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Child Protection Policy

This policy outlines the board’s commitment to child protection and recognises the important role and responsibility of all our staff in the protection of children. It includes the board’s expectations when child abuse is reported or suspected by us.

All staff members (including contractors and volunteers) are expected to be familiar with this policy, its associated procedures and protocols and abide by them.

The board of trustees has an obligation to ensure the wellbeing of children in our care so they thrive, belong and achieve. We are committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect and to the protection of all children. The safety and wellbeing of the child is our top priority. Advice will be sought through appropriate agencies in all cases of suspected or alleged abuse.

In line with section 15 of the Children, Young Person and Their Families Act, any person in our school/kura who believes that any child or young person has been, or is likely to be, harmed (whether physically, emotionally, or sexually) ill-treated, abused, neglected, or deprived must follow school procedures and may also report the matter to a social worker or the local police.

Although ultimate accountability sits with the board, the board delegates responsibility to the principal to ensure that all child safety procedures are implemented and available to all staff, contractors, volunteers and parents. Therefore, the principal must:
  • Develop appropriate procedures to meet child safety requirements as required and appropriate to the school
  • Comply with relevant legislative requirements and responsibilities 
  • Make this policy available on the school’s internet site or available on request
  • Ensure that every contract, or funding arrangement, that the school enters into requires the adoption of child protection policies where required
  • Ensure the interests and protection of the child are paramount in all circumstances
  • Recognise the rights of family/whanau to participate in the decision-making about their children
  • Ensure that all staff are able to identify the signs and symptoms of potential abuse and neglect, deal with disclosures by children and allegations against staff members and are able to take appropriate action in response
  • Support all staff to work in accordance with this policy, to work with partner agencies and organisations to ensure child protection policies are understood and implemented
  • Promote a culture where staff feel confident they can constructively challenge poor practice or raise issues of concern without fear of reprisal
  • Consult, discuss and share relevant information, in line with our commitment to confidentiality and information sharing protocols, in a timely way regarding any concerns about an individual child with the board or designated person
  • Seek advice as necessary from NZSTA advisors on employment matters and other relevant agencies where child safety issues arise
  • Make available professional development, resources and/or advice to ensure all staff can carry out their roles in terms of this policy
  • Ensure that this policy forms part of the initial staff induction programme for each staff member
Review schedule: Within 3 years

Related documentation and information

Further information including frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) are available on the NZSTA website www.nzsta.org.nz
Ministry of Education website www.education.govt.nz
Vulnerable Children Act 2014
Further information and sample child protection templates are available in the Children’s Action Plan guideline Safer Organisations, Safer Children:

Child Protection Procedures - Definitions

All the responsible steps will be taken to protect and uphold the well-being of any child at risk from any form of abuse and to ensure that any suspected child abuse is reported on appropriately.

“Child” means a boy or girl under the age of 14 years, “Young person” means a boy or girl of or over the age of 14 years but under 17 years; but does not include any person who is or has been married or in a civil union (Children, Young Person, and Their Families Act 1989, Section 2).

The Children, Young Persons and their Families Act, 1989, defines child abuse as "…the harming (whether physically, emotionally, sexually), ill-treatment, abuse, neglect, or deprivation of any child or young person”.

Physical abuse is a non-accidental act on a child that results in physical harm. This includes, but is not limited to, beating, hitting, shaking, burning, drowning, suffocating, biting, poisoning or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical abuse also involves the fabrication or inducing of illness.

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effect on the child's emotional development. This can include a pattern of rejecting, degrading, ignoring, isolating, corrupting, exploiting or terrorising a child. It may also include age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. It also includes the seeing or hearing the ill treatment of others.

Sexual Abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities (penetrative and non-penetrative, for example, rape, kissing, touching, masturbation) as well as non-contact acts such as involving children in the looking at or production of sexual images, sexual activities and sexual behaviours.

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, causing long term serious harm to the child's health or development. It may also include neglect of a child