Wednesday, 18th October 2017

Caring for Children

Posted on 17. Jun, 2016 in Uncategorized

Caring for Children

The Pontifical Irish College’s Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedures

Posted on website on 17th June 2016.



The main function of the Pontifical Irish College is the formation of priests.  In pursuing this important task, we are mindful of the future role our priests will have with children and young people. We recognise the need, in our formation programmes, to emphasise that ministry with children needs to take cognisance of children’s rights to be safe and to be cherished as a gift of God. In addition, this policy document sets out how children we work with, in the College and in all our ministries, will be safeguarded from harm.

Most of the children who visit the Pontifical Irish College will do so in the company of their parents.  Whilst recognising the role parents play in ensuring the safety of their own Children, the Pontifical Irish College also takes this responsibility seriously.  The Policy and Procedures set out below indicate how we will create a safe environment for children and how we will respond to any concerns of a safeguarding nature.

We are pleased in the Pontifical Irish College to have the opportunity to work with parents in the preparation of children for the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation and have families participate in our Sunday celebration of the Eucharist and other College activities.

Over the past decades the Church in Ireland has published a number of documents on the issue of child protection.  On 19 March 2010, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, wrote a pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland.   This safeguarding policy and procedures document is based on these documents and on the relevant civil and canonical legislation.  While obviously not located in Ireland, the Pontifical Irish College works with all of the Bishops of Ireland and is under the trusteeship of the four Archbishops of Ireland, the Chairman of the Council for Finance and General Purposes Committee and the Bishops of Raphoe, Derry, Limerick and Elphin.  The Safeguarding Children Committee of the Pontifical Irish College has taken the decision to base the College safeguarding policy and procedures on guidance agreed by the Irish Episcopal Conference.

The aim of this policy is to help the Pontifical Irish College meet its obligations to safeguard children and young people who participate in all College related activities.

We look forward to working with families to create a safe welcoming environment for the young people who take part in our liturgies, sacramental preparation and other events.

 Monsignor Ciarán O Carroll


Standard 1: Policy Statement

Standard 2: How we Respond to Child Protection Allegations

Standard 3: Preventing Harm to Children

Standrad 4: Training and Education for Keeping Children Safe

Standrad 5: Communicating our Message

Standard 6: Access to Advice and Support

Standard 7: Implementation and Monitoring

APPENDIX 1: Categories of abuse

APPENDIX 2: Annual child protection review carried out by DLP

APPENDIX 3:Code of behaviour for young people

APPENDIX 4:Contact Details

APPENDIX 5:Declaration forms for adults

APPENDIX 6:Poster for all staff

APPENDIX 7:Declaration email to be sent to external groups

1       Policy Statement – Valuing young people

While the primary role of the Pontifical Irish College is the formation of future priests and the ongoing formation of those already ordained, children and young people have a very important place in the life of the College. We celebrate their faith at Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation; their energies and initiatives play a vital role in many of our activities.  We are always eager to encourage their active participation in the life of the College.  Towards this end, we are committed to doing everything we can to create a safe and welcoming environment for our young people, where their welfare is paramount.  It is our policy to ensure that our young people will be protected and supported in all college related activities.

Definition of College Related Activities

For the purposes of this policy college related activities are those that involve children and young people, are held in the College buildings and are organized or facilitated by college staff or students.  Included in these activities are:

  • The celebration of Sunday Eucharist
  • Preparation programmes for the Sacraments of Reconciliation, First Holy Communion & Confirmation
  • The annual family picnic organised by the Irish Club of Rome.

Activities carried out in Villa Irlanda are not included in this definition.

The College envisages the sacramental preparation of children as collaboration between the College, parents and the wider family group. These programmes require ongoing contact and effective communication between the College and the families and, where appropriate, the child’s school. The formation of children is a collective mission based on shared values on the part of all those responsible so as to help the child grow into a responsible Christian adult.

Parents/guardians upon signing in the child for preparation for reception of the sacraments grants his/her consent to the College to use the child’s personal data strictly for the religious purposes envisaged.

We are committed to following best practice in the area of child welfare by insisting on safe practices, eliminating the necessity for people to take risks and providing them with support that will make for healthier and safer gatherings.  This policy applies to all staff, priests, religious, seminarians, ancillary staff and volunteers who work within the Pontifical Irish College where people under the age of 18 are involved in college related activities.


