This document is formulated in response to recent changes in Guidance and Procedures in relation to Child Protection matters and takes account of the provisions of each of the following important pieces of legislation:
- Freedom of Information Act 1997
- The Education Act 1998
- The Child Welfare Act 2000
- Children First – National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011.
The new procedures are based on the recently published Children First – National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011.
- ‘Children First’ National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011. (Department of Children and Youth Affairs 2011)
- ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools’ (Department of Education and Skills 2011)
- Circular 0065/2011
The Board of Management (BOM) recognises that child protection and welfare considerations permeate all aspects of school life and must be reflected in each school policy, school practices and activities. Accordingly, in accordance with the requirements of the Department of Education and Skills, Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, the BoM of Rutland National School has approved this Child Protection Policy.
The BOM has adopted and will fully implement without modification the Department of Education and Skills Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2011. These procedures will therefore underpin the content of this policy.
The following key personnel have been identified and ratified by the BoM:
The Designated Liaison Person (DLP) is the School Principal – Niamh Murray
The Deputy Designated Liaison Person (Deputy DLP) is the Deputy Principal – Ian Cherry
In its policies, practices and activities, Rutland National School will adhere to the following principles of best practice in Child Protection and Welfare. Our school recognises that the protection and welfare of children is of paramount importance, regardless of all other considerations and will therefore;
- Fully co-operate with the relevant statutory authorities in relation to child protection and welfare matters
- Adopt safe practices to minimise the possibility of harm or accidents happening to children and protect workers from the necessity to take unnecessary risks that may leave themselves open to accusations of abuse or neglect
- Develop a practice of openness with parents and encourage parental involvement in the education of their children
- Fully respect confidentiality requirements in dealing with child protection matters
- Adhere to the above principles in relation to any adult pupil with a special vulnerability
Specific policies named hereunder are key elements of this overall document and must be referred to in the context of this policy:
- First Aid/Administration of Medication
- Code of Behaviour
- Health & Safety
- Record Keeping
- Special Ed
- Induction of Staff
- Critical Incidents
This policy covers all children in Rutland National School whilst in the school or on school related trips or activities with reference to the participation by pupils in sporting activities, other extra-curricular activities and school outings. Other practices and activities, where child protection might have particular relevance, will consider the procedures outlined within this policy. The Board has ensured that the necessary policies, protocols or practices as appropriate are in place in respect of each of the above listed items.
This policy is available to all school personnel and the Parent Association and is readily accessible to parents on request. Teachers are given a hard copy which is kept in a prominent position in each classroom. The policy is also published on the website. A copy of this policy is available for the attention of the DES and the patron if requested.
Designated Liaison Person (DLP)
Niamh Murray, the Principal, appointed by the BOM, is the DLP. The Deputy Principal acts as Deputy DLP. The principal and Deputy will undertake training, where available,
from the Child Abuse Prevention Programme at the earliest opportunity. CAPP provides training to the whole school community (staff, parents and Boards of Management) on the stay Safe Programme.
The DLP has specific responsibility for Child Protection Procedures and will represent the school in all correspondence with Health Boards, An Garda Siochana and other parties in connection with allegations of abuse. All matters pertaining to child abuse concerns should be processed through the DLP (DES Procedures 3:2)
The DLP acts appropriately where there are reasonable grounds for suspicion or where an allegation has been made.
All information regarding concerns of possible child abuse should only be shared on a ‘need to know’ basis in the interests of the child. The giving of information to those who need to have that information is not a breach of confidentiality. This procedure exists for the protection of a child who may have been or has been abused. The DLP who is submitting a report to the Health Board or An Garda Siochána should inform a parent/guardian, unless doing so is likely to endanger the child or place that child at further risk. A decision not to inform a parent/guardian should be briefly recorded together with the reasons for not doing so.
In emergency situations, where the Health Board cannot be contacted, and the child appears to be at immediate and serious risk, An Garda Siochána should be contacted. A child should not be left in a dangerous situation where Health Board intervention is not forthcoming.
Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse
The protection for persons reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 provides immunity from civil liability to any person who reports a child protection concern ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to designated officers of Health Boards or any member of an Garda Siochána (DES Procedures 1:10)
People making a report to the DLP in good faith have ‘qualified privilege’ under common law. Reports made to Health Boards may be subject to provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 1997. This act enables members of the public to obtain access to personal information relating to them which is in the possession of public bodies. However, the act also provides that public bodies may refuse access to information obtained by them in confidence (DES Procedures 1:11)
Definition and Recognition of Child Abuse
Child abuse can be categorised into four different types:
- Emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
Each of these categories is defined in full in ‘Children First’ (Dept. of Children & Youth Affairs Chapter 2). They are also outlined in full in Appendix 1 of this policy document.
Neglect can be defined in terms of an omission, where the child suffers significant harm or impairment of development by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, intellectual stimulation, supervision and safety, attachment to and affection from adults, medical care.
