Child Protection Policy

September 2016

1) Introduction

 

The Board of Management of Hollymount NS values and encourages the participation of pupils in all activities that enhance their spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual and social development. The school recognises the dignity and rights of all pupils and is committed to ensuring their protection and support. Management, staff and volunteers accept and recognise our responsibilities both to develop awareness of the practices which cause children harm and to create an environment that safeguards the well-being of all the children that attend the school.  This policy applies to all school employees.

The Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools 2011 attached at Appendix 1 are incorporated without modification into this Child Protection Policy.  In the event of a conflict between Appendix 1 and this Policy, Appendix 1 will prevail.

 

The Board of Management also agrees to the implementation of the Stay Safe Programme.

 

The Child Protection Policy of Hollymount NS has been developed in accordance with:

 

  • The requirements of the Department of Education & Skills’ Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, 2011.
  • Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011 (“Children First Guidelines”).
  • Department of Education & Skills Circular 0065/2011.

 

Queries about Child Protection Procedures in our school should be directed to:

  • Mr. Tom Dalton

 

Allegations or suspicions of child abuse should be brought to the attention of the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) or, where necessary, to the Chairperson of the Board of Management or the relevant authorities.

  • Mr. Tom Dalton. Chairperson BOM. Hollymount NS. 064 7758269
  • Ms. Linda Dennehy (DLP) Hollymount NS. 064 7758269
  • Mrs. Aoife Golden (DDLP) Hollymount NS. 064 7758269
  • Rathmore Garda Station, East End, Rathmore, Co. Cork 0647758002
  • TUSLA office Mallow, Co. Cork. Phone, 022 54100

 

 

  1. Background

 

 

2.1 Child Abuse: Towards a Definition

 

Hollymount NS has adopted the definition of child abuse as described in the ‘Children First Guidelines’.

 

The ‘Children First Guidelines’, defines child abuse by using 4 categories: neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. It should be noted that a child may be subject to more than one form of abuse at any given time.

 

Neglect

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, medical care or attachment to and affection from adults.

 

Harm can be defined as the ill-treatment or the impairment of the health or development of a child.  Whether it is significant is determined by the child’s health and development as compared to that which could reasonably be expected of a child of similar age.

 

Neglect generally becomes apparent in different ways over a period of time rather than at one specific point.  For example, a child who suffers a series of minor injuries may not be having his or her needs met in terms of necessary supervision and safety.  A child whose height or weight is significantly below average may be being deprived of adequate nutrition. A child who consistently misses school may be being deprived of intellectual stimulation.

 

The threshold of significant harm is reached when the child’s needs are neglected to the extent that their well-being and/or development are severely affected.

 

 

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is normally found in the relationship between a parent/carer and a child rather than in a specific event or pattern of events. It occurs when a child’s developmental need for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met.  Unless other forms of abuse are present, it is rarely manifested in terms of physical symptoms. Examples may include:-

 

  • the imposition of negative attributes on a child, expressed by persistent criticism, sarcasm, hostility or blaming;
  • conditional parenting in which the level of care shown to a child is made contingent on his or her

behaviours or actions;

  • emotional unavailability of the child’s parent/carer;
  • unresponsiveness of the parent/carer and/or inconsistent or inappropriate expectations of the child;
  • premature imposition of responsibility on the child;
  • unrealistic or inappropriate expectations of the child’s capacity to understand something or to

behave and control himself or herself in a certain way;

  • under- or over-protection of the child;
  • failure to show interest in, or provide age-appropriate opportunities for, the child’s cognitive and

emotional development;

  • use of unreasonable or over-harsh disciplinary measures;
  • exposure to domestic violence;
  • exposure to inappropriate or abusive material through new technology.

 

Emotional abuse can be manifested in terms of the child’s behavioural, cognitive, affective or physical functioning.  Examples of these include insecure attachment, unhappiness, low self-esteem, educational and developmental underachievement and oppositional behaviour.

 

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is that which results in actual or potential physical harm from an interaction or lack of interaction, which is reasonably within the control of a parent or person in a position of responsibility, power or trust.  There may be single or repeated incidences.  Physical abuse can involve:

 

 

  • severe physical punishment,
  • beating, slapping, hitting or kicking,
  • pinching, biting, choking or hair-pulling,
  • terrorizing with threats,
  • observing violence,
  • use of excessive force in handling,
  • deliberate poisoning,
  • suffocation,
  • fabricated/induced illness, or
  • allowing or creating a substantial risk of significant harm to a child.

