Child Protection Policy

 

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Dúnghaois do Chosaint Páiste do

Scoil an Droichid

 

  1. INTRODUCTION

 

The following statements of principle, policy and procedure aim to set the conceptual framework, which underpins the practices within Scoil an Droichid.  This ethos is reflected in all actions and decisions taken by staff as they follow the detailed guidance set out in the BELB Child Protection Procedures, DENI Circular 199/10, Children (NI) Order 1995 Guidance and the ACPC Regional Policy and Procedures.

 

  1. GENERAL PRINCIPLES

The principles and philosophy that underpin our work with children are those set out in the ‘UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’ and enshrined in the Children (NI) Order 1995.  In particular, the principle we support is that every child has the fundamental right to be safe from harm, with proper care by those looking after them given to their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

 

The following principles form the basis for effective child protection activity and underpin the guidance that we follow:

 

2.1 The child’s welfare must always be paramount; this over-rides all other considerations.  Where a child is disabled or has special needs these must be taken into consideration.

 

2.2 A proper balance must be struck between protecting children and respecting the rights and needs of parents and families; but where there is a conflict, the child’s interests must always come first.

 

2.3 Children have a right to be heard, to be listened to and to be taken seriously.  Taking account of their age and understanding they should be consulted and involved in all matters and decisions that may affect their lives.  Where a child has a disability, special assistance should be sought to achieve this.

 

2.4 Parents / carers have a right to respect and should be consulted and involved in matters that affect their family.

 

2.5 Actions taken to protect the child (including investigation) should not in themselves be abusive by causing the child unnecessary distress or further harm.

 

2.6 Intervention should not deal with the child in isolation: the child’s needs should be considered in the context of the family.  Agencies’ actions must be considered and well informed so that they are sensitive to and take account of the child’s gender, age, stage of development, religion, culture and race, and any special needs.

 

2.7 Where it is necessary to protect the child from further abuse, alternatives that do not involve moving the child and that cause minimum disruption of the family should be explored.

 

  1. CONTEXT

 

Scoil an Droichid is an Irish language school composed of Naíscoil an Droichid and Scoil an Droichid


Scoil an Droichid’s main aims are:

that every child, from whatever background, whose parents wishes them to attend the school, should receive a high level of Irish medium education. The importance of parents or their representative is recognised and valued.

 

that Irish is a living language both within and without the classroom, that it is the language of communication at all levels – teaching, playing and management.

that opportunities for extra curricular activities such as sport, drama, music, competitions and trips are available.

that the school will act as a foundation for the revival of an Irish speaking community within Belfast and the surrounding areas.

 

  1. PROCEDURES

 

Scoil an Droichid recognises its four main responsibilities in protecting children.  These are in the areas of prevention, recognition, response, referral and confidentiality / record keeping.  Parents will be made aware of the responsibilities and procedures of the school and we hope they will support us in our practice.

 

4.1 Prevention

 

4.1.1. We offer a supportive environment to children.  The school has developed and provides a ‘child protection’ ethos and a preventative curriculum.  We offer children an alternative model to violent or abusive behaviour and alternative methods of responding.

 

4.1.2 The school offers prevention and protection on three levels:

  • creating a listening environment that makes it easier to for children to share their concerns
  • responding appropriately to child protection concerns according to procedures laid down in DENI Circular 99/10 ‘Pastoral Care in Schools – Child Protection’
  • enhancing self-esteem and encouraging pro-social skills, breaking any cycle of abusive behaviour.

 

4.1.3. The Board of Governors ensures that the school curriculum includes a programme for pupils on personal protection.  Some programmes currently in use are Circle Time and School assemblies.

 

4.1.4. The Board of Governors ensures that the school has in place an anti-bullying policy that has been drawn up in consultation with parents and children.

 

4.1.5 The curriculum programme provides the children with general prevention and protection strategies but sometimes it is of limited help to individual children with more sensitive and extreme needs. The management team has reactive strategies in place for individual needs e.g. bereavement, bullying (see anti-bullying policy) and other sensitive issues.

These cases are handled on a need to know basis within the school and support agencies are used when required.

 

4.1.6 The Board of Governors ensures that the school has and follows the Code of Conduct of all staff, teaching and non-teaching.

 The Code of Conduct covers all activities organised in and by the school, whether on school premises or elsewhere.

