- Child, youth, or young person refers to any person under 18 years of age.
- Vulnerable person means any person other than a child who is restricted in their capacity to guard themselves against harm by another person due to disability, impairment, or disorder.
- Worker refers to any individual – paid or unpaid – who performs responsibilities on behalf of the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat.
- Abuse refers to any action or lack of action that endangers or harms the physical, psychological, or emotional health and development of a child or vulnerable person. It can occur in many ways, including the following:
- Physical abuse – any physical injury that is not accidental, such as beating, shaking, burns, or biting.
- Emotional abuse – actions that destroy the sense of safety of a child or vulnerable person, such as constant criticism, belittling, or persistent teasing.
- Sexual abuse – any actual or intended sexual activity between an adult and a child, such as fondling, exhibitionism, intercourse, sexual remarks or propositions, or pornography.
- Neglect – deprivation of essential needs, such as adequate food and water, shelter, access to restrooms, or medical care.
- The O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat (“OIMR”, “the Retreat”) is dedicated to fostering a safe and nurturing environment for all participants, staff, and instructors in attendance.
- The Retreat recognizes the specific and significant importance of protecting the well-being and ensuring the safety of children, as well as vulnerable adults, who want to learn more about Irish music, culture, and history.
- The Retreat recognizes the position of responsibility, authority, and trust required to fulfill our objective of teaching traditional Irish music using traditional techniques, especially where the student is a child or other vulnerable person.
- This policy applies to all workers – volunteers, staff, teachers, organizers, presenters, or otherwise – in the exercise of their responsibilities on behalf of the Retreat.
- The health, safety, and well being of all our children and vulnerable adults are of paramount importance to staff, members, and volunteers operating on behalf of the Retreat. These vulnerable individuals have a right to be safe as participants in all our activities, as well as the right to protection, regardless of age, gender, race, culture, or disability.
- The Retreat values our youth and vulnerable adults. A culture of mutual respect between children/vulnerable adults and those who represent the organization is essential to our success. As such, all OIMR workers must model good practice in this context.
- The Retreat recognizes that good child protection policies and procedures are of benefit to everyone involved with our work, as these policies can help protect workers from erroneous or malicious allegations.
Aims and Objectives
This policy ensures that staff, instructors, volunteers, and organizers are clear about the responsibilities of the organization and its members/workers with regard to child protection.
Its aims are:
- To raise awareness of all workers on the importance of child protection and clearly outline responsibilities in reporting possible cases of child abuse.
- To ensure prompt and effective communication between OIMR workers when dealing with child protection issues.
- To ensure that a consistent and appropriate procedure is applied when dealing with any issue of child protection.
As an organization, we are committed to:
- Providing a Safe Environment
- We will create and promote an environment where children feel secure, are encouraged to communicate, and know they will be heard.
- We will ensure that children know that there are adults they can approach without judgment or repercussions if they have concerns.
- We will ensure that all workers affiliated with the Retreat understand this responsibility of child protection.
- Promoting Awareness of Protection Issues
- We will ensure that every adult in contact with children on behalf of the Retreat is aware of this Policy, its Procedures, and their responsibilities on behalf of the organization.
- Upholding Legal and Ethical Standards
- We will adhere to all relevant laws, regulations, and international conventions pertaining to child protection.
- We will ensure that our policies and procedures align with these standards and reflect the best interests of the children we serve.
- Verification and Education
- We will perform background checks on teachers, presenters, and key staff for the Retreat where interaction with children is expected.
- We will ensure that those teachers, presenters, and key staff are provided information on recognizing the signs of potential abuse2, as well as documentation and training on our Policies and Procedures for child protection.
- Reporting and Response
- We will ensure that all reported violations of this Policy are handled promptly, sensitively, equally, and thoroughly.
- We will actively collaborate with relevant authorities and child protection agencies to ensure any reports covered under this Policy are handled appropriately.
For each year’s retreat, a Child Protection Compliance Officer (CPCO) will be named. The CPCO has the following responsibilities:
- To implement the Child Protection Policy and Procedures enacted by the Retreat.
- To act as the main contact for child protection for the event (which may include receiving reports after the conclusion of the event).
- To possess a general knowledge of any relevant local, state, federal, and international laws and regulations protecting children from abuse.
- To provide information and advice on child protection for any worker or participant at the event
- To communicate with OIMR workers on child protection issues.
- To maintain confidential records of reported cases and the action taken and to liaise with relevant authorities and agencies to ensure that they have full access to the necessary information.
Means of contacting the CPCO will be shared with all workers and participants.
This document is intended to indicate our compliance with the following regulations, as well as any relevant regulations not listed here. The Retreat understands that the moral and ethical obligation we carry with regard to the protection of children and vulnerable adults may extend beyond the letter of the law, and will act at all times in the best interest of those we serve.
- Texas Family Code 261.0011 provides legal definitions of the terms “abuse” and “neglect”.
- Texas Family Code 261.101(a)1 states: “A person having reasonable cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report…”
- Texas Family Code 261.1061 confirms the immunity from civil or criminal liability for those who, in good faith, report or assist in the investigation of a report of alleged child abuse, while section 261.1071 lays out the penalties for making false reports.
- Article 19 of The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child3 establishes that all children have the right to be protected from physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse, as well as neglect and maltreatment.
Reporting and Response Procedures
- If a worker receives an allegation, or has a suspicion that a child is being abused, he or she must immediately consult with the CPCO.
- If the allegation or concerns relate to the CPCO, the matter should be reported to the Retreat Director or an Assistant Director, who will assume the role normally undertaken by the CPCO and follow all procedures necessary to fulfill the obligation of the organization.
- The CPCO will record all suspicions and allegations.
- In cases where an allegation is made, the CPCO must report the matter immediately to local law enforcement and any other relevant authorities.
- The CPCO will contact the insurance company, and complete an incident report. Any documents received relating to the incident will be forwarded to the insurance company.
- The CPCO will contact the parents/guardians of the child or children involved in an allegation, except in cases where the parents/guardians are the subject of the allegation, in which case Child Protective Services will be informed.
- Neither CPCO nor any other agent of the Retreat is responsible for finding a resolution to the matter, nor is any individual to discuss the matter with anyone other than the CPCO or the relevant authorities.
- The CPCO will treat the matter confidentially.
- The CPCO and the Retreat will adhere to the advice and guidance of relevant authorities in these matters.
- Following an allegation involving an OIMR worker, and in consultation with local authorities, event staff, and parents, the CPCO may implement such safeguards as deemed appropriate to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children participating in the event.
- Any person subject to allegation and not found to be innocent will be removed from the event and barred from participation in any subsequent Retreats.
Code of Conduct
The following code of conduct applies to all staff, volunteers, instructors, presenters, or other individuals performing duties on behalf of the Retreat.
- Professional Conduct
- Treat all children, teachers, performers, participants, and staff with respect, kindness, and fairness.
- Embrace diversity and promote inclusivity, appreciating and valuing individual differences in culture, background, and ability.
- Adults working with children on behalf of the Retreat should, at all times, act as positive role models, displaying integrity, professionalism, and ethical behavior.
- Use language that is respectful, supportive, and age-appropriate in all communications
- Listen actively, encourage dialogue, and foster a safe and non-judgemental environment for children.
- Respect the privacy of children and their families, keeping personal or sensitive information confidential, except in cases where abuse is suspected.
- Two Adult Rule
- At all times possible, a minimum of two non-related adults should be present during activities involving a child.
- Classes and Activities
- In circumstances where only one adult is present with a child or group of children, take reasonable actions to limit privacy, such as ensuring doors are left open or practicing outdoors in a public area.
- Physical touch between an adult and a child should be limited to that which is necessary and appropriate for teaching or performance purposes (such as adjusting posture or demonstrating technique).
- Obtain consent from the child and/or their parent/guardian before initiating any physical contact.
- Maintain appropriate boundaries in relationships with children, refraining from engaging in personal or intimate discussions.
- Class timetables should be published and adhered to.
- Immediately record and report any incident pertaining to the welfare of children, including date, time, place, and summary details.
- Follow all applicable state, local, and federal laws regarding transportation of children at all times, including the use of seat belts and passenger limits.
- Written parental consent should be obtained before transporting a non-related child on behalf of the Retreat.
1 Texas Family Code Section 261: https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.261.htm
2 Recognizing Signs of Potential Child Abuse: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/dshs-ems-trauma-systems/links-resources-references/recognizing-signs-potential-child
3UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/convention-rights-child