DWPSF schools are safe and secure places where children learn free from threat & danger. All staff and volunteers who work alongside children are thoroughly checked to ensure they, present no threat to young people. Where allegations are made against adults or other young leg, people, these are always treated seriously and investigated by the appropriate authority. In every DWPS, a senior and experienced member of staff is designated to take lead responsibility for dealing with child protection issues, providing advice and support to other staff.
Every DWPS ensure that they help children keep safe through the teaching of self protection skills and encouragement of responsible attitudes to adult life through a life skill, or similar personal, social and health education/citizenship programme.
DWPSF – ERC is responsible for ensuring a clear Child Protection policy is in place in all schools and for supporting schools where investigations into allegations of potential threat or danger to children are being undertaken.
Safe recruitment procedures will be upheld e.g. appropriate checks are carried out on new staff and volunteers who will work with children.
All staff will be expected to contribute towards an environment that offers children maximum protection e.g. contributing to creation of a positive atmosphere in which pupils are respected and know that they can find assistance if necessary.
Harm may be caused by others or be self-inflicted. There are various categories of abuse:
Emotional Abuse – Some level of emotional abuse is present in all forms of abuse. Persistent t, emotional ill treatment or rejection can cause serious effects on behaviour and emotional development and usually leads to a sense of low self-worth. It may involve inappropriate expectations (e.g. by age or ability), repeated criticisms that convey to a child that he or she is worthless or unloved. It may involve causing children frequently to feel unhappy, frightened or in danger.
Neglect – This refers to persistent or deliberate failure to meet a child’s physical or psychological needs e.g. a failure to provide adequate food, clothing or shelter, failure to protect a child or failure to provide adequate medical care. It may also involve neglect or failure to give adequate response to a child’s emotional needs.
Physical Injury – This involves physical harm to a child e.g. hitting, shaking, scalding and may be deliberate or a result of failure to take adequate precautions. It can also include the deliberate withholding of physical needs e.g. food. It can involve the abuse of dangerous substances and alcohol.
Sexual Abuse – This involves the child being forced or coerced into participating in or watching sexual activity. The apparent consent of the child is irrelevant. The acts may involve physical contact. They may involve non-contact activities such as involving children in looking at or in the production of pornographic material, watching sexual activities or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Dealing with Disclosure of Abuse and Procedure for Reporting
If a staff member is told about abuse, or a staff member suspects or knows of any abuse of any young person, the named person with responsibility for Child Protection must be informed immediately in person or by telephone. Even if the information is based on rumors of abuse, or there is a suspicion but no firm evidence, this manager should be contacted regarding the concerns. Therefore even if the incident does not seem serious it must be reported as it may be a small part of a much larger picture. This needs to be done with care and sensitivity and the child or young person needs to be reassured that the matter will only be discussed with people who need to know.
Staff should not investigate concerns or allegations themselves, but should report them immediately to the Principal. The report should be made as soon as possible after the disclosure and should include:
Reporting and Dealing with Allegations of Abuse against Staff
The procedures apply to all staff as well as volunteers. It is imperative that those dealing with an allegation maintain an open mind and that further action is not subject to delay.
The Principal will make an initial assessment of the allegation, consulting others as necessary. Where the allegation is considered to be either a potential criminal act or indicates that the child has suffered, is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, the matter will be reported immediately to the DWPSF Head Office.
It is important that the Principal (or designated person) does not investigate the allegation. The initial assessment should be on the basis of the information received and gives rise to a decision whether or not the allegation warrants further investigation and if so by whom.