, 11, 13)
  6. Safeguarding principles, policy and protocol must be fully reviewed and updated every six months. This process should be led by the Safeguarding Leads and Deputy Safeguarding Leads with opportunity for everyone else in QueerCare to feed in. (15)
  7. Safeguarding principles, policy and protocol should be posted publicly on the QueerCare website/Wiki and all adults within the organisation must read, engage with and work to implement them. (4)

Confidentiality

  1. QueerCare recognises that there are many situations in which young people who are accessing care and/or advocacy support through QueerCare and/or who are organising in QueerCare may not want their parent(s)/legal guardian(s) to be aware of this (such as if their guardian(s) are homo/transphobic or if the support the young person needs is around abusive family situations). Parental/guardian consent is not required for young people to attend QueerCare training, work within QueerCare and/or be supported by QueerCare. (11)
  2. People doing care and/or advocacy for people aged 13-17 must make sure to have an explicit conversation with the person/people they are caring for about situations in which they would break confidentiality - for example, situations in which they would inform another adult, situations in which they would call an ambulance, situations in which they would contact the young person’s parent(s)/legal guardian(s) etc. In this discussion they must be sure to balance risks of breaking confidentiality vs. not taking these steps in different situations and what this would mean for the person they are doing care/advocacy for as well as what might be the consequences for the carers/advocates and QueerCare as an organisation if parent(s)/legal guardian(s) find out that a young person is being supported by QueerCare. (11)
  3. If a young person wishes to see records kept about them by QueerCare and/or to have these records destroyed this must happen as soon as possible. No records on young people are kept without their consent and all records are destroyed once they are no longer relevant and it is not likely that they will be relevant in the future. (11, GDPR)
  4. Conversations between young people and people aged 20+ must be assumed by people aged 20+ to be confidential and information including screenshots of online conversations must never be shared without the explicit consent of the young person. (11, GDPR)
  5. People aged 20+ must never post on social media about specific young people, even when this is anonymised. (8, 11)

Support Within QueerCare Young Folk

  1. QueerCare Young Folk will have general meetings fortnightly. (2, 12)
  2. All QueerCare Young Folk will have a buddy who is also a young person. People aged 13-17 will be buddied across ages and people aged 18 and 19 will be buddied only with each other. When young people join QueerCare Young Folk following training they will be buddied with another person who was trained at the same time as them. This buddy pair will form a buddy group with a pair of buddies who are already involved in QueerCare to allow for skill-sharing and support. (2, 12)
  3. QueerCare Young Folk have their own buddying Signal chats (for in-person buddying, arranged by location, and virtual and no-PII buddying). (2, 12)

Meetings

  1. Where possible meeting agendas should be shared three days in advance so that QueerCare Young Folk have the opportunity to have their own meeting to discuss initial thoughts first. (2, 7)
  2. In all meetings there should be the option for young people to have a breakout room to discuss their view together and be able to give feedback collectively if this is desired. (7)