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Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy

1. Introduction

We, at SCIENCE OF LIFE STUDIES 247 (SOLS 24/7), are responsible and committed to taking all reasonable steps to prevent harm, particularly sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment from occurring; to protect people, especially vulnerable adults and children, from that harm; and to respond appropriately when harm does occur. This policy is enacted for the safety of all persons involved in any capacity representing SOLS 24/7 on any missions, projects and to apply to the safety and welfare of people involved in the delivery or receipt of SOLS 24/7 programs and development assistance.

A CHILD or young person means someone who is under 18 years of age, that is, has not reached their 18th birthday, we are working with directly, or the child of one of these young persons, or of another person, with whom we are in contact in the course of our work; where the needs of the youngest take precedence.

ADULT AT RISK – Any person aged eighteen or over who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and or unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.

REPRESENTATIVE includes but not limited to, a staff member of SOLS 24/7, a volunteer, an intern, a third-party service provider or anyone acting on the capacity or behalf of SOLS 24/7 in providing of any programs or services of SOLS 24/7.

A RATIONAL adult is an adult who has turned 18 on the birthdate and has the basic rationale of a human being to care for themselves or who can think to commit or omit to actions that produces positive results in physical and emotional wellbeing.

 

2. Scope of the policy

SOLS 24/7 representatives working directly with children and young people, Adults at Risk and any other representative of SOLS 24/7 are to adhere to this policy at all times.

The policy applies to anyone with whom a representative is in contact with in the course of work, who is a child, a young person, or Adult at Risk and any other representative of the organisation.

This policy will address the following areas of safeguarding:

  1. child safeguarding,
  2. adult safeguarding, and
  3. protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.

These key areas of safeguarding may have different policies and procedures associated with them (see Associated Policies).

This policy is reviewed, endorsed and approved by the board of directors annually, or when legislation changes.

 

3. Objectives of Policy

SOLS 24/7 is committed to achieving an environment which is safe for children, adults at risk and all representatives of all capacity by ensuring Safe staff, organisational ethics, environment, processes for working with service users and collection and use of information, and ways of communicating.

 

4. Principles

SOLS 24/7 is committed to the following principles:

To recruit trustees, staff and volunteers with regard to their suitability for work with children, including use of enhanced checks & providing all representatives and volunteers with guidance and training in their safeguarding role, and ensure they have access to our policies and procedures.

To work to support & be clear of the organisational purpose which is to reach out to, educate children and adults at risk and all representatives who are at risk, to promote the safety & welfare of children, young people and adults at risk in all our work, both directly and indirectly through our partnership and campaigning work.

Ensure quality assurance processes are in place to help in all safeguarding practices, take all suspicions and allegations of abuse, from inside or outside the organisation, seriously, and respond to them promptly and appropriately.

To treat all fairly, regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or beliefs and to take all reasonable steps to protect service users from harm, discrimination, and degrading treatment.

To communicate promptly and clearly within SOLS 24/7 and with external agencies, and follow the requirements of information sharing protocols in the localities in which we operate.
Keep good records of our work with service users and also of our management of staff’s work.
Hold service users’ information with care, and use it for agreed purposes only.
Have in place clear arrangements for how we would respond to concerns about how we implement safeguarding in practice within the organisation.
Regularly assess and review safety risks which arise from premises, activities, equipment and travel arrangements, as outlined in the organisation’s Health and Safety Policy.

 

5. Abuse & Neglect

This section defines the meaning of abuse and neglect towards any Child, Adult at risk & all Representatives.

Abuse and neglect are forms of ill treatment of a child, adult at risk and representatives which may be caused by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm and may occur through the actions of an adult or adults, or another child or children.

Where a child is disabled, injuries or behavioural symptoms may mistakenly be attributed to his/her disability rather than the abuse.

Cultural and religious beliefs should not be used to justify hurting a child. Safeguards for all children and young people are the same regardless of distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, social origin or physical, mental or emotional disabilities or any other status.