Guidelines for Recognition of Child Abuse
A list of child neglect indicators is contained in Chapter 2:2 of Children First. This policy draws particular attention to ‘persistent evidence’ of neglect, including indicators such as no lunch, lack of uniform, no homework, poor attendance, persistent health problems, lack of sleep indicating inappropriate television viewing late at night and other evidence that would indicate lack of supervision in the home. All signs and symptoms must be examined in the total context of the child’s situation and family circumstances.
There are commonly three stages in the identification of child abuse:
- Considering the possibility
- Looking out for signs of abuse
- Recording of information
Each of these stages is developed in ‘Children First’ (2:2)
Handling Disclosures from Children
(DES Procedures 3:5) gives comprehensive details of how disclosures should be approached. Staffs are advised to deal with each situation sensitively, reassure the child but not to make promises that cannot be fulfilled.
The adult should not ask leading questions or make suggestions. They should explain that further help may have to be sought. The discussion should then be recorded accurately.
The record should include reference to what was observed with sketches of physical injury where necessary. It should also record when the alleged incident took place. Records should be kept in a secure place. The information should then be conveyed to the school DLP via the appropriate Referral Form (Appendix 3).
If the reporting person and the DLP are satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion/allegation, the procedures outlined in ‘Children First’ must be adhered to. Standardised reporting forms should be used (DES Procedures Appendix 4). The content of the report should follow the guidelines in ‘Children First’.
Please see Appendix 2 for correctly handling disclosures from children.
Allegations or Suspicions in relation to School Employees (DES Procedures Chapter 5)
The Chairperson and the DLP are concerned with the protection of the children in their care in the first instance. However, employees must be protected against false and malicious claims. Due process must be observed in relation to allegations against employees. Legal Advice should be sought by the BoM in relation to an allegation in relation to an employee. If the allegation is against the DLP, the BoM Chairperson will assume the responsibility for reporting the matter to the Health Board.
When an allegation of abuse is made against a school employee, the DLP should act in accordance with the procedures outlined in Children First. A written statement of the allegation should be sought from the person/agency making the report. A parent/guardian may make a statement on behalf of a child. The DLP should always inform the Chairperson of the BoM and is responsible for liaising with the HSE. The Chairperson assumes responsibility for dealing with the employee.
School employees, other than the DLP, who receive allegations against another school employee, should immediately report the matter to the DLP. School employees who form suspicions regarding conduct of another school employee should consult with the DLP.
The employee should be informed by the Chairperson (Employer) that:
- An allegation has been made against him/her
- The nature of the allegation
- Whether or not the Health Board or Gardaí has been informed.
The employee should be given a copy of the written allegation and any other relevant documentation. The employee should be requested to respond to the allegation in writing to the BoM within a specified period and told that this may be passed to the Gardaí, Health Board and legal advisers.
The Chairperson must take the necessary steps to protect the child and may consult the BoM in this matter. The BoM may direct that the employee take administrative leave with pay and avoid suspension, thus removing any implication of guilt. The DES should be immediately informed.
School Measures Taken to Protect the Children in Our Care
There are a number of areas where common sense in our school should prevail in order to protect the children in the school and the staff who care for them. In relation to this, certain points should be noted:
- Rutland National School shall fully implement the Stay Safe programme (Circular 65: 2011) during a designated month each year. Parents are informed of this so they have an opportunity to talk to their child at home about the content of the Stay Safe programme.
- A copy of the school’s child protection policy, which includes the names of the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) and Deputy DLP, will be made available to all school personnel and the Parents’ Association and is readily accessible to parents on request
- The name of the DLP and other relevant support services are displayed in a prominent position near the main entrance to the school
- In addition to informing the school authority of those cases where a report involving a child in the school has been submitted to the HSE, the DLP shall also inform the school authority of cases where the DLP sought advice from the HSE and as a result of this advice, no report was made. At each BoM meeting, the Principal’s Report shall include the number of all such cases and this shall be recorded in the minutes of the BOM meeting.
- Rutland National School Board of Management will undertake an annual review of its Child Protection Policy and its implementation by the school. A checklist, to be used in undertaking the review (included at Appendix 3). The school has put in place an action plan to address any areas for improvement which might be identified in the annual review. The Board of Management shall make arrangements to inform school personnel that the review has been undertaken. Written notification that the review has been undertaken shall be provided to the Parent Association. A record of the review and its outcome shall be made available, if requested, to the patron and the DES.
- Staff who take classes swimming should make sure that there are two adults in attendance at all times. The dressing rooms and pool area should be well supervised
- Staff should make every effort not be alone in a classroom with one child or detain a child on their own after school. In the case of special needs pupils where resource hours and assistance are sanctioned on an individual basis, staff in such a situation should if possible work with the classroom door open, thus rendering the occupants visible at all times. Where it is not possible to keep the door open (for e.g. on busy corridor) staff are advised to position themselves and children in a position where they are clearly visible through glass panel of classroom door.
