Child Protection Policy

HWP is guided by the following principles:

  • The welfare of the child is paramount.
  • All children, whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin

religious beliefs and/or sexual identity have the right to protection from abuse.

  • All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to

swiftly and appropriately.

  • All staff (paid/unpaid) have a responsibility to report concerns to a Designated

Person with responsibility for child protection.

  • Staff/volunteers are not trained to deal with situations of abuse or to decide if

abuse has occurred. A staff person must report any concerns to the Designated Person.

HWP aims to safeguard children by recommending that Program Leaders and Coaches:

  • Adopt child protection guidelines through procedures and a code of conduct for staff and volunteers using this Policy for guidance.
  • Share information about child protection and good practice with children, parents and care givers, staff and volunteers.
  • Share information about concerns with agencies who need to know, and involving parents and children appropriately.
  • Carefully following the procedures for recruitment and selection of staff and volunteers.
  • Provide effective management for staff and volunteers through support, supervision and training.
  • Become committed to reviewing our policy guidelines below or their own Child Protection Policy and good practices regularly.

Definitions of abuse

These definitions are intended to be consistent with those set forth in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (“CAPTA”)

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is generally defined as "any nonaccidental physical injury to the child" and can include striking, kicking, burning, or biting the child, or any action that results in a physical impairment of the child.

Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or care giver feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes ill health to a child whom they are looking after. This situation is commonly described as factitious illness, fabricated or induced illness in children or “Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy” after the person who first identified this situation.  A person might do this because they enjoy or need the attention they get through having a sick child.

Physical abuse, as well as being the result of a deliberate act, can also be caused through omission or the failure to act to protect.


Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is an injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of the child as evidenced by an observable or substantial change in behavior, emotional response, or cognition, or as evidenced by anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior.  It may involve making a child feel or believe they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of the other person.  It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. It may also involve causing children to feel frequently frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of a child.

Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill treatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse involves the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement,

or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct, or the rape, and in cases of care giver or interfamilial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children.  Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of, or consents to, what is happening.  Boys and girls can be sexually abused by males and or females, by adults and by other young people. This includes people from all different walks of life.



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. It may involve a parent or a care giver failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, leaving a young child home alone or the failure to ensure that a child gets appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

It is accepted that in all forms of abuse there are elements of emotional abuse, and that some children are subjected to more than one form of abuse at any time.  These four definitions do not minimize other forms of maltreatment.


Recent guidance notes other sources of stress for children and families, such as social exclusion, domestic violence, the mental illness of a parent or care giver, or drug and alcohol misuse. These may have a negative impact on a child’s health and development and may be noticed by an organization caring for a child. If it is felt that a child’s well-being is adversely affected by any of these areas, the same procedures should be followed.


 Recognizing and Responding to Abuse

The following signs may or may not be indicators that abuse has taken place, but the possibility should be considered.

Physical signs of abuse

  • Any injuries not consistent with the explanation given for them
  • Injuries which occur to the body in places which are not normally exposed to falls or games
  • Unexplained bruising, marks, or injuries on any part of the body
  • Bruises which reflect hand marks or fingertips (from slapping or pinching)
  • Cigarette burns
  • Bite marks
  • Broken bones
  • Scalds
  • Injuries which have not received medical attention
  • Neglect-under nourishment, failure to grow, constant hunger, stealing or gorging

food, untreated illnesses, inadequate care

  • Repeated urinary infections or unexplained stomach pains

Changes in behavior which can also indicate physical abuse:

  • Fear of parents or care givers being approached for an explanation
  • Aggressive behavior or severe temper outbursts
  • Flinching when approached or touched
  • Reluctance to get changed, for example, wearing long sleeves in hot weather
  • Depression
  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Running away from home

Emotional signs of abuse

The physical signs of emotional abuse may include;

  • A failure to thrive or grow particularly if a child puts on weight in other

circumstances e.g. in hospital or away from their parents’ or others’ care

  • Sudden speech disorders
  • Persistent tiredness
  • Development delay, either in terms of physical or emotional progress

