Child Protection Policy

Revised June, 2017

The Board of Management recognises that child protection and welfare considerations permeate all aspects of school life and must be reflected in all of the school?s policies, practices and activities. Accordingly, in accordance with the requirements of the Department of Education and Skills’ Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, the Board of Management of Douglas Community School has agreed the following child protection policy:

1. The Board of Management has adopted and will implement fully and without modification the Department’s Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools as part of this overall child protection policy.
2. The Designated Liaison Person (DLP) is J. Long
3. The Deputy Designated Liaison Person (Deputy DLP) is C. Hickey
4. In its policies, practices and activities, Douglas Community School 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. The school will also adhere to the above principles in relation to any adult pupil with a special vulnerability.

5. The following school policies adhere to best practice in child protection and welfare:-
Code of Behaviour/Anti-bullying Policy
Supervision of Pupils
Learning Support
Sporting Activities/School Outings/Tours
6. This policy has been made available to school personnel and the Parents’ Association and is readily accessible to parents on request. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the patron if requested.

7. This policy will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year.

This policy was adopted by the Board of Management on _________________
Signed: _________________________ Chairperson of Board of Management.
Date: __________________________
Date of next review: ________________

Introduction

The Board of Management of Douglas Community School recognises its obligation to provide pupils with the highest possible standard of care in order to promote their well-being and protect them from harm in line with our mission statement. The Board has ratified the adoption, in full of the Child Protection Guidelines for Post Primary Schools 2014 issued by the Department of Education & Skills, These guidelines form the school policy for dealing with all child protection issues. They are based on the 2015 publication Children First Act 2015 National Guidelinelines for the Protection of Children published by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

1.1 A ‘child’ means any person under 18 years.
1.2 Douglas Community School recognises that it has a statutory obligation to safeguard the welfare of its students. This document offers guidance and outlines procedures that should be followed in all cases of suspected abuse.
1.3 The Designated Liaison Person (DLP) nominated by the Board of Management is the Principal, Mr. Jim Long.
1.4 The Deputy Designated Liaison Person nominated by the Board of Management is the Deputy-Principal, Mr. Chris Hickey.

2. Definition and Recognition of Child Abuse:

2.1 Definition of Child Abuse: Child Abuse is inflicting harm or failing to act to prevent harm to a child.
2.2 Recognising Child Abuse:
Child Abuse may include one or more of the following:
• Neglect: where the child suffers significant harm or impairment of development by being deprived of basic physical and/or psychological needs.
• Emotional abuse: persistent emotional ill treatment such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on a person’s emotional state or a child’s emotional development.
• Physical Abuse: may involve beating, shaking, excessive force in handling.
• Sexual Abuse: forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities. (See Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children.)

3. Reasonable grounds for concern:

The statutory authorities should always be informed when a person has reasonable grounds for concern that a child may have been abused, or is being abused or is at risk of abuse. The following constitute reasonable grounds for concern:

• Specific indication from the child that he was abused.
• An account by a person who saw the child being abused.
• Evidence such as injury or behaviour which is consistent with abuse and unlikely to be caused in another way.
• Consistent indication, over a period of time that a child is suffering from emotional or physical neglect.
• Once it has been identified that a disclosure relates to the protection of a child, Douglas Community School will refer the case to the Health Services Executive/Gardaí as promptly as possible.
• It is not the school’s responsibility to investiate allegations or suspicions of abuse, but to report a disclosure.

4. Protection for persons reporting child abuse:

The Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998 makes provision for the protection from civil liability of persons who have reported child abuse ‘reasonably and in good faith’.

5. Responsibilities of all staff members in dealing with a disclosure:

If a child makes a disclosure of any form of abuse, the staff member:

• Should listen carefully and supportively remembering that an abused child is likely to be under severe emotional distress.
• Should not ask leading questions or make suggestions
• Should offer reassurance but should not promise confidentiality.
• Should not stop the child recalling significant events.
• Should explain that significant help may have to be sought
• Should record the discussion accurately and retain record.
• Should tell the Principal (Designated Liaison Person) who is obliged by law to report cases of suspected child abuse to Health Services Executive or to the Gardaí as promptly as possible. In case the Principal is unavailable, the Deputy Principal is the Deputy Designated Liaison Person.
• The staff member who reports the allegation to the DLP may be asked to attend a Child Protection Conference.

6. Responsibilities of Principal as Designated Liaison Person in dealing with a disclosure:

Once the Principal is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion or allegation he/she

• Should immediately report the matter to the relevant section within the H.S.E.
• Should inform a parent/guardian that they are submitting a report to the Health Board or Gardaí unless doing so is likely to endanger the child or place the child at further risk.
• Should make a record of the information communicated to the parent/guardian.
• Should document any decision not to inform the parent/guardian, together with reasons for not doing so.
• Should immediately inform the Board of Management that a report involving a student has been submitted to the H.S.E.
• Should ensure that the matter will be treated in the strictest of confidence at all times.
• Should facilitiate staff training on child protection
• Should ensure that reporting procedures are agreed, clear and known to all staff members.

7. Procedure Regarding Allegations/Suspicious of Abuse by School Employees:

When an allegation of abuse is made against a school employee, the Designated Liaison Person should act immediately in accordance with the guidelines and a written statement should be sought from the person making the allegation.

The Cathaoirleach of the Board of Management should inform the employee of the fact that the allegation has been made.

The nature of the allegation.

• Whether the matter has been reported to the Health Services Executive by the DLP.
• Employee is given written copy of allegation and asked to respond in writing.
• If the nature of the allegation warrants immediate action, the Cathaoirleach should direct the employee to absent himself/herself from school with immediate effect.
• Contact the Department of Education and Skills to formally approve paid leave of absence and sanction employment of a substitute school employee.
• Immediately inform the Board of Management and stress the importance of adherance to strictest confidentiality.
• The principles of natural justice, the presumption of innocence and fair procedures must be adhered to.