CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
Guidelines & Procedures in respect of Branch
Involvement with Children and Vulnerable Adults
Note: A child or young person is defined as any person under 18 years.
COMHALTAS CEOLTÓIRÍ ÉIREANN fully recognises its responsibilities for Child
Protection. Our policy applies to all staff, branch members, volunteers, teachers, etc
(hereinafter ALL refered to as “members”) working with the organisation.
COMHALTAS is an international organisation with many years experience in
passing on our cultural traditions to younger generations through music, song, dance
and the Irish language.
As a COMHALTAS member, staff or volunteer it is important to undersand that you
are in a position of responsibility, authority and trust with respect to the young people
you may work with or come in contact with in the course of Comhaltas related
The welfare of children and young people with whom Comhaltas works,their health
and well being and their best interests are considered paramount.
Comhaltas members are required to adhere to the Policy, Procedures and Code of
Practice in the exercise of their duties.
This document is written to ensure that working with Comhaltas in whatever capacity
will be a safe and enjoyable experience for all involved.
• The health, safety and well being of all our children and young people are
of paramount importance to all the workers and volunteers who are a part
of Comhaltas. Our children have the right to protection, regardless of age,
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann 2
gender, race, culture or disability. They have a right to be safe in all our
• In our activities we value our children and young people. A culture of
mutual respect between children and those who represent the organisation
in all its activities will be encouraged with adults modelling good practice in
• Comhaltas recognises that good child protection policies and procedures
are of benefit to everyone involved with our work, including staff, branch
officers, members and volunteers, as these policies can help protect them
from erroneous or malicious allegations.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
This policy ensures that staff, branch members and volunteers are clear about
the actions necessary with regard to child protection issues.
Its aims are :-
• To raise the awareness of all – staff, branch members and volunteers and to
identify responsibility in reporting possible cases of abuse.
• To ensure effective communication between staff, branch members and
volunteers when dealing with child protection issues.
• To lay down the correct procedures for those who encounter an issue of
Under The Child Care Act of 1991 and Children First – National Guidelines for
the Protection and Welfare of Children -1999, 2009,2011 voluntary sector
organisations such as ours have a statutory duty of care for the children and young
people to whom we provide services.
The principle, which should inform best practice in child protection, is that the welfare
of the child is of paramount importance.
“All organisations, whether statutory or voluntary, have an overall corporate
responsibility to safeguard children, and should pay particular attention to
• Safe and clearly defined methods of selecting staff and volunteers
• Developing effective procedures for the reporting and management of child
• Identifying a designated staff member/volunteer to act as a liaison with outside
agencies and as a resource person to any staff member or volunteer who has
child protection concerns. The designated person will be responsible for
reporting allegations or suspicions of child abuse to the HSE (Health Service
Executive) and/or An Garda Síochána.
(Children First – National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children –
1999 & 2009)
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann 3
This policy document applies to all Comhaltas activities in Ireland, Northern Ireland,
Britain, North America and elsewhere. They have been designed to work within
current guidelines to meet the legislative requirements of each country. Should any
conflict arise between any of our policies and procedures and the laws of individual
countries then the relevant law will take precedence. We will endeavour to ensure
that our policy documents are updated appropriately to reflect future changes in the
• To adopt a Policy and Code Of Practice on safeguarding the welfare of
• To plan the work of the Organisation so as to eliminate situations where the
abuse of a child may occur
• To apply agreed procedures for protecting children to all members and
• To use supervision as a means of protecting children
• To ensure that staff, branch members and volunteers are aware of this Policy,
Code Of Practice and Child Protection procedures to be followed
DESIGNATED LIAISON PERSON (DLP):
A Designated Liaison Person will be nominated by each Comhaltas Branch each
year. The D.L.P has the responsibility for managing child protection issues within the
branch. The role and responsibilities of the DLP are:
• To implement and promote the unit’s Child Protection Policy and Procedures.
• To act as the main contact for child protection within the branch.
• To provide information and advice on child protection for the branch
• To create awareness of the importance of child protection.
• To communicate with members on child protection issues.
• To keep abreast of developments and understand the most recent information
on related issues – data protection, confidentiality, legal and other, that impact
on child protection.
• To encourage good practice and support of the procedures involved.