  1. Physical abuse may include but not limited to hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, causing self-harm or otherwise causing physical harm to a child or acts of deliberately inducing or causing ill health to a child, adult at risk or any other representative.
  2. Emotional abuse is the one off or persistent emotional ill treatment such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the emotional development through commissions, omission or words that harm the mental wellbeing, in ways such as conveying that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person, ensuring the frequent feel of being frightened or in danger, the fear of exploitation or corruption, witnessing the harm of another person, such as in the case of domestic violence, of the child, adult at risk or any other representative.
  3. Sexual abuse & sexual exploitation involves forcing or enticing a child, or any other representative to take part in sexual activities, including sexual exploitation, whether or not the person is aware of what is happening, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts, including non-contact activities, such as seeing or receiving or sending sexually suggestive emails or text-messages, or inappropriate behaviour in Internet chat rooms, involving children looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material of watching sexual activities, or encouraging anyone to behave in sexually inappropriate ways and whether it is for money or reward or not
  4. Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development and may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger, failure to ensure adequate supervision including the use of inadequate care-givers, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
  5. Bullying may be defined as deliberately hurtful behaviour, usually repeated over a period of time, where it is difficult for those bullied to defend themselves. It can take many forms, but the three main types are physical (e.g. hitting, kicking, theft), verbal (e.g. racist or homophobic remarks, threats, name calling) and emotional (e.g. isolating an individual from the activities and social acceptance of their peer group). There is increasing use of new technologies as a tool for bullying and such incidents should be taken seriously.
  6. Self Harming are individuals who harm or attempt to harm themselves and should be taken seriously. The self-harming behaviour in itself may cause impairment of health or development and in some circumstances present significant harm or the risk of significant harm. Self-harming behaviour may also arise alongside eating disorders and/or drug misuse.
  7. Domestic Violence is any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality which include any form of physical, sexual or emotional abuse between people in a close relationship. It can take a number of forms such as physical assault, sexual abuse, rape, threats and intimidation. It may be accompanied by other kinds of intimidation such as degradation, mental and verbal abuse, humiliation, deprivation, systematic criticism and belittling. The term domestic violence includes the term domestic abuse.
  8. Consensual sexual activity involving a young person under 18 years may not always be abusive in certain communities and in compliance to the Federal Laws of Malaysia that the age of consent is 16, however SOLS 24/7 defines a child as a person who has not reached the age of 18 on their birthday. A child’s or young person’s ability to consent can be impaired due to lack of freedom, capacity or choice; for example because of an age/power imbalance; because it is leading into sexual exploitation; because one person is in a position of trust with the other (e.g. a teacher); where one person is vulnerable because of disability or capacity; where the child/young person is in the care of another away from home.
  9. Child Criminal Exploitation is where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18. The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. Child Criminal Exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology. Criminal exploitation of children is broader than just county lines, and includes child labour, forced to work or to commit theft.

 

6. Prevention of Misconduct

SOLS 24/7 would take necessary steps, in upholding compliance and observance to the local and international laws, to establish precautions and ensure reduction of risks of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, when working with partners and alliances, in the following areas including but not limited to:

A) Recruitment of SOLS 24/7 Representatives

  1. ALL SOLS 24/7 representatives will have to comply with all terms and conditions and requirements throughout the recruitment process.
  2. To ensure the recruitment process of all positions within the organisation are in line with the primary objectives of effective, fair and consistent recruitment processes for all representatives. SOLS 24/7 would reserve the right to refuse any applications from any person who is deemed to be unfit or may seek to gain access to children, through SOLS 24/7 programs or activities and to ensure that those who are successful in their application processes are safe to work with children and adults at risk.
  3. SOLS 24/7 reserves the discretion to conduct a thorough background check on all candidates, representatives, partners in the following but not limited to checking and verifying of identity, employment history, a minimum of two referees, criminal records & original documents of candidates checked and verified; including the investigation into any gaps between jobs, candidate’s experience in working with children and the candidate’s suitability in working with children.
  4. Candidates are required to complete one or several of the following types of documentation: SOLS 24/7 Self-Declaration Form, Personality Tests, and to provide any other required documentation, while declaring any and all information required by SOLS 24/7 accordingly, answering all questions designed to cover specific questions related to child-protection or protectie of groups at risk during the recruitment processes and interviews at SOLS 24/7.
  5. Should there be any discrepancy, inaccuracy or fraud in information provided in any part of the process of application, SOLS 24/7 reserves the right to terminate and nullify such application.

