CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
Dominican Primary School is a Catholic, co-educational, Primary School, which strives to provide a well-ordered, caring, happy and secure atmosphere where the intellectual, spiritual, physical, moral and cultural needs of the pupils are identified and addressed. Against this background we on the staff assume responsibility for the care, welfare and safety of all pupils in our charge. Of utmost important is the protection of our pupils from all dangers, be these of a physical, emotional or sexual nature.
To provide a well-ordered, caring, happy and secure environment so that all pupils will feel safe
- To equip pupils with the necessary skills so that they will be more capable of understanding and dealing with incidents of abuse
- To ensure that all staff, parents and Board of Management are aware of their responsibilities in this area.
- To ensure that all members of staff are familiar with the Department of Education and Skills Guidelines on Child Protection.
- To monitor pupils’ welfare ie. spiritual, physical, social, emotional and intellectual needs.
CATEGORIES OF ABUSE:
Children may be abused by a parent, another family member, a carer, a “friend” or a stranger. Perpetrators can abuse either directly by physically, sexually or emotionally hurting children or by neglecting to provide them with proper care. The abuse may take a number of forms including.
- Neglect – The actual or likely persistent neglect of a child, or the failure to protect a child from exposure to any kind of danger, including cold and starvation. Neglect also includes a persistent failure to carry out important aspects of care such as the provision of supervision, medical care and affection.
- Physical Abuse – Deliberately inflicting any physical injury on a child or the wilful or neglectful failure to protect a child from physical injury.
- Sexual Abuse – The involvement of children in sexual activities, which are designed to arouse and gratify the perpetrator(s). Exposing children to items of pornography also constitutes child sexual abuse.
- Emotional Abuse – The subjection of a child to regular verbal criticism, constant ridicule, threats, rejection either verbal or implied and exposure to frequent acts of violence or alcohol abuse.
School Staff are well placed to observe and note a variety of outward symptoms such as change in appearance, behaviour, learning pattern or development which may point to some form of abuse. However such symptoms may also be due to a variety of other causes.
Nevertheless the following signs should be noted:
- Bruises, particularly of a regular shape, which may indicate the use of an implement such as a strap or stick lacerations, bite marks, burns.
- Excessive dependence or attention seeking.
- Withdrawn, inappropriate sexual behaviour, early development.
Victims of abuse often display emotional or behavioural difficulties but the signs described above can do no more than give cause for concern. They are not in themselves proof that abuse has occurred.
- Staff Suspicions
Where a member of staff suspects or receives an allegation that a child is being abused he/she should, in the first instance, report the matter to the schools’ Designated Liaison Person (D.L.P).
- Designated Liaison Person (D.L.P)
Each school must provide a member of staff to whom others can report any suspected incidents of abuse. In Dominican Primary school that person is the Principal, Mr. Peter Mooney.
In the event of the Principal not being available, the Deputy Principal, Mrs. Caroline O’Donnell will act as the D.L.P.
Member of Staff
- Where a child reports to a member of staff that he/she is being abused, the staff member should take great care not to damage the trust the child has shown.
- The member of staff should show tact and sensitivity in responding to the child’s disclosure.
- The member of staff should reassure the child that everything possible will be done to protect him/her.
- The child must be reassured that the abuse is in no way his or her fault.
- The member of staff should explain to the child that in order to help him/her it will be necessary to inform other adults.
- Allow the child to tell his/her story without interruption or over reaction.
- The member of staff should not ask any leading questions or make suggestions to the child.
- The staff member should not make promises that cannot be kept.
- What the child says should be written down as accurately as possible word for word where possible.
- The matter should then be reported to the D.L.P. and the written record of the discussion given to and retained by the D.L.P.
- The matter should be regarded as highly confidential and should not be discussed with other personnel unless on a “need to know” basis.
- Designated Liaison Person (D.L.P)
Where the member of staff and the D.L.P. are satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion or allegation of abuse then the D.L.P. should report the matter to a Duty Social Worker.
- The D.L.P’s report can be made to a Duty Social Worker by phone, in person or by letter.
- In the event of an emergency or the non-availability of the duty social worker the report should be made to an Garda Síochána at Dún Laoghaire Garda Station. (Tel: 01-6665000)
- All formal reports should be made on the Standard Report Form (sample included) giving as much information as possible.