 

 

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for their gratification or sexual arousal, or for that of others. Examples of sexual abuse include:

  • exposing sexual organs or intentionally performing any sexual act in the presence of a child,
  • intentional touching or molesting the body of a child, by a person or object, for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification,
  • masturbating in the presence of a child or involving the child in the act of masturbation,
  • engaging in sexual intercourse with the child, whether oral, vaginal or anal,
  • sexually exploiting a child which includes inciting, encouraging, propositioning, requesting or permitting a child to solicit for or to engage in, prostitution or other sexual acts. Sexual exploitation also occurs when a child is involved in the exhibition, modeling or posing for the purpose of sexual manipulation, for these purposes, of the image by computer or other means.  It may also include showing sexually explicit material to children which is often a feature of the grooming process of perpetrators of abuse, or

consensual sexual activity between an adult and a child under the age of consent.

(In relation to child sexual abuse, it should be noted that, for the purposes of criminal law, the age of consent to sexual intercourse is 17 years).

 

 

 

 

Aggressive/Bullying/Sexualised Behaviour:

While bullying is not a category in itself, it is important to be aware of it in relation to child abuse. Bullying can be defined as repeated verbal, psychological or physical aggression that is conducted

by an individual or group against others. It includes behaviour such as teasing, taunting, threatening, hitting or extortion by one or more persons against a victim.  Bullying can also take the form of racial abuse.  Children may also be subject to non-contact bullying, via mobile phones, the internet and other personal devices.

 

  • In Hollymount NS peer to peer bullying as described above will be dealt with in accordance with the school’s Code of Behaviour.
  • Bullying behaviour that is perpetrated by an adult against a child will be dealt with under the provisions of this policy.

 

Sexualised behaviour displayed by an individual child, or occurring between children is inappropriate. Should such behaviour occur the school:

  • Will arrange meetings (separate meetings if there are children from more than one family implicated) with the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the child/children involved.
  • May if deemed appropriate seek advice from and/or make a report to TUSLA.

 

In a situation where child abuse is alleged to have been carried out by another child, the child protection procedures will be adhered to for both the victim and the alleged abuser; that is, the matter will be considered a child care and protection issue for both children.

 

2.2 Responsibility to Report Suspected or Actual Abuse

 

Any person who suspects that a child is being abused or is at risk of abuse, has a responsibility and a duty of care to report their concerns to TUSLA or an Garda Siochána, either directly or through the Designated Liaison Person.

 

The Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998 provides immunity from civil liability to people who report child abuse ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to TUSLA or the Gardaí.

 

Members of Boards of Management and school personnel furnishing information with regard to suspicions of child abuse ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to the DLP or Chairperson of the Board of Management are protected under ‘Qualified Privilege’ as defined by Common Law.

 

It is a criminal offence to make a report of child abuse ‘knowing the statement to be false’.

 

2.3 The Health Service Executive

 

TUSLA has a range of statutory responsibilities in the area of child welfare, family support, child protection and child care.

 

 

Once an allegation of child abuse has been reported to TUSLA, it is then a matter for TUSLA to decide upon the action, if any, which is necessitated by that report.

 

In the case of allegations or suspicions of child abuse by school employees the Children First Guidelines place an onus on TUSLA to ensure that arrangements are put in place to provide feedback to the Board of Management 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. TUSLA is required to pass on reports and records to the Board of Management and the employee in question where appropriate. The Board of Management should always be notified of the outcome of investigations. It is the responsibility of the Chairperson of the Board of Management to maintain close contact with TUSLA to ensure that TUSLAacts promptly in cases of alleged abuse involving school employees.

 

 

  1. Roles & Responsibilities

 

3.1 The Board of Management

The Board of Management of Hollymount NS acknowledges its responsibilities in respect of child protection to include the following:

  • Primary responsibility for the care and welfare of pupils.
  • The development and implementation of an effective child protection policy.
  • The review and evaluation of the child protection policy and associated procedures.
  • The appointment of a DLP and deputy DLP.
  • The provision of appropriate staff development and training.
  • To monitor the progress of children at risk.
  • The investigation of allegations of child abuse against one of the school’s employees.
  • To ensure that curriculum provision aimed at the prevention of child abuse is in place.
  • The development of a policy on teachers’ attendance at child protection meetings/case conferences and the provision of advice to teachers before attending such meetings/conferences.

