15.12 Appendix 1: Definitions
Last updated 12/11/2018
Information which comes to light which suggests an employee, volunteer or contractor may have hurt or harmed a child, committed a criminal offence against a child or has behaved in such a way towards a child or young person that they may be considered as unsuitable to continue in their current employment or in any capacity which involves working with children.
Behaviour which is of concern to a manager or employer, identified through the normal employer/employee relationship.
Children and Young People
Throughout this document references are made to "children and young people". These terms are interchangeable and refer to children who have not yet reached their 18th birthday.
An adult who is working or volunteering with children or coming into contact with children through work on a regular basis and would be seen as being in a position of trust over them. In addition, this would also apply to someone under 18 in the same position. eg. a 17 year old teaching a musical instrument or instructing a group.
References to ‘adults’ or ‘volunteers’ refer to any adult who is employed, commissioned or contracted to work with or on behalf of, children and young people, in either a paid or unpaid capacity.
The term ‘manager’ refers to those adults who have responsibility for managing services including the supervision of employees and/or volunteers at any level.
The term ‘employer’ refers to the organisation which employs, or contracts to use the services of individuals in pursuit of the goals of that organisation. In the context of this document, the term ‘employer’ is also taken to include ‘employing’ the unpaid services of volunteers.
Process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care that enables children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.
Duty of Care
The duty which rests upon an individual or organisation to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure the safety of a child or young person involved in any activity or interaction for which that individual or organisation is responsible. Any person in charge of, or working with children and young people in any capacity is considered, both legally and morally, to owe them a duty of care.
A substantiated allegation is where there is sufficient evidence to prove an allegation.
An unsubstantiated allegation means that there is insufficient identifiable evidence to prove or disprove the allegation. The term, therefore, does not imply guilt or innocence.
The term ‘unfounded’ means that there is no evidence or proper basis which supports the allegation being made, or there is evidence to prove that the allegation is untrue. There is the possibility that the allegation may be malicious (see below), but it might also indicate that the person making the allegation had misinterpreted the incident or was mistaken about what he/she saw, or was not aware of all the circumstances.
The term ‘malicious’ implies that an allegation, either wholly or in part, has been made with a deliberate intent to deceive or cause harm to the person subject to the allegation. For an allegation to be classified as malicious, it will be necessary to have evidence to prove the intention to cause harm. Care should be taken in dealing with such allegations as some facts may not be wholly untrue. Some parts of an allegation may have been fabricated or exaggerated but elements may be based on truth.
Great care should be taken in dealing with allegations that might appear to be unfounded or malicious. For example, with allegations considered unfounded:
- A child or young person may make an allegation in an attempt to draw attention to abuse emanating from another source within his/her family or community;
- A parent may make an allegation against a nursery worker in an attempt to evade responsibility for an injury to his/her child;
- A pupil may make an allegation against a teacher in order to deflect attention away from an incident of behaviour management;
- A parent, in dispute with a school, may make an allegation against a member of staff in order to strengthen their case.
- A colleague may make a malicious allegation in an attempt to discredit a member of staff.
Complaints and allegations against members of staff should always be viewed objectively. The circumstances leading up to the complaint can often be complicated and the outcome far from certain. Completely malicious allegations are rare, but such descriptions, along with terms such as unfounded, unsubstantiated and malicious are often used in the same context. The meanings, however, are very different and it is important for staff to understand the distinction between them and avoid using generalisations that might be incorrect or misleading.