Definition of Activities Held by External Groups in the College

In situations where the College is used by external groups to hold activities with young people, use of the College facilities will require the group to confirm in writing that they have appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures in place for working with children and young people as well as suitable insurance cover.


2   How We Respond to Child Protection Allegations and Concerns

It is important to emphasise that where child protection concerns arise, either currently or historically, information will be shared with those in civil and church authority who  ‘need to know’, thus ensuring that our focus is on the best interests of the child. Sharing information in this regard is not a breach of confidentiality. It is best practice that complainants, parents and children are told if sensitive personal information is being shared.

When concerns are raised about the welfare of any child taking part in programmes at the Pontifical Irish College and related activities, whether suspected or disclosed, such concerns will be brought to the attention of the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) who will report to the Rector or Vice Rector for further notification to the civil authorities according to the flowchart below.

Child safeguarding diagram


These concerns can be in four different categories: neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Guidance on how to recognise each is given in the document at Appendix 1.

The DLP can be contacted directly using his contact details (Appendix 4) which are available on the notice boards (Appendix 6) or through the Rector or Vice Rector of the College. This person has been selected because he has good listening skills and sufficient knowledge about child protection issues. He is familiar with College activities and we are grateful that he is available to the College to help us create an ever more child-friendly spirit in our pastoral ministry.

The Role of the Designated Liaison Person is:

  • To receive allegations of child abuse.
  • To provide advice, guidance and assistance regarding a safeguarding issue or how to report a concern or allegation of abuse.
  • To act as a link person between the Pontifical Irish College and the civil authorities when there is a child protection concern

The Designated Liaison Person will:

  • gather information regarding concerns or suspicions or allegations
  • seek advice and guidance from Italian social services and/or the National Board if necessary
  • make a referral to the Italian statutory authorities as appropriate
  • inform the Rector
  • record relevant factual information
  • report back to the complainant on action taken
  • ensure that counselling and support is offered to the complainant
  • assist the Rector if requested in managing any church inquiry
  • ensure that an adviser is appointed to the respondent

If the Rector and the DLP are not in agreement as to how to proceed, the matter must be brought to the attention of the Chairman of the Trustees of the College and upon his concurrence the DLP will proceed accordingly. However, in all cases where he considers it appropriate, the DLP has the power and authority to proceed to inform the appropriate civil authorities immediately and directly.

If young people express concerns to members of the College or its staff, it is our aim that they will feel comfortable about voicing the matter in a safe, supportive, understanding and sensitive environment.  The following point is very important: You cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality under any circumstances to a person who wishes to speak to you about a situation of abuse or suspected abuse.  All adults working with children are expected to deal with the matter by bringing the information to the DLP, doing so promptly where children may still be in danger.  It is the policy of the Pontifical Irish College, through the DLP, to make referrals to the Italian statutory authorities of all such cases.  (This does not apply to situations involving the Sacramental Seal, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), which is inviolable.)

 The following actions should be taken in the event of disclosure

  • Stay calm and listen – give the child the time to say what he or she wants to say.
  • Do not ask leading questions or make suggestions.
  • Do not stop the child recalling significant events but do not make him or her repeat the story unnecessarily.
  • Reassure the child that they have done the right thing but do not promise to keep a secret.
  • Explain what needs to be done next in age appropriate terms.
  • Record the discussion as carefully as possible, passing it on to the Designated Liaison Person.

The College’s Safeguarding Children Committee will ensure the implementation and review of these procedures.


3    Preventing Harm to Children

The Pontifical Irish College is fully committed to “Safeguarding Children – Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland”. The Pontifical Irish College encourages environments that minimise the risk of children and young people being abused by:

  • Adopting safe recruitment and vetting practices
  • Implementing Codes of Behaviour for adults and children
  • Operating safe activities for children
  • Ensuring adequate supervision ratios of adults to children
  • Obtaining Parental Consent for children and young people participating in activities
  • Ensuring safe access to IT equipment

Code of Behaviour

We recognise the need to develop a culture of safety within the College and in the ministries of existing and future priests.  All our staff including kitchen staff, ancillary staff, priests, religious and seminarians will become familiar with, and adhere to, the following codes of behaviour when working with children in College-related activities:

  • All those working with children are expected to create an environment where children are valued, encouraged and affirmed, have their rights respected and are treated as people endowed with human dignity eliminating as far as possible any threatening, violent or degrading behaviour.
  • There must always be an adequate and appropriate number of adults present to supervise activities; depending on the ages and activities involved, it is recommended that there should be two adults per group of eight, allowing for an additional adult for each group of eight thereafter.
  • All children will be treated with equal respect; favouritism is not acceptable and physical and emotional boundaries must be respected.
  • Emphasis is placed on listening to young people.
  • Participants should not be left unattended.
  • Sexual abuse, verbal abuse, neglect, bullying or physical punishment of children is not permissible under any circumstances.
  • Facilities for College activities must be suitable, safe and secure.
  • No adult working with children or young people in College related activities should spend any time alone with a child or undertake any journey alone with a child or young person; in exceptional circumstances, if only one adult is available, there should be a minimum of two young people present.
  • Meetings with young people will take place in locations which allow for transparency and accountability (designated office or room with clear glass window or an open door); visits to private homes in the absence of parents are not acceptable.
  • Only age-appropriate language, contact and materials are permissible.
  • Under no circumstances should those working with children use, provide or permit alcohol, tobacco or drugs when working with young people.
  • Photographs of young people taking part in these activities can only be taken and published with parental permission.
  • Records of attendance and parental consent should be kept by the College; all records are kept in a safe and confidential manner.
  • An incident report should be compiled by an appointed first aid person in the event of an accident or incident taking place. This incident report should include a description of the accident and injury caused, where it took place, who was present and the action taken in response.
  • If pilgrimages and retreats are organised as a part of our pastoral programme, they will adhere to recommended guidelines in terms of parental consent, supervision ratios, insurance, contact details, health requirements and first aid, as well as the code of behaviour.
  • Young people with special needs or disabilities may depend on adults more than other children for their care and safety, so appropriately trained or experienced adults may be required; this applies likewise for children and young people who are vulnerable; the involvement of these children and young people should mean that the adult – child ratios be adjusted; consent sought; sensitivity and clear communication is essential; it is also very beneficial to develop a good understanding with their parents or guardians, and never to take on intimate care roles without the consent of the parent/carer.


Operating Safe Activities

Some further guidelines for specific activities –

Altar Servers: the sacristan will remain in the sacristy when the servers are present. Neither the priest nor the Sacristan should be alone with a child. Altar Servers should arrive and leave together; they will vest themselves without assistance; written consent to become altar servers will be sought from parents and the children; practices will be arranged in cooperation with parents, having the appropriate number of supervisors present; any stores are considered out of bounds.

College Facilities: we require all non-College groups using these facilities to have  confirmed in writing that they have suitable insurance and their own child  safeguarding policies in place before using the College facilities (Appendix 7)


Safe Recruitment and vetting

Before an adult (including staff or students of the College) is assigned to work with children, the College will clearly identify the description of the roles to be filled as well as the minimum qualities and skills required.  Application forms are to be completed, collecting relevant information including any past experience in this area and a declaration that there is no reason why one is unsuitable for working with young people.  References should be supplied and followed.  It is advisable to meet with applicants as this provides an opportunity to discuss the person’s application form, suitability for working with children, as well as exploring some important aspects of the work, including child protection awareness and possible vetting by the civil authorities. Safe practice starts with safe recruitment procedures. 


  1. Training and Education for keeping Children Safe

Training and awareness raising is necessary and will be provided to all priests, religious, seminarians, key staff and volunteers on an annual basis. The College’s Safeguarding Children Committee will ensure appropriate training.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church has developed training materials which have been accepted by the Church as appropriate for use and will be delivered in the Pontifical Irish College. In addition, those who hold additional safeguarding roles will avail of other relevant training provided by NBSCCCI and other appropriate agencies.


  1. Communicating our Message

Contact details and the process of raising a concern or making an allegation is displayed in appropriate public places in the Pontifical Irish College and on our website.

The College’s safeguarding policy is distributed to all seminarians at the beginning of the year.  Each seminarian returns a signed declaration indicating that he has read and accepts the policy.

Each postgraduate student/priest receives a copy of the safeguarding policy at the  beginning of the year and returns a signed declaration indicating that he has read and accepts the policy.