 

3.2 School Staff & Volunteers

  • All staff have a general duty of care to ensure that arrangements are in place to protect children from harm.
  • Staff are responsible for adhering to the child protection procedures as detailed in the school’s child protection policy and for continuous monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of such a programme.
  • Teaching staff are responsible for the delivery of the curriculum aimed at the prevention of child abuse.

The planning and implementation of appropriate staff development and training programmes.

  • All 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 staff or volunteers suspect abuse or have concerns regarding the welfare of a child they are required to act in accordance with the procedures detailed in this document.

 

 

 

3.3 Role of the Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

  • The DLP has specific responsibility for child protection.
  • The DLP is the first point of contact within the school regarding suspicions or disclosures of abuse.
  • This person is the Designated Liaison Person for the school in all dealings with TUSLA, An Garda Síochána and other parties, in connection with allegations of abuse.
  • In instances where there are reasonable grounds for a suspicion or allegation of child abuse the DLP is responsible for reporting the matter to TUSLA, or in the case of an emergency the Garda Síochána.
  • The DLP is responsible for informing the Chairperson of the Board of Management if a report involving a pupil in the school has been submitted to TUSLA or An Garda Síochána.
  • The DLP of Hollymount NS is Linda Dennehy

 

3.4 Role of the Deputy Designated Liaison Person (DDLP)

  • The Deputy Designated Liaison Person is responsible for performing the DLP’s responsibilities if she in unavailable or in his/her
  • The DDLP of Hollymount NS is Mrs Aoife Golden.

 

 

  1. Child protection: Creating a Safe & Secure Environment

 

 

4.1 Code of Good Practice for BoM members, Staff & Volunteers

 

For the purposes of the Code of Good Practice the term personnel describes anyone who engages with pupils of the school during the school day (including school activities organised outside of school hours or off the school premises), whether as a paid employee or as a volunteer.

Personnel are required to comply with Chapter 3 of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools which outlines their responsibilities.

In its policies, practices and activities, Hollymount NS will adhere to the following principles of best practice in child protection and welfare:

 

The school will:

  • recognise that the protection and welfare of children is of paramount importance, regardless of all other considerations;
  • fully co-operate with the relevant statutory authorities in relation to child protection and welfare matters;
  • adopt safe practices to minimise the possibility of harm or accidents happening to children and protect workers from the necessity to take unnecessary risks that may leave themselves open to accusations of abuse or neglect;
  • develop a practice of openness with parents and encourage parental involvement in the education of their children; and
  • fully respect confidentiality requirements in dealing with child protection matters.

General Conduct

  • Physical punishment of pupils is not permissible under any circumstances.
  • Verbal abuse of pupils, the use of sexual innuendo or telling jokes of a sexual nature in the presence of pupils is never Great care should be taken if it is necessary to have a conversation regarding sexual matters with a pupil.
  • Being alone with a pupil is not good practice. School personnel should only be alone with a pupil if exceptional and/or emergency circumstances arise which makes it necessary be alone with a pupil.  If such circumstances do arise and it is necessary for personnel to be alone with a pupil, the staff member should do the following:- (i) inform the DLP as soon as possible; (ii) make a note of the meeting and the reasons for it;  (iii) inform the pupil’s parents/guardian unless to do so would put the child at further risk.
  • All pupils must be treated with equal respect; favouritism is not acceptable.
  • Personnel should not engage in or tolerate any behaviour – verbal, psychological or physical – that could be construed as bullying or abusive.
  • A disproportionate amount of time should not be spent with any particular pupil or group of pupils.
  • Under no circumstances should school personnel give alcohol, tobacco or drugs to

 

 

Respect for Physical Integrity

  • The physical integrity of pupils must be respected at all
  • Personnel must not engage in inappropriate physical contact of any kind – including tough physical play, physical reprimand and horseplay (tickling, wrestling). This should not prevent appropriate contact in situations where it is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of a pupil (for example, where a pupil is distressed).

 

Respect for Privacy

  • The right to privacy of pupils must be respected at all
  • Particular care regarding privacy must be taken when pupils are in locations such as changing areas, swimming pools, showers and toilets. Personnel should not be alone with pupils in such areas as swimming pools, showers and toilets.
  • Photographs of pupils must never be taken while they are in changing areas (for example, in a locker room or bathing facility) or toilets.
  • Tasks of a personal nature (for example, helping with toileting, washing or changing clothing) should not be done for pupils if they can undertake these tasks themselves.

