Child Protection Policy
The BoM formally adopts and implements without modification the new “Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools’ (2011) as part of their overall child protection policy. In doing so the BoM: fully implement the Stay Safe programme which is mandatory; fully implement the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme which is mandatory ; use the standard template child protection policy which is in Appendix 1 of the DES Child Protection Procedures; name the DLP and deputy DLP in the school’s child protection policy; display the name of the DLP in a prominent position near the main entrance to the school and the school's child protection policy is available to all school personnel, the parents’ association and parents via the school website and on request.
At each board of management meeting the principal’s report shall state the number of reports made to the HSE by the DLP, since the last board of management meeting. The principal’s report shall state only the number and not include any other details. The principal’s report shall also state the number of cases, since the last board meeting, where the DLP sought advice from the HSE and as a result referrals were made.
Definition of Child Abuse:
Child Abuse can be categorised into four different types: neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and 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. Neglect generally becomes apparent in different ways over a period of time rather than at one specific moment. Staff must inform the DLP if he/she is concerned or suspicious that a child is being neglected.
Emotional Abuse: occurs when a child’s need for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met. Emotional abuse can be manifested in terms of the child’s behavioural, cognitive, affective or physical functioning. A child may be affected by an event in his/her life and staff must inform the DLP if he/she is concerned or suspicious that a child's emotional needs are being neglected.
Physical Abuse: is any form of non-accidental injury or injury which results from wilful or neglectful failure to protect a child.Staff must inform the DLP if he/she is concerned or suspicious that a child may have been physically abused.
Sexual Abuse: occurs when a child is used by another person for his/her gratification or sexual arousal or for that of others.Staff must inform the DLP if he/she is concerned or suspicious that a child may have been sexually abused.
Designaged Liaison Person:
The Board of Management has appointed School Principal, Úna Feeley as Designated Liaison Person (DLP) and Patricia Morris, Deputy Principal as the deputy DLP. The role of the DLP is to liaise with all relevant agencies, whether in seeking advice, reporting or in follow up consultations. If informed by a member of the school community of a concern the DLP should in the first instance seek advice by phone, from a senior child care officer/social worker/manager/designated person employed by the Health Board. At this early stage all parties including the DLP may remain anonymous and there is no requirement on the DLP to disclose the names of any party including the name of the school or her own name. However, the DLP should note the name of any Health Board employee who gives advice. It is incumbent on the DLP to follow through on all advice from the Health Board. Written records should be kept of all phone calls and meetings.
Basis for Reporting to a Health Board
A health board should always be informed when a person has reasonable grounds for concern that a child may have been abused, or is being abused, or is at risk of abuse. With regard to emotional abuse and/or physical neglect, consistent indication, over a period of time, that a child is suffering from emotional neglect or physical neglect would constitute reasonable grounds for concern.
Procedures in dealing with a disclosure/suspicion from a child/third party:
- Teachers who suspect child abuse/neglect should report their concerns to the DLP at the first instance and carefully record their observations over a period of time.
- Disclosures of Child Abuse/neglect from a third party will be reported to the DLP. If a third party starts to tell a teacher about an alleged child abuse incident the teacher will ask them to speak to the DLP. If the person does not inform the DLP the teacher will do so.
- Where a child discloses alleged abuse/neglect to a staff member, the person receiving that information should listen carefully and supportively. IT IS NOT THE ROLE OF ANY STAFF MEMBER OR DLP TO INVESTIGATE AN INCIDENT/ALLEGATION/SUSPICION. HIS/HER ROLE IS TO LISTEN AND RECORD INFORMATION. Great care must be taken not to abuse the child’s trust. This should not be a formal interview.
- Listen to the child
- Do not ask leading questions or make suggestions to the child
- Offer reassurance but do not make promises
- Do not stop a child recalling significant events
- Do not over-react
- Confidentiality should be assured – explain that further help may have to be sought.
- Record the discussion accurately noting:
What, where and when?
Descriptions and possible sketches of physical injuries
Explanations of injuries using direct quotations if appropriate
Sign and date the record
Retain the record securely
- Whether cases of abuse/neglect are suspected or confirmed, confidentiality will be respected. The information on individual cases will be restricted to the teacher(s) immediately involved with the child and will be on a need to know basis.
- The DLP will record the incident. It is not the function of the teacher or the DLP to investigate the issue.