 

4.1.7 The Board of Governors ensures that all persons beyond the school staff who are invited to be involved as helpers/leaders on trips, residential visits, or other activities, either within or without school are subject to vetting procedures in keeping with the current arrangements for the care and protection of young people.

 

4.1.8 Notices in the school will inform children of the identity of the designated and deputy designated teachers.

 

4.1.9.All substitute teachers and visitors who will have contact with the children will be provided with a summary of the child protection procedures and with the Code of Conduct.

 

  1. RECOGNITION

 

We use the following definitions for child abuse, according to ACPC Regional Policy and Procedures, Chapter 2.

 

 

NEGLECT

The actual or likely persistent or significant neglect of a child, or the failure to protect a child from exposure to any kind of danger, including cold and starvation.

 

 

PHYSICAL

The actual or likely physical injury to a child, or willful or neglectful failure to prevent physical injury or suffering to a child.

 

SEXUAL

The actual or likely sexual exploitation of a child.  The involvement of children and adolescents in sexual activities they do not truly comprehend.

 

EMOTIONAL

The actual or likely persistent or significant emotional ill-treatment or rejection, resulting in severe adverse effects on the emotional, physical and/ or behavioural development of a child.

 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ABUSE

NEGLECT

Physical indicators:

  • constant hunger
  • exposed to danger; lack of supervision
  • inadequate/ inappropriate clothing
  • poor hygiene
  • untreated illness

 

Behavioural indicators:

  • tiredness, listlessness
  • lack of peer relationships
  • low self-esteem
  • compulsive stealing/ begging

 

 

PHYSICAL ABUSE

Physical indicators:

  • scratches
  • bite marks or welts
  • bruises in places difficult to mark e.g.. behind ears, groin
  • burns, especially cigarette burns
  • untreated injuries

 

Behavioural indicators:

  • self mutilation tendencies
  • chronic runaway
  • aggressive or withdrawn
  • fear of returning home
  • undue fear of adults
  • fearful watchfulness

 

SEXUAL ABUSE

Physical indicators:

  • soreness, bleeding in genital or anal areas
  • itching in genital area
  • stained or bloody underwear
  • stomach pains or headaches
  • pain on urination
  • difficulty in walking or sitting
  • bruises on inner thighs or buttocks
  • anorexic/ bulimic

 

Behavioural indicators:

  • chronic depression
  • inappropriate language, sexual knowledge for age group
  • making sexual advances to adults or other children
  • low self-esteem
  • afraid of dark
  • wariness of being approached by anyone
  • substance/ drug abuse

 

EMOTIONAL ABUSE

Physical indicators:

  • sudden speech disorders
  • wetting and soiling
  • signs of mutilation
  • attention seeking behaviour
  • frequent vomiting

 

Behavioural indicators:

  • rocking, thumb sucking
  • fear of change
  • chronic runaway
  • poor peer relationships

 

It is important to realize that these signs are not a checklist and even for the experts it is often very hard to decide if a child has been abused.

 

With this in mind it is important to remember:

      • record and date all observations of worrying marks/ behaviour.
      • seek advice.
      • you have a supportive not investigative role.

Judgment about abuse must be left to the professionals

 

  1. RESPONSE

 

6.1 In the event of a disclosure of child abuse, the member of school staff will:

  • Listen to the child and accept what is said
  • Record statements
  • Explain what they have to do next and to whom they have to talk
  • Reassure the child that they have done the right thing to talk about it
  • Report information, promptly, to the Designated Teacher

 

6.2 In the event of any member of staff having concerns other than through disclosure, he/she will;

  • Record, confidentially, dates, times, frequency of certain behaviours
  • Report and pass records to the Designated Teacher

 

 

 

 

  1. REFERRAL

Procedures for reporting suspected or disclosed child abuse

 

7.1     The Designated Teacher for Child Protection Is Eithne  Ní Chonchúir        The Deputy Designated teacher for Child Protection is Caitríona Nic Sheáin

 

* In Naíscoil an Droichid the ‘named’ designated  person is Dunla Flanagan

 

The Board of Governors also has two designated officers who may  be contacted in relation to reporting a suspected or disclosed case of child abuse  –

Designated officer is Susan Bamford

 

7.2     Upon receipt of a report of disclosure or other concerns, the Designated Teacher will act promptly.

7.3     The Designated Teacher will seek more available information. This may involve talking to the child, the parent/s, any other relevant staff members.

