Child Protection Policy
This Child Protection Policy conforms to national and international treaties that have the protection of children at heart and was developed after consulting the United Convention of the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Child, the South African Constitution, Act 108 of 1996, and the Children’s Bill, 4 August 2003.
It is based on Christian values and principles. We believe that every young person should be valued as a gift from God and therefore needs to be protected from any form of abuse, in order to develop as a whole person.
Veritas College believes that all forms of abuse and exploitation suffered by children are unacceptable. We accept that steps must be taken to protect children from persons with evil intent who may seek to gain access to children and win their trust.
Child protection is a corporate and an individual responsibility. All employees will be made aware of the need to be concerned about child protection in all that we do. Associations with anyone found to be engaging in abusive and exploitative relationships with children will be terminated.
2. Aims of the policy
The aim of Veritas College’s Child Protection Policy is to:
· provide clear guidelines to prevent harm;
· provide clear guidelines for the appropriate actions to be taken in the event of abuse;
· ensure that this policy is accessible and can realistically be implemented.
3. The rights of children
3.1 The rights of a child as stated in section 28 of the Bill of Rights
Every child has the right:
3.1.1 to a name and a nationality from birth;
3.1.2 to family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment;
3.1.3 to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services;
3.1.4 to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation;
3.1.5 to be protected from exploitative labour practices;
3.1.6 not to be required or permitted to perform work or provide services that:
188.8.131.52 are inappropriate for a person of that child’s age; or
184.108.40.206 place at risk the child’s well-being, education, physical or mental health or spiritual, moral or social development;
3.1.7 not to be detained except as a measure of last resort, in which case, in addition to the rights a child enjoys under sections 12 and 35, the child may be detained only for the shortest appropriate period of time, and has the right to be:
220.127.116.11 kept separately from detained persons over the age of 18 years; and
18.104.22.168 treated in a manner, and kept in conditions, that take account of the child’s age;
3.1.8 to have a legal practitioner assigned to the child by the state, and at state expense, in civil proceedings affecting the child, if substantial injustice would otherwise result; and
3.1.9 not be used directly in armed conflict, and to be protected in times of armed conflict.
A child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.
3.2 The Children’s Bill, 4 August 2003
Chapter 8, section 105 of the Act requires that any child abuse or reasonable suspicion of child abuse be reported.
The Child Protection Officer may then involve other agencies, such as social services and other child protection organisations such as Childline.
Veritas College will conduct internal investigations, but will co-operate with the proper authorities. This will include the Child Protection Unit of the South African Police Service.
Veritas College will provide the necessary support to its members and to the community. The section entitled Procedures sets out the procedures to be followed in the event of abuse being reported.
The Child Protection Policy applies throughout Veritas College, including events such as meetings, camps, outreaches, adventure programmes and training courses.
Veritas College views a child as a human being under the age of 18 years ( or 21 if still at school), created in the image of God.
Child abuse is a general term used about situations where the child may experience harm. It means any form of harm or ill-treatment deliberately inflicted on a child, and includes assaulting a child or inflicting any other form of deliberate injury on a child; sexually abusing a child or allowing a child to be sexually abused; bullying by another child; or exposing or subjecting a child to behaviour that may psychologically or emotionally harm the child. We differentiate between different types of abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual harm, sexual abuse and physical neglect.
5 What constitutes child abuse?
5.1 Physical abuse
This includes hurting or injuring a child, and incorporates inflicting pain, drowning, intentional drugging (drugs or alcohol) or smothering (suffocating), where there is knowledge, or reasonable suspicion, that the injury was inflicted or knowingly not prevented. It is serious and repeated injuries which do not result from accidents and which are inflicted by or result from the negligence of the person in whose care the child is. It is the inappropriate use of violence or physical strength leading to developmental problems.
5.2 Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse is the sexual exploitation of a child for the sexual gratification of an adult. Any child may be deemed to have been sexually abused when any person(s), by design or neglect, exploits the child, directly or indirectly, in any activity intended to lead to the sexual arousal or other forms of gratification of that person or any other person(s) including organised networks. This definition holds whether or not there has been genital contact and whether or not the child is said to have initiated, or consented to the behaviour.
5.3 Emotional abuse
Emotional abuse occurs when the behaviour or words of a person has a negative effect on the emotional development (intelligence, memory, perception, attention, language and moral development) of the child. It is the continuous, repeated and inappropriate reaction to the child’s emotional needs. There are two kinds of emotional abuse: emotional abuse and emotional negligence. The first is verbal and emotional attacks on the child, and the child is threatened and sometimes isolated. The second occurs when the child does not receive appropriate attention or when the caregiver allows inappropriate behaviour (e.g. the use of drugs) in the child.
5.4 Verbal abuse
Verbal abuse includes communication by words (i.e. derogatory name calling by adults or other children, negative criticism, yelling as a form of discipline), vocal tones, racial taunts and accompanying body language and attitudes, which demean a person’s worth.
5.5 Spiritual harm
Spiritual harm can result when a person misuses his/her spiritual authority to negatively control, manipulate or dominate a child seemingly for Godly purposes but in fact for their own.
5.6 Environmental risks
An environmental risk can occur when:
· the physical environment in which the child finds itself can be hazardous to the physical safety of the child, whether through negligence or intent; or
· control measures for access to children’s venues are compromised.
5.7 Physical neglect
This occurs when a child’s essential physical needs are not met and this is likely to cause impairment to physical health and development. Such needs include food, clothing, cleanliness shelter and warmth. A lack of appropriate care, including deprivation of access to health care may result in persistent or severe exposure through negligence, to circumstances which endanger the child.
In most cases, child abuse will be the result of deliberate or avoidable behaviour. In some cases a parent or carer may not be in control of their behaviour through disabling causes (such as substance abuse or mental health problems) but child abuse may still occur. However, the cause of the abuse may be of little consequence to the abused child. It is therefore important that these exceptions to the concept of avoid-ability are dealt with under the ministry’s child protection procedures to ensure the provision of an appropriate and considered response.
6 Child protection
In the context of this policy Child Protection is used to describe the values, policies and procedures to protect children from both intentional and unintentional harm. It applies particularly to the duty of Veritas College – towards the children in their care.
7 Appropriate discipline
A child needs discipline and boundaries set in a secure (as far as possible) and loving environment. This is essential for his/her development into a person that feels secure and loved, is self-confident, self-disciplined and able to deal with the stress of life. It is not punishment. Although discipline does involve correction (which is a form of punishment), it also involves instruction and affirmation. The goal of discipline is to help the child learn right from wrong, to respect the rights of others and to know what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Discipline should therefore involve not only the correcting wrong or negative behaviour, but also rewarding and praising acceptable or positive behaviour.
8 Responsibilities of adults regarding the Child Protection Policy
When adults are in the physical presence of a child or children, it is their responsibility to ensure that:
· their behaviour is appropriate at all times;
· they observe the rules established for the safety and security of children;
· they recognise the position of trust in which they have been placed; and
· the relationships they form with the children under their care are appropriate in every respect.
The policy also applies to those having access to information concerning children such as children’s names, contact details, photographs, personal information and HIV status.
In the event of suspicion, disclosure or allegation of child abuse all adults whether in direct or indirect contact with children and whether staff or volunteers, must follow the prescribed procedures.
9 Recruitment and training of volunteers and employees
9.1.1 All staff will be asked to sign and abide by the Veritas College Child Protection Policy.
9.1.2 They will be asked to sign a declaration of criminal convictions as part of the application process.
9.1.3 They will be requested to give permission to Veritas College to do a police check at any time during their employment at Veritas College.
9.1.4 For all applicants a reliable character reference will be obtained, and particular attention will be given to any area of concern relating to child abuse. During the interview process applicants will be asked about previous work with children.
9.1.5 All staff will receive training about Veritas College’s Child Protection Policy. They will be given a copy of the policy, as well as the College’s Code of Conduct and will be required to sign a declaration that they have received and understood it.
9.1.6 The Child Protection Policy will be made available to the public via Veritas College’s website and by having a hard copy available for perusal in the office.
9.1.7 All employees, parents and children, will have access to child friendly reporting procedures, including contact details for reporting possible child abuse.
10 Communication about children
Communication about children should use pictures that are decent and respectful. Children should be adequately clothed and poses that could be interpreted as sexually suggestive should be avoided. Language that implies a relationship of power should also be avoided.
11 Code of conduct
All Veritas College staff must sign and abide by this Code of Conduct.
Staff must never:
· hit or otherwise physically assault or physically abuse children;
· develop physical/sexual relationships with children;
· develop relationships with children which could in any way be deemed exploitative or abusive;
· act in ways that may be abusive or may place a child at risk of abuse;
· use language, make suggestions or offer advice which is inappropriate, offensive or abusive;
· behave physically in a manner which is inappropriate or sexually provocative;
· sleep alone in the same room, tent, bed or within any area with a child with whom they are working;
· do things for children of a personal nature that they can do for themselves;
· condone or participate in behaviour by children which is illegal, unsafe or abusive;
· act in ways intended to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade children, or otherwise perpetrate any form of emotional abuse;
· discriminate against, show preferential treatment, or favour particular children to the exclusion of other children.
This is not an exhaustive or exclusive list. The principle is that staff and volunteers should avoid actions or behaviour which may constitute poor practice or potentially abusive behaviour.
It is important for all staff to:
· be aware of situations which may present risks and manage these;
· plan and organise the workplace and the activities so as to minimise risks;
· as far as possible, be visible in working with children;
· ensure that a sense of accountability exists between volunteers and staff so that poor practice or potentially abusive behaviour does not go unchallenged;
· report any form of potential abuse as quickly as possible.
In general it is inappropriate to:
· spend excessive time alone with children away from others;
· take children to your place of lodging or go to theirs, especially where they will be alone with you.
12 Procedures for reporting suspected or actual abuse of children
12.1 Immediate action
Should an employee observe or receive any information about actual or suspected abuse within the context of Veritas College activities he or she must immediately inform the Principal/Headmaster.