Changes in behavior which can also indicate emotional abuse include:

  • Obsessions or phobias
  • Sudden under-achievement or lack of concentration
  • Inappropriate relationships with peers and/or adults
  • Being unable to play
  • Attention seeking behavior
  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Self-harm
  • Fear of parent or care giver being approached regarding their behavior

Sexual Abuse

The physical signs of sexual abuse may include:

  • Pain or itching in the genital/anal area
  • Bruising or bleeding near genital/anal areas
  • Sexually transmitted disease
  • Vaginal discharge or infection
  • Stomach pains
  • Discomfort when walking or sitting down
  • Pregnancy

Changes in behavior which can also indicate sexual abuse include:

  • Sudden or unexplained changes in behavior e.g. becoming withdrawn or aggressive
  • Fear of being left with a specific person or group of people
  • Having nightmares
  • Running away from home
  • Sexual knowledge which is beyond their age or developmental level
  • Sexual drawings or language
  • Bedwetting
  • Eating problems such as over-eating or anorexia
  • Self-harm or mutilation, sometimes leading to suicide attempts
  • Saying they have secrets they cannot tell anyone about
  • Substance or drug abuse
  • Suddenly having unexplained sources of money
  • Not allowed to have friends (particularly in adolescence)
  • Acting in a sexually explicit way with adults


The physical signs of neglect may include:

  • Constant hunger, sometimes stealing food from other children
  • Constantly dirty or smelly
  • Loss of weight or being constantly underweight
  • Inappropriate dress for the conditions

Changes in behavior which can also indicate neglect include:

  • Complaining of being tired all the time
  • Not requesting medical assistance and/or failing to attend appointments
  • Having few friends
  • Being withdrawn
  • Mentioning being left alone or unsupervised

What to do if you suspect that abuse may have occurred

  1. You must report the concerns immediately to the Designated Person at the site of program delivery.

The role of the Designated Person is to:

  • Obtain information from staff, volunteers, children or parents and care givers who have child protection concerns and to record this information.
  • Assess the information quickly and carefully and ask for further information as appropriate.
  • Determine whether there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is being abused or maltreated.
  • Consult with the applicable State’s child protection agency and/or Attorney General to clarify any doubts or worries.
  • Where appropriate, the designated person should make a referral to a statutory child protection agency or the police without delay.

The Designated Person shall be nominated by the Program Leader, Coach, or Purchaser (as defined in the Terms of Service) and identified to all staff and volunteers delivering the Program.  At least one Designated Person must be nominated.  The Designated Person shall refer allegations or suspicions of neglect or abuse to the requisite State authorities and make a report with the requisite State Agency when required.  The Designated Person must inform HWP in writing of any such reported allegations or suspicions of neglect or abuse.

  1. Suspicions will not be discussed with anyone other than the Designated Person.
  1. It is the right of any individual to make direct referrals to the child protection agencies. If for any reason a member of staff, volunteer, or other person believes that the nominated persons have not responded appropriately to their concerns, then it is up to them individually to contact the child protection agencies directly.

 Allegations of physical injury or neglect

If a child has a symptom of physical injury or neglect the Designated Person will:

  1. Contact Social Services for advice in cases of deliberate injury or concerns about

the safety of the child. In the first instance, the parents should not be informed by the Program Leader, Coaches, staff or volunteers in these circumstances.

  1. Where emergency medical attention is necessary it will be sought immediately.

The designated person will inform the doctor or other medical personnel of any suspicions of abuse.

  1. In other circumstances the Designated Person will speak with the parent/care giver/guardian and suggest that medical help/attention is sought for the child. A medical practitioner would then initiate further action if necessary.
  1. If appropriate the parent/care giver will be encouraged to seek help from Social Services. If the parent/care giver/guardian fails to act the Designated Person should in case of real concern contact Social Services for advice.
  1. Where the Designated Person is unsure whether to refer a case to Social Services, he or she should first confer with other Designated Persons, if any, and if none, err on the side of referring the case.