B) Etiquette When Dealing With Children & Adults at risk

ALL SOLS 24/7 representatives are obliged to comprehend and obey the Code of Conduct that covers the rules of appropriate and acceptable behaviour when working with children. This guideline is outlined essentially to safeguard and protect children and to protect SOLS 24/7 representatives from false accusations.

All SOLS 24/7 representatives should:

  1. Clearly define, inform and communicate to the child & adults at risk and guardians alike what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and educate the child and guardians of adults at risk on how to raise their concerns on and about staff or others safely on any pertaining issues and to whom they can raise their concerns to;
  2. Be committed to creating a culture of openness and mutual accountability at work places and conduct a risk analysis when organising activities and programmes to enable all children & adults at risk protection issues, concerns and factors of mitigating risks to be raised and discussed and where any inappropriate or abusive behaviour can and must be challenged;
  3. Avoid working alone by ensuring compliance to the “two-adult” where they are always visible to others, and to ensure physical contact is at all times appropriate and not an invasion of the child & adults at risk’s privacy when working with them;
  4. Approach children & adults at risk with positive and non-violent methods to manage their behaviour and to raise and communicate any concerns of inappropriate behavior immediately to the relevant supervisor, assigned representatives, to the Human Resources department and if necessary to the Board of Directors of SOLS 24/7;
  5. Avoid any conduct that may be interpreted to be sexual on any and all children & adults at risk within or outside the organisation at all times;
  6. Adhere to the rules and regulations that have been set out and informed to all representatives of SOLS 24/7.

All SOLS 24/7 representatives (full time staff, interns, volunteers, etc.) must understand and acknowledge that any action or behaviour that poses harmful or offensive risk towards children or adults at risk at any point of time is totally unacceptable and intolerable within or outside the organisation by SOLS 24/7.

Any act of commission or omission by the SOLS 24/7 representative of any action and any form of inappropriate behaviour, must be reported immediately to the Human Resource department or any other immediate superior of SOLS 24/7 and be addressed seriously (and if necessary to involve local authorities).

 

7. Digital Media Etiquette

REPRESENTATIVES of SOLS 24/7:

  1. Should acknowledge that any information obtained through the representation of SOLS 24/7 in any capacity should not be retrieved, used to, distribute, or generate an income from, in any forms with any intentions especially to target any child or children as a whole.
  2. Should not explicitly seek to initiate, attempt to establish any form of communication with any child, persons linked to the child, through digital media, social media, or any other form of electronic communication besides the communications assigned to by SOLS 24/7.
  3. Should not respond to, entertain any form of requests made to proceed with communications outside the classroom settings, be it on digital media, social media, or any other form of electronic communication besides the communications assigned to by SOLS 24/7.
  4. Should bring to the attention of the assigned representative should there be any contact made to initiate communications, by any child or persons linked to the child, on the representatives’ personal accounts of social media, digital media or any other form of electronic communications through the channels that have already been briefed to all SOLS 24/7 representatives.
  5. Should bring to the attention of an assigned representative of SOLS 24/7 in any situations, should it arise, where the child or persons linked to the child makes an attempt to contact for advice, consultations, and a listening ear outside of the digital classroom settings.
  6. Must be aware that any form of requests, complaints, made, must be first brought to the attention of an assigned representative before commencing to provide the necessary solutions deemed fit, taking into consideration that of the communities beliefs and sensitivity.

 

8. Enabling reports

SOLS 24/7 will ensure that safe, appropriate, accessible means of reporting safeguarding concerns are made available to all children, adults at risk and representatives and the communities we work with when reporting concerns or complaints and will be protected by SOLS 24/7 Disclosure of Malpractice in the Workplace Policy. SOLS 24/7 also accepts complaints from external sources such as our digital users, partners and official bodies.

 

9. Reporting a safeguarding concern

Staff members who have a complaint or concern relating to safeguarding should report it immediately to their line manager, assigned representative by SOLS 24/7 or any other person in charge of the day or in a particular community or ongoing project. All reports made have to be in the method laid out as follows:-

Filling up the Safeguarding & Child Protection Complaints Form.

10. Intervention by SOLS 24/7

THIS section of intervention by SOLS 24/7 should be read as a whole and not be read separately when assessing to intervene in any and all matters related to children.