Any person who has knowledge or suspicion that a child is at risk, must report this to the Principal/Headmaster who will determine what action to take.
In order that a high standard of reporting and responding is met, members of Veritas College undertake to:
· take seriously any concerns raised;
· take positive steps to ensure the protection of children who are the subject of any concerns;
· support children, parents, staff or other volunteers who raise concerns or who are the subject of concerns;
· act appropriately and effectively in instigating or co-operating with any subsequent process of investigation;
· be guided through the child protection process by the principle of “the best interests of the child”
· listen to and take seriously the views and wishes of children;
· work in partnership with parents/carers and/or other professionals to ensure the protection of children.
12.2 Reporting child abuse by someone outside Veritas College
If a worker suspects that a child is being abused by a family member (e.g. grandpa/aunt/uncle) or other people, he/she must follow the procedure described below:
· Note the date and time you identified the abuse.
· Write a report, using the child’s own words as far as possible.
· Note the reason for suspecting abuse.
· Report his/her concerns to the Principal/Headmaster.
12.3 Reporting child abuse by someone inside Veritas College
If a worker/teacher/volunteer suspects that a child is being abused by a Veritas College staff member or teacher, the following procedure is applicable:
· Note the date and time the suspected abuse was identified.
· Write a report, using the child’s own words as far as possible.
· Note the reason for suspecting abuse.
· Report the matter to the Principal/Headmaster.
The issue of confidentiality is of the utmost importance when dealing with issues and concerns regarding possible abuse. Veritas College staff members must exercise extreme vigilance in protecting information and must pass on this information via the reporting process as described. Any matters regarding the abuse or the matter in general must only be discussed within the above mentioned reporting structure. The status of the child suspected of being abused should not be disclosed to any persons outside of the reporting structure without the informed written consent of the child.
12.5 External procedures
The South African Police Service is governed by law to:
· Receive and investigate complaints;
· Obtain sworn statements; and
· Arrest the alleged offenders.
12.6 Confidential record keeping
Any concerns, allegations or disclosure must be written down at the time or as soon as possible after the concern has been raised. Records must be signed and dated.
Records must be kept in a safe place which is not accessible to those outside the reporting process. Records must be locked away. Information may only be shared with relevant parties and it must always be done in such a way that confidentiality is maintained.
Disciplinary steps will be taken to deal with the situation according to the Veritas College Policy. Any staff members found to have abused a child while they were a staff member or teacher at Veritas College will be subjected to immediate dismissal following this investigation and Veritas College may decide to begin legal action against the former staff member or teacher. Veritas College reserves the right to dismiss if an allegation is made, even if it is not proven.
We, the educators, pupils and parents of Veritas Preparatory:
- Do not tolerate hurtful behaviour
- Respect the rights of others including their religious beliefs.
- Promote the human dignity of others
- Promise to promote a safe school environment
- Value and respect each person’s unique personality
The aims of this policy include:
- Providing a safe learning environment for all
- Protecting children against hurtful / harmful behaviour
- Providing support for, victims of hurtful behaviour, those who perpetrate it and for the parents of both the victim and the perpetrator.
- DEFINITION OF BULLYING
For the purpose of this document, hurtful behaviour is defined as the willful, conscious desire to hurt another person, by means of physical, psychological or verbal abuse.
Bullying includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Kicking, hitting and punching
- Teasing, taunting and mocking
- Name calling
- Using threatening gestures
- Spreading nasty rumours
- Intentionally isolating a person from activities
- Insulting family members
- Damaging someone’s property
- BASIC RULES
- We shall respect and uphold the dignity of other learners
- We shall not physically, verbally and/or psychologically abuse another learner
- We shall not torture another learner in any way.
- We shall not use any form of initiation to hurt, intimidate, humiliate, dominate or scare another learner.
- We shall assist a learner who is being subjected to hurtful behaviour and not the participant in the hurtful behaviour.
- We shall report any form of hurtful behaviour to the relevant educator.
5. INVESTIGATING AND REPORTING BULLYING
- All investigations and reports will be treated in the strictest confidence.
- Educators must make a note of the time and the place of the incident and who was involved.
- Educators must report the matter to the Principal.
- The Principal will endeavour to obtain as much relevant information as possible on the perpetrator/s and the victim/s.
- The perpetrator/s and victim/s will be interviewed separately in order to hear their side of the story.
- Interview/discussions should be recorded in writing.
- Should it be deemed necessary, the parents of the child/ren will be informed and requested to attend separate meetings to discuss the matter. Learners concerned should accompany their parents.
6. RESPONSIBILITY OF LEARNERS
- Learners are required to report hurtful behaviour to the Principal or an educator.
- Information received by learners will be treated confidentially.
7. DISCIPLINARY SANCTIONS
The following actions may be taken against a perpetrator of hurtful behaviour after a fair hearing has been conducted:
- They may be given a break suspension.
- Certain privileges (sporting or other) may be withdrawn from them.
- They may be required to attend regular sessions with the school counsellor.
- They may have detention classes to attend where community service will be performed.
- In severe cases where hurtful behaviour is on-going and other disciplinary actions have been followed, the Principal may suspend them.