CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
ß The legislative basis for dealing with children in need of care and protection is provided by
The Child Care Act, 1991, which was fully implemented in December 1996. The promotion of the welfare of children is the paramount principle underpinning the Act. In addition, the Government produced National Child Protection Guidelines – “Children First” – in September 1999.
ß Ireland ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992. It contains rights relating to every aspect of children’s lives including the right to survival, development, protection and participation. It further states that rights apply to all children without exception, that all actions concerning the child shall take account of his/her best interests and that the child has the right to express his/her opinion freely and to have that opinion taken into account in any matter or procedure affecting the child.
ß In relation to legislation, “child” means a person under the age of 18 years, excluding a person who is or has been married.
ß Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures for Post Primary Schools were issued by the DES in September 2004.
ß The Child Protection Guidelines were formally adopted as policy by the BOM of this school on 15 November 2005.
ß The Principal and Deputy Principal were appointed to be Designated Liaison Person and Deputy Liaison Person.
ß The Protocol – giving DLP the authority to act immediately, without calling a Board meeting, if an allegation were made against a member of staff – was also formally adopted.
ß The Board also, in November 2005, adopted the Guidelines for the Protection of Students in Loreto Schools as issued by the Loreto Education Trust Board.
ß Formal training/in-service for all school employees in Child Protection Guidelines and Guidelines for the Protection of students in Loreto Schools took place on Friday, 09 December 2005.
ß Each employee was issued with a copy of the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures for Post Primary Schools as issued by the Department of Education in 2004, a summary of the Guidelines (Appendix 1) a copy of the Guidelines for the Protection of students in Loreto Schools (Appendix 2)
The complete guidelines are available in the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures for Post Primary Schools as issued by the Department of Education in 2004. Copies are available from the Department of Education & Science or from the school.
The Guidelines are supportive:
ß Cannot prevent the pain and suffering but they can help to limit them.
ß Offer protection to employee who reports a suspicion or allegation
Child abuse is an area where there is hurt for all concerned:
ß Children, parents and family.
ß Accused persons and their families, friends and colleagues whether guilty or innocent.
ß The entire school community is effected.
Loreto Letterkenny is a Catholic School committed to the development of the whole person. The school endeavours to develop student responsibility for learning in a safe, caring and spiritual environment where each individual experiences personal success and fulfilment.
15 November 2005 – BOM adopted:
ß Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures for Post-Primary Schools
ß Protocol authorising immediate action
ß Appointed Designated Liaison Person
ß Appointed Deputy Designated Liaison Person
ß Guidelines for Protection of Students in Loreto Schools
Child Protection Guidelines
• Ch.1 – Introduction / relevant legislation
• Ch.2 – Understanding / recognising child abuse
• Ch.3 – Responsibility of school personnel (paid / unpaid)
• Ch.4 – Reporting /role of Health Service Executive
• Ch.5 – Allegations against school employees
• Ch.6 – Peer abuse / bullying
• Appendices – report form / contacts / guidance notes
The Guidelines are based on ‘Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (1999)’
ÿ To provide information to management and school personnel
ÿ To enable them to be alert and aware
ÿ To enable them to take appropriate steps where there is an allegation suspicion
“All personnel involved in organisations working with children should be alert to the possibility of child abuse. They need to be aware of their obligations to convey any reasonable concerns or suspicions to the Health Board Executive and/or Garda Siochána and to be informed of the correct procedures for doing so”
In all cases the safety and well being of the child is priority
WHAT IS ABUSE?
