Child Protection Policy
Scoil Náisiúnta an Chroí Naofa will follow the guidelines set out in the National Guidelines for the Protection & Welfare of Children, ‘Children First’. These guidelines for schools are available in the office. The protection and well being of every child is of utmost importance in our school and every member of the school staff will be responsible for each child’s welfare.
All parents will be informed of the use of these guidelines by a letter.
There are four categories of abuse outlined in the ‘Children First’ Guidelines. They are neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse.
All staff should familiarise themselves with the indicators of possible abuse as outlined in Appendix I of the guidelines. If reasonable concerns or suspicions regarding the welfare of a child in the school arise the staff member has responsibility to report their concerns to the DLP (Designated Liaison Person). The DLP will then quickly follow the steps as outlined in this policy. The DLP in Scoil Náisiúnta an Chroí Naofa is Damien Irwin.
How to handle disclosures from children:
- An abused child is likely to be under severe emotional stress and a staff member may be the only adult whom the child is prepared to trust. Great care should be taken not to break that trust.
- When information is offered in confidence, the staff member will need tact and sensitivity in responding to the disclosure. The staff member will need to reassure the child and retain his/her trust, while explaining the need for action and possible consequences, which will necessarily involve other adults being informed. It is important to tell the child that everything possible will be done to support and protect him/her, but don’t make promises that cannot be kept.
- While the basis for concern must be established as comprehensively as possible, the following advice is offered to school personnel to whom a child does make a disclosure:
- Listen to the child
- DO NOT ask leading questions or make suggestions to the child
- Offer reassurance but do not make promises
- Do not stop a child recalling significant events
- Do not over react
- Explain that further help may have to be sought
- Record the discussion accurately and retain the record.
The procedure to be followed by the staff of our school in monitoring a suspected abuse case is:
- Do not use the child’s name when recording the incidence; use their school registration number.
- Record carefully all information you have noticed or gathered into a confidential notebook that is to be kept in a safe place. If a child makes a disclosure to you make sure you write down as soon as you can what was said. Include direct quotes from the child and sketches of any markings you may have noticed. Make sure you sign and date each entry at the end of the entry. Pages 66,67 of the Guidelines outline the procedure to follow. See Appendix II and III
- Report your concerns confidentially to the Designated Liaison Person (DLP).
- If the DLP is also concerned he/ she will phone the duty social worker on call for confidential, anonymous advice. Pages 37,38 of the guidelines give the procedure to be followed.
- The advice from them will either be to continue monitoring the situation or to make a formal report. Write down the date and time of the call and the advice given.
- The DLP will give the concerned teacher a written statement of the advice given. The teacher will write all meetings and subsequent recommendations into the notebook.
- If a member of staff is not happy with the advice given by the DLP he/she is entitled to go over the DLP’s head and phone the duty social officer anonymously him/herself.
When a DLP is informed by a staff member of a suspicion or allegation of abuse he/ she will:
- If satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion he/she should report the matter to the health board
- In the event of an emergency or the non-availability of health board staff the report should be made to An Garda Siochána
- In cases where the school personnel have concerns about a child but not sure whether to report the matter, advice should be sought. The DLP should consult with the social worker on duty and be explicit that he/she is requesting advice and not making a report. If the health board advises that a referral should be made, the DLP should act on this advice
- A form similar to the one outlined in Appendix IV of the guidelines will be filled out when making a formal report
- Before submitting a report to the health board it is recommended that the DLP should inform the parents/guardian unless doing so is likely to endanger the child. A decision for not doing so should be briefly recorded together with the reasons for not doing so
- If the DLP decides not to refer the concerns of the school employee to the health board the employee should receive a written statement as to the reasons why action is not being taken. The employee should also be advised that if he/she is still concerned about the situation he/she is free to consult with or report to the health board. See Appendix V for list of health board contacts
- Remember information cannot be unheard.
- Remember it is not the school’s job to investigate a situation, it is the health board’s.
- The ‘Protections for Persons Reporting Abuse Act’, 1998 makes a provision of immunity from civil liability to any person who reports child abuse ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to designated officers of health boards or any member of the Garda Siochána. Guidelines pages 26,28