Child Protection Policy


Introductory Statement

The teaching staff and principal of St. Anthony’s N.S. drafted the following policy in May ’07.

Rationale

We at St. Anthony’s have adopted the Department of Education and Science Guidelines and Procedures for schools in relation to Child Protection and Welfare. This policy is an outline of how our school proposes to implement these guidelines in order to ensure the protection and welfare of all children attending our school.

Relationship to Characteristic Spirit of the School

St. Anthony’s N.S. seeks to help the children to grow and develop into healthy, confident, mature adults, capable of realising their full potential as human beings. We strive to create a happy, safe environment for the children where they feel secure, knowing that if they have concerns, they will be listened to with understanding and respect and they will be acted on.

Aims

  • 1. To raise awareness of child abuse among all school staff (including Teachers, SNA’s, caretakers, etc.). This includes emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and neglect.
  • 2. To put in place clear procedures for all school personnel dealing with suspicions and allegations of child abuse.
  • 3. To identify other policy areas which need to be amended in light of the ‘Child Protection Guidelines’.
  • 4. To identify curricular content and resources that contributes to the prevention of child abuse and to enable children to properly deal with abuse if it occurs.

Guidelines

THE GUIDELINES ARE LAID OUT AS FOLLOWS:

  • 1.0 Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person (DLP) and a Deputy Designated Liaison Person (DDLP)
  • 2.0 Roles, Responsibilities and Guidelines
  • 2.1 Role of the Board of Management
  • 2.2 Role of the Staff Members (Teachers, SNAs, Caretakers, Secretary)
  • 2.3 Role of the Designated Liaison Person
  • 3.0 Case Conferences
  • 4.0 Organisational Implications
  • 5.0 Curriculum Implications

1.0 Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

  • a. The Board of Management has appointed Seán Lyons as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) in St. Anthony’s. N.S. to have specific responsibility for child protection.
  • b. Mick Mulcahy has been appointed as Deputy DLP to take the place of the DLP if he is unavailable for whatever reason.
  • c. The position of DLP will be addressed at the first meeting of each new Board of Management. The DLP will continue to act as such until such time as he is replaced by the BOM for whatever reason.

2.0 Roles and Responsibilities:

  • The Board of Management has primary responsibility for the care and welfare of their pupils.
  • The DLP has specific responsibility for child protection in the school.
  • All staff members have a general duty of care to ensure that arrangements are in place to protect children from harm.

2.1 Role of the Board of Management

  • a. To arrange for the planning, development and implementation of an effective child protection programme.
  • b. To monitor and evaluate its effectiveness.
  • c. To provide appropriate staff development and training

Specifically they will

  • d. Appoint a DLP and deputy DLP.
  • e. Have clear procedures for dealing with allegations or suspicions of child abuse (See below)
  • f. Monitor the progress of children at risk
  • g. Ensure that curricular provision is in place for the prevention of child abuse.
  • h. Investigate and respond to allegations of child abuse against one of the school’s employees which have been reported to the Health Executive or Gardaí.
  • i. To decide on teachers’ attendance at child protection meetings/case conferences and to advise teachers before attending such meetings/conferences.

Procedures for BOM in cases of allegations or suspicions of child abuse by a school employee:

A. Reporting In the event of receiving a complaint or suspicion re an employee:

  • i. The DLP will immediately inform the chairperson.
  • ii. She will seek a written statement of the allegation from the person/agency making the allegation. Parents/Guardians may make a statement on behalf of a child.
  • iii. The DLP will seek advice from the relevant Health Executive and will take responsibility for reporting, based on this advice.
  • iv. If the DLP, following consultation with the Health Executive, decides that this matter is not for reporting, he must inform the Chairperson. They must then inform, in writing, the person or agency making the allegation, of the reasons for this decision. If this person or agency still has concerns, they are free to consult with or report to the relevant Health Executive or Gardaí on an individual basis. The provisions of the Protection for Persons reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 apply, once they report reasonably and in good faith.
  • v. If the DLP, following consultation with the Health Executive, decides that this matter is for reporting he should inform the Chairperson, who should proceed in accordance with the procedures in the Child Protection Guidelines (1999 pg.16).
  • vi. The DLP/Deputy DLP completes a standard reporting form as comprehensively as is possible.
  • vii. When the Chairperson becomes aware of an allegation of abuse she will always seek legal advice and base her response on this advice.
  • viii. She will privately inform the employee of the fact and nature of the allegation and whether or not it has been reported by the DLP to the Health Executive. (Refer to 4.2 – 4.3, pg.16 of Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures (DES, 2001). The chairperson has a duty to afford the employee fairness and due process – s/he is entitled to details and a copy of the written allegation, to advice and representation and an opportunity to respond to the Board within a week.

B. Responding

  • i. When the Chairperson becomes aware of an allegation of abuse she will always seek legal advice and base her response on this advice.
  • ii. The Chairperson will consider whether there is any risk to pupils’ safety. If the Chairperson considers that there is a risk –she may require the employee to take immediate administrative leave. If unsure the chairperson will consult with the Health Executive/Gardaí.
  • iii. If administrative leave has been invoked, the chairperson will inform the DES. The Health Executive (in some cases the Gardaí) may also be notified in accordance with legal advice received.
  • iv. Once it is deemed necessary by the DLP and Chairperson to make a report (after receiving advice from the Health Executive) the Chairperson will convene and inform a meeting of the BOM as soon as possible.
  • v. Where the alleged abuse has taken place within the school, or relates to the abuse of pupils of the school, by school employees outside of school time, the BOM will investigate the matter. They will convene a further meeting, once the relevant information has been gathered. At this meeting the BOM will consider in detail • the allegations made and their source, • the advice given by relevant authorities • the written responses of the employee
  • vi.At this meeting also
    • The person/agency who is alleging abuse by the school employee should be offered an opportunity to present his/her case to the BOM and may be accompanied by another person
    • Parents/guardians may act on behalf of child.
    • The employee should also be afforded an opportunity to present his/her case and may also be accompanied.
  • vii. The BOM must deal with the matter sensitively and the employee must be fairly treated.
  • viii. The BOM will make a decision on action, if any, based on their investigation and will inform the employee of this in writing. They will also inform the DES of the outcome, if the employee has been absent on administrative leave.
  • ix. Where it is not possible for the BOM to conduct an enquiry into allegations (e.g. where abuse has occurred in past employment, or where the employee is undergoing investigation by relevant authorities), the Chairperson will act on advice of authorities. The Chairperson will maintain close contact with the Health Executive and receive reports and records from them where appropriate.