- When possible children should work in groups when withdrawn from class.
- Children with physical disabilities who may require assistance in toileting will be aided by a Special Needs Assistant who has met the necessary screening requirements when being employed by the school.
It should be noted that children with disabilities may be more at risk of abuse due to a number of reasons (DES Procedures 2:3). Parents, teachers and all staff involved in services for children with disabilities need to be familiar with the indicators of abuse and to be alert for signs of abuse.
Child Protection Practices
The staff and BOM of Rutland National School have identified the following as areas of specific concern in relation to Child Protection. Following discussion and consultation, the staff and BoM have agreed that the following practices be adopted:
- Physical contact between school personnel and the child should always be in response to the needs of the child and not the needs of the adult
While physical contact may be used to comfort, reassure or assist a child, the following should be factors in determining its appropriateness:
- It is acceptable to the child
- It is open and not secretive
- The age and developmental stage of the child
School personnel should avoid doing anything of a personal nature for children that they can do for themselves.
Photographs of children
Teachers are requested when posting photos on the school website or on the Attenders Board in the lobby that children’s names don’t accompany the pictures so as to protect their anonymity.
Regarding requests from newspapers and Social Media of organisations the children may be involved with (eg. Children’s Books Ireland, AON Insurance), we request that children’s names do not appear on social media sites, as there is potential for misuse of photos online.
School personnel should never engage in or allow:
- The use of inappropriate language or behaviours
- Physical punishment of any kind
- Sexually provocative games or suggestive comments about or to a child
- The use of sexually explicit or pornagraphic material
All media products (CDs, DVDs etc.) should be checked for their appropriateness with regard to age and suitability.
Appropriately appointed and screened visiting teachers of varying disciplines, engaged by the BoM of Rutland National Schol to perform specific duties, will be left work with a class alone at the Principal’s discretion
Visitors/Guest speakers should never be left alone with pupils. The school (Principal/ teachers) has a responsibility to check out the credentials of the visitor/guest speaker and to ensure that the material in use is appropriate.
Children with specific toileting/intimate care needs
- In all situations where a pupil needs assistance with toileting/intimate care, a meeting will be convened, after enrolment and before the child starts school, between parents/guardians, class teacher, special needs assistant, Principal and if appropriate the pupil. The purpose of the meeting will be to ascertain the specific needs of the child and to determine how the school can best meet those needs
- The staff to be involved in this care will be identified and provision will be made for occasions when the particular staff involved are absent. A written copy of what has been agreed will be made and kept in the child’s file
- Two members of staff will be present when dealing with intimate care/toileting needs. Any deviation from the agreed procedure will be recorded and notified to the DLP and the parents/guardians.
Clean underwear and suitable clothing will be kept in the school so that if a pupil has an ‘accident’ of this nature, they will in the first instance be offered fresh clothing into which they can change.
If the pupil for whatever reason cannot clean or change themselves and the parents/guardians cannot be contacted, the child will be assisted by members of staff familiar to the child. In all such situations, two members of staff should be present. A record of all such incidents will be kept and Principal and parents will be notified.
While every precaution will be taken under our Health and Safety Statement to ensure the safety of children, we realise that accidents will happen. Accidents will be noted in our Incident book and will be addressed under our Accident Policy as part of Health and Safety.
- It is the policy in this school that one-to-one teaching can sometimes be in the best interest of the child.
- Every effort will be made to ensure that this teaching takes place in an open environment. All doors have glass panels to allow for greater visibility.
- Parents of children who are to be involved in one-to-one teaching will be informed and their agreement sought.
- Work being carried out by Special Needs Assistants will be carried out under the direction of the class teacher in an open environment.
Changing for games/PE/Swimming
Pupils will be expected to dress and undress themselves for Sports Activities/PE/Swimming. Where assistance is needed, this will be done in the communal area and with the consent of parents by the parents themselves if possible. Under no circumstances will members of staff/volunteers be expected to or allowed to dress/undress a child unsupervised in a cubicle/private area. In such situations where privacy is required, the parents/guardians of the child will be asked to assist the child. Rutland National School will endeavour to have two male volunteers/member of staff in the male changing area and two female members of staff/ volunteers in the female changing area. This will generally comprise of one staff member and one parent where possible.
The BoM of Rutland National School has requested that all swimming volunteers apply to be vetted. In the interim, a Volunteer Form approved by the CPSMA will be in use. At all times there must be adequate supervision of pupils. While every effort will be made to adhere to best practice as agreed and outlined above, in the event of an emergency where this is not possible or practicable, a full record of the incident should be made and reported to the Principal and parents.
