Child Abuse and Child Sexual Abuse

Effective date: September 30, 2011

Revised January 2018

Relevant Legislation:

Section 72 of the Child and Family Services Act places a statutory obligation on every person who performs professional or official duties with respect to a child and who suspects on reasonable grounds that a child may have suffered abuse, to report it to the Children’s Aid Society (C.A.S.). In the case of a child, abuse can include physical harm, sexual abuse, neglect and/or emotional abuse.

Intent:

All employees, volunteers and student placements will be orientated to this policy on child abuse and child sexual abuse.

Definitions:

Definition: Sexual abuse is any intentional use of force, or threat of use of force involving some form of sexual activity against another person without his/her consent. Sexual abuse is an activity that may be criminal in nature as defined under the Ontario Child and Family Services Act or under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Policy:

Any form of client/resident sexual abuse warrants disciplinary actions up to and including dismissal and may result in criminal charges.

Sexual abuse can include:

• Kissing, sexual contact, fondling or sexual intercourse.

• Bodily harm or threats to harm, assault with a weapon.

• Incest, bestiality and gross indecency.

 

• Exposing genitals to a child, juvenile prostitution, corrupting children, indecent acts and sexual assault

• Sexual offences against children such as sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation of a young person, parent or guardian procuring sexual activity of a child

This is only a partial list and does not include all definitions or examples of sexual abuse.

 

Employees, volunteers and student placements of LOFT Community services will not engage in sexual relations with any clients or residents. A staff, volunteer or student on placement found to have been engaged in sexual relation with a client or resident will face immediate dismissal from employment, or termination of the contractual relationship with LOFT Community Services.

 

PREVENTION OF ABUSE

• LOFT Community Services will educate and inform all members of management, staff, volunteers, student placements and other persons in order to make them aware of their rights and obligations. LOFT Community Services will also provide a mechanism whereby any concerned person may make an inquiry or lodge a complaint.

• It is the policy of LOFT Community Services that all new staff, volunteers and student placements must have a Police Reference Check completed as part of the recruiting process.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES OF LOFT

1. All Directors and supervisors are responsible for monitoring clients/residents for signs and symptoms of sexual abuse. All reports of sexual abuse must be reported immediately to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), or designate.

2. Disciplinary action will be taken up to and including dismissal, if the complaint is substantiated.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES OF STAFF

1. Report any concerns to either your supervisor, or the C.A.S., immediately.

2. Keep a written record of your findings including, date(s), time(s), place(s), behaviour(s) and witness(es).

3. Assist in the preparation of a written report of the incident, detailing the nature of the incident, the date(s), time(s), place(s), witness(es), sources of information and the name(s) of those involved.

 

ALL ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ABUSE INVOLVE SENSITIVE DISCLOSURES. THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF ALL CONCERNED WILL BE MAINTAINED TO THE GREATEST EXTENT POSSIBLE.

 

Other Notes:

• Staff, volunteers and student placements must realize that sexual abuse is a serious offence and any complaints will be dealt with quickly and professionally.

• Any notes made in an investigation will not be kept in a staff member’s Human Resources file.

• The police or 911 are to be called immediately when a staff, volunteer, student placement or other person’s safety is in danger, or where immediate attention is required.

• Section 72 of the Child and Family Services Act places a statutory obligation on every person who performs professional or official duties with respect to a child and who suspects on reasonable grounds that a child may have suffered abuse to report it to the Children’s Aid Society (C.A.S.). In the case of a child, abuse can include physical harm, sexual abuse, neglect and/or emotional abuse.

• Sexual assault is an activity which is criminal in nature, and will be dealt with immediately by reporting it directly to either the police/C.A.S. or a supervisor.

 

COMPLAINT INVOLVING A CHILD

1. Where a person suspects on reasonable grounds that a child is, or may be in need of protection, it must be reported to child protection authorities. (In Ontario, a report must be made to a Children’s Aid Society). For the purposes of this policy, a suspicion is defined as:

• A complaint from the child.

