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CHCPRT001 – Identify and respond to children and young people at risk
Mandatory reporting is the legal requirement for a particular class of occupations to report on reasonable grounds that there has been sexual, emotional or physical abuse or neglect against a child. Extending the moral responsibility to the wider community helps spread the duty of care for children allowing more cases to be reported and making a bigger contribution towards child protection and family welfare.
The requirements across the states and territories of Australia differ in what is legally required to be reported and whom is legally required to make the report, but the protection and duty of care for all children should be upheld no matter where you work or who you are.
Attached is a summarised table outlining the requirements throughout Australia.
The code of ethics are principals that govern and give guidance to professional and personal decisions made by employees within an organisation. The code outlines ethical and accountable behaviour to ensure everyone is treated with respect, trust and dignity.
Although the code develops an understanding of what is expected behaviour in the workplace, decisions you make out of normal working hours may still be seen as misconduct if it negatively impacts upon your ability to perform your work and make objective decisions. Negative behaviour out of working hours may also misconstrue how you are seen professionally amongst your peers and management.
Codes of ethics are usually formed into two groups. The ‘values’ outline how to behave with social justice and the ‘principles’ are how you conduct yourself with responsibility in the workplace.
The Government of Western Australia Department of Education adopts the following framework.
Values to strive for are under the following headings of Learning, Excellence, Equity and Care. Learning and excellence encompasses the belief that all children have the right and ability to learn and should always be expected to do their best and be taught with the best intentions. Equity provides the understanding that everyone is free from discrimination and abuse and the rights of the child are upheld. Care is based on the trust, respect and responsibility you have for the welfare of the children in your care.
The principles of the code recognise personal behaviour that treats everyone with integrity, respect, honesty and fairness and where any decisions made are done promptly and objectively. Official information is collected and used confidentially and by law and any behaviour is neither fraudulent or corrupt. Resources of the state are used responsibly and any information is properly recorded, managed and maintained. Last, but importantly, is to ensure that private matters cause no conflict of interest or influence any professional decisions or actions.
Although all organisations differ in what they are providing to the community, the code of ethics of all companies strive to achieve an outcome of personal best and the responsibility of the greater good of mankind striving to achieve a harmonious world.
The Rights of the Child is proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations to recognise that every child should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding. The rights of a child underpin everything that we do and are incorporated into organisational policies so that they are upheld and given special protection due to their vulnerability and innocence.
1. Free from discrimination including race, religion, beliefs, opinions, socio-economic background, gender or disability.
2. Free from physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.
3. The right to be provided with health care, water, food and a safe environment.
4. The right to an education to learn and foster abilities and learn to live harmoniously within the environment and communities.
5. The right to be protected and receive help if they have been hurt or harmed.
If you observe a physical indicator that you believe suggests a possible case of abuse you should always report and disclose the information confidentially, as bound by your duty of care. It is your responsibility to protect the rights of a child by reporting and responding to the incidence of abuse. A report of suspected harm to a child should contain as much accurate and objective details as you can attain.
Clarify the situation with the child, their reasons for the injuries and their response and behaviour that arises from the questions. Pass on enough information that allows an inquiry to take place. Investigation of the reported incidence will be carried out by welfare and government departments so providing them with the right information can help with an accurate assessment of the situation and immediate intervention if required. The report should be filed promptly to diminish the risk of further harm to the child.
If there are physical markings on the child, you can use the front and back body chart to indicate the location of harm if appropriate. Record the date you noticed the mark, whether is was a bruise, abrasion, incision or laceration and the visible appearance of the mark. Appearance descriptors could include, but are not limited to the size and shape, what the surrounding area looked like, colour, contents and contours.
The report should also include known dates of harm, when you noticed change in the child and conversations you had with the child. Personal details such as name, date of birth and parent or guardian contact details should also be included within the report.
Mandatory reporting is the legal requirement for a particular class of occupations to report on reasonable grounds the suspected harm to a child. Under duty of care, you are not legally bound to report incidences of abuse, but can be found legally responsible under tort law for not providing care and assistance or trying to prevent further harm from happening to children in your care. Duty of care is a moral and legal obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of others from bullying, sexual, emotional and physical abuse or neglect.