Our school attendance will be monitored as per our attendance policy. With regards to child protection, we will pay particular attention to trends in non-attendance. We will also monitor non-attendance in correlation with signs of neglect/physical/emotional abuse.
Children are encouraged at all times to play co-operatively and inappropriate behaviour will be addressed under our Code of Behaviour. If an incident occurs which we consider to be of a sexualised nature, we will notify the DLP who will record it and respond to it appropriately.
Bullying behaviour will be addressed under our Anti-Bullying policy. If the behaviour involved is of a sexualised nature or regarded as being particularly abusive, then the matter will be referred to the DLP.
Children travelling in staff cars
Members of the school staff will not carry children alone in their cars at any time.
Use of Taxis
For Reading Recovery, pupils are required at times to travel by taxi to Marino Institute of Education. In this event an SNA travels in the front seat of the taxi with the child in a booster seat in the back and they are met in Marino by the Reading Recovery teacher.
Every effort will be made to enhance pupil-teacher communication. If pupils have concerns they will be listened to sympathetically. The SPHE/Oral Language/RE programmes allow for open pupil-teacher communication, which is hoped will aid the pupil-teacher relationship. If teachers have to communicate with pupils on a one-to-one basis, they are requested to leave the classroom door open or request a colleague to attend. Further details on communications are found in the school’s Communication Policy.
Induction of Staff
The DLP will be responsible for informing all new teachers and ancillary staff of the Child Protection Procedures (DES, 2011) and Children First Guidelines (2011), but particularly the recently published Children First – National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011). All new teachers are expected to teach the appropriate SPHE objectives for their class. The Deputy Principal will be responsible for the mentoring of new teachers and will be responsible for supporting new teachers as they implement the SPHE objectives.
Induction of Pupils
All parents and children will be made aware of attendance rules and their implications as laid down in the Education Welfare Act (2000). All parents will be informed of the programmes in place in the school that deal with personal development e.g. RSE, Walk Tall, Stay Safe and SPHE. All new parents will be given a copy of the school’s enrolment policy, which outlines the procedures parents and children should use when contacting the school if there are absences or concerns of an educational/personal/family matter. Parents are encouraged to make an appointment with the class teacher/principal if they wish to discuss their child’s progress. All parents will be given a copy of the school’s Code of Behaviour/ Anti-Bullying policies and Internet Usage Policy. The beginning of year Welcome meetings will be used to remind parents of procedures and practices in relation to Child Protection.
It is the intention of the Principal and Staff at Rutland National School to ensure that child protection concerns will be addressed in the school’s Acceptable Use Policy as part of its Information and Communication Technology policy. The Stay Safe lessons in each classroom may be supplemented with appropriate resources. All teachers will be asked to teach lessons from Webwise Primary Teachers Handbook regarding internet usage. Children will always use the internet under adult supervision whilst in school.
Teachers will keep records on each child’s reports using a notebook or monitoring record sheet (see attached, Appendix 4). These records are kept in the drawer of each teacher’s desk or in their filing cabinet under lock and key. Roll books will be updated daily. Sensitive information regarding children will be shared on a need-to-know basis. All educational files of pupils who no longer attend this school are kept in the filing cabinet in administrative store room.
The school’s supervision policy will be followed by all staff to ensure that there is comprehensive supervision of children at all breaks. A rota will be displayed to cover yard and lunchtime breaks. See Supervision Policy for agreed rules around break-times and procedures around teacher absences.
Teachers will ensure that children are visible in the school playground. Children will not be allowed to spend time in classrooms or toilets where they would not be under adult supervision. They are not to leave the school yard without permission.
A full list of Emergency Numbers (including HSE, Gardaí, etc.) is on display on staffroom white board for all staff’s attention. A school mobile is kept with the principal also for contacting parents, emergency services etc.
Appendix 1: Signs and symptoms of child abuse
- Signs and symptoms of neglect:
Child neglect is the most common category of abuse. A distinction can be made between ‘wilful’ neglect and ‘circumstantial’ neglect. ‘Wilful’ neglect would generally incorporate a direct and deliberate deprivation by a parent/carer of a child’s most basic needs, e.g. withdrawal of food, shelter, warmth, clothing, contact with others. ‘Circumstantial’ neglect more often may be due to stress/inability to cope by parents or carers. Neglect is closely correlated with low socio-economic factors and corresponding physical deprivations. It is also related to parental incapacity due to learning disability, addictions or psychological disturbance. The neglect of children is ‘usually a passive form of abuse involving omission rather than acts of commission’ (Skuse and Bentovim, 1994). It comprises ‘both a lack of physical caretaking and supervision and a failure to fulfil the developmental needs of the child in terms of cognitive stimulation’.