A copy of the safeguarding policy is given to all parents of children involved in the College’s catechetical programme at the beginning of the programme. 


  1. Access to Advice and Support

Anyone who makes an allegation of abuse against a member of staff, seminarian or volunteer in the college will be offered a support person and access to ‘Towards Healing’

Anyone accused of abuse will be offered an adviser to support them through all stages of the process.

The Designated Liaison Person and Rector can seek advice from NBSCCCI. 


  1. Implementation and Monitoring

The Safeguarding Children Committee will ensure that all personnel, seminarians and postgraduates priests/students are familiar with this policy and procedures and that they sign their agreement to the code of conduct.

Training in the policy and procedure will be organised at regular intervals.

A review of the policy and procedures will be conducted at key points in the year with the safeguarding committee and annually in line with the procedure set out in Appendix 2.



Categories of Abuse

Child abuse is generally categorised into four broad groups: neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. A child may be subject to more than one form of abuse during his or her childhood.

Neglect can be defined in terms of an omission, where the child suffers significant harm or impairment of development by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, intellectual stimulation, supervision and safety, attachment to and affection from adults, and medical care.

Neglect can also be an act of commission: some people intentionally neglect a child’s needs.  Hence the charge of ‘wilful neglect’ (often combined with a child cruelty charge).

Neglect generally becomes apparent in different ways over a period of time rather than at one specific point. It is the persistent failure to meet a child’s physical, emotional and/or psychological needs that is likely to result in significant harm.

 Emotional abuse is normally to be found in the relationship between a parent/carer and a child rather than in a specific event or pattern of events. It occurs when a child’s need for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met. Unless other forms of abuse are present, it is rarely manifested in terms of physical signs or symptoms.

Emotional abuse occurs when adults responsible for taking care of children are unable/ unwilling to be aware of and meet their children’s emotional and developmental needs.

 Physical abuse is any form of non-accidental injury or injury that results from wilful or neglectful failure to protect a child.

Examples of physical abuse include:

  • Shaking;  hitting;
  • Use of excessive force in handling;
  • Deliberate poisoning;
  • Suffocation;
  • Fabricated/induced illness
  • Allowing or creating a substantial risk of significant harm to a child.

Sexual Abuse occurs when a child or young person is used by another person for his or her gratification or sexual arousal or for that of others.

Examples of child sexual abuse include:

  • exposure of the sexual organs or any sexual act intentionally performed in the  presence of the child;
  • intentional touching or molesting of the body of a child whether by a person or object for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification;
  • masturbation in the presence of the child or the involvement of the child in an act of masturbation;
  • sexual intercourse with the child, whether oral, vaginal or anal;
  • sexual exploitation of a child, which includes inciting, encouraging, propositioning, requiring or permitting a child to solicit for, or to engage in, prostitution or other sexual acts;
  • Sexual exploitation also occurs when a child is involved in the exhibition, modelling or posing for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification or sexual act;
  • It may also include showing sexually explicit material to children, which is often a feature of the ‘grooming’ process by perpetrators of abuse;
  • accessing/downloading child pornography;
  • Consensual sexual activity involving an adult and an underage person.



Annual child protection review conducted by the Designated Liaison Person

List all child-related activities in the College and any child protection training undertaken in the past 12 months.  Check that the following practices are in place:

  • Does each group have adequate and appropriate number of adults to supervise activities in line with recommended ratios?
  • Were proper recruitment procedures including application, interview, references and declaration undertaken?
  • Were new members of staff and students trained as required?
  • Are participants in these activities left unattended?
  • Are all facilities in use up to health and safety standards?
  • Are guidelines on travel arrangements and individual meetings with young people being followed?
  • Have issues arisen relating to any of the following – inappropriate behaviour, photographs, internet, overnight trips?
  • Are all records – consent, medical needs, recruitment, incident report forms etc – up to date?
  • Have volunteers expressed concerns about acceptable behaviour of participants?
  • Have participants and parents been made aware of Pontifical Irish College policies relating to child protection, good behaviour, complaints procedure?
  • Were the altar servers given proper training and attention during the past year?
  • Is best practice being followed when dealing with minors working in the College?
  • Do groups from outside the College using our facilities have suitable insurance and their own child protection policies?
  • Have visiting clergy provided some indication that they are in good standing? The College should check a current celebret or some formal communication from the superior of the visiting member of the clergy.