2.2. Role of the Staff Member (to include Teachers, SNAs, Caretakers, Secretary etc)

a. It is the responsibility of all teachers and staff members to familiarise themselves with the Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (1999) especially

  • Chapter 3 Definition & Recognition of Child Abuse
  • Chapter 4 Basis for Reporting & Standard Reporting Procedures
  • Appendix 1 Signs and Symptoms Of Child Abuse

b. Guidelines for teachers and staff members in handling…

  • 1. Disclosures from children
    • a. Where a child discloses alleged abuse to a staff member, the person receiving that information should listen carefully and supportively. Great care must be taken not to abuse the child’s trust. This should not be a formal interview. The following advice is offered:
    • 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 not 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.
      • Retain the record securely.
    • b. The staff member should obtain only necessary relevant facts. It is not the responsibility of school personnel to investigate allegations of abuse.
    • c. The DLP should then be informed and given relevant records.
    • d. 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.
  • 2. Suspicions of Abuse:
    • a. Staff members who suspect abuse should refer to Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (1999) especially
      • Chapter 3 : Definition & Recognition of Child Abuse
      • Chapter 4: Basis for Reporting and Standard Reporting Procedures
      • Appendix 1: Signs and Symptoms Of Child Abuse
    • b. Staff members should observe and record over time the dates/signs/symptoms/behaviour causing them concern.
    • c. They should inform the DLP and pass on all records.

2.3. Role of the Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

  • a. The DLP acts as a liaison with outside agencies, Health Executive, Gardaí and other parties with child protection concerns
  • b. The DLP will inform all school personnel of the availability of the Children First Guidelines in the school. He will photocopy and circulate to all staff Chapters 3 & 4 & Appendix 1of these guidelines and advise on good practice.
  • c. The DLP will be available to staff for consultation regarding suspicions or disclosures of abuse. He will keep records of these consultations.
  • d. The DLP will seek advice from the Health executive.
  • e. The DLP will report suspicions and allegations of child abuse to the Health Executive or/ and Garda Síochána based on this advice.
  • f. The DLP will maintain proper records in a secure, confidential manner and in a secure location.
  • g. The DLP will keep up to date on current developments regarding child protection.

Guidelines for the DLP in handling reported concerns and disclosures

  • a. Where the DLP/Deputy DLP have concerns about a child, but are not sure whether to report the matter to the Health Executive, they should seek appropriate advice. To do this the DLP/Deputy should make informal contact with the Health Executive. The DLP/Deputy in this case, should be explicit that he is requesting advice and not making a report. If advised to report the matter, the DLP will act on that advice.
  • b. A report will then be made to the Health Executive by the DLP/Deputy in person, by telephone or in writing. In the event of an emergency or non-availability of Health Executive staff, the report should be made to the Gardaí. The DLP should also report the matter to the Chairperson of the BOM, who should then follow the procedures as outlined in Chapter 4 (Section 4.3) of Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (1999).
  • c. A standard reporting form is completed by the DLP/Deputy as comprehensively as possible (See Appendix 1).
  • d. Parents/guardians will normally be informed that a report is being made. It may be decided that informing the parent/carer is likely to endanger the child or place the child at further risk. The decision not to inform the parent/carer should be briefly recorded together with the reasons for not doing so.
  • e. When the allegation is against the DLP, the chairperson then assumes responsibility for reporting the matter to the Health Executive and filling in the standard reporting form.
  • f.Where there are allegations or suspicions of Peer Abuse the DLP will follow the same procedures.
    • Parents of all parties will be notified and the DLP will inform the Chairperson.
    • Principal and class teachers will make arrangements to meet separately with all parents, to resolve the matter.
    • The school will make arrangements to minimise the possibility of the abusive behaviour recurring.

3.0 Child Protection Meetings (Case Conferences):

  • a. A request is made from the Health Executive through the D.L.P. who should consult with the Chairperson of the B.O.M. of the school. The Chairperson may seek clarification through the D.L.P. as to why the attendance of the school employee is necessary and ascertain who else will be present.
  • b. The school employee may complete a report for the meeting/conference. (See Appendix 3).
  • c. The school employee will be advised if children/parents/guardians are going to be present. The school employee may contact the Chairperson of the Child Protection Meeting for advice.
  • d. The school employee may keep a child’s behaviour under closer observation, if requested to do so. This may include observing the child’s behaviour, peer interactions, school progress or informal conversations.
  • e. In all cases, individuals who refer or discuss their concerns about the care and protection of children with Health Executive staff, should be informed of the likely steps to be taken by the professionals involved. Where appropriate and within the normal limits of confidentiality, reporting staff will be kept informed about the outcomes of any enquiry or investigation following on from their report
  • f. Teachers attending a child protection meeting/case conference should familiarise themselves with the protocol outlined on pgs. 149 – 155 of Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children

Responsibility for Review

• DLP

• DDLP

Ratification and Communication

This policy was ratified by the Board of Management on 07-09-2015 and distributed to staff.