Always maintain a high standard of care and take reasonable measures to help prevent, protect and foresee any harm that is occurring to children in your care so that you can disclose the information, raise awareness and help stop any future harm taking place.
Emotional abuse is the most hidden and underestimated form of childhood harm. It does not leave any physical evidence and is usually ongoing so it is harder to detect than other forms of abuse.
Emotional abuse is an intentional behaviour that is repeated and sustained over a long period of time. It can be the psychological trauma that comes from physical and sexual abuse or the neglect that comes from a lack of environmental stimulation and support for normal development. It leaves children feeling helpless and worthless and has a detrimental impact on the development of their feelings, their emotions and their ability to form strong and trustworthy relationships.
Behaviours that can contribute to emotional abuse can be a refusal to show affection or response to a child, isolating the child from normal social interaction, threatening, scary or intimidating behaviour and developing and encouraging anti-social behaviours such as aggression, criminal acts or substance abuse.
Children that are subject to this form of abuse often display the following characteristics.
1. Overly compliant and undemanding or, demanding and aggressive.
2. Anxious, withdrawn and depressed with low self esteem, which may lead to attempting suicide.
3. Wets or soils the bed.
4. Avoids interacting with other children and developing friendships.
5. Acts younger than their peers or acts in an adult way.
6. The child is behind in their physical, emotional and intellectual development.
Children can convey their feelings and stories in many different ways. Always use active listening so you are aware of what children are trying to tell you and take the report seriously. Be open to their feelings and give them the time, respect and support to show you care about what they disclosing.
The child could directly tell you either verbally or written that the abuse has occurred, or indirectly by hinting or avoiding questions. The child could indirectly hide the clues amongst their art, story writing or music. If they do disclose the abuse, they may attach a condition about keeping it a secret or pretend it is happening to someone else. You many also hear of the abuse from a third party.
However you find out about the abuse, it is your duty of care to provide assistance to prevent further harm from happening to that child.
Trauma informed care is a service or program provided that accepts, acknowledges and understands how trauma affects individuals, families and communities and the care required to address and respond to their needs.
Prolonged stress changes the way our brain develops causing impacts on memory retention, emotions, relationship building and behaviour. They will find it difficult to process language, math and sequencing tasks. They will find it harder to read facial responses and understand friendships. Children that have suffered through trauma are at a heightened level of stress and find it hard to deal with unpredictability and learning. Supporting students in a school setting places emphasis on making routines, relationships and activities predicable and safe so that children can regain a sense of calm.
Additional support is required in schools that will help support the challenges these children face and give hope to their future. Some strategies include:
1. Creating a calm space in the classroom where the child can be on their own with tactile objects and stress relieving activities to help the child regain control of their emotions.
2. Promoting the child’s interests and abilities.
3. Recognise early warning signs of stress and have strategies that help the child calm down.
4. Make the time to have one on one conversations with the child.
5. Make the classroom routine predictable with a chart of the classroom timetable and weekly activities.
6. Use a whole school approach where the classroom teacher, duty teachers and support staff all respond to the child’s needs in the same manner.
7. Progress slowly with the child to develop friendships and trust within the school community.
Matt Blunt’s quote informs us that any abuse is in direct conflict with the rights of the child and the principles that society lives by. As a community we should all take on the shared responsibility of protecting children from harm and providing safe havens where children can access help.
The rights of the child recognises that every child should grow up in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding, free from physical or emotional abuse and neglect with the right to be protected and receive help if they have been hurt or harmed. The rights of a child underpin everything that we do to create a healthy and harmonious society and these values are recognised around the world. Violation of these rights, beliefs and values can have a detrimental impact on children. Children are given special safeguarding due to their vulnerability and innocence and children that are at risk require protection and safety. Extending the moral responsibility to the wider community helps spread the duty of care, making a bigger contribution towards child protection and family welfare.
Protecting children requires us to take on a duty of care role by addressing any concerns you have for a child in your care. Information needs to be shared to protect the well being of the child, but only people required to know and handle the information should have confidential access.
If children are required to be removed from their current setting due to safety concerns for the child, they may be placed into the care of the department or a friend or relative’s care. Moving children into care is seen as a last resort and family counselling may be tried initially to keep children in the care of their own family. Keeping children safe also requires us to provide the setting for support and while interventions are proceeding, you can support the child in the school environment by providing a nurturing setting and implementing trauma informed care.