“No one professional has all the skills, knowledge, resources necessary to comprehensively meet all the requirements of an individual case” Child First
Reasonable Grounds for Concern
• Specific indication from the child that she was abused
• An account by a person who saw the child being abused
• Evidence, such as an injury or behaviour which is consistent with abuse and unlikely be caused another way
• An injury or behaviour which is consistent both with abuse and with an innocent explanation but where there are corroborative indicators supporting the concern that it may be a case of abuse
• An example of this would be a pattern of injuries, an implausible explanation, other indications of abuse e.g. dysfunctional behaviour
• Consistent indication, over a period of time, that a child is suffering from emotional or physical neglect
• Aspects of the child’s behaviour
• Consistent signs of neglect over a period of time
FORMS OF CHILD ABUSE
• Child Neglect
• Emotional Abuse
• Physical Abuse
• Sexual Abuse
♦ 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, medical care.Symptoms of neglect include: • Inadequate supervision -where children have a lot of freedom they may be prey for those who will abuse. • Habitually dirty. • Seeming to be lethargic and lacking sleep. • Unhealthy appearance. • Inadequate clothing. • From conversation seem to be left alone for long periods or overnight. • Permitted to engage in adult/dangerous activities -consume alcohol, work long hours, drive cars underage.
♦ Emotional Abuse occurs when a child’s need for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met. It is normally to be found in the relationship between a care-giver and a child rather than in a specific event or pattern of events.Symptoms of emotional abuse include: • Over compliance. • Seeking attention / affection to an unusual extent. • Anger / resentment. • Constant guardedness. • Bullying or domineering relationship. • Victim role. • Running away from home.
♦ Physical Abuse is any form of non-accidental injury or injury which results from wilful or neglectful failure to protect a child.Symptoms of Physical Abuse include: • Bruising, especially in unusual places which would not result from normal accidents. • Grip marks / black eyes / burns.
♦ Sexual Abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for his/her gratification or sexual arousal or for that of others.
Symptoms of Sexual Abuse include:
• Speech or drawings which indicate children have inappropriate knowledge.
• Victims experience distorted sexual development, carry a sense of stigma (feel different from peers in a negative way).
• Experience a sense of betrayal where the abuser has been a ‘carer’.
• Victims feel powerless -the result of abuser’s exercise of power in the course of the abuse and in enforcing secrecy.
Responsibilities of School Personnel
• School must provide students with highest standard of care.
• Every member of staff in Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny must be alert to the possibility that students with whom they are in contact may be being abused.
• All personnel should be familiar with signs/symptoms
• The school will do everything possible to protect students from abuse or risk of abuse. Members of school staff are in regular and frequent contact with students and as a result are particularly well placed to observe outward signs of abuse or to be aware of unexplained changes in behaviour or performance which may indicate abuse.
• All members of staff are asked to exercise vigilance in their observations of students so that important signs are not overlooked.
• Any staff member with concerns about the safety of any student in his/her care should keep a written record of same and report them without delay to the Designated Liaison Person, Mr. Noel Ferry (Principal). In his absence, the Deputy Designated Liaison Person, Mrs. Margaret Judge, Deputy Principal, should be contacted.
• The Designated Liaison Person shall then decide whether or not reasonable grounds exist to report the case to the HSE.
• Students or parents should not be interviewed in detail about the suspected abuse. Under no circumstances should a student’s clothing be removed. Confidentiality must never be promised to a person making a disclosure and the requirement to report to the Health Service Executive (HSE) must be explained in a supportive manner.
• The following examples would indicate reasonable grounds for concern:
o Specific indication from the student that she was abused.
o An account by a person who saw the student being abused.
o Evidence, such as injury or behaviour, which is consistent with abuse and which is unlikely to be caused another way.
o A suspicion that is not supported by any objective indication of abuse or neglect would not constitute a reasonable suspicion or reasonable grounds for concern.
• If a decision is made to report a case of suspected abuse, the Designated Liaison Person and/or Guidance Counsellor shall make personal contact with the Duty Social Worker in St. Conal’s Hospital, Letterkenny (0749123739) to whom the Standard Reporting Form will be submitted.
• In the event of an emergency, or the non-availability of Health Executive staff, the report will be made to An Garda Siochana.
• The student’s parents will be informed by the Designated Liaison Person and/or Guidance Counsellor if a report is to be made to the NWHSE unless doing so is likely to endanger the student.