• To maintain confidential records of reported cases and the action taken and to
liaise with the statutory agencies and ensure that they have access to all
• To regularly monitor and review the branch Policy and Procedures
1. We establish a safe environment in which Children can learn, perform
a. We create an environment where children feel secure, are encouraged
to communicate and are listened to.
b. We ensure children know that there are adults in Comhaltas whom they
can approach if they have concerns.
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann 4
c. We ensure that adult members of Comhaltas, and other adults working
with Comhaltas, possess an understanding of the responsibility placed
on the organisation for child protection by stating its obligation in this
2. We raise awareness of the child protection issues among members and
a. We ensure every member in contact with children is aware of this
Policy and Procedures/guidelines and are aware of their inherent
b. We raise awareness of the Child Protection Policy with all members,
parents, tutors and supervisors.
3. We practise safe recruitment and check the suitability of staff/teachers.
a. We recognise the importance of checking the background of teachers
(music, singing, dancing, etc) and others before they are given
responsibility to work with children. Comhaltas , as a voluntary
organisation, has registered with the GCVU, An Garda Síochána
Central Vetting Unit. Current best practice requires that all adults
working with children in Éire receive garda vetting. (Please check
requirements in Northern Ireland, Britain, North America, etc)
4. We implement Procedures in respect of suspect, alleged or confirmed
cases of abuse
a. We recognise that members may in some instances have cause for
concern. Should the latter occur guidance should be sought from the
DLP and liaise with statutory agencies, namely the HSE (Health
Service Executive) and An Garda Síochána. Please refer to the
relevant officers in other juristictions – Northern Ireland,Britain, North
b. We will maintain effective links with the relevant agencies and cooperate
with any enquiry regarding child protection matters.
c. We will follow child protection procedures where an allegation is made
against a member/volunteer. (Refer to “Children First National
Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children” (1999 & 2009) –
Please refer to child protection guidelines in Northern Ireland, Britain,
North America, etc.
Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998
This act was passed on 23rd Jan 1999. The main provisions of the act are:
• The provision of immunity from civil liabliity to any person who reports child
abuse “reasonably and in good faith” to designated officers of the HSE or An
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann 5
• The creation of a new offence of false reporting of child abuse where a person
makes a report “knowing that statement to be false”
• “ A person shall not be liable in damages in respect of the communication,
whether in writing or otherwise, by him or her to an appropriate person of his
or her opinion that
1. A child has been or is being assaulted, ill-treated, neglected or
sexually abused, or
2. A child’s health, development or welfare has been or is being
avoidably impaired or neglected, unless it is proved that he or she
has not acted reasonably and in good faith in forming that opinion
and communicating it to the appropriate person”
3. Unless it is proved that he or she has not acted reasonably and in
good faith in forming that opinion and communicating it to the
1. If a member of Comhaltas receives an allegation, or has a suspicion that a
child is being abused, he or she must, in the first instance, consult with the
2. It is important that the suspicions or allegations are recorded by the DLP.
3. In cases where an allegation is made, the DLP must report the matter
immediately to the relevant authorities, ie. to the designated officer in the HSE
or to An Garda Síochána.
4. It is essential that at all times the matter is treated in a confidential manner.
5. It is NOT the responsibility of the DLP or any other person to find a resolution
or discuss the matter with anyone else except the approporiate agencies.
6. All advice proferred by the HSE and An Garda Síochána should be strictly
7. From this point on, only the Statutory Authorities should deal with the matter.
CODE OF PRACTICE:
The following guidance includes a variety of contexts in which Comhaltas members
carry out their activities:
The Code Of Practice is to safeguard the welfare of the young children in our charge
and to ensure that safe and sensible steps will continue to be taken to ensure the
safe practice and environment for young people, staff, branch members and
1. Branch Classes / Activities
a. All Branches should be responsible for the appointment of teachers /
b. Ensure that TWO Branch adults, preferably one male and one female,
or an adult tutor and one other adult arrive together to open the venue.
c. Arrange seating appropriately for both tutor and pupil with respect to
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann 6
d. Where a tutor is dealing with an individual pupil, ensure another adult,
preferably a Branch adult is in close vicinity.
e. It is necessary for a tutor to report inappropriate behaviour to a Branch
adult and to the DLP
f. Trust your intuition if a pupil in acting inappropriately and take action, ie
share concerns with the DLP and implement measures to reduce risk.
g. Use verbal affirmation to praise rather than physical touch.
h. Never use physical forms of discipline.
i. Tutors and parents should be made aware of class timetable.
j. Ensure that after class all children are collected promptly and TWO
Branch adults, preferably one male and one female or a tutor and one
other adult are present to lock up the venue.
k. Drop off and collection times should be strictly adhered to.
l. There should be adequate supervision of young people while they are
waiting for class.
m. A class register and incident book should be kept.