Child neglect should be suspected in cases of:
- abandonment or desertion;
- children persistently being left alone without adequate care and supervision;
- malnourishment, lacking food, inappropriate food or erratic feeding;
- lack of warmth;
- lack of adequate clothing;
- inattention to basic hygiene;
- lack of protection and exposure to danger, including moral danger or lack of supervision appropriate to the child’s age;
- persistent failure to attend school;
- non-organic failure to thrive, i.e. child not gaining weight due not only to malnutrition but also to emotional deprivation;
- failure to provide adequate care for the child’s medical and developmental problems;
- exploited, overworked.
- Characteristics of neglect:
Child neglect is the most frequent category of abuse, both in Ireland and internationally. In addition to being the most frequently reported type of abuse; neglect is also recognised as being the most harmful. Not only does neglect generally last throughout a childhood, it also has long-term consequences into adult life. Children are more likely to die from chronic neglect than from one instance of physical abuse. It is well established that severe neglect in infancy has a serious negative impact on brain development. Neglect is associated with, but not necessarily caused by, poverty. It is strongly correlated with parental substance misuse, domestic violence and parental mental illness and disability.
Neglect may be categorised into different types (adapted from Dubowitz, 1999):
- Disorganised/chaotic neglect: This is typically where parenting is inconsistent and is often found in disorganised and crises-prone families. The quality of parenting is inconsistent, with a lack of certainty and routine, often resulting in emergencies regarding accommodation, finances and food. This type of neglect results in attachment disorders, promotes anxiety in children and leads to disruptive and attention-seeking behaviour, with older children proving more difficult to control and discipline. The home may be unsafe from accidental harm, with a high incident of accidents occurring.
- Depressed or passive neglect: This type of neglect fits the common stereotype and is often characterised by bleak and bare accommodation, without material comfort, and with poor hygiene and little if any social and psychological stimulation. The household will have few toys and those that are there may be broken, dirty or inappropriate for age. Young children will spend long periods in cots, playpens or pushchairs. There is often a lack of food, inadequate bedding and no clean clothes. There can be a sense of hopelessness, coupled with ambivalence about improving the household situation. In such environments, children frequently are absent from school and have poor homework routines. Children subject to these circumstances are at risk of major developmental delay.
- Chronic deprivation: This is most likely to occur where there is the absence of a key attachment figure. It is most often found in large institutions where infants and children may be physically well cared for, but where there is no opportunity to form an attachment with an individual carer. In these situations, children are dealt with by a range of adults and their needs are seen as part of the demands of a group of children. This form of deprivation will also be associated with poor stimulation and can result in serious developmental delays.
The following points illustrate the consequences of different types of neglect for children:
- inadequate food – failure to develop;
- household hazards – accidents; • lack of hygiene – health and social problems;
- lack of attention to health – disease; • inadequate mental health care – suicide or delinquency;
- inadequate emotional care – behaviour and educational;
- inadequate supervision – risk-taking behaviour;
- unstable relationship – attachment problems;
- unstable living conditions – behaviour and anxiety, risk of accidents;
- exposure to domestic violence – behaviour, physical and mental health;
- community violence – anti social behaviour.
- Signs and symptoms of emotional neglect and abuse:
Emotional neglect and abuse is found typically in a home lacking in emotional warmth. It is not necessarily associated with physical deprivation. The emotional needs of the children are not met; the parent’s relationship to the child may be without empathy and devoid of emotional responsiveness. Emotional neglect and abuse occurs when adults responsible for taking care of children are unaware of and unable (for a range of reasons) to meet their children’s emotional and developmental needs. Emotional neglect and abuse is not easy to recognise because the effects are not easily observable. Skuse (1989) states that ‘emotional abuse refers to the habitual verbal harassment of a child by disparagement, criticism, threat and ridicule, and the inversion of love, whereby verbal and non-verbal means of rejection and withdrawal are substituted’.
Emotional neglect and abuse can be identified with reference to the indices listed below. However, it should be noted that no one indicator is conclusive of emotional abuse. In the case of emotional abuse and neglect, it is more likely to impact negatively on a child where there is a cluster of indices, where these are persistent over time and where there is a lack of other protective factors.
- lack of comfort and love;
- lack of attachment;
- lack of proper stimulation (e.g. fun and play);
- lack of continuity of care (e.g. frequent moves, particularly unplanned);
- continuous lack of praise and encouragement;
- serious over-protectiveness;
- inappropriate non-physical punishment (e.g. locking in bedrooms);
- family conflicts and/or violence;
- every child who is abused sexually, physically or neglected is also emotionally abused;
- inappropriate expectations of a child relative to his/her age and stage of development. Children who are physically and sexually abused and neglected also suffer from emotional abuse.
- Signs and symptoms of physical abuse:
- Unsatisfactory explanations, varying explanations, frequency and clustering for the following events are high indices for concern regarding physical abuse:
- bruises (see below for more detail);
- swollen joints;
- burns/scalds (see below for more detail);
- abrasions/lacerations; • haemorrhages (retinal, subdural);
- damage to body organs;
- poisonings – repeated (prescribed drugs, alcohol);
- failure to thrive;
There are many different forms of physical abuse, but skin, mouth and bone injuries are the most common.
