CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
In cases of suspected or alleged child abuse Mangonui School follows the procedures detailed in Breaking the Cycle: Interagency Protocols for Child Abuse Management as provided by the New Zealand Children and Young Persons Service 1996.
Key Principle: Trustees shall ensure that the needs of all children and their learning shall be paramount. (Statement One, Trustees Code of Ethics.)
Procedures: Flowchart and pages from Breaking the Cycle.
- The school provides staff development to ensure staff are aware of the indicators of abuse and the procedures to report. Community liaison social workers from the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services [CYFS] are available to assist schools in this area of staff development. All staff members should have access to a copy of Breaking the Cycle: An Interagency Guide to Child Abuse (a companion document to the protocols available from CYFS).
- Through curriculum delivery the school provides programmes to develop skills in children that may assist them in identifying and protecting themselves from abusive situations.
- Any staff member has the right to report suspicion of abuse to CYFS or the police (Section 15 Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989). 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.
The principal should be informed of any such action.
- · Only CYFS and/or the police have the statutory authority to investigate allegations of abuse.
- Providing the report is made in good faith, Section 16 of the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989 protects the person who reports from civil, criminal, or disciplinary proceedings regarding reporting suspected abuse. This only applies to reports made to CYFS and the police.
- Access by social worker or police to a child in school:
While the law does not require a CYFS social worker or the police to have consent from a parent or guardian to interview a child as part of an investigation into possible abuse or neglect, they generally try to obtain consent before a child is interviewed. On occasion it may not be possible or appropriate to obtain parental consent before a child is interviewed. This may be the case, for example, where a parent is the alleged abuser. In such circumstances the best interests of the child will determine the most appropriate approach.
Consent of school management is required before a child can be interviewed at the school. Under normal circumstances the school management allows this access as the paramountcy principle applies. The school does, however, have the right to deny the social worker or police access to the child if parental consent has not first been obtained. In such an instance the social worker and/or police has the option of either obtaining parental consent or (if they believe this is not in the child’s best interests) seeking a warrant from the Family Court. A warrant gives the social worker and/or police the authority to proceed with the interview and, if necessary, to take the child out of the school for the interview.
- Where a child is interviewed at school the normal procedure is for a staff member the child has confidence in to be present. Ideally that staff member will be briefed by the social worker or police officer prior to the interview regarding the level of support to provide.
- Section 66 of the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989 requires government departments and crown entities (including schools) to provide information, on request, to the police, CYFS social workers, and care and protection coordinators, where the information is needed to determine whether a child or young person is in need of care or protection. Where the board or a staff member receives such a request they are required to supply it. They should require a reference to the authority under which the information is being requested (ie reference to section 66).
- Where parents or others involved in a complaint use the Privacy Act 1993 to request information provided by the child to the school, the school must give due consideration to the safety of the child if the information is disclosed. The request can be refused if the school believes that in providing that information the child may be put at risk (Privacy Act 1993 Section 29 (d)).
- Where a third party approaches the school with concerns about a child, they should be directed to CYFS or the police.
- Once CYFS is involved with a child the responsibility for the welfare of that child lies with CYFS. While schools may from time to time disagree with the decisions made by CYFS, the school’s primary responsibility is for the child’s education.
- If suspected abuse, be it sexual, physical or emotional is identified by any staff member, the Principal must be informed immediately.
- All decisions regarding consultation with outside agencies will be the responsibility of the Principal.
- Agencies can include Resource Teacher for Learning and Behaviour; Behaviour Education Support; Child, Youth and Family Service; Police Youth Aid.
- In the event of harm, ill treatment, abuse, neglect or deprivation of a child being identified, the Board of Trustees, through the Principal, will follow the procedures outlined in the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1994 and use the attached flowchart for guidance.
- Safety Checks – All people employed or engaged in work that involves regular or overnight involvement must be Police Vetted. This will involve identity identification. Any person employed must have their work history for the last 5 years. Transcripts and proof of qualifications.
- Safety Checks – All teaching staff are safety checked every three years (This will happen when teachers apply for renewal of teacher practising certificate). All Non-Teaching staff are Police vetted every three years.