The review concludes with an assessment of the handling of disclosures, concerns and complaints received.



Code of behaviour for young people taking part in College activities


  • The Pontifical Irish College expects that young people will act respectfully of themselves, their supervisors and fellow participants.
  • Participants must accept the ground rules of activities which supervisors will clearly explain to them. Signed consent from parents will be sought.
  • Parents should be asked to indicate if their children have any specific dietary requirements, medical conditions or special needs.
  • Young people will not have access to the use of email or the internet when participating in our College activities. All participants will be requested to turn off their mobile phones during activities.
  • Young people may not enter the private areas of the College (i.e. the first and second floors).  Only the ground floor and the basement floor are available to young people.
  • Breaches of discipline and disruptive behaviour, including bullying, will be dealt with in a manner that is fair and transparent by more than one adult; discipline issues will be handled in partnership with parents (or guardians) and recorded when appropriate.
  • Young people or their parents who are dissatisfied with any aspect of activities or services can follow a complaints procedure, namely to inform the leader of the programme or, when appropriate, to contact our designated person through the Rector or Vice Rector.



Contact Details

The Pontifical Irish College Designated Liaison Person for issues relating to child protection is


Revd Brian O’Sullivan, OSA

Saint Patrick’s 

Via Piemonte  60 

00187 Roma (RM)

Telephone 06 42903787


The Chairman of the trustees of the Pontifical Irish College can be contacted at:

Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Columba Centre
Co. Kildare
Tel: +353 (0)1 505 3000
Fax: +353 (0)1 601 6401


The contact for the civil authorities is

 Carabinieri Stazione Celio


00184 Roma (RM)

 Telephone 06 7009745



Declaration form for all adults working with children and young people in Irish College activities



Surname            ________________________

Christian Name _________________________

Date of birth       _______________________

Place of birth       ______________________

Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offence or been the subject of a Caution or of a Bound Over order.



If yes, please state the nature and date(s) of the offence(s)

Date of offence          ____________________

Nature of offence





Date: _________________





Poster for all staff

Safeguarding Children


Policy Statement


While the primary role of the Pontifical Irish College is the formation of future priests and the ongoing formation of those already ordained, children and young people have a very important place in the life of the College.

 We celebrate their faith at Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation; their energies and initiatives play a vital role in many of our activities.  We are always eager to encourage their active participation in the life of the College.  Towards this end, we are committed to doing everything we can to create a safe and welcoming environment for our young people, where their welfare is paramount.  It is our policy to ensure that our young people will be protected and supported in all college related activities.

 Therefore concerns or allegations of misconduct are to be taken seriously and dealt with strictly in line with the law.  To this end we have in place effective written policies and procedures outlining the role and responsibilities of the College which can be accessed on the child safeguarding section of the College website,

 All clergy, staff, seminarians, volunteers and all who have a pastoral role involving children and young people in the College are obliged to uphold the highest standards of safeguarding in order to prevent harm to children.

 If you have concerns or if you are worried that a child has been abused or are concerned that they are in danger of being abused whilst in the College, it is your responsibility to pass this information on to the Designated Liaison Person whose name and contact details are:

Revd Brian O’Sullivan, OSA

Saint Patrick’s 

Via Piemonte  60 

00187 Roma (RM)

Telephone 06 42903787




Declaration email to be sent by groups using the college facilities if the activity involves children and young people:



Thank you for your interest in using the facilities of the  Pontifical Irish College.

The College is always eager to encourage the active participation of children and young people.  Towards this end, we are committed to doing everything we can to create a safe and welcoming environment for our young people, where their welfare is paramount.  It is our policy to ensure that our young people will be protected and supported in all college related activities.

As part of this policy we would be pleased to offer the hire of (INSERT NAME OF FACILITY), subject to you providing a copy of adequate insurance cover for the activity you hope to undertake and advising that you have appropriate policy and procedures in place to safeguard children.

Please forward on a copy of your insurance details for the activity you hope to undertake, and also confirm that you have an appropriate child safeguarding policy in place, in writing by return email or by letter to the address below.


Yours Sincerely

Monsignor Ciarán O Carroll


Pontificio Collegio Irlandese

Via dei Santi Quattro, 1,

00184 Roma