Vulnerable Children

POLICY 5.12

VULNERABLE CHILDREN

RATIONALE

This policy outlines the board’s commitment to child protection and recognises the important role and responsibility of all our staff in the protection of children. It includes the board’s expectations when child abuse is reported or suspected by us.

All staff members (including contractors and volunteers) are expected to be familiar with this policy, its associated procedures and protocols and abide by them.

The Board of Trustees has an obligation to ensure the wellbeing of children in our care so they thrive, belong and achieve. We are committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect and to the protection of all children. The safety and wellbeing of the child is our top priority. Advice will be sought through appropriate agencies in all cases of suspected or alleged abuse.

In line with section 15 of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act, any person in our schools or kura who believes that any child or young person has been, or is likely to be, harmed (whether physically, emotionally, or sexually), ill-treated, abused, neglected, or deprived must follow school procedures and may also report the matter to a social worker or the local police.

Although ultimate accountability sits with the board, the board delegates responsibility to the principal to ensure that all child safety procedures are implemented and available to all staff, contractors, volunteers and parents. Therefore, the principal must:

1. Develop appropriate procedures to meet child safety requirements as required and appropriate to the school.

2. Comply with relevant legislative requirements and responsibilities.

3. Make this policy available on the school’s internet site or available on request.

4. Ensure that every contract, or funding arrangement, that the school enters into requires the adoption of child protection policies where required.

5. Ensure the interests and protection of the child are paramount in all circumstances.

6. Recognise the rights of family/whanau to participate in the decision-making about their children.

7. Ensure that all staff are able to identify the signs and symptoms of potential abuse and neglect, deal with disclosures by children and allegations against members and are able to take appropriate action in response.

8. Support all staff to work in accordance with this policy, to work with partner agencies and organisations to ensure child protection policies are understood and implemented.

9. Promote a culture where staff feel confident they can constructively challenge poor practice or raise issues of concern without fear of reprisal.

10. Consult, discuss and share relevant information, in line with our commitment to confidentiality and information sharing protocols, in a timely way regarding any concerns about an individual child with the board or designated person.

11. Seek advice as necessary from NZSTA advisors on employment matters and other relevant agencies where child safety issues arise.

12. Make available professional development, resources and/or advice to ensure all staff can carry out their roles in terms of this policy.

13. Ensure that this policy forms part of the initial staff induction programme for each staff member.

DEFINITION

Child Abuse/Neglect includes

 Physical Abuse

 Sexual Abuse

 Emotional/Psychological Abuse eg Family violence, exposure to illegal activities, and rejection.

 Neglect eg Medical neglect, abandonment, neglectful supervision.

GUIDELINES

1. It is essential that all procedures and steps taken are kept confidential to those immediately concerned.

2. The child safety should always be the paramount consideration in the notification process.

3. No decisions or actions in respect of suspected or actual child abuse are to be made by any staff member in isolation unless there are concerns for the immediate safety of the child. The Principal or in the event of unavailability, senior teaching staff will be the initial resource team in this school. No outside agency will be involved without the prior knowledge of the Principal unless it is impracticable to do so.

4. A consultative approach is essential to ensure the safety of the child and the staff member. Staff must discuss their concerns with the Principal or nominated person/advocate. Where applicable follow the Board’s complaint policy.

5. In case of a report from a third party to the school, the school will direct the third party to a helping agency. A report outlining the alleged abuse along with the name of the helping agency shall be made, in writing, witnessed by the Principal, and held on file. The school may need to be involved later.

6. Decisions about informing parents or caregivers should be made after consultation between the school and Oranga Tamariki.

7. Topic study promoting self esteem and personal safety will be taught as part of the Health Curriculum to increase children’s assertive skills in dealing with uncomfortable situations, and to help raise teachers’ consciousness of the issues.

8. When a third party, either NZ Police or Oranga Tamariki become involved, it will become their investigation into the alleged abuse. Neither the school nor the teacher can interfere, however the school can lend support to the child and share relevant documented information.

9. If the school or the teacher lends support to the child, under no circumstances are they to discuss with others the incident or the investigation being carried out by the outside agency.

10. Support for the teacher involved will be provided.

The attached reporting process for suspected or disclosed child abuse will be followed.


REPORTING PROCEDURES

These reporting procedures are to be followed after abuse is discovered, disclosed or suspected.

1. If the child is in danger or unsafe, act immediately to secure their safety.

2. Listen to the child and reassure them they did the right thing in disclosing.

3. Write down what the child says, check that comments and events surrounding the concern are also recorded. Documentation may subsequently be used in court as evidence for either side. Avoid making judgements, simply record the facts(who, when, where information is import to record for risk assessment).

4. Do not formally interview the child. Obtain only necessary relevant facts for when clarification is needed. Interviewing of suspected abuse victims is a specialised procedure and shall be the responsibility of those who are trained in such techniques.

5. If the child is not in immediate danger and is not upset re-involve them in usual school activities.

6. If the child is visibly upset provide appropriate activity for them under supervision with someone familiar until they are able to rejoin classroom activities.

7. Inform the Principal, nominated person, or other staff members if the allegation concerns the Principal. In absence of the Principal, refer immediately to the staff member trained in management procedures or a senior staff member for advice on further action.

8. Notify Oranga Tamariki contact centre (0508 326 459) or Police.

9. Obtain during the notification an indication of likely action and time frames. Seek advice from Oranga Tamariki or Police on what to tell the child (decisions concerning after school arrangements and notifying the parents will be made by Police and Social Workers in consultation with the school).Document the details of Police or Oranga Tamariki staff spoken to.

10. Get support for yourself from appropriate people if needed.

11. Notification should be made to the Police or the Oranga Tamariki national contact centre. The Contact Centre telephone member is 0508 326 459 fax 09 914 1211 or email contact@ot.govt.nz

12. Inform the board chairperson where appropriate.


REFER

Reporting of suspected or actual child abuse and neglect: Protocol between the Ministry of Education,

the NZSTA and Child, Youth and Family 2009

https://www.orangatamariki.govt.nz/

http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/personal-and-community-advice/school-portal/information-and-

guidelines/child-protection

http://www.education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/School/Running-a-

school/VCAPracticalGuide.pdf#page=40

https://privacy.org.nz/blog/what-do-i-do-if-i-think-a-child-is-at-risk/


APPROVED: 11/18

REVIEW BY: 08/21