Bruises Accidental: Accidental bruises are common at places on the body where bone is fairly close to the skin. Bruises can also be found towards the front of the body, as the child usually will fall forwards. Accidental bruises are common on the chin, nose, forehead, elbow, knees and shins. An accident-prone child can have frequent bruises in these areas. Such bruises will be diffuse, with no definite edges. Any bruising on a child before the age of mobility must be treated with concern. Non-accidental Bruises caused by physical abuse are more likely to occur on soft tissues, e.g. cheek, buttocks, lower back, back, thighs, calves, neck, genitalia and mouth. Marks from slapping or grabbing may form a distinctive pattern. Slap marks might occur on buttocks/cheeks and the outlining of fingers may be seen on any part of the body. Bruises caused by direct blows with a fist have no definite pattern, but may occur in parts of the body that do not usually receive injuries by accident. A punch over the eye (black eye syndrome) or ear would be of concern. Black eyes cannot be caused by a fall on to a flat surface. Two black eyes require two injuries and must always be suspect. Other distinctive patterns of bruising may be left by the use of straps, belts, sticks and feet. The outline of the object may be left on the child in a bruise on areas such as the back or thighs (areas covered by clothing). Bruises may be associated with shaking, which can cause serious hidden bleeding and bruising inside the skull. Any bruising around the neck is suspicious since it is very unlikely to be accidentally acquired.. Other injuries may feature – ruptured eardrum/fractured skull. Mouth injury may be a cause of concern, e.g. torn mouth (frenulum) from forced bottle-feeding. Bone injuries Children regularly have accidents that result in fractures. However, children’s bones are more flexible than those of adults and the children themselves are lighter, so a fracture, particularly of the skull, usually signifies that considerable force has been applied.
Non-accidental: A fracture of any sort should be regarded as suspicious in a child under 8 months of age. A fracture of the skull must be regarded as particularly suspicious in a child under 3 years. Either case requires careful investigation as to the circumstances in which the fracture occurred. Swelling in the head or drowsiness may also indicate injury.
Burns: Children who have accidental burns usually have a hot liquid splashed on them by spilling or have come into contact with a hot object. The history that parents give is usually in keeping with the pattern of injury observed. However, repeated episodes may suggest inadequate care and attention to safety within the house.
Non-accidental: Children who have received non-accidental burns may exhibit a pattern that is not adequately explained by parents. The child may have been immersed in a hot liquid. The burn may show a definite line, unlike the type seen in accidental splashing. The child may also have been held against a hot object, like a radiator or a ring of a cooker, leaving distinctive marks. Cigarette burns may result in multiple small lesions in places on the skin that would not generally be exposed to danger. There may be other skin conditions that can cause similar patterns and expert paediatric advice should be sought.
Bites: Children can get bitten either by animals or humans. Animal bites (e.g. dogs) commonly puncture and tear the skin, and usually the history is definite. Small children can also bite other children.
Non-accidental: It is sometimes hard to differentiate between the bites of adults and children since measurements can be inaccurate. Any suspected adult bite mark must be taken very seriously. Consultant paediatricians may liaise with dental colleagues in order to identify marks correctly.
Poisoning: Children may commonly take medicines or chemicals that are dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Aspects of care and safety within the home need to be considered with each event.
Non-accidental poisoning can occur and may be difficult to identify, but should be suspected in bizarre or recurrent episodes and when more than one child is involved. Drowsiness or hyperventilation may be a symptom.
Shaking violently: Shaking is a frequent cause of brain damage in very young children.
Fabricated/induced illness: This occurs where parents, usually the mother (according to current research and case experience), fabricate stories of illness about their child or cause physical signs of illness. This can occur where the parent secretly administers dangerous drugs or other poisonous substances to the child or by smothering. The symptoms that alert to the possibility of fabricated/induced illness include: (i) symptoms that cannot be explained by any medical tests; symptoms never observed by anyone other than the parent/carer; symptoms reported to occur only at home or when a parent/carer visits a child in hospital; (ii) high level of demand for investigation of symptoms without any documented physical signs; (iii) unexplained problems with medical treatment, such as drips coming out or lines being interfered with; presence of unprescribed medication or poisons in the blood or urine.
- Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse:
Child sexual abuse often covers a wide spectrum of abusive activities. It rarely involves just a single incident and usually occurs over a number of years. Child sexual abuse most commonly happens within the family.
Cases of sexual abuse principally come to light through:
(a) disclosure by the child or his or her siblings/friends;
(b) the suspicions of an adult;
(c) physical symptoms.
Colburn Faller (1989) provides a description of the wide spectrum of activities by adults which can constitute child sexual abuse. These include:
- Non-contact sexual abuse
- ‘Offensive sexual remarks’, including statements the offender makes to the child regarding the child’s sexual attributes, what he or she would like to do to the child and other sexual comments.