• Circumstantial evidence, such as cries for help, unexplained physical injury, a statement of a credible eye witness to a recent complaint.

• A statement of another which is buttressed with detail from the surrounding circumstances and a credible witness who corroborates the statement of another.

Anyone who is unsure as to whether she or he should report that abuse might have occurred is encouraged to seek the advice of colleagues, supervisors, or child protection professionals. (Abuse can include physical harm, sexual abuse, neglect and/or emotional abuse.) If there is any doubt, it is preferable to err on the side of protecting the child.

Under the provisions of the Child and Family Services Act, a special obligation to report child abuse is placed on any person who in the course of their professional duties believes on reasonable grounds that a child is being abused or has been abused. This provision specifically includes staff, volunteers or student placements. Failure to report is a provincial offence. No action shall be taken by LOFT Community Services against a person who institutes his or her own report.

It should be noted that: in Ontario the duty to report suspected child abuse overrides the privilege of confidentiality (including that of doctors).

 

2. Any member of staff, volunteer or student placement who is aware of a report indicating that a child is being, or may have been abused by a member of the staff, volunteer, student placement or other person, shall inform their supervisor who will notify the CEO, or designate.

3. The CEO or designate shall immediately confirm with the child protection authorities that a report of the suspicion of abuse has been made.

4. The CEO or designate will oversee the record of all documentation provided by employees involved in an appropriate format and keep it locked in his or her office.

5. LOFT Community Services will offer to co-operate fully with child protection and/or police authorities that are investigating reports of child abuse. It is the responsibility of the C.A.S. and police to conduct a full and complete investigation.

6. The CEO or designate will contact the child’s family following consultation with the Children’s Aid Society (and/or investigating police department).

7. The CEO or designate will notify the respondent of the report, unless there are concerns that such notification will impede the progress of the investigation. The staff member is entitled to have representation in any meetings involving this matter.

8. The CEO, in consultation with the Director of Human Resources, may offer the support of a professional counsellor to the respondent (and their family as appropriate.)

9. Where a staff member, volunteer or student placement is accused of child abuse, that person shall normally be removed from work-related duties at the discretion of the CEO, until all investigations and legal proceedings are completed and the CEO or designate is satisfied that the person poses no risk to children. This removal implies no inference of guilt and may be reviewed periodically.

 

10. All public communication is to be made only by the CEO or designate with due regard to confidentiality of the affected parties and the principle of innocence until guilt is proven.

11. Following the completion of all criminal and/or civil proceedings, LOFT Community Services has the right and obligation to conduct an internal investigation to determine whether the accused person poses a hazard to children or vulnerable persons. The CEO or designate shall appoint a committee of review to conduct an internal enquiry and advise as to whether the respondent shall be reinstated in any duties having to do with children or vulnerable persons. Persons who have been found in a criminal proceeding to have committed sexual abuse of a child shall under no circumstances be given duties where they may be in contact with children. In the case of acquittal of a person charged with sexual abuse of a child (or where charges have not been proceeded with), LOFT Community Services reserves the right to make an independent determination of the facts and the potential risks posed by the respondent, based on a standard of the balance of probabilities, and erring on the side of protecting children and vulnerable persons.

12. Where a respondent is fully exonerated of the accusation, this determination will be announced publicly.

13. Where a complaint is sustained, a copy of the decision shall be maintained in the respondent’s Human Resources file. When a complaint is not sustained, there shall be no record of it in the Human Resources. However, summary documentation of the case shall be maintained in the confidential file of the Human Resources department.

 

Discipline

Individuals found guilty of sexual abuse will be disciplined up to and including dismissal. The nature and type of discipline shall be determined by the severity and frequency of the incidents.

If it is determined that the complaint was initiated maliciously, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against the individual who filed the complaint.