(Record details of any incident occuring – date, time, place and summary
of the incident pertaining to children’s welfare)
a. Ensure that two adults, preferably one male and one female, travel in
the car when only one child is being transported.
b. When transporting young persons seat them in the back seat,
c. Only carry the appropriate number vis a vis seat belts.
d. Journey duration should be reported to another adult.
e. A parental consent proforma should be completed regarding trips /
Comhaltas Insurance Policy provides cover for all Branch Activities.
While Comhaltas has an Insurance Policy the following rules must be
a. Ensure adults are first to arrive at the venue.
b. Ensure classes are supervised if or when the tutor has to leave the
c. Ensure that all pupils have been collected prior to the adults leaving the
d. Pupils must be supervised at all times.
e. Ensure the venues are safe from all / any potential hazards.
4. Photography: Authorisation.
Child protection issues and sensitivity towards identity theft have presented
challenges to all those involved with recording images of people for promotional
purposes. In the same way that video and audio recordings require authorisation and
permissions at competitions, it is also important to follow the proper procedures in
photographing young persons.
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann 7
A model release form is available in the downloads section of the Press room
The subjects of any photographs must be informed that their picture has been
taken and may be used for promotional purposes by Comhaltas. Ideally, if
under 18 years, it is preferable that subjects’ parents or their guardians sign
approval on the official form.
All Comhaltas personnel, tutors and all other volunteers working with children will be
provided with a copy of this policy to raise awareness of child protection and to
provide as much information as possible.
Comhaltas will review this policy at regular intervals and will provide effective
management and training for all personnel.
Policy Amended Nov 2010
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann 8
Appendix 1: Definitions of abuse
There are four main categories of abuse as outlined in Children First: National
Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. The following is a synopsis
ofthe information contained in that document. For the full definitions please refer to
Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children 1993
“Neglect can be defined as being where the child suffers significant harm or
impairment of development by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene,
intellectual stimulation, supervision and safety, attachment to and affection from
adults, medical care….The threshold of significant harm is reached when
the child’s needs are neglected to the extent that his or her well-being and/or
development are severely affected.” (Children First p.31)
2. Emotional abuse
Emotional abuse usually happens where there is a relationship between a carer and
a child rather than as a specific incident or incidents.
“Unless other forms of abuse are present, it is rarely manifested in terms of physical
signs or symptoms.” (Children First p.31)
Rather, it can manifest in the child’s behaviour or physical functioning. Examples of
these include ‘anxious’ attachment, unhappiness, low self-esteem, educational and
developmental underachievement and uncooperative or hostile behaviour.
“The threshold of significant harm is reached when interaction is predominantly
abusive and become typical of the relationship between the child and the parent/
carer.” (Children First p.32)
Examples of emotional abuse in children include:
• Imposition of negative attributes on children, expressed by persistent criticism,
sarcasm, hostility or blaming;
• Emotional unavailability by the child’s parent/carer;
• Unresponsiveness, inconsistent or inappropriate expectations of the child;
• Premature imposition of responsibility on the child;
• Unrealistic or inappropriate expectations of the child’s capacity to understand
something or to behave and control him/herself in a certain way;
• Under or over-protection of the child;
• Use of unreasonably harsh discipline;
• Exposure to domestic violence.
3. Physical abuse
Physical abuse is any form of non-accidental injury or injury which results from wilful
or neglectful failure to protect a child.
Examples of physical injury include the following:
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann 9
• Use of excessive force in handling;
• Deliberate poisoning;
• Allowing or creating a substantial risk of significant physical harm to a child.
4. Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse involves the use of a child for gratification or sexual arousal by a
person for themselves or others.
Examples of sexual abuse include:
• Exposure of the sexual organs or any sexual act intentionally performed
in the presence of a child;
• Intentional touching or molesting of the body of a child whether by a person or
object for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification;
• Masturbation in the presence of the child or involvement of the child in an
act of masturbation;
• Sexual intercourse with a child whether oral, vaginal or anal;
• Sexual exploitation of a child… may also include showing sexually explicit
material to children which is often a feature of the ‘grooming’ process by
perpetrators of abuse;
• Consensual sexual activity involving an adult and an under-age person.