  1. SOLS 24/7 representatives should be aware of some of the indicators of abuse and neglect, on any child and any other SOLS 24/7 representative, linked to, under the care of, associated with any ongoing SOLS 24/7 projects, so that concerns can be raised, where appropriate and necessary. These signs and indicators should never be ignored, but equally they do not always mean a child has been abused, as other explanations are possible;
  2. Any form of injuries physical or emotional, varying upon every encounter, such as, distress or peculiar behaviour that vary in the child or any other SOLS 24/7 representative, fresh wounds or repeated, in areas that are unlikely for an accidental injury, with marks that are in any way away from the norm, inflicted or otherwise peculiar should be brought to the attention of the respective authority assigned by SOLS 24/7 and the assigned representative, and if need be, according to situations and circumstances, SOLS 24/7 would involve an authoritative third party and should the need arise for an investigation, criminal or alike, and SOLS 24/7 would comply with providing necessary information as requested to;
  3. Any concerns brought forward by a representative or child should be treated with care and highest confidentiality, questioned with intention to only establish facts, and should be brought to the attention of the respective assigned persons immediately without any hesitation;
  4. SOLS 24/7 is responsible and committed to acting upon and investigating disclosures and suspicions seriously and swiftly. At all times, the welfare of the child and any other SOLS 24/7 representative is of paramount consideration;
  5. All SOLS 24/7 representatives should take into account the sensitivity involving issues relating to children, adults at risk and any other representative of SOLS 24/7, within a community before raising concerns or bringing to attention any information that may cause harm physically or emotionally to the children and the community as a whole. Representatives of SOLS 24/7 should handle all information discretely to ensure the safety and welfare of all children and all parties associated with the children are not jeopardized.

To make a report concerning a member of staff or representative of SOLS 24/7 or a partner or a volunteer, SOLS 24/7 representative must lodge a report through

If a representative witnessed child abuse in the community or an institution, the representative must lodge a report to the police or local authority (police hotline number at 999 or Talian NUR at 15999).

In an event of an emergency where a child is in need of immediate medical assistance, refer to the nearest hospital emergency department urgently.

 

11. Confidentiality and Privacy of Children

REPRESENTATIVES of SOLS 24/7 should use this section as a guideline which outlines methods and conditions to be taken into account when handling the information pertaining to photographs, videos, and any other digital outputs relating to the confidentiality and privacy of the children.

SOLS 24/7 is committed to ensuring all interviews and footage of children are undertaken with sensitivity in order to safeguard the child’s right to dignity, confidentiality and privacy. Where possible, children should be prepared for interviews prior to being interviewed.

SOLS 24/7 will obtain consent from the relevant parties and guardians to use information obtained in interviews and/or images of children who have been interviewed should be obtained from children themselves depending on the age of maturity.

All footages taken on behalf of 24/7 by any representative, with children involved, in public or private, will be reviewed by SOLS 24/7 and should there be any inappropriate materials found, SOLS 24/7 would omit where relevant and to take action in line with this policy on the party responsible for producing the footage.

Any third party individual or organisation requesting the use of any SOLS 24/7 resource depicting children, such as personal information, videos or photographs, will be required to sign an agreement, background checked and be under scrutiny, with SOLS 24/7 as to the proper use of such materials. Failure to adhere to the terms would result in the termination of permission. Upon termination, all materials in possession should be returned to SOLS 24/7 immediately without any retention.
All information of any nature of children, obtained throughout a SOLS 24/7 representative’s involvement with SOLS 24/7 in any capacity, should not be disclosed to any one within or exterior of the organisation if such communication may be of a harmful nature or be of an invasion to the child’s privacy in any manner whatsoever. All SOLS 24/7 representatives are required to abide by the clauses laid out in the SOLS 24/7 Non Disclosure Agreement in line with this policy.

 

SOLS 24/7 means and includes Science of Life Studies 247 its holding, subsidiary and related companies Science of Life Systems 247 Sdn. Bhd., SOLS Smart Sdn. Bhd., SOLS Energy Sdn. Bhd., Social Empresa Sdn. Bhd.

THIS POLICY will be reviewed and updated on an annual basis and followed by a case to case self-evaluation.

For further information regarding our child protection policy, please write to [email protected]