- If the suspected abuser is the DLP then the suspicion and any records will be passed on to the Chairperson who will proceed as per guidelines.
- The Chairperson of the Board of Managements will be informed of the disclosure.
- Informal contact with the designated person in the Western Health Board will be made, seeking advice as to whether a referral should be made. The DLP will be explicit that s/he is requesting advice and not making a report. It is not necessary at this stage for the DLP to disclose his/her name or the name of the school.
- The advice given by the Health Board must be acted upon.
- If the advice is not to refer, the DLP will record this advice as the reason for non-referral. The chairperson of the Board of Management will be informed.
- If the advice from the Health Board is to refer the case, the DLP will do so. However, prior to referring, the DLP will inform the parent of her intention to refer, unless this course of action is injurious to the child.
- Following referral and the completion of the standard form, the school will have no further part to play in the investigation.
- If a case conference is required, the DLP will be invited to attend.
All records will be held in a central, securely locked location.
Allegations against an employee:
- Procedures followed are similar to those of a disclosure
- Employee is made aware of the allegation against him/her
- Employee will be given the opportunity to respond to the allegation in writing and at a meeting of the Board of Management
- BOM meeting to review the allegation, giving due consideration to any advice given by Health Board and Gardaí
- The BOM will consider placing the employee on administrative leave, with full pay, pending the outcome of investigations by the Health Board and Gardaí.
- On conclusion of any investigation the BOM will then determine the employment status of the employee.
Organisational Implications and Prevention of Child Abuse
All staff employed from September 2009 will not be allowed work with the children until they are vetted by the Gárdaí. The Teaching Council arrange teacher vetting for newly qualified teachers. Staff will be asked for copies of their vetting forms and these will be kept on file in the principal's office.
School supervision policy and routines will be followed by all staff to ensure that there is comprehensive supervision of children at all breaks.
Children are to be encouraged at all times to play co-operatively and inappropriate behaviour will be addressed under our Code of Behaviour. If an incident occurs which we consider to be of a sexualised nature we will notify the DLP who will record it and respond to it appropriately.
Teachers will ensure that children are visible in the school yard. Children will not be allowed to spend time in classrooms, toilets or sheds where they would not be under adult supervision. They are not to leave the school yard or to engage with adults who are outside of the school yard.
Teachers on yard duty will be aware of visitors entering the school yard and will ascertain their intentions. They will be supervised in the discharge of their business. All school entrance/exit doors are locked after the children enter the school. Visitors cannot enter the school without contacting the office by using the bell and intercom (fitted at the two main entrance doors) and giving their reason for entry.
Children will walk to the swimming pool under the teacher’s direction. Children must bring a coat to school on the day they are swimming in case it is cold or wet. No child will be allowed to walk to the swimming pool in the rain/cold without a coat. Children are reminded that if they forget their coat they may not be allowed go swimming. All adults assisting with supervision in the changing rooms will act in ‘loco parentis’ and as such will
act as prudent parents helping children to return to school as dry as possible. Parent helpers will be briefed around our swimming procedures.
Children travelling in staff cars
Teachers will not carry children alone in their cars. At least two children must travel with the teacher in the car or another adult and child.
Induction of Teachers and Ancillary Staff
The DLP will be responsible for informing all new teachers and ancillary staff of this policy and the Children First Guidelines (1999).
Dealing with children on a one-to-one basis
If a staff member/visiting professional such as Speech and Language therapist/ Occupational therapist has to work/deal/communicate with children on a one-to-one basis, they are requested to leave the classroom door open if there is not a glass parition fitted on the door. A glass partition has been fitted in the doors of most resource/special needs rooms.
With regards to child protection we will pay particular attention to trends in non attendance. We will also monitor non-attendance in correlation with signs of neglect/ physical/ emotional abuse.
Adults working with children with intimate care needs will always make sure that any physical contact is for the purpose of meeting the needs of the child. Adults will always respect the dignity of the child.
Staff will always ensure that any DVD shown to the children is age appropriate. Scoil Mhuire is a primary school and as such the following are the only DVDs that should be shown to children:
General Viewing (G)
Parental Guidance (PG)
12 A (for children who are twelve years old with adult supervision)
No DVDs rated as suitable for 15 year olds, 18 year olds or adults will be shown to the children.