Child Protection Policy in Schools
Vinschool Education System aims to provide a safe, positive environment for all its students. However, our staff recognise that not all schools can be immune from the occurrence of child abuse.
Child protection policy can be developed and implemented as part of a school’s overall duty of care to its pupils. It should include the following areas:
Prevention should be a key component of any child protection policy. This requires an awareness of the risks, understanding what constitutes abuse and neglect, recognizing the signs and symptoms, and knowing what to do in a crisis.
Teachers have an important role to play in detecting and reporting suspected child maltreatment. But their effectiveness can only be achieved if they receive appropriate in-service training on child protection issues.
A comprehensive child protection policy can help schools develop strategies for prevention that are suited to their particular environment and circumstances. For example, prevention strategies for one-on-one youth mentoring might be very different from those used in team sports activities.
School counselors should be aware of available programs to promote student well-being and should participate in child abuse awareness training. They can also serve as mentors for student groups and be a resource to parents on issues such as positive parenting. CIS member schools should consider consulting with local social service agencies, law enforcement, legal counsel and risk managers on their child safety policies.
Schools provide a safe place where children can learn and develop friendships, and gain the skills they need for their future. But for millions of children around the world, school is also a place of violence, including bullying, sexual harassment, verbal abuse and corporal punishment. Violence in the classroom can lead to physical injury and mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
Schools have a legal duty to report any suspicion of child abuse, and to work closely with local authorities to ensure that the child is protected. It is important that everyone understands their role, and the responsibilities they have, when reporting a suspected incident.
Educators must have a good understanding of the law, including child protection laws in their own country. This is vital if they are to recognize and report any concerns, which should be dealt with by the school’s Designated Liaison Person (DLP). This booklet explains different types of child maltreatment, who is required to make a report and how to complete the initial assessment of a child.
When an allegation or concern is raised, the school DLP shall decide whether there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion or concern and if so report it to Tusla – Child and Family Agency (or in the event of an emergency to An Garda Siochana). The DLP will also inform you unless doing so would put the student at risk of further harm.
In the case of an alleged abuse involving an adult connected to the school, such as a staff member or volunteer, the school must consider the risks that other students may have been impacted and take appropriate steps including providing support and referrals to health and wellbeing professionals.
CIS members can access our International Safeguarding Toolkit as part of their membership, which is an online developmental tool to help schools monitor current practices and understand opportunities for development and growth. The toolkit identifies what good practice looks like in a range of contexts and can help you create an operational safeguarding policy that aligns with national frameworks and best practice.
In many countries around the world, children experience insidious forms of violence, exploitation and abuse. They may be uprooted by conflict, natural disasters or forced migration; they are victims of child labour and trafficking; they are subjected to harmful cultural practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation.
Schools can play a key role in connecting children to vital social services and fair justice systems. They can also be safe havens for pupils experiencing harm.
Teachers, in particular, have a critical role to play as they have a professional duty to report any suspected child abuse and neglect concerns that meet a defined threshold to Tusla. It is important that they are trained in this area.
CIS has developed an online developmental toolkit for schools to monitor current practices and understand opportunities for development and growth in their safeguarding processes. The toolkit enables schools to review their current approach and create a common understanding with their school community on how they safeguard students.