7.4     The Designated Teacher does not have the power to investigate allegations: this is a matter for Social Services or the PSNI

7.5     The Designated Teacher may seek advice from the Designated Officer in the BELB.

7.6     The Designated Teacher, in consultation with the Principal, will decide whether, in the best interests of the child, the matter needs to be referred to Social Services or PSNI. If there are concerns that the child may be at risk, the school is obliged to make a referral without delay.

7.7     No decision to refer a case to either Social Services or the PSNI will be made without the fullest consideration and on appropriate advice.  The safety of the child is our first priority.

7.8     The Designated Teacher or Principal will inform the parent/s immediately of any referral to Social Services or PSNI, unless there are concerns that the parent may be the possible abuser.

7.9     The Designated Teacher will keep a written, confidential record of all the stages of the process.

 

(See Appendix 1)

 

  • The ‘named’ person will report to the designated /deputy

designated officer at Scoil an Droichid

 

 

 

7.10 Allegations against a member of staff

 

 

 

Procedures to be followed

 

 

A complaint or allegation may be made, in the context of child protection, about the conduct or activities of a member of staff of the school towards a child or children.  If the complaint has not been made directly to the Principal and he/she is not the subject of the complaint, it should be referred directly to him / her by the person to whom it was made.

 

 

To form a clearer view on the complaint, the Principal may need to seek discreet preliminary clarification from the person making the complaint or giving the information, or from others who may have relevant information.

It is not, however, the responsibility of the school to carry out investigations into cases of suspected abuse, or to make extensive enquiries of members of the child’s family or other carers.

The school should not take action beyond that set out in the procedures established by their Education and Library Board and ACPC to be followed in handling cases of suspected abuse.

 

 

 

Having satisfied him / herself that a complaint has indeed been made, the Principal should immediately

 

  • inform the designated teacher  if he / she is not the subject of the complaint ), who will initiate the record of the complaint;

 

  • consult, as a matter of urgency and in confidence, with the designated officer of the Education and Library Board, to form an initial assessment as to whether or not there is sufficient substance in the allegation to warrant further action; and

 

  • consult the Chairperson of the Board of Governors

 

 

Deciding what to do when such an allegation is made is a difficult and sensitive matter. The need to protect children must be paramount, but the need to protect members of staff against unfounded, but nonetheless potentially damaging, allegations must also be considered. Officers of the Education and Library Boards are experienced in dealing with such cases, and are willing to give advice to any school facing these circumstances.

 

In the light of any advice taken, the Principal (where he / she is not the subject of the complaint ), in consultation with the Chairperson of the Board of the  Governors, will decide that :

 

  • the allegation is apparently without substance, and no further action is necessary ; or

 

  • an immediate referral to the Social Services or the police is warranted ; or

 

  • the allegation concerns inappropriate behaviour which needs to be considered under the disciplinary procedures.

 

7.11    If an allegation is made against the Designated Teacher, it will be referred to the Principal or to the Deputy Designated Teacher, who will initiate the above process.

 

7.12   Where an allegation is deemed serious enough to warrant a referral to Social Services or PSNI, a risk assessment will be carried out, following which it may be necessary to remove the member of staff from direct contact duties or to place on precautionary suspension pending the outcome of investigations.

 

  1. CONFIDENTIALITY AND RECORD KEEPING|

 

 

8.1     A child will never be promised complete confidentiality. Where there are concerns that a child has been or is being abused, the matter must be reported to the appropriate authorities.

 

8.2     In the best interests of the child, information will be shared with other agency personnel working with the child. However, this will be on a ‘need to know’ basis. Information will be shared with other staff in school only on a ‘need to know’ basis.

 

8.3     All records, information and confidential notes are kept in separate files in a locked drawer.  The files only identify the children by their initials and date of birth. These records are kept separate from the child’s individual report.

 

8.4     Where an allegation is made against a member of staff and is pursued either as a formal child protection procedure or under a disciplinary procedure, a summary is entered on a Record of Abuse Complaints.  This record, which will contain details of the complaint, will be made available to the Board of Governors at least annually.

 

  1. CODE OF CONDUCT

 

Staff are aware of and adhere to the Code of Conduct which has been drawn up and agreed through Teachers’ Negotiating Machinery.