• As soon as possible thereafter, the Designated Liaison Person will inform the BOM of such a report.
• The school will keep detailed written records of all suspected cases of child abuse.
Role of Designated Liaison Person
• DLP acts for school in all dealings with Health Service Executive, Gardai and other parties re. child abuse
• Resource person for staff having concerns
• If concerned/unsure consult the Duty Social Worker (DSW) for advice not naming the child.
• It may be helpful to consult parents to establish grounds for concern (unless danger to child)
• If satisfied there are reasonable grounds for concern report in person/writing/phone to DSW
• In emergency contact An Garda Siochana
• Report should include as much information as possible as per Standard Reporting Form
• Phone report should be followed by written report
• Record information given/record decision not to inform
• Inform parent/carer (unless danger to child)
• Inform BOM that a report has been made (no details unless issues included that need to be addressed directly by employer)
• If DLP decides not to report, employee who made initial report is given written report outlining reasons
• The employee is then free to consult with/ report to HSE him/herse.
• The school’s SPHE programme develops an awareness among students in 1, 2and 3years of child protection matters.
• Parents who have any concerns about the behaviour of a member of staff or about the safety of a child in the school should make their concerns known to the Designated Liaison Person.
• If the suspicion is regarding the Designated Liaison Person, parents should contact the Chairperson of the Board of Management.
• The Procedures and Guidelines as issued by the DES in September 2004 will be fully observed by the Designated Liaison Person and by the BOM in this regard.
• In relation to child protection, teachers must be careful in their dealings with students. Corporal punishment must never be used. It is unwise to touch a student even in jest. To tap with a pencil or ruler, prod with a finger, pinch, tweak an ear or shake by the shoulder could all be construed as assaults. If quelling a fight and if verbal correction is not effective, a student may be physically restrained. A very distressed student may be comforted though teachers must use discretion in this regard. When interviewing or dealing with a student alone, this must be done in a room with a clear glass panel in the door or when the door of the room is left open.
The following procedures will be applied to deal with situations that may arise in the course of each
• Medical conditions affecting students
• It is the responsibility of parents to notify the school at the time of admission of any medical condition affecting a student.
• The same responsibility exists should a medical condition be diagnosed at any stage after admission.
• Should a student feel unwell or be injured in the course of the day she should report this fact to her subject teacher who may then refer her to either the Principal or Deputy Principal.
• No student who feels unwell or is injured should ever be absent from class without the permission of the relevant subject teacher.
• The Principal or Deputy Principal will assess the condition of the student who is unwell or injured and, if considered necessary, will arrange for the student to contact a parent.
• The student will be permitted to go home provided she is collected from the school by a parent or other adult authorised by her parent and signs out at the Main entrance.
• In emergency cases the school will immediately summon medical assistance. Every reasonable effort will be made to contact a parent at once. Should it be necessary to transfer a student to hospital, a member of staff will accompany the student and remain with her until the arrival of a parent. Parents are liable for the payment of any medical bills.
• Details of injuries and accidents are recorded by staff members in an Accident Report Book.
• Students should not attend school if they are suffering from any illness that is contagious or that presents a risk to others.
Death or serious illness of a member of the school community
• The school is acutely aware of the impact that the death or serious illness of a student, parent, sibling, member of staff has on the full school community. In the spirit of the Loreto tradition our response to such situations strives to be caring, sympathetic, supportive, practical and appropriate.
• In the event of such an occurrence, the Principal will establish a Response Team made up of the following members:
o The relevant Class Teachers
o Guidance Counsellor
o Deputy Principal
• The Response Team will meet as soon as possible and as frequently as necessary to satisfy the following basic priorities:
o To provide all necessary information to students, members of staff and parents and to be responsive to their feelings and suggestions.
o To provide time, space, comfort, counselling and spiritual guidance for those most deeply affected by the occurrence.
o To make all necessary arrangements for the school’s representation and attendance at removals, funeral masses and burials and for the delivery of mass cards and floral tributes.
o To arrange for appropriate school-based responses to occurrences e.g. memory altar, the lighting of candles, book of condolence, class/school mass, service of remembrance.
o To liaise with members of staff to provide all necessary care and support for students in the longer term aftermath of an occurrence.
o To enlist the guidance and help of outside agencies if considered necessary e.g. the Health Service Executive, NEPS.
o On behalf of the Response Team, the Principal will liaise with the Chairperson of the Board of Management and Parents’ Committee.
