The Assembly’s Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure today announced that it will carry out a focused investigation into gaps in Child Protection and Safeguarding within the culture, arts and leisure sectors, including around social media.
Considerable progress on child protection has been made within the sports’ sector, but the Committee is concerned that the same guidance and procedures should be applied consistently across all groups, clubs and organisations where children and young people are involved.
Committee Chairperson, Strangford MLA Michelle McIlveen said: “The protection of all our children is of paramount importance and the Committee wants to examine whether any gaps exist in order to ensure and promote our children’s safety. Numerous instances of the abuse of children have been brought to light in the media over recent months. It is important that Northern Ireland has the appropriate structures and guidance in place so that individuals and organisations working with children and young people are fully aware of their Child Protection and Safeguarding responsibilities.
“The Committee wants to ensure that our children are properly protected when they are involved in activities outside school, whether it is their dance classes, their music lessons, or their drama club etc. We commend the progress made across the sports sector regarding child protection procedures, and want to ensure that these are also rolled out consistently across all the sectors involving children and young people.
“The Committee will examine any gaps that exist in the protection of our children and will make recommendations to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure on how any gaps should be managed and closed.”
The Committee intends to complete its investigation and make recommendations to the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure by Easter 2013. It is likely that these recommendations will benefit other Ministers who have responsibility for sectors where the protection of children is an issue.”
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Jim Masson at Down News said: “I welcome this move by the DCAL Committee. Having worked as a weekly newspaper photographer and a photographer using social media, I have come across a number of areas that require improvement in the media industry in not only child protection but also including protection of vulnerable adults. My ideas and recommendations have been fed to the Assembly Committee.”