- Obscene phone calls.
- Independent ‘exposure’ involving the offender showing the victim his/her private parts and/or masturbating in front of the victim.
- ‘Voyeurism’ involving instances when the offender observes the victim in a state of undress or in activities that provide the offender with sexual gratification. These may include activities that others do not regard as even remotely sexually stimulating.
- Sexual contact – Involving any touching of the intimate body parts. The offender may fondle or masturbate the victim, and/or get the victim to fondle and/or masturbate them. Fondling can be either outside or inside clothes. Also includes ‘frottage’, i.e. where offender gains sexual gratification from rubbing his/her genitals against the victim’s body or clothing.
- Oral-genital sexual abuse • Involving the offender licking, kissing, sucking or biting the child’s genitals or inducing the child to do the same to them.
- Interfemoral sexual abuse – Sometimes referred to as ‘dry sex’ or ‘vulvar intercourse’, involving the offender placing his penis between the child’s thighs.
- Penetrative sexual abuse, of which there are four types: • ‘Digital penetration’, involving putting fingers in the vagina or anus, or both. Usually the victim is penetrated by the offender, but sometimes the offender gets the child to penetrate them.
- ‘Penetration with objects’, involving penetration of the vagina, anus or occasionally mouth with an object.
- ‘Genital penetration’, involving the penis entering the vagina, sometimes partially.
- ‘Anal penetration’ involving the penis penetrating the anus.
- Sexual exploitation – Involves situations of sexual victimisation where the person who is responsible for the exploitation may not have direct sexual contact with the child. Two types of this abuse are child pornography and child prostitution.
- ‘Child pornography’ includes still photography, videos and movies, and, more recently, computer-generated pornography.
- ‘Child prostitution’ for the most part involves children of latency age or in adolescence. However, children as young as 4 and 5 are known to be abused in this way. The sexual abuses described above may be found in combination with other abuses, such as physical abuse and urination and defecation on the victim. In some cases, physical abuse is an integral part of the sexual abuse; in others, drugs and alcohol may be given to the victim. It is important to note that physical signs may not be evident in cases of sexual abuse due to the nature of the abuse and/or the fact that the disclosure was made some time after the abuse took place.
Carers and professionals should be alert to the following physical and behavioural signs:
- bleeding from the vagina/anus;
- difficulty/pain in passing urine/faeces;
- an infection may occur secondary to sexual abuse, which may or may not be a definitive sexually transmitted disease. Professionals should be informed if a child has a persistent vaginal discharge or has warts/rash in genital area;
- noticeable and uncharacteristic change of behaviour;
- hints about sexual activity;
- age-inappropriate understanding of sexual behaviour;
- inappropriate seductive behaviour;
- sexually aggressive behaviour with others;
- uncharacteristic sexual play with peers/toys; •
- unusual reluctance to join in normal activities that involve undressing, e.g. games/swimming.
Particular behavioural signs and emotional problems suggestive of child abuse in young children (aged 0-10 years) include:
- mood change where the child becomes withdrawn, fearful, acting out;
- lack of concentration, especially in an educational setting;
- bed wetting, soiling;
- pains, tummy aches, headaches with no evident physical cause;
- skin disorders;
- reluctance to go to bed, nightmares, changes in sleep patterns;
- school refusal;
- separation anxiety;
- loss of appetite, overeating, hiding food.
Particular behavioural signs and emotional problems suggestive of child abuse in older children (aged 10+ years) include:
- depression, isolation, anger;
- running away;
- drug, alcohol, solvent abuse;
- suicide attempts;
- missing school or early school leaving;
- eating disorders.
All signs/indicators need careful assessment relative to the child’s circumstances.
Appendix 2: Dealing with disclosures from children
An abused child is likely to be under severe emotional stress and a member of staff may be the only adult whom the child is prepared to trust. Great care shall be taken not to damage that trust.
When information is offered in confidence, the member of staff will need tact and sensitivity in responding to the disclosure. The member of staff will need to reassure the child, and endeavour to retain his or her trust, while explaining the need for action which will necessarily involve other adults being informed. It is important to tell the child that everything possible will be done to protect and support him/her, but not to make promises that cannot be kept e.g. promising not to tell anyone else.
It is important to deal with any allegation of abuse or neglect in a sensitive and competent way through listening to and facilitating the child to tell about the problem, rather than interviewing the child about details of what happened. 16 Children First – section 3.2.7 21 While the basis for concern must be established as comprehensively as possible, the following advice is offered to school personnel to whom a child makes a disclosure of abuse.