 

 

Meetings with Pupils

  • If it is necessary to meet alone with a pupil, such meetings should not be held in an isolated environment. The times and designated locations for meetings should allow for transparency and accountability (for example, be held in rooms with a clear glass panel or window, in buildings where other people are present, and with the door of the room left open).
  • Both the length and number of meetings should be limited.
  • Parents or guardians should be informed that the meeting(s) took place, except in circumstances where to do so might place the pupil in danger.
  • When the need for a visit to the home of a pupil or young person arises, professional boundaries must be observed at all times. No such meeting should take place without the pupil’s parent/guardian being present, unless the presence of the parent/guardian would place the pupil at risk.

 

Pupils with Special Needs or Disability

  • Pupils with special needs or disability may depend on adults more than other pupils for their care and safety, and so sensitivity and clear communication are particularly important
  • Where it is necessary to carry out tasks of a personal nature for a pupil with special needs, this should be done with the full understanding and consent of parents or guardians.
  • In carrying out such personal care tasks, sensitivity must be shown to the pupil and the tasks should be undertaken with the utmost discretion.
  • Any care task of a personal nature which a pupil or young person can do for themselves should not be undertaken by personnel.
  • In an emergency situation where this type of help is required, parents should be fully informed as soon as is reasonably possible.

 

Vulnerable Pupils

  • As especially vulnerable pupils may depend on adults more than other children for their care and safety, sensitivity and clear communication are of utmost importance.
  • Workers should be aware that vulnerable pupils may be more likely than other pupils to be bullied or subjected to other forms of abuse, and may also be less clear about physical and emotional boundaries.
  • It is particularly important that vulnerable pupils should be carefully listened to, in recognition of the fact that they may have difficulty in expressing their concerns and in order that the importance of what they say is not

 

Handling Disclosures from Pupils

Personnel dealing with disclosures from pupils should act with tact and sensitivity. In particular personnel who find themselves in such a situation should:

  • Listen to the pupil
  • Not ask leading questions or make suggestions to the pupil
  • Offer reassurance but not make promises (e.g. promising not to tell anyone else)
  • Not stop a pupil recalling significant events
  • Not over react
  • Explain that further help may have to be sought
  • Make an accurate record the conversation and retain the record
  • Report the matter to the DLP (or to the Chairperson of the BoM if the DLP is implicated)

 

Maintaining Records

When child abuse is suspected, it is essential to have a record of all the information available.

Personnel should note carefully what they have observed and when they observed it. Signs of physical injury should be described in detail and, if appropriate, sketched. Any comment by the child concerned, or by any other person, about how an injury occurred should be recorded, preferably quoting words actually used, as soon as possible after the comment has been made.

All records so created should be regarded as highly confidential and retained in a secure location by the DLP.

4.2 Vetting of New Employees

The Board of Management undertakes that it will comply with legal requirements and directions from the Department of Education and Skills in relation to Garda Vetting of new employees and, in particular:-

  • A Garda Vetting Letter/Report is requested in respect of all new appointees (permanent, fixed term and substitute).
  • Reference checks will be carried out in respect of all new appointees.

 

4.3 Induction of New Employees

  • All new employees will be given a copy of this policy.
  • The DLP will be responsible for:
  • providing all new teachers and ancillary staff with copies of

(i) the Department of Education & Skills’ Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, 2011;

(ii)Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011:

(iii) this policy document and discussing their obligations with regard to same.

  • All new teachers are expected to teach the designated SPHE objectives for their class.

 

 

4.4 Supervision

Every effort will be made to ensure that there is comprehensive supervision of pupils throughout the school day. A roster of staff on duty will be displayed in the office/staff room. Teachers will ensure that pupils are visible in the schoolyard. Pupils will not be permitted to leave the school yard or engage with adults outside of the schoolyard.

 

4.5 One-to-One Teaching

Parent(s)/Guardian(s) will be made aware when one-to-one teaching is deemed to be in the best interest of a pupil. Written consent will be required for all one-to-one teaching.

 

4.6 Attendance

Procedures with regard to the monitoring of school attendance are contained in the school’s Code of Behaviour.

 

 

4.7 Curriculum

A whole school plan for Hollymount NS has been developed by staff and ratified by BOM

A four year plan has been devised details of which can be found in SPHE plan in Curricular Policy folder in the office. A whole school approach to themes has been taken.