- Once a formal report is being forwarded to the Health Board the school’s Board of Management should be informed.
- The decision to inform parents that a formal report is being prepared will depend on the circumstances of the case. Where it is clear that the child will not be put in danger by informing his/her parents then this will be done. However if it is felt that disclosure to parents would put the child at further risk they will not be informed at this stage.
- The decision not to inform parents/guardians should be briefly recorded together with the reason for doing so.
- In instances where school personnel are uncertain about reporting formally to the Health Board, the D.L.P. should seek advice from the Health Board’s Duty Social Worker. No identifying details need be given at this point but if the Social Worker’s advice is that a report should be submitted then the school authorities should act on this advice.
- Should the D.L.P. decide that the concerns of the school employee should not be referred to the relevant health board, the school employee should be given a clear statement, in writing, as to the reasons why action is not being taken. The school employee 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.
CODE OF CONDUCT:
Physical Contact with Pupils:
- As a guiding principle, all staff are advised that any unnecessary physical contact with pupils is to be avoided.
- However it is unrealistic to suggest that staff should touch pupils only in emergencies. In particular, a distressed child, especially a younger one, will most likely require reassurance involving physical comforting similar to what a caring parent would provide. Staff should not feel inhibited from offering this comfort.
- Staff should refrain from carrying out tasks of a personal nature that children can do for themselves.
- Staff should never touch a child who has clearly indicated that he/she is, or would be uncomfortable with such contact, unless it is necessary to protect the child, others or property from harm.
- Staff who have to administer first-aid to a pupil should ensure wherever possible that this is done in the presence of other children or another adult. However no member of staff should hesitate to provide first-aid in an emergency simply because another person is not present.
- Any physical contact that might be misinterpreted by a pupil, parent/guardian or other observer should be avoided.
- All staff should be particularly careful when supervising pupils on school related activities outside.
Private meetings with pupils:
Staff should always be aware of the potential dangers inherent in private interview situations with pupils. However such interviews are on occasion necessary. When they arise the member of staff should ensure that the room has visual access and-or keeps the door open
- Where possible another person, preferably an adult, should be present at the interviews.
- Should it not be possible for another person to be present, then the member of staff conducting the interview should make it known to another member that the meeting is taking place. Signs may be used on the door indicating that a private interview is in progress but signs prohibiting entry should be avoided.
Use of Language:
- Staff will not permit the use of inappropriate language by pupils, staff or parents to go unchallenged.
Choice and Use of Teaching Activities/Material:
- Our school has used and/or will use the following resources to teach the pupils about personal safety skills and to empower them to report to a responsible adult any matters about which they are uncomfortable.
Alive-O Programme, Grow In Love, Walk Tall Programme, RSE and Stay Safe Programme.
The resources are used a part of the schools S.P.H.E Curriculum, Religion Programme and AISTEAR.
- The Deputy DLP has attended a full day seminar on DES Guidelines on Child Abuse Report Procedures organised by the Blackrock Education Centre.
- Two members of staff have also attended a full in-service day based on the DES Guidelines.
- All staff members attended training given by the Child Abuse Protection Programme.
- All new members of staff will be made aware of this Policy.
Role of Parents/Guardians:
- All parents/guardians will be informed of the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures issued by the Department of Education and Skills to all schools. They will be further informed that Dominican Primary School has adopted the guidelines and procedures as school policy.
- Parents/Guardians wishing to view this policy may do so by request.
BOARD OF MANAGEMENT:
The B.O.M. will view and evaluate this policy and will, if necessary, recommend alterations or additions. The Board members will then give their approval for the policy to come into effect.
Hard and fast rules covering every eventuality where staff interact with pupils would be impossible to outline. So in all circumstances, the staff’s professional judgement will be exercised and their over-riding concern will be the safety and welfare of pupils.
From time to time this policy may be reappraised by staff and reviewed and adapted by B.O.M. and they may then be afforded the opportunity to attend further training should this become available.
Signed: Caoimhe Frain_ Date :_26/4/2016_(Review)_
Dr. Caoimhe Frain
Chairperson, Board of Management