Area Child Care Manager 0719822776 Sheil House, Ballyshannon
Chief Social Worker 0876349191 Mr. Michael Gallagher
Duty Social Worker 074912123770
Appendix 1 Child Protection Guidelines – DES Handout
Child Protection Guidelines
For Post-Primary Schools
“Children First”, the national child protection guidelines, published in September 1999, noted that school staff are particularly well placed to observe and monitor children for signs of abuse. It called on schools to put in place clear procedures which school staff must follow where they suspect, or are alerted to, possible child abuse.
The “Child Protection Guidelines for Post-Primary Schools”, was produced to meet this need. The Guidelines reflect the particular circumstances of the post-primary school setting and provide management authorities and school staff with guidance in relation to recognising the signs and symptoms of child abuse and with procedures for dealing immediately with such concerns. The Guidelines should be taken in conjunction with Children First and not as a stand-alone document.
A central facet of the Guidelines is the requirement for each Board of Management to designate a
senior member of staff as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) for the school. The DLP will act as a liaison with outside agencies such as health boards and as a resource person to any staff member who has child protection concerns.
Recognising child abuse.
Child abuse can take different forms, but usually consists of one or more of the following:
Neglect: Where a child’s needs for food, warmth, shelter, nurturance and safety are not provided to the extent that the child suffers significant harm.
Emotional Abuse: Where a child’s need for affection, approval, consistency and security is not being met.
Physical Abuse: Where a child is assaulted or injured in some way that is deliberate.
Sexual Abuse: Where a child is used for the sexual gratification of another.
The Guidelines provide advice on the signs and behaviours that may be indicative of child abuse.
What responsibilities have school personnel:
Schools have an obligation to provide students with the highest possible standard of care in order to promote their well being and protect them from harm. School personnel are especially well placed to observe changes in behaviour, failure to develop or outward signs of abuse in children. In situations where school personnel suspect that a child may have been abused, or is being abused, or is at risk of abuse, they should ensure that such concerns are reported in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Guidelines.
Reporting concerns to the Health Board:
If a member of staff receives an allegation or has a suspicion that a child may have been abused, or is being abused, or is at risk of abuse he/she should, without delay, report the matter to the school DLP.
If the DLP is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion or allegation he/she should report the matter to the relevant health board immediately.
If the DLP is not sure whether to report the matter to the health board, the DLP should seek advice from the Duty Social Worker in the health board.
If the DLP decides that the concerns of a member of staff should not be reported to the health board, the member of staff should be given a clear statement, in writing, as to the reasons why. The member of staff should be advised that, if he/she remains concerned about the situation, he/she is free to consult with or report to the health board.
What will the Health Board do with a report?
Once a report of suspected child abuse has been made to a health board, it is then a matter for that health board to decide upon the action, if any, which is necessitated by that report. The social worker handling the case may need to seek
further clarification from the person who first raised the concerns. In some cases, the response of the health board will be to call a child protection conference.
Allegations or suspicions of child abuse concerning school employees:
In a school context, the most important consideration to be taken into account is the
protection of children, and their safety and well-being must be the priority. However, the school also has duties and responsibilities, as an Employer, in respect of it’s employees.
School employees may be subject to erroneous or malicious allegations. Therefore any allegation of abuse should be dealt with sensitively and support provided for staff including counselling where necessary. The employee should be treated fairly
which includes the right not to be judged in advance of a full and fair enquiry.
