Policies and ProceduresDave Sedcole2019-07-24T10:21:16+00:00
Policies & Procedures
Child Protection Policy
In cases of suspected or alleged child abuse MangonuiSchool 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.)
Definitions of Child Abuse
Child abuse refers to the harming (whether physically, emotionally or sexually), ill treatment, abuse, neglect, or serious deprivation of any child/tamariki, young person/rangatahi (Section 14B Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989). This includes actual, potential and suspected abuse
Physical abuse – any acts that may result in physical harm of a child or young person.
Sexual abuse – any acts that involve forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities, including child sexual exploitation, whether or not they are aware of what is happening.
Emotional abuse – any act or omission that results in adverse or impaired psychological, social, intellectual and emotional functioning or development.
Neglect – the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical or psychological needs, leading to adverse or impaired physical or emotional functioning or development.
It is important to be aware that children can harm other children. These behaviours are outside of what may be considered normal range, and can extend to bullying, violence or sexual assault. Therefore when a child alleges inappropriate harmful behaviour by another child then the child protection procedures outlined in this policy must be followed for both.
Identifying possible abuse or neglect
For information about identifying child abuse see:
The school provides staff development to ensure staff are aware of the indicators of abuse and the procedures to report (see above). Community liaison social workers from the Te Oranga Tamariki 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 Oranga Tamariki).
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 Oranga Tamariki 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 Te Oranga Tamariki and/or the police have the statutory authority to investigate allegations of abuse.
It is not appropriate for a staff member to investigate the concern.
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 Te Oranga Tamariki 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, Te Oranga Tamariki 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 Te Oranga Tamariki or the police.
Once Te Oranga Tamariki is involved with a child the responsibility for the welfare of that child lies with Te Oranga Tamariki. While schools may from time to time disagree with the decisions made by Te Oranga Tamariki, the school’s primary responsibility is for the child’s education.
Allegations or concerns about staff
When a staff member is suspected, the same processes apply.
If there is a need to pursue an allegation as an employer, consult with Te Oranga Tamariki or the Police before advising the person concerned, informing them that they have a right to seek legal advice and providing them with an opportunity to respond. They should also be informed of their right to seek support from the relevant union/representative body. It is vital to follow ordinary disciplinary policies, guided by the employment contract/collective employment contract and relevant statutory obligations.
We commit not to use ‘settlement agreements’, where these are contrary to a culture of child protection. Some settlement agreements allow a member of staff to agree to resign provided that no disciplinary action is taken, and a future reference is agreed. Where the conduct at issue concerned the safety or wellbeing of a child, use of such agreements is contrary to a culture of child protection.
Confidentiality and information sharing
The Privacy Act 1993 and the Children, Young Persons, and their Families Act 1989 allow information to be shared to keep children safe when abuse or suspected abuse is reported or investigated.
Note that under sections 15 and 16 of the Te Oranga Tamariki Act, any person who believes that a child has been, or is likely to be, harmed physically, emotionally or sexually or ill-treated, abused, neglected or deprived may report the matter to Child, Youth and Family or the Police and, provided the report is made in good faith, no civil, criminal or disciplinary proceedings may be brought against them.
CHILD PROTECTION PROCEDURES
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 checking will be carried out in accordance with the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 (All people employed or engaged in work that involves regular or overnight involvement with children must be Police Vetted). This will include: a police vet; identity verification; references and an interview. A work history will be sought and previous employers will be contacted. If there is any suspicion that an applicant might pose a risk to a child, that applicant will not be employed.
Any person employed by the school must be supervised until such time a clear Police Vet is obtained. This allows for immediate start but with supervision by another employee.
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.
Any agency that contracts to Mangonui School must have a Child Protection Policy.
Date Ratified by Board of Trustees: 9 July 2019 Date to be Reviewed: July 2022