(a) It is important to stay calm and not to show any extreme reaction to what the child is saying. Listen compassionately and take what the child is saying seriously;
(b) It should be understood that the child has decided to tell about something very important and has taken a risk to do so. The experience of telling should be a positive one so that the child will not mind talking to those involved;
(c) The child should understand that it is not possible that any information will be kept a secret;
(d) No judgmental statement should be made about the person against whom the allegation is made;
(e) The child should not be questioned unless the nature of what he/she is saying is unclear. Leading questions should be avoided. Open, non-specific questions should be used such as “Can you explain to me what you mean by that?”;
(f) The child should be given some indication of what would happen next, such as informing the Designated Liaison Person, parents/carers, HSE or possibly An Garda Síochána. It should be kept in mind that the child may have been threatened and may feel vulnerable at this stage;
(g) Record the disclosure immediately afterwards using, as far as possible, the child’s own words. The duty of the recipient of such information is to report it to the Designated Liaison Person. It must always be remembered that school personnel have a supportive, not an investigative role.
Appendix 3: Checklist for Annual Review of the Child Protection Policy
The Board of Management must undertake an annual review of its Child Protection Policy and the following checklist shall be used for this purpose.
The checklist is designed as an aid to conducting this review and is not intended as an exhaustive list. The BoM may wish to include other items in the checklist that are of particular relevance to Rutland National School and reserves the right to do so if/when the need occurs.
|1.||As part of the overall review process, Boards of Management should also assess other school policies, practices and activities vis a vis their adherence to the principles of best practice in child protection and welfare as set out in the school’s Child Protection policy||YES|
|2.||Has the Board formally adopted a child protection policy in accordance with the ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools’?||YES|
|3.||As part of the school’s child protection policy, has the Board formally adopted, without modification, the ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools’?||YES|
|4.||Are there both a DLP and a Deputy DLP currently appointed?||YES|
|5.||Are the relevant contact details (HSE and An Garda Síochána) to hand?||YES|
|6.||Has the DLP attended available child protection training?||YES|
|7.||Has the Deputy DLP attended available child protection training?||YES|
|8.||Have any members of the Board attended child protection training?||YES|
|9.||Has the school’s child protection policy identified other school policies, practices and activities that are regarded as having particular child protection relevance?||YES|
|10.||Has the Board ensured that the Department’s ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary
and Post Primary Schools’ are available to all school personnel?
|11.||Does the Board have arrangements in place to communicate the school’s child protection policy to new school personnel?||YES|
|12.||Is the Board satisfied that all school personnel have been made aware of their responsibilities under the ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools’?||YES|
|13.||Since the Board’s last annual review, was the Board informed of any child protection
reports made to the HSE/An Garda Síochána by the DLP?
|14.||Since the Board’s last annual review, was the Board informed of any cases where the DLP sought advice from the HSE and as a result of this advice, no report to the HSE was made?||YES|
|15.||Is the Board satisfied that the child protection procedures in relation to the making of reports to the HSE/ An Garda Síochána were appropriately followed?||YES|
|16.||Were child protection matters reported to the Board appropriately recorded in the Board minutes?||YES|
|17.||Is the Board satisfied that all records relating to child protection are appropriately filed and stored securely?||YES|
|18.||Has the Board ensured that the Parents’ Association has been provided with the school’s child protection policy?||YES|
Clar Uímhir: _______________________
Ratification of Policy
This policy will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year.
Signed: _________________________ Signed: __________________________
Chairperson of Board of Management Principal
Date: __________________________ Date: __________________________
Date of next review: June 2018
The Board further endorses the Principal, Niamh Murray, as the school DLP and the Deputy Principal as Deputy DLP.
On behalf of the Board of Management:
_______________________________ (Chairperson) Date: _____________________
In recent years, as a society, we have become very aware of the problem of child abuse through neglect, emotional, physical or sexual abuse.
Each one of us has a duty to protect children and Children First, the National Guidelines, for the Protection and Welfare of Children noted that teachers, who are the main care givers to children outside the family, are particularly well placed to observe and monitor children for signs of abuse.
In response to this, the Department of Education and Skills published procedures for all schools in relation to child protection and welfare. These guidelines promote the safety and welfare of all children and are to be welcomed.
The Board of Management of Rutland National School has adopted these guidelines as school policy. Consequently, if school staff suspect or are alerted to possible child abuse, they are obliged to refer this matter to the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE will then assess the situation and provide support for the child concerned.
Children First, the National Guidelines for the Protection of Children may be assessed on the website of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.(www.dcya.ie) and the Department of Education and Skills Child Protection Procedures can be read on the Department’s website (www.education.ie). Parents/Guardians are also welcome to look through the guidelines here at the school on request.
Child Protection Contacts
Designated Liaison Person: Niamh Murray
Deputy DLP: Ian Cherry
Store Street Garda 01-6668620
Mountjoy Square Telephone: 01-6668400
Local Contact For
‘The Children and Family Social Services of the HSE’
Park View Social Work Department, Dublin 1