 

Appeal

An appeal of the decision may be made within seven (7) days according to the LOFT Community Services policy on Dispute Resolution Process. The appeal must be made in writing to Human Resources with the reasons for the appeal. Human Resources shall respond within seven (7) days of the written request for appeal.

 

 

 

THE COMPLAINT INVOLVING AN ADULT

1. Any person may notify management that he/she wishes to make a formal complaint of sexual abuse. If the sexual activity forming the basis of the complaint is defined as criminal under the Criminal Code of Canada, the manager (or other person hearing the complaint) will encourage the complainant to report this matter to the police. The manager may assist the complainant in doing so. No report will be made to the police without the consent of the adult complainant unless there is a grave concern that others may be at similar risk of abuse. If the complainant chooses not to report the matter to the police, the complaint will be investigated according to complaint procedure in this policy.

 

If the Complainant was a Minor at the Time

2. Where the complaint involves abuse that allegedly occurred when the adult complainant was a child, no report will be made without the consent of the complainant unless there is suspicion that other children are currently being abused, or the person receiving the report has grave concerns for the safety of other persons. If it appears that other children may currently be abused, the person hearing the complaint will follow the procedures in, “Complaint Involving a Child or Vulnerable Adult.”

 

Co-operating with the Authorities:

3. Where a staff member, volunteer or student placement becomes aware that a complaint of sexual abuse may be made, or has been made to the police against an employee, volunteer or student placement, the person who is aware of the complaint will report this immediately to their manager who will inform the CEO or designate. LOFT Community Services will offer to co-operate fully with authorities that are investigating reports of sexual abuse.

4. The respondent will be notified of the complaint by the manager, in consultation with the CEO or designate responsible for the respondent, unless there are concerns that such notification will impede the progress of the investigation.

5. The manager, in consultation with the CEO or designate, will contact the complainant and the respondent (and their families if appropriate), to offer the support of a professional counsillor, but only after investigating authorities indicate that it is acceptable to do so, in order not to interfere with the progress of the investigation.

6. Where a staff member, volunteer or a student placement is accused of sexual abuse, that person shall normally be removed from work-related duties at the discretion of the CEO until all investigations and legal proceedings are completed, and the CEO or designate is satisfied that the respondent poses no risk to vulnerable persons. This removal implies no inference of guilt and may be reviewed periodically.

7. All public communication is to be made by the CEO or designate with due regard to confidentiality of the affected parties and the principle of innocence until guilt is proven.

8. Following the completion of all criminal and/or civil proceedings, LOFT Community Services has the right and obligation to conduct an internal investigation to determine whether the accused person poses a hazard to vulnerable persons. The CEO or delegate shall appoint a committee of review to conduct an internal enquiry and advise as to whether the respondent shall be reinstated. In the case of an acquittal of a person charged with criminal sexual activity (or where charges have not been proceeded with), LOFT Community Services reserves the right to make an independent determination of the facts and the potential risks posed by the respondent based on a standard of the balance of probabilities, and erring on the side of protecting children and vulnerable persons.

9. Where a respondent is fully exonerated of the accusation, this determination will be announced publicly.

10. Where a complaint is sustained, a copy of the decision shall be maintained in the respondent’s Human Resources file. When a complaint is not sustained, there shall be no record of it in the Human Resources file. However, summary documentation of the case shall be maintained in the confidential file of the Human Resources department.

 

Discipline

Individuals found guilty of sexual abuse will be disciplined up to and including dismissal. The nature and type of discipline shall be determined by the severity and frequency of the incidents.

If it is determined that the complaint was initiated maliciously, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against the individual who filed the complaint.

 

Appeal

An appeal of the decision may be made within seven (7) days according to the LOFT Community Services policy on Dispute Resolution Process. The appeal must be made in writing to Human Resources with the reasons for the appeal. Human Resources shall respond within seven (7) days of the written request for appeal.

Procedures:

See program manual.