Children need to feel loved, wanted and responded to and by providing a nurturing environment of patience and compassion for the child, you will help the child socially and emotionally. Positive interactions with children and active listening help to foster open communication, sharing of ideas, honesty, clear expectations and support. If children are dealing with a traumatic experience, it is a small step you can take to help the child feel comfortable and safe.
Heather McClane is acknowledging that children’s voices are not being heard because we are not wanting to believe or not giving the child the attention they deserve to tell their story. This leads to non-intervention and no reports of abuse. If you hear something, you must do something about it.
Mandatory reporting is the legal requirement for a particular class of occupations to report on reasonable grounds that there has been sexual, emotional or physical abuse or neglect to a child. Extending the moral responsibility to the wider community helps spread the duty of care for children allowing more cases to be reported and making a bigger contribution towards child protection and family welfare.
Children can convey their feelings and stories in many different ways. Always use active listening so you are aware of what children are trying to tell you and take the report seriously. Be open to their feelings and give them the time, respect and support to show you care about what they disclosing. Children can use many means to disclose information to you.
They could directly tell you, either verbally or written that the abuse has occurred, or indirectly by hinting or avoiding questions. The child could indirectly hide the clues amongst their art, story writing or music. If they do disclose the abuse, they may attach a condition about keeping it a secret or pretend it is happening to someone else. You many also hear of the abuse from a third party. You may even observe a physical or behavioural indicator that you believe suggests a possible case of abuse or neglect.
If their was a cause for concern you would make an opportunity available to speak to the child in a setting that allowed for open communication and non-distraction. You would use non-invasive questioning techniques to open up the dialogue between the child and yourself. It is an effective way of allowing children to talk openly and share their ideas, feeling that their story is heard and respected, creating a trust and bond between the adult and child.
You should always confidentially, report and disclose the information to whom is authorised to deal with the situation. As a mandated reporter, it is not your job to investigate the circumstance, but bound by duty of care, it is your responsibility to protect the rights of a child by reporting and responding to the incidence of abuse.
However you find out about the abuse, it is your duty of care to provide assistance to prevent further harm from happening to that child.
Kenny Guinn is advocating for departments to work together so that the rights of the child are put first rather than departmental legislation. By providing inadequate services and untrained staff, the child’s welfare suffers. If full attention is given by departments and staff that have been trained to the highest standards to deliver a quality focused service devoted solely to the rights of the child, intervention and help can be applied sooner.
Under performance in your skills, knowledge and capabilities when you should be devoting your full attention and capabilities to the welfare of children, can have serious implications for the children you are supervising. If you are not carrying out your work to your best of your abilities, this distraction may cause you to miss vital clues that can help protect a child from harm. If you do not follow workplace rules, policies and procedures due a lack or knowledge or training, then observations, evidence and reporting may not be documented and followed through correctly. This could have implications legally and professionally and may alter the course of justice for the child. You must keep your knowledge up to date and know exactly what is expected in your job role to ensure that the best interests of the child are maintained at all times.
When carrying out work that impacts on children’s welfare, always behave ethically to meet your organisations Code of Ethics/Conduct to ensure everyone is treated with respect, trust and dignity and all workplace decisions are made promptly with fairness and objectively. Official information should be collected and used confidentially and any behaviour is neither fraudulent or corrupt. Resources of the state should be used responsibly and any information is properly recorded, managed and maintained. And, always ensure that private matters cause no conflict of interest or influence any professional decisions or actions required. If you are aware of any unethical behaviour that has an impact on the welfare of a child, you must report this information to a supervisor or manager.
Once a suspicion has been clarified or there has been a direct disclosure of abuse, it is your duty of care to report the information you have. Your job description will outline the procedure of reporting information, who is authorised to assist and what steps will be taken to pass information onto support, welfare and government departments. If it is your responsibility to inform the nominated authority, you will need to provide a formally written report that is accurate and objective. Always document dates and details of submissions, personnel that you have dealt with and expected timelines so that you can follow up on reports to make sure that they are being investigated and dealt with appropriately. Once you have made the report it will be up to the authorities to decide on the best way to respond to the situation. If you still have contact with the child while the investigation in ongoing, you can provide emotional support and reassurance to the child.
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