Allegations of sexual abuse

In the event of allegations or suspicions of sexual abuse the designated person will:

  1. Contact the Social Service duty social worker for children and families directly.The designated person will not speak to the parent (or anyone else).
  2. If the Designated Person is unsure whether or not to follow the above guidance, he or she should first confer with other Designated Persons, if any, and if none, err on the side of referring the case.
  3. Under no circumstances is the Designated Person to attempt to carry out any investigation into the allegation or suspicions of sexual abuse.The role of the designated person is to collect and clarify the precise details of the allegation or suspicion and to provide this information to Social Services whose task it is to investigate the matter pursuant to Mandatory Child Reporting laws.
  4. While allegations or suspicions of sexual abuse should normally be reported to the Designated Person, their absence should not delay referral to Social Services.

 Responding to a child making an allegation of abuse

  • Stay calm, listen carefully to what is being said
  • Find an appropriate early opportunity to explain that it is likely that the information will need to be shared with others
  • Do not promise to keep secrets
  • Allow the child to continue at his/her own pace
  • Ask questions for clarification only, and at all time avoid asking questions that suggest a particular answer
  • Reassure the child that they have done the right thing in telling you
  • Tell them what you will do next and with whom the information will be shared
  • Record in writing what was said using the child’s own words as soon as possible, note the

date, time, any names mentioned, to whom the information was given and ensure that the record is signed and dated by you, and where possible by the child as well


Helpful statements to make

  • I believe you (or showing acceptance of what the child says)
  • Thank you for telling me
  • Its not your fault
  • I will try to help you



  • Why didn’t you tell anyone before?
  • I can’t believe it!
  • Are you sure that this is true?
  • Why? Who? When? Where?
  • Never make false promises

What to do after a child has talked to you about abuse

The procedure

  1. Make notes as soon as possible (ideally within one hour of being told). You should write down exactly what the child has said and what you said in reply and what was happening immediately before being told (i.e. the activity being delivered). You should record the dates, times and when you made the record. All hand written notes should be kept securely.

You should use the form “Reporting allegations or suspicions of abuse.”  The form is available here.

  1. You should report your discussion to the Designated Person as soon as possible. If this person is implicated you need to report to another Designated Person. If all are implicated, report to Social Services.
  2. You should under no circumstances discuss your suspicions or allegations with anyone other than those nominated above.
  3. After a child has disclosed abuse the designated person should carefully consider whether or not it is safe for a child to return home to potentially abusive situation. On these rare occasions it may be necessary to take immediate action to contact Social Services to discuss putting safety measures into effect.

Recruitment and appointment of workers and volunteers

In recruiting and appointing workers the Program Leader, Coach, or Purchaser, will be responsible for the following:

  • Identifying the tasks and responsibilities involved and the type of person most suitable for the job.
  • Drawing up selection criteria and putting together a list of essential and desirable qualifications, skills and experience.
  • All applicants should apply in writing and their application will cover their personal details, previous and current work/volunteering experience.
  • The Program Leader will always send a copy of its child protection policy with the application pack.
  • It will make sure that it measures the application against the selection criteria
  • All applicants need to sign a declaration stating that there is no reason why they should be considered unsuitable to work with children.The Volunteers for Children Act (1998) allows specified organizations and businesses to use national fingerprint-based criminal history checks to screen out volunteers and employees with relevant criminal records applying for positions which give them substantial, unsupervised access on a sustained or regular basis to children under the age of 18.  Applicants must declare all previous convictions.  They can then only be offered a job subject to a successful background check.  This includes potential employees, volunteers and self-employed people such as sports coaches.  They are also required to declare any pending case against them.  It is important that an applicant in this particular category understands that all information will be dealt with confidentially and will not be used against them unfairly.
  • The Program Leader will ask for photographic evidence to confirm the identity of the applicant e.g. their passport.
  • The Program Leader will request to see documentation of any qualifications detailed by the


  • The Program Leader will always interview short listed candidates, ask for two references and under take a police check.
  • An interview panel will always consist of at least two people who are preferably both from the Program Leader.
  • Two written references will be requested from people who are not family members or friends and who have knowledge of the applicant’s experience of working with children. They will be asked to also comment on the applicant’s suitability for working with children.Written references will in most circumstances be followed up with a telephone call.
  • The same principles apply to young people who have been involved with the Program Leader and have become volunteers.