 

 

4.8 Use of Images of Children

  • The school undertakes to seek parents’ or guardians’ permission for the use of photographs of pupils for any purposes.
  • At school ceremonies and other public events, the school will publicly announce the use of photographic and audio visual equipment by the school so that anyone who would rather not be photographed or videoed can remove themselves.
  • Only images of pupils in appropriate dress will be used.
  • Inappropriate use of images of pupils will be brought to the attention of the DLP.
  • No images of any pupil may be taken by an external agency or person without receiving the prior authorisation of the school principal.

 

4.9 Use of Technology

  • Procedures with regard to the use of technology are contained in the school’s Acceptable Usage Policy.
  • Hollymount NS does not allow this use of mobile phones by children.

 

4.10 School Visitors

Procedures with regard to school visitors are contained in the School Visitors Policy.

 

4.11 Travel

Best practice in relation to travel with pupils will be observed. Personnel will not undertake any car or minibus journey alone with a pupil. If, in certain circumstances, only one adult is available, there should be a minimum of two pupils present for the entire journey. In the event of an emergency, where it is necessary to make a journey alone with a pupil, (i) the DLP will be informed; (ii) a record will be made and (iii) the pupil’s parent(s) or guardian(s) will be informed as soon as is possible.

 

4.12 School Tours

  • All trips will be carefully planned in advance, to include adequate provision for safety in regard to transport, facilities, activities and emergencies. Adequate insurance will be put in place.
  • Written consent by a parent or guardian specifically for each trip and related activities will be obtained in advance.
  • A copy of the itinerary and contact telephone numbers will be made available to parents and guardians.
  • There will be adequate, gender-appropriate, supervision for boys and girls (where possible).
  • Arrangements and procedures will be put in place to ensure that rules and appropriate boundaries are maintained in the relaxed environment of trips away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Reporting Cases of suspected child abuse

 

6.1 Action to be Taken by School Personnel

If a school employee receives an allegation or has a suspicion that a pupil is being abused the school employee should follow the procedures set out in Chapter 4 of the “Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools” which is attached at Appendix 1.

 

A list of indicators of child abuse is outlined in Appendix 3 of Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools and school personnel should consult with these procedures and liaise with the DLP where they have concerns that a child may have been abused or neglected or is being abused or neglected, or is at risk of abuse or neglect.

 

 

 

  1. child protection conferences

 

 

A child protection conference is a forum for the co-ordination of information from all relevant sources, including where necessary, school employees. The child protection conference plays a pivotal role in making recommendations and planning for the welfare of children who may be at serious risk.  The procedures in relation to child protection conferences are set out in Chapter 4.5 of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools and these procedures should be followed by all school personnel.

 

 

  1. Allegations or Suspicions of child abuse by school employees

 

 

The primary concern of the Board of Management of Hollymount NS is to protect the pupils attending the school to whom we have a duty of care. However, as an employer, the Board of Management also has responsibilities towards its employees. In this respect, and in the event of an allegation of abuse being made against an employee of the school the Board of Management will observe the employees’ right not to be judged in advance of a full and fair enquiry.

 

Should an allegation of abuse be made against a school employee/ a member of the Board of Management, the Board of Management undertakes to seek legal advice in respect of same.

 

In circumstances where such an allegation is made, the school will comply with the procedures contained in Chapter 5 of Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools.  All school personnel will be required to comply with these procedures.

 

 

 

  1. confidentiality

 

  • All information regarding concerns of possible child abuse will be treated confidentially and will only be shared on a need to know basis in the interests of the child.

 

 

  • Giving information to those who need to have that information or as required by law, for the protection of a child who may have been, or has been abused, is not a breach of confidentiality.

 

  • Any DLP who is submitting a report to TUSLA or An Garda Síochána will inform a parent/guardian unless doing so is likely to endanger the child or place the child at further risk. A decision not to inform a parent/guardian will be recorded together with the reasons for not doing so.

 

  • The Board of Management and staff of Hollymount NS give an undertaking to deal with all child protection issues with the utmost confidentiality.

 

 

  1. Related Policies

 

  • Code of Behaviour
  • School Visitors Policy
  • Acceptable Usage Policy
  • Mobile Phone Policy
  • RSE Policy

 

 

  1. Policy Ratification

 

The policy was ratified by the Board of Management of Hollymount NS at its meeting held on

Date ______________.

 

 

 

Signed: _____________________________________ Chairperson, Board of Management