The Need for a Child Protection Policy

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It would not be an understatement to say that each one of us, as members of the school community, has been deeply rattled when cases of child sexual abuse in schools started hitting the media. These cases were reported from elite educational institutions and garnered a lot of angry reactions from the public. From time to time, schools have to deal with a variety of child safety issues including bullying, verbal abuse, online abuse, and corporal punishment.
 
However, as teachers and administrative staff, complexities involved in these matters can be very overwhelming, and make one feel quite confused about how to address these topics effectively. Can schools take focused initiatives on preventing such abuse? Developing a robust Child Protection Policy (CPP) of your school can go a long way in ensuring that your school is prepared to prevent abuse, protect vulnerable children, and respond to child protection concerns fairly.
 
Also read: 6 ways to keep children safe online
 
A child protection or safeguarding policy is a written document that lays down the commitment of an institution to keep children safe, and also details out guidelines for procedures that the organisation will follow to protect all the children within its ambit. There are some obvious benefits of drafting your school’s CPP:
 
  1. A CPP is designed to protect children (from abuse and exploitation inside schools), the school staff (by guiding them with fair procedures on handling allegations) and the school (from damage to reputation).
  2. A policy helps to develop a common understanding of safeguarding issues and child abuse in various forms such as physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or neglect.
  3. Everyone in the organisation, teaching and the non-teaching staff, temporary and permanent employees, students as well as parents are aware of the school’s commitment to safety and what to do to keep children safe. Clear roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders ensures that the responsibility of child safety is collective.
  4. Fair systems and procedures are put in place so that child protection issues are dealt with sensitively, ensuring confidentiality and accountability. Systems of support from expert resource organisations are established to help the school deal with difficult situations.
  5. A CPP also lays down structures and schedules for regular preventive activities, so that the school can proactively work towards preventing cases of abuse.
  6. In a CPP, safety is addressed holistically in different aspects of an organization: people, policy, procedures, and accountability. This ensures that the organisation is able to do its ‘due diligence’ in all its areas of functioning.
 
Let us pause here for a second and reflect on our own organizations. We may or may not have a child protection policy. We may also be looking to build our policy in the near future. In order to get a sense of what a policy will really address, try and answer the following questions for yourself.
 
  • Does your school have a ‘code of conduct’ for all the staff; are there regular conversations around it; are there accountability measures in case of violation of these norms?
  • Are there strong background checks in place for recruitment of all the staff members?
  • How easy is it for a child in your school to identify issues of abuse, discuss them freely with members of staff, and raise concerns if needed?
  • Have there been clearly designated roles and responsibilities for child safeguarding to key personnel in your school? Does your school have a nominated child protection committee?
  • Do you have a list of local expert resources and organizations, who you can reach out to, to seek help in child protection matters?
  • Is every single person in your organization aware of the exact procedure to be followed in cases of child abuse?
  • Are adequate human and financial resources provided to support development and implementation of child safety related work through the academic year?
 
If any of these questions inspires you to learn more about building your school’s child protection policy, or updating one that you may already have, do register with Aditya Birla Education Academy for its next workshop with Mudita Foundation. We welcome you to join us in our mission to make this world a safer place for all our children!
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