 

  1. STAFF IN-SERVICE

 

The school is committed to on-going in-service training for all staff.  All staff (teaching and non-teaching) will receive general training on Child Protection awareness, Policy and Procedures, delivered in school by the Designated Teacher.

  1. PARENTAL ROLE

 

11.1     Parents are expected to help their children to behave in non-violent and non-abusive ways towards both staff and other pupils.  Parents will be informed if it was necessary to use minimal force to protect a pupil from injury or to prevent a pupil from harming others.

 

11.2    Parents should always inform the school of any accidental bruising or other injuries that might otherwise be misinterpreted.  They should also inform the school of any changes in home circumstances, such as the death of a member of the family, separation or divorce, …that might lead to otherwise unexplained changes in behaviour or characteristics.

 

11.3    Parents can feel confident that procedures are in place to ensure that all staff have undergone procedures to ensure that they are suitable to work with children.  All voluntary helpers undergo similar procedures including a police check.

 

  • If parents have any complaints about staff behaviour they should initiate the complaints procedure.

 

(Appendix 2)

 

All those involved, both pupils and staff, are entitled to a fair hearing. If parents are not satisfied with the school’s response, they should contact the school’s Education Welfare Officer or the Officers responsible for co-ordinating action on Child Protection in the BELB

(Telephone 02890 564000)

 

 

 

11.5    Parental awareness training is provided through circulation of a summary of the policy and procedures at least once every two years.

 

  1. MONITORING AND EVALUATION

 

The school will review this policy annually, will evaluate its practical effectiveness and will update it in the light of any further guidance and legislation as necessary. When it is deemed advisable to introduce new regulations (e.g. use of mobile phones), parents and children will be consulted.

 

 

 

Useful contacts

 

Therese Moran , Sean Monaghan ,Christine Graham, Lorraine O’Neill  }

BEELB Designated Officers for Child Protection, Tel: 028 90 546000

Academy Street

BT2 1NQ

 

Police service of Northern Ireland Tel : 02890 650222

 

Childline             08001111

NSPCC               0800 800 500

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some suggested appendices – the two that follow could be sent to parents annually

 

Staff procedures in Child Protection

 

Based on the principle of the paramountcy of the welfare of the child, all staff (teaching and non-teaching) at Scoil an Droichid seek to adopt an open and accepting attitude towards pupils as part of their responsibility for pastoral care.

Staff trust that parents and pupils feel free to talk about any concerns and see school as a safe place. Children’s  worries and fears will be taken seriously if they seek help from a member of staff.  However, staff cannot guarantee confidentiality if concerns are such that referral must be made to the appropriate agencies in order to safeguard the child’s welfare.

 

Staff who observe injuries which appear to be non-accidental, or who are told anything significant by a child must report their concerns to   Eithne Ní Chonchúir  the Designated Teacher for Child Protection or, in her absence, to Caitríona Nic Sheáin, our deputy designated office in the school and Dunla Flanagan in the Náiscoil  the Deputy Designated teacher

 

If staff have significant concerns about any pupil which may be symptomatic of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect, they must discuss these with the Designated Child Protection Teacher who will contact the agencies responsible for investigation and Child Protection.  No member of the school staff has authority to carry out investigations themselves, nor do they decide whether children have been abused.  That is a matter for the specialist agencies.

 

All staff are aware of the procedures for keeping a confidential written record of any incidents, according to the requirements of DENI Circular 99/10.

 

Information provided by a parent who has contacted a member of staff about abusive behaviour in their family or another pupil’s family, should be treated in the same manner.  If a member of staff is unsure about a parent’s account of an injury or challenging behaviour, they should still pass this information to the Designated teacher.

 

 

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s physical, emotional and / or psychological needs, likely to result in significant harm. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger, failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment, lack of stimulation or lack of supervision. It may also include non-organic failure to thrive (faltering growth)

 

Physical abuse is the deliberate physical injury to a child, or the wilful or neglectful failure to prevent physical injury or suffering. This may include hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, confinement to a room or cot, or inappropriately giving drugs to control behaviour.

 

Sexual Abuse involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

 

Emotional Abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may include conveying to a child that he is worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as he meets the needs of another person. It may involve causing a child frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of a child. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill-treatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

Domestic violence, adult mental health problems and parental substance misuse may expose a child to emotional abuse.

 

 

 

 

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