Allegations against a member of staff

The Program Leader, Coach, or Purchaser will assure all staff/volunteers that it will fully support and protect anyone who, in good faith, reports his or her concern that a colleague is, or may be, abusing a child.

Where there is a complaint against a member of staff there may be three types of investigation:

  • A criminal investigation,
  • A child protection investigation,
  • A disciplinary or misconduct investigation.

The results of the police and child protection investigation may well influence the disciplinary investigation, but not necessarily.

Action if there are concerns

Concerns about poor practice:

  • If, following consideration, the allegation is clearly about poor practice generally; this will be dealt with as a misconduct issue by the Program Leader. The requirements of this policy are made a part of every contract with a Program Leader, Coach, or Purchaser. They can choose to follow their own, or the one provided here by HWP.
  • If the allegation is about poor practice by the Designated Person or if the matter has been handled inadequately and concerns remain, it should be reported to HWP who will decide how to deal with the allegation and whether or not HWP should initiate disciplinary proceedings.

Concerns about suspected abuse

  • Any suspicion that a child has been abused by either a member of staff or a volunteer should be reported to the Designated Person, who will take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child in question and any other child who may be at risk.
  • The Designated person will refer the allegation to the Social Services department who may involve the police, or go directly to the police if out-of-hours.
  • The parents or care givers of the child will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the Social Services department.
  • If the Designated Person is the subject of the suspicion/allegation, the report must be made to the appropriate Manager or Chair who will refer the allegation to Social Services.

Internal Enquiries and Suspension

  • The Designated Person will make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended pending further police and social services inquiries.The individual’s manager will be informed of the decision to suspend and will then be involved in ongoing personnel management alongside the Designated Person
  • Irrespective of the findings of the Social Services or police inquiries the Program Leader will assess all individual cases to decide whether a member of the staff or volunteer can be reinstated and how this can be sensitively handled.This may be a difficult decision; particularly where there is insufficient evidence to uphold any action by the police.  In such cases, the Program Leader must reach a decision based upon the available information which could suggest that on a balance of probability, it is more likely than not that the allegation is true.  The welfare of the child should remain of paramount importance throughout.

Program’s activities and services.

Program Leaders, Coaches, and Purchasers are encouraged to adopt the following policies or enact their own:

  • Keep a register of all children attending our activities.
  • Keep a register of all team members (both paid staff members and volunteers)
  • Keep a record of all sessions including monitoring and evaluation records.
  • Record any unusual events on an accident/incident form.
  • Obtain written consent from a parent or guardian for every child attending your activities.
  • Where possible adults should not be alone with a child, although we recognize that there may be times when this may be necessary or helpful
  • Program Leaders, Coaches, Purchasers, staff or volunteers should escort children of the same sex to the restrooms, but are not expected to be involved with assisting the child, unless the child has a special need that has been brought to our attention by the parent/guardian.
  • Recognize that physical touch between adults and children can be healthy and acceptable in public places, but discourage this in circumstances where an adult or child are left alone.
  • All Program Leaders, Coaches, Purchasers, staff or volunteers should treat all children with dignity and respect in both attitude, language, and actions.

What happens to your Information if there is a change of control or sale of assets:

 In the event of a corporate change in control resulting from, for example, a sale to, or merger with another entity, or in the event of a sale of assets, HWP reserves the right to transfer your personal information to the new party in control or the party acquiring assets.

Questions :

If you believe that any information we have on you is incorrect or incomplete, or if you have any other questions or concerns about our privacy policy, please write or email us as soon as possible at  The Privacy Officer designee will promptly respond to your inquiry.

UPDATED March 2024