We believe that it is every child’s right to live in conditions which promote the optimum development of their intellectual, physical, emotional and social wellbeing. Everyone in the ISA community has a responsibility to ensure that children are supported and protected in order to achieve their optimum development. Issues relating to child protection are important in all contexts, irrespective of socio economic backgrounds. Consequently, all schools need to be aware and to have the frameworks to respond to the needs of each child. Given that this area is a complex one and potentially provokes strong feelings in those involved, it is essential that we have in place clear guidelines and procedures to support an appropriate response for each case.
This policy applies to ISAIEG and all schools of ISA
Heads of School are responsible for ensuring that a Child Protection Officer is appointed who has access to appropriate training and support and the capacity to fulfil the requirements of the role.
Heads of School act as a de facto second Child Protection Officer, providing an alternative route for reporting and acting as a support and sounding board to the appointed Child Protection Officer. If the Head of School wishes to carry the main responsibility for child protection in the school, he/she must ensure that a second member of staff is appointed to support them and act as an alternative route for reporting.
Heads of School are responsible for ensuring that the procedures outlined in this policy are followed appropriately and fairly in the interests of each student and with due regard to the China legal framework (see Appendix 1).
All ISA schools will provide annual, mandatory professional development to support all staff in understanding and implementing this Child Protection Policy, guidelines and procedures, and provide training and information, as appropriate, to the entire school community.
The Child Protection Officer, working with the Head of School, co-ordinates the implementation of the policy, manages any liaison with the statutory agencies and coordinates training for all school staff (see Appendix II).
All staff must be aware of and implement the policy. Staff have a responsibility to pass on information in cases of abuse or suspicions of abuse. New staff need to be made aware of current procedure through induction and staff training. Being informed enables staff to understand their responsibilities towards child protection.
It is not a staff member’s job to diagnose abuse; their role is just to observe that something may be wrong, ask about it, listen, be available and make time to talk.
The protection of the child is a core concern of schools. The promotion of the optimum development of the child is the aim that underlies all of this work.
To ensure the protection of the children in our care we must address all forms of child abuse, both fae-to-face and online: abuse due to neglect; physical abuse; sexual abuse; psychological abuse.
All of us will only have a partial picture of a child and its situation. It can often be the case that only when different people bring their concerns together that a full picture emerges.
There needs to be sensitive recognition that we live in a multi-cultural community that has a variety of child rearing practices. Our sensitivity to this must sit alongside our adherence to the laws of China and any relevant legislation. When there are concerns about a child, it is essential that the school follows agreed procedures and works with other agencies as necessary to provide what is best for that child.
The aim of a policy for child protection is for all children within our care to be safe and well. It also enables staff to feel more confident and clear about the part they play in the protection of children. The policy also helps ISA and its schools to support the rights of all children to be protected, rather than just responding to specific cases of abuse. Child Rights can be broadly grouped as follows:
More specifically, children are entitled to love, food, shelter, care and the chance to maximise their potential.
Legislation in China and around the world focuses our attention on the responsibility of all adults to uphold the rights of children and to work together to protect them and promote their welfare as the paramount consideration. China is bound by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, November 1989, available at http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx
A commitment to these rights by all those connected with the ISA community, such as the ISA Board, Heads of School, teaching staff, non-teaching staff, parents and other carers such as domestic helpers, is essential.
There must be good communication and co-ordination within each school for a child protection policy to be effective. Staff need to be aware of what constitutes abuse and be familiar with procedures and guidelines.
The school is part of a wider system involving other agencies such as doctors and police, so close and positive liaison is essential and should be based on trust and understanding of each other’s roles. The school is not isolated nor should it place itself in a position of isolation. Understanding and communication between agencies, problematic as it can be at times, is crucial for satisfactory child protection practice to be achieved.
Child protection is a complex issue but there are five key areas to be considered:
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child focuses attention on the responsibility of all adults to uphold the rights of children and to work together to protect them and promote their welfare in every way. Our schools fully accept this responsibility. These principles have implications, in particular for those who have regular contact with children in their professional lives.
All staff in each school are committed to meeting these responsibilities. This will be achieved through school policies on positive behaviour, equal opportunities, dealing with bullying and a curriculum for personal, social and health education.
Where there are concerns about a child it is essential that a school follows the agreed procedures and works together with other agencies as necessary to provide for the child’s needs. For each school the Child Protection Officer has special responsibility for co-ordinating all matters regarding child protection in the school.
Child abuse is broadly defined as any act of commission or omission that endangers or impairs the physical or psychological health and development of an individual under the age of 18. It is committed by individuals, singly or collectively, who by their characteristics (e.g. age, status, knowledge, organizational form) are in a position of differential power that renders a child vulnerable.
Such acts are not viewed as limited to a child-parent/guardian situation but include anyone who is entrusted with the care and control of a child e.g. child-minders, relatives, teachers, etc. Abuse may also be perpetrated by someone who is not known to the child.
In determining whether a case should be defined as a child abuse case, the Child Protection Officer, in consultation with the Head of School as appropriate, should make an assessment based on individual case merits, taking into consideration various factors (e.g. the child’s age, the act, the consequences of the act on the child, etc.) and not only focussing on the frequency and nature of the incident that has occurred.
There are four main areas of child abuse: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and psychological abuse. It should be recognised that signs of abuse may also be a symptom of another problem.
Neglect is a severe or repeated pattern of lack of attention to a child’s basic needs that endangers or impairs the child’s health or development. Neglect may be:
Physical abuse is a physical injury or physical suffering to a child (including non-accidental use of force, deliberate poisoning, suffocation, burning, Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, etc.), where the injury has been inflicted non-accidentally.
Sexual abuse is the involvement of a child in sexual activity (e.g. rape, oral sex) which is unlawful, or to which a child is unable to give informed consent. This includes direct or indirect sexual exploitation and abuse of a child (e.g. production of pornographic material). It may take place within the home or outside the home. It may be committed by parents, carers, other adults or children singly or acting in an organised way. The abuser may make use of rewards or other means to attract the child. It may be committed by individuals either known or strangers to the child. Child sexual abuse is different from casual sexual relationship that does not include any sexual exploitation, e.g. between a boy and a girl, though the boy can be liable for offences like indecent assault or unlawful sexual intercourse with an under-aged girl.
Psychological abuse is the repeated pattern of behaviour and attitudes towards a child or extreme incidents that endanger or impair the child’s emotional or intellectual development. Examples include acts of spurning, terrorizing, isolating, exploiting/corrupting, denying emotional responsiveness, conveying to a child that he/she is worthless, flawed, unwanted or unloved. This also includes online abuse and cyber bullying. Such act damages immediately or ultimately the behavioural, cognitive, affective, or physical functioning of the child.
The management of a Child Protection issue in a school context will be dependent on the needs of the case. A procedural flowchart is included in Appendix III, which outlines the various events and actions that may occur in managing a case, and shows the relationship between them and the sequence in which they may occur. This sequence of events and actions includes the following, each of which is detailed below:
Identification of child abuse or suspected child abuse may occur through observations and/or a conversation between a staff member and a student or group of students. Where this occurs, it is important for the member of staff to follow the guidance laid out in Appendix VI for how to conduct a disclosure conversation, remembering in particular:
Details of any indicators of possible child abuse observed by a member of staff, whether through observation, disclosure or some other means, must be recorded as soon as possible after an indicator has been observed.
Consideration should be given to any or all of the following:
This list is by no means exhaustive, and what is appropriate to record will vary in each individual case, and according to the age and maturity of the child.
The Child Protection Report form (Appendix IV) should be used to record concerns.
A member of staff observing indicators of child abuse or possible child abuse should contact the Child Protection Officer as soon as possible, ideally after having recorded their concerns. It is recognized that many members of staff may wish to consult the Child Protection Officer for an initial discussion before making a record, but this should not be at the expense of timely recording or cause delay in the process.
The staff member should pass on their recorded comments on paper to the CPO and should not keep their own copy of the record. The report must be made directly to the Child Protection Officer or Head of School and to no other member of staff. The Child Protection Officer should open a file for the child in question within the Child Protection Folder and all records should be stored in this file.
Once a report of child abuse / possible child abuse is made, the role of the Child Protection Officer is to coordinate the school’s response to the report, supporting those involved and following the procedures laid out in this policy. In particular, the Child Protection Officer plays the leading role in:
(See Appendix V for a fuller account of the Child Protection Officer’s responsibilities.)
In cases where there is serious injury the Child Protection Officer will also coordinate the process of taking the child to hospital. The child should be accompanied by the Child Protection Officer, or by another member of staff to whom this responsibility is delegated. Wherever possible the child’s parent(s) should also attend, or if this is not possible then their permission should be sought. If parental consent cannot be obtained the child should still be taken to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department.
In carrying out the above responsibilities, the Child Protection Officer liaises with, and is supported by, the Head of School. It may be appropriate for the Child Protection Officer and/or Head of School to seek advice from other professionals or agencies, e.g. school counsellor or school social worker.
Unless action is already being taken and/or the case has already been referred to an external agency, where a report of a Child Protection issue has been determined by the Child Protection Officer to be the basis for a valid suspicion of abuse and/or neglect, the Child Protection Officer should, as soon as possible and no later than 10 working days from the date of the first report, convene a case conference of relevant colleagues to discuss the case.The conference may include:
* indicates staff members who are always included
At the case conference, future actions for the management of the case will be identified, around a framework of three options:
The outcomes of the conference will be minuted and added to the Child Protection Folder under the name of the child in question.
After the initial case conference, the Child Protection Officer will determine whether / when future case conferences will be convened to manage the case on an ongoing basis. Generally speaking, further case conferences should be convened when:
In a suspected case of child protection, all communication must be treated with confidentiality. Sensitive information is only to be shared with the group monitoring the case, on a ‘need to know’ basis. It will rarely be appropriate for all staff to be made fully aware of the details of the case.
All records relating to the management of the case must be kept solely in the Child Protection Folder. Access to the folder must be restricted to the Child Protection Officer and the School Head of School. On no account must any Child Protection records be kept with the child’s general records.
If a child moves from one ISA school to another (including as part of transition between phases), any records stored in the Child Protection Folder should be transferred securely to the new school. If any request is made from outside the ISA for information which would potentially involve sharing the contents of a Child Protection file, the Child Protection Officer should act in accordance with the ISA Personal Data Handling Policy and should liaise with ISA IEG as appropriate in doing so.
One possible action to be taken in response to a report of a Child Protection issue is the adoption of a monitoring system. The purpose of a formalised framework for monitoring suspected cases of child abuse is to:
The key components of a monitoring system can be represented by the following questions:
All of the staff involved in a monitoring system should be aware of how the system operates and when it will be used. Ongoing monitoring means that a detailed understanding can be built up over time of the child’s situation. Individual observations may not seem to indicate much by themselves but, when combined with other observations gathered over time, can form a significant ‘bigger picture’ of the child.
It is likely that the school will most often use a monitoring system as a means of information gathering prior to the involvement of any external agencies, or as a means for the school to manage the case itself. However, the school may also be asked to monitor, or to continue to monitor, a child either as part of an ongoing investigation by official agencies or when an investigation has taken place and there are still concerns about a child.
Parents and children will feel more confident about the school’s ability to deal with the problems if they know that a constructive policy is operating within the school. Good liaison with parents will ensure that they understand the role and duties of school staff in promoting child protection.
In serious cases of concern, the Child Protection Officer, in consultation with the Head of School, will make a decision as to whether to make a formal report to any outside agencies. In these cases, the school should contact the Education Bureau in Guangzhou for further advice, including taking into consideration the international context and possibly linking with relevant consulates and the police if required.
The Child Protection Officer may be asked to provide the following information to hand.
It is important to remember that submitted documentation may form part of the evidence should a case develop into court proceedings.
Do not contact the parents at this stage. The Child Protection Officer and Head of School, in consultation with any outside agencies, should determine how this will be handled and by whom. Confidentiality in these matters must be considered at all times. It may be important to avoid the risk of an abuser being alerted prematurely before the child is adequately protected or when police evidence could be destroyed.
ISA schools are committed to supporting any student who has had traumatic experiences. There can be high levels of anxiety for those involved with supporting known victims of abuse. Staff often underestimate their abilities in this field and negate their skills and experience because of the emotional impact of child abuse.
Children and young people who experience abuse may have a change in behaviour, which can be difficult to manage. Being caring, consistent and attentive will be a support. It is essential staff continue to work as part of a team in order to provide consistent and appropriate care.
Clear communication between staff, and family and other agencies will help in understanding the child’s situation and lead to developing strategies to support the child and promote positive behaviour.
Consideration needs to be given to the impact on those involved with a case of child protection. Schools should ensure a system of support is available for all members of staff. ISA commits to supporting staff, and also providing a support network for Child Protection Officers.
Child Protection is the responsibility of all adults and should be a part of the whole school approach.
A central obligation of the policy is adherence to the guidelines. Where the situation would indicate that a case should be referred to an external agency, the Child Protection Officer or Head of School must do so without delay and must not deal with such cases in isolation.
Any matters concerning the implementation of this Policy in a particular school/organisation should be raised with the Child Protection Officer or Head of School. Any matters concerning non-compliance should be raised with the Vice President of Education Management, ISAIEG.
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, November 1989. http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx
The two key articles are:
Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.
Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, states parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:
Minors Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China, 2012, Article 5
Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Minors (2012 Revision) Order of the President No.65 PRC.
In the protection of minors, the following principles shall be followed:
Anti-Domestic Violence Law of the People’s Republic of China, 2015, Articles 14 and 35
Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, (2015) Anti-domestic Violence Law of the People’s Republic of China. Order No.37 of the President, PRC.
In 2015, a new law was passed (effective 1 March 2016) that protects foreigners and Chinese citizens within China’s borders from domestic violence. Two articles of this law have specific implications for children and schools:
Article 14 – Schools, kindergartens, medical institutions, residents' committees, villagers' committees, social service agencies, aid management agencies, welfare agencies and their staff members shall promptly report cases to public security organs if they find, during the course of their work, that persons with no civil capacity or persons with limited civil capacity have suffered or are suspected of suffering domestic violence. Public security organs shall keep confidential the identity of case reporters.
Article 35 – Where a school, kindergarten, medical institution, residents' committee, villagers' committee, social service agency, aid management agency, welfare agency and its staff members fail to report a case to a public security organ in accordance with Article 14 herein, resulting in serious consequences, the person directly in charge and other persons subject to direct liabilities shall be given disciplinary sanctions pursuant to the law by the relevant superior competent department or their own employer.
EduCare (Online Training) – https://www.educare.co.uk
CPOMS (Safeguarding Platform) – https://www.cpoms.co.uk
MyConcern (Safeguarding Platform) – https://www.myconcern.co.uk
Protection Website – ICMEC– https://www.icmec.org/education-portal/
Child Protection Officers should be the focal point in the school for all staff. However, this should not mean that they carry the total responsibility and recognition should be given of their possible need for practical and emotional support.
This report should be completed IMMEDIATELY following any incident that raises any concern about possible child abuse. It should be completed by any member of staff who has reason to be suspicious about or concerned about the wellbeing of a child. Care must be taken to report this information accurately and confidentially. A hard copy of this information should be given to the Child Protection Officer. This document will need to be signed by all parties involved.
The presence of any one or a combination of these indicators is not in itself any proof of child abuse. However, the presence of these indicators should alert us to the possibility of child abuse.
Child abuse cases are applicable to children and juveniles under the age of 18.
When a child is telling you about a case of abuse, it is important that you should remember to: