Thalian Association Community Theatre

Child Protection Policy

Youth Theatre and arts education are integral parts of our mission and as an organization, it is our responsibility to keep all children safe. Tragically, many organizations in our country have not always been safe places for children. Child sexual abuse and exploitation occurs in organizations, both, large and small, urban and rural. The problem cuts across all economic, cultural, and racial lines. This policy has been created to make TACT programs and the Community Arts Center safe, protecting children and other vulnerable persons from abuse.
I. Definitions
A. “Child” and “Adult”
North Carolina defines a “child” as a person under the age of 18. An adult is anyone 18 years of age or older.
B. “Paid Staff Member”
Paid Staff Member is someone paid by the organization, overseen by a manager or supervisor, and screened.
C. “Child Abuse”
For purposes of this Policy, child abuse is defined as any of the following:
1. Physical Abuse:
Violent non-accidental contacts that result in injury. This includes, but is not limited to, striking, biting, or shaking. Injuries include bruises, fractures, cuts, and burns.
2. Sexual Abuse:
Any form of sexual activity with a child, whether at one of our facilities, at home, or in any other setting. The abuser may be an adult, an adolescent, or another minor.
3. Emotional Abuse:
A pattern of intentional conduct which crushes a child’s spirit or attacks his/her self-worth through rejection, threats, terrorizing, isolating, or belittling. This abuse can occur in private or public settings.
II. Screening and Selection of Staff
A. All Thalian Association staff members will be screened (application, interview, criminal background check). Those who are exposed to or work regularly with children will be trained on child protection issues prior to beginning their involvement with children.
B. Before placing the applicant in a position of responsibility with children, a designated paid staff member, usually the department head, or other person charged with specific responsibility will interview the applicant.
C. Before beginning work with children, each paid staff member and volunteer will sign a statement that they have read, understood, and agree to abide by this Child Protection Policy.
D. After the interview and background check have been completed, the Executive Director will make the decision to accept or reject the applicant as a paid staff member who will work with children.
III. Ongoing Education of Persons Who Work with Children
The organization shall ensure that training focused on current issues of child protection is available to and received by those working with children. Attendance at this training shall be required of all paid staff members.
The training should include:
A. The definition and recognition of child abuse.
B. The organization’s policy and procedures on child abuse and the reasons for
having them.
C. The appropriate behavior for those charged with the care of children.
D. Abuse reporting responsibilities and procedures.
E. Definition of appropriate interpersonal boundaries.
IV. Supervision of Children
A. General Rules
1. All activities involving children will be supervised by at least one screened adult.
2. When reasonably feasible, each room set aside for children should have a door with a window. (Windows in doors tend to remove the opportunities for secrecy and isolation, conditions every child abuser seeks).
3. The “Two Person Rule” will be used, which is defined as having at least two people in any non-public room or setting
B. Open Door Policy
Parents, volunteers, or staff should be permitted, as reasonableness dictates, to visit and observe all programs at any time.
C. Sign-in/Sign-out Procedure for Summer Camp
Adults responsible for children should sign-in their child and indicate in writing the names of the authorized person(s) to whom the child may be signed-out. Adults responsible for children should sign their child in and out of children’s activities. Picking-up children by unauthorized adults is forbidden.
D. Time Following Group Events
Following child group events, it is inevitable that occasionally a child’s transportation arrives after all other participants have departed. In those circumstances, a child may unavoidably be supervised by one staff member. The staff member and child should wait in an area that is easily observable to the public.
V. Responding to Allegations of Child Abuse
A. Everyone in the organization has a moral responsibility and a legal duty to report suspected abuse whenever it comes to their attention, regardless of where that abuse takes place. Reporting abuse is a form of assistance to those crying out for help. Therefore, immediately notify your supervisor, who will bring it up the chain of command. The Executive Director or his designee will then notify the proper authorities (i.e., the local law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction in which the Child resides or in which the suspected abuse occurred and/or the appropriate department of children’s services).
B. The Executive Director or his designee will immediately, yet with dignity and respect for the accused, remove the accused from further involvement with children. Once the proper authorities have been contacted and the safety of the child is secured, the Executive Director or his designee should inform the accused that abuse has been reported.
C. If abuse is observed by, disclosed to, or suspected by a volunteer and/or paid staff member of the agency, the observer shall report the incident immediately to the supervisor. If the supervisor is not available, the matter should be reported to the Executive Director. If the accused is the supervisor or a member of her/his family, the allegations shall be immediately reported to the Executive Director and immediately reported to the proper authorities as required by state or local law. The Executive Director will take responsibility and act according to established policy with respect to claims against a supervisor.
D. Notify the parents of the victim and take whatever steps are necessary to assure the safety and well-being of the child or until the parent(s) arrive. (NOTE: If one or both parents are the alleged abuser, follow the advice of the authorities concerning notification of others.)
E. Take all allegations seriously and reach out to the victim and the victim’s family. Show care and support to help prevent further hurt. Extend whatever resources are needed. Remember that the care and safety of the victim is the priority. Respond in a positive and supportive manner to the victim and the victim’s family.
F. Thalian Association will provide a supportive atmosphere to all those who are affected, offering both objectivity and empathy as it seeks to create a climate in which healing can take place.
G. Keep a written report of the steps taken by the organization in response to the reported abuse. The report should be brief and contain only information relevant to the situation. It should be kept in a secure place. It should be sent electronically whenever possible or written in ink or typed to prevent it from being changed.
H. Any contact with the media is handled exclusively by the Executive Director.
I. If the Executive Director is not available, the media contact will be Thalian Association Community Theatre President.
VI. Implementation
Unless otherwise specifically stated, it shall be the responsibility of the Executive Director to implement this policy, to design and conduct future training, and to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of this policy. All supervisory employees of the organization and staff members who work with children are required to read the complete policy and guidelines. A copy is available online or in the administrative office.
X. Application
All of those who participate in the activities of this organization and use its facilities, are expected to respect, implement, and adhere to this policy.