It is important to note that there are two procedures to be followed:
i) the reporting procedure in respect of the allegation;
ii) the procedure for dealing with the employee.
In the case of post-primary schools, the
DLP is responsible for reporting the matter to the appropriate health board while the Employer is responsible for addressing the employment
issues. Protocol authorising immediate action.
The Guidelines provide a written protocol by which the Employer may authorise the school Principal to absent an employee from the school where circumstances warrant it as a precautionary measure in order to protect children in the school.
Where the Protocol authorizing immediate action is invoked to absent an employee from the school an emergency meeting of the Employer body should be convened.
Action to be taken by the employer.
The Guidelines provide advice to the Employer on the immediate actions to be taken where a report has been made to a health board concerning a school employee.
It is essential that at all times the matter be treated in the strictest confidence and that the identity of the employee should not be disclosed until such time as the employee has been offered the opportunity to address and/or be represented to the employer.
Further follow-up required.
The Guidelines advise that the employer should maintain strict confidentiality and that any further follow-up action should accord with the established grievance and disciplinary procedures for the sector. Feedback from Health Boards.
The Children First guidelines place an onus on health boards to ensure that arrangements are put in place to provide feedback to employers in regard to the progress of a child abuse investigation regarding an employee. It is clearly stated in those guidelines that efforts should be made to investigate complaints against employees promptly bearing in mind the serious implications for an innocent employee.
Peer abuse and bullying.
The Guidelines provide advice on the recognition and reporting of abuse perpetrated by a child’s peers. It is important that potentially abusive behaviour between children is not ignored and, as appropriate, certain cases should be referred to the health board.
School management is responsible, in the first instance, for dealing with bullying in school. The more extreme forms of bullying behaviour, when
perpetrated by adults rather than children, would be regarded as physical or emotional abuse. Only such serious incidences of bullying should be referred to the health board.
Forms and contact details.
The Guidelines provide a Standard Reporting Form and contact details for the relevant Health Board as well as Guidance Notes on Child Protection Conferences.
The Guidelines are available on the Department of Education & Science web-site at www.education.ie
Appendix 11 Guidelines for the Protection of students in Loreto Schools
These Loreto Guidelines are to be read in conjunction with other school policies and the Department of Education and Science Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools. The Loreto Guidelines are not intended in any way to diminish or vary the recommendations set out in the Department’s Guidelines which are seen as minimum standards for student protection. These Loreto Guidelines are intended to advance the standards required for Loreto schools in the specific circumstances set out below.
In Loreto schools there is a commitment to value each student as an individual created in the image of God. Students come to school with unique personal histories.
It is the aim of Loreto schools to respect and treat each student as an individual while at the same time building structures to create a sense of community in the school. The entire staff of the school has a responsibility to ensure that students experience a sense of comm unity, a community that cares for them and values them as individuals. The organisational ethos of the school is designed to care for all students but particularly for those students who are at risk.
The Educational Philosophy of Loreto Schools. p. 12
Loreto Education emphasises the importance of the quality of relationships within and beyond the school… We seek to develop right relationships as the foundation of our educational endeavours. These relationships should be responsible, affirming, open, transparent, compassionate, trusting and able to accept and offer challenge.
Loreto Education Guidelines. Kolkata. 2002. p.5
To ensure a safe, secure and happy environment for each student, the Board of Management has adopted the following guidelines on child protection to be implemented by all personnel in the school. In adopting these guidelines, it continues to be essential that a warm and welcoming atmosphere for students is fostered in our school.
Best Practice Guidelines:
1. General Conduct Safe Practice:
a) Physical punishment of students is not permitted under any circumstances.
b) School personnel must not engage in nor tolerate any behaviour that is abusive towards students, either verbally or psychologically.
c) School personnel should be sensitive to the fact that comments of a sexual nature are inappropriate. Only age-appropriate language, media products and activities should be used with students. In particular, erotic or pornographic material is never acceptable.
d) The school respects the physical integrity of the student. School personnel should not engage in inappropriate physical contact of any kind. They should be sensitive, in this regard, to what might be unacceptable to students from different cultural backgrounds.
e) School personnel should always be respectful of the privacy of students particularly in changing rooms, showers and toilets.
f) When working with children who have a disability, relevant personnel are required to be aware of specific considerations including behavioural and communication issues, intimate care needs, access to buildings, range and choice of activities, and
any other relevant matters that may need addressing. Where appropriate, the Board of Management will strive, within the limitations imposed by school resources, to ensure that appropriate specific training, including disability awareness and child protection training, is undertaken by relevant personnel.
g) When a one-to-one meeting with a student is considered appropriate, it should take place in a room with the door left open or in a room where there is easy visibility from outside the room.
h) It is not recommended that school employees give lifts in their cars to individual students. If there is one adult, there should be a minimum of two students present for the entire journey. In exceptional circumstances, when it becomes necessary to make a journey or part of a journey alone with a student, the principal and/or the student’s parent or guardian should be informed as soon as possible.
i) School personnel must be sensitive to the possibility of becoming over-involved or spending a great deal of time with any one student.
j) Under no circumstances should alcohol or tobacco be given to students.
k) In all situations where students are present and alcohol is available, the high standard of professional conduct of personnel in Loreto schools should be maintained. Of course, school personnel must never be under the influence of alcohol while they are in charge of students.
1) A clear policy should be drawn up regarding the taking of photographs and the making of video recordings of students involved in school activities. This should also cover the generation of computer images. In addition, the policy should address the question of where and for what purpose photographs and images might be displayed.
Any policy which the Board of Management develops in the area of Tours/Outings will include inter alia the following points:
a) Sleeping arrangements — The provision of appropriate and adequate sleeping arrangements should be ensured in advance of any tour. Sleeping arrangements should provide for separate rooms for males and females. In addition, school personnel should be sensitive to specific problems that a student may have in sharing sleeping accommodation with a particular student. Appropriate supervision should be provided.
b) In the relaxed atmosphere of a trip away appropriate standards of behaviour and good practice, particularly in regard to the aforementioned child protection guidelines, must be maintained.
3. Internet/E-mail Policy – Mobile Phone Text Messaging
In the context of child protection, school personnel should avoid all inappropriate communication with students through internet, e-mail, text messaging or otherwise.
Role of Employer – Board of Management
Role of Employer – Board of Management
• Provide highest standard of care
• To adopt CPG (DES) as policy
• To adopt the protocol (appendix 5)
• To appoint DLP (usually Principal) and Deputy DLP
• DLP informs if report is submitted to HSE (no name unless employer issue)
• If allegation against employee, Chairperson meets, details allegation, gives copy of related documentation.
• Employee afforded opportunity to respond
• If protocol* is invoked by Principal, emergency BOM meeting called
• Seek legal advice
• Maintain strict confidence
• Further action informed by HSE / Garda investigations
Protocol Authorising Immediate Action (see appendix 5 in DES Guidlines)
• Where circumstances warrant it, the Principal is authorised by the Board to direct an employee to immediately absent himself/herself from the school without loss of pay until the matter has been considered by the employer (Board).
• Employee (who may be accompanied) is informed of the allegation by the Principal and of the action being taken.
• Employee is also advised in writing.
Role of Employer
If allegation against employee:
• Two procedure to be followed:
o Reporting in respect of allegation – DLP responsible for reporting
o Dealing with employee – Employer/BOM responsible for addressing employment issue – dealt with under established grievance and disciplinary procedures
• Allegation could be malicious – – Dealt with sensitively – Support provided for staff – counselling if necessary – Employee to be treated fairly – right not to be judged in advance of full and fair enquiry – Presumption of innocence and fair procedures
First priority is to ensure that no child is exposed to unnecessary risk
The Child Protection Policy of Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny, was formally ratified by the Board of Management on 15 November 2005 and will be reviewed again during school year 2008 – 2009.