If your volunteer role includes working with children and young people, your volunteer project should have a tailored child protection policy which you must read and uphold at all times. This operates to protect the volunteer as well as the child. You should also be provided with Child Protection Training. If you have not been provided with relevant training, please contact the College Civic Engagement Officer, Róisín McGrogan ( email@example.com ) to sign up for an on-campus Child Protection Workshop.
If there is no Child Protection Policy in your volunteer project, it is necessary to familiarise yourself with the 2002 Department of Health and Children document entitled ‘Our Duty to Care' (PDF, 206KB). This document uses the term ‘worker' to include volunteers in an organisation and outlines the practices and procedures which should be employed in an organisation which works with children and young people. You should seek to uphold the principles of good practice articulated in this document and pay particular attention to Section 2 (Protecting and promoting children's rights), Section 5 (Raising awareness about child abuse) and Section 6 (Responding to accidents and complaints or to alleged or suspected child abuse).
Pay particular attention to who the ‘Designated Person' in your volunteer project is as that is who is responsible for reporting allegations or suspicions of child abuse (including physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect) to the Health Services Executive or An Garda Siochána. It is also the Health Services Executive's responsibility to support and advise volunteers about Child Protection policies and procedures. Should you have a child protection concern, it is your responsibility to approach the Designated Person immediately and in confidence. Only in the event of a serious emergency (i.e. where the child is at immediate risk of harm) and where the Designated Person is not contactable should you go directly to HSE or, if out of hours, the Gardaí.
This person may also be called the ‘child protection officer', the ‘children's officer' or another suitable name, depending on the organisation.
If you would like further information on Child Protection, you can look at the 2011 Department of Children and Youth Affairs document 'Children First: national guidance for the protection and welfare of children'.