Child Protection Policy


Whakaata Tohu Tohu/Mirror Services is committed to the care, well-being and interests of children and young people as our first and paramount consideration.

This commitment always means that the safety of the child/young person will be given primary consideration when decisions are made about a child or young person suspected of, or who discloses, being harmed physically, emotionally, or sexually, or harming others physically, emotionally or sexually.  All allegations of neglect, harm and/or abuse will be taken seriously, and responded to promptly by the staff member.

The designated person for child protection (Clinical Team Leaders of MCS, Mirror HQ, MYDP) will be responsible for the maintenance and annual review of this policy, in addition to carrying out the responsibilities outlined in this policy.  Staff will not assume responsibility beyond the level of their experience and training. Our organisation commits to ensuring staff have access to the training they require.

This policy is consistent with MCOT and Police guidelines and will be updated when new guidance is issued.

Purpose, Scope and Principles:

This policy supports staff to respond appropriately to potential child protection concerns, including suspected neglect, harm and/or abuse.  It is our organisation’s commitment to protect children from neglect, harm and/or abuse and to recognise the important roles all staff have in protecting them.

This policy provides a broad framework and expectations to protect children/young people including (but not limited to) staff behaviour’s in response to actual or suspected neglect, harm and/or abuse.  It applies to all staff, including volunteers and part-time or temporary roles and contractors.  It is intended to protect all children/young people that staff may encounter, including siblings, the children/young people of adults accessing services and any other children/young people encountered by staff as they provide their service.

In addition to guiding staff to make referrals of suspected neglect, harm and/or abuse to the statutory agencies i.e. MCOT and the Police, this policy will also help staff to identify and respond to the needs of children whose wellbeing is of concern.

We recognise that in many of these cases, the involvement of statutory agencies would be inappropriate and potentially harmful to whānau.  Throughout New Zealand statutory and non-statutory agencies provide a network of mutually supportive services, and it is important for our organisation to work with these agencies to respond to the needs of vulnerable children/young people and whānau in a manner proportionate to the level of need and risk. 


  • Child– any child aged under 14 years old.
  • Child protection – activities carried out to ensure that children/young people are safe in cases where there is suspected or risk of neglect, harm and/or abuse.
  • Designated person for child protection –Clinical Team Leaders are responsible for providing advice and support to staff where they have a concern about an individual child/young person or who want advice about the child protection policy.
  • Disclosure – information given to a staff member by a child, parent or caregiver or a third party in relation to neglect, harm and/or abuse.
  • Ministry for Children Oranga Tamariki (MCOT) – the agency responsible for investigating and responding to suspected neglect, harm and/or abuse and for providing care and protection to children found to be in need.
  • New Zealand Police – the agency responsible for responding to situations where a child is in immediate danger and for working with MCOT in child protection work and investigating cases of neglect, harm and/or abuse where an offence may have occurred.
  • Young Person – a person of or over the age of 14 years but under 18 years and who is not married or in a civil union.


Is any behaviour that takes place without the willing consent of all individuals involved, is coercive or violent in nature and involves exploitation of power in any way.  No form of physical, sexual or verbal harassment or violence will be sanctioned or minimised in any way. See below for further detail.

  • Physical abuse – any acts that may result in physical harm of a child/ young person.

It can be, but is not limited to: bruising, cutting, hitting, beating, biting, burning, causing abrasions, strangulation, suffocation, drowning, poisoning and fabricated or induced illness.

  • Sexual Abuse is - the involvement of children/young people in sexual actions to which:-

they cannot fully comprehend,

they cannot give informed consent, and

violates the social taboos of family roles.

involves the betrayal of trust and responsibility, abuse of power, and the inability of children to consent.

  • Contact abuse: touching breasts, genital/anal fondling, masturbation, oral sex, penetrative or non-penetrative contact with the anus or genitals, encouraging the child/young person to perform such acts on the perpetrator or another, involvement of the child/young person in activities for the purposes of pornography or prostitution.
  • Non-contact abuse: exhibitionism, voyeurism, exposure to pornographic or sexual imagery, inappropriate photography or depictions of sexual or suggestive behaviours or comments.
  • Emotional abuse – any act or omission that results in adverse or impaired psychological, social, intellectual and emotional functioning or development. This can include:
  • Patterns of isolation, degradation, constant criticism or negative comparison to others. Isolating, corrupting, exploiting or terrorising a child/young person can also be emotional abuse.
  • Exposure to whānau or intimate partner violence.
  • Neglect – neglect is the most common form of abuse and although the effects may not be as obvious as physical abuse, it is just as serious. Neglect can be:

Physical (not providing the necessities of life like a warm place, food and clothing).

Emotional (not providing comfort, attention and love).

Neglectful supervision (leaving children without someone safe looking after them).

Medical neglect (not taking care of health needs).

Educational neglect (allowing chronic truancy, failure to enrol in education or inattention to education needs).

Identifying Neglect, Harm or Abuse:

Our approach to identifying neglect, harm or abuse is guided by the following principles:

  • We understand that every situation is different, that it is important to consider all available information about the child/young person and their environment before reaching conclusions. For example, behavioural concerns may be the result of life events, such as divorce, accidental injury, the arrival of a new sibling etc.
  • We understand when we are concerned a child/young person is showing signs of potential neglect, harm and/or abuse we should talk to the child or young person about what they are experiencing and what they would like to have happen We also discuss with them the need for discussing their situation with someone else to work out how to best advise and assist them, either the designated person for child protection, or a colleague – we shouldn’t act alone.
  • While there are different definitions of abuse, the important thing is for us to consider overall wellbeing and the risk of harm to the child/young person. It is not so important to be able to categorise the type of neglect, harm or abuse.
  • It is normal for us to feel uncertain, however, the important thing is that we should be able to recognise when something is wrong, especially if we notice a pattern forming or several signs that make us concerned.
  • Exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) is a form of child abuse. There is a high rate of co-occurrence between IPV and the physical abuse of children.

Recognising the signs of potential abuse:

  • Physical signs (g. unexplained injuries, burns, fractures, unusual or excessive itching, genital injuries, sexually transmitted diseases).
  • Developmental delays (e.g. small for their age, cognitive delays, falling behind in school, poor speech and social skills).
  • Emotional abuse/neglect (g. sleep problems, low self-esteem, obsessive behaviour, inability to cope in social situations, sadness/loneliness and evidence of self-harm).
  • Behavioural concerns (e.g. age-inappropriate sexual interest or play, fear of a certain person or place, eating disorders, substance abuse, disengagement/neediness, aggression).
  • The child talking about things that indicate abuse (sometimes called an allegation or disclosure).

Awareness of the signs of potential neglect:

  • Physical signs (e.g. looking rough and uncared for, dirty, without appropriate clothing, underweight).
  • Developmental delays (e.g. small for their age, cognitive delays, falling behind in school, poor speech and social skills).
  • Emotional abuse/neglect (e.g. sleep problems, low self-esteem, obsessive behaviour, inability to cope in social situations, sadness/loneliness and evidence of self-harm).
  • Behavioural concerns (e.g. disengagement/neediness, eating disorders, substance abuse, aggression).
  • Neglectful supervision (e.g. out and about unsupervised, left alone, no safe home to return to).
  • Medical neglect (e.g. persistent nappy rash or skin disorders or other untreated medical issues).

Preventing Neglect, Harm or Abuse:

All children are provided with a comprehensive assessment that identifies areas of past or present neglect, harm and/or abuse.  Every effort to address these concerns is worked into a treatment plan to assist the child and/or their whānau and/or statutory agency to maintain safety for all.

Responding to Suspected Neglect, Harm and/or Abuse:

The following people can be consulted:

  1. Designated Person for Child Protection (Clinical Team Leaders)
  2. Colleagues
  3. Additionally, if further consultation is needed, the following people can also be contacted: 
  • Child Protection Worker/MCOT Social Worker
  • Director
  • Supervisor

In all cases where a member of staff has a concern about a child being or likely to be neglected, harmed and/or abused by an adult or another child or young person, it is mandatory for all concerns to be reported/referred to the Designated Person for Child Protection (and/or others in the above list) within a time period which allows for effective consultation/advice to be given.  When the decision is made not to make a Report of Concern (refer to Checklist for Mandatory Reporting over page), key staff will be involved in the formulation of a plan to address the concerns. Keeping the child, young person and/or whānau informed of each step of the process, as well as having their input on decisions will assist with achieving the best outcomes and help them with understanding your responsibilities.

A Report of Concern to MCOT can be made at any time following the process below.

Recording Allegations of Abuse

Recording an allegation of abuse will be done as soon as possible after each session.  All recording should be:-

  • Written up in ink, factual, accurate, timely, concise, and dated.

     Memory can be unreliable.  Recording clarifies thinking and enables accountability.

The record should reflect:-

  • the seriousness of risk to the child/young person
  • what appropriate follow-up action is required.

Information should include:-

  • type of abuse suspected.
  • when and where the suspected abuse is said to have taken place.
  • the perpetrator of the abuse, if known or disclosed.
  • actions of protecting adult (if one).
  • who noticed the abuse, and their relationship to the child/young person.
  • who reported the abuse and their relationship to the child/young person.
  • signs and symptoms for example; physical, emotional, sexual, behaviour.
  • particular incidents and dates, times and places if appropriate.
  • action taken, including any medical attention, complaint to police.
  • proposed plan of action.

Prime consideration must be given to ensuring that the child/young person is made safe from further possible neglect harm and/or abuse.  This is of paramount importance, and all steps necessary to bring this about must be taken.  If there is imminent risk of serious harm the police must be contacted immediately.

Report of Concern to MCOT (of Neglect, Harm and/or Abuse)

  1. If there are any concerns for the safety and well-being of a child/young person, or the clinical staff member receives information from either a child/young person, their whānau or a third party that they believe puts the child/young person at risk, the staff member will discuss with the child/young person and whānau members (if appropriate), and the people listed above to assess whether a Report of Concern is required. The staff member needs to take into account a range of considerations in the decision-making process (refer to Identifying Neglect, Harm and/or Abuse) including the developmental age and stage of the child. Discussion needs to occur with the above people before taking action, we should not act alone.
  2. Immediately after a decision is reached to make a Report of Concern, MCOT will be contacted, and informed that there is a care and protection issue. The individual staff member will retain the clinical role, if appropriate, working in partnership with the child/young person and whānau & MCOT worker.
  3. The individual staff member will ensure that whānau members are informed at the earliest possible time, as long as it does not compromise the safety of the child/young person, and that they are supported in a caring and meaningful manner. The staff member will discuss with the child/young person and/or whānau their concerns and explain their intentions to make a report and the reason why. The nature of the situation will determine how support is most appropriately provided. It is important that any interaction does not undermine the whānau ability to help themselves or seek assist.
  4. An MCOT Report of Concern form is completed with an emphasis on the impact the neglect, harm and/or abuse is having on the child/young person and emailed to MCOT.

Email to:

  1. The Report is recorded on the Report of Concern Register in the Team Meeting Minutes folder.
  2. The staff member will document the outcome of the Report of Concern and report back to the team meeting within four weeks. The Clinical Team Leader will review the Report of Concern Register monthly.
  3. The response received from Oranga Tamariki is filed on the child or young person’s health record.
  4. Following a Report of Concern, de-briefing with the Clinical Team Leader is expected.

Checklist for Mandatory Reportin

Is a Report of Concern to be made?

Yes /  No  If no why not?               

Are the Police/MCOT to be contacted immediately?   

Yes /  No  If no, why not?

Has the whānau been contacted?

  Yes /  No If no, why not?


Suspected Child/Young Person Abuse by a Staff Member

When it is alleged that the harm and or abuse has been perpetrated by a member of staff, the matter will be reported immediately to the Director, Board, and to the statutory authorities.

While an investigation is being conducted, the staff member under suspicion will be suspended from all duties on full pay.

While the investigation is in process the Director has the responsibility to ensure that the child/young person concerned is not only safe but is also given continued appropriate support.

Similarly the Director has the responsibility to ensure that the staff member under suspicion, and their whānau are given the support they need during the time of the inquiry, and beyond.

If the staff member under suspicion resigns before the investigation is complete, the Director will continue to work through the investigation process to completion.

Settlement Agreements

Mirror Services commits to not use “settlement agreements” where these are contrary to a culture of child protection.  Some settlement agreements allow a member of staff to agree to resign provided that no disciplinary action is taken, and a future reference is agreed.  Where the conduct at issue concerns the safety or wellbeing of a child/young person, use of such agreements is contrary to a culture of child protection and will not be used.

Confidentiality and Information Sharing

All observations after an investigation has been notified will be kept in writing but the file will be sealed for confidential reasons. 

The Privacy Act 1993 and the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 allow information to be shared to keep children/young people safe when abuse or suspected abuse is reported or investigated.  Note that under sections 15 and 16 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, any person who believes that a child/young person has been, or is likely to be harmed physically, emotionally or sexually or ill-treated, abused, neglected or deprived may report the matter to MCOT or the Police and, provided the report is made in good faith, no civil, criminal or disciplinary proceedings may be brought against them.

Recruitment and employment

Mirror Services recruitment policy reflects a commitment to child protection by including comprehensive screening procedures.  Safety checks are carried out as required by the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. 

Training of Staff

Management will provide child protection training for all service delivery staff.  Staff will attend child protection training as outlined in their individual plan.  Additionally, training will be provided annually.

All staff with service delivery responsibilities are required to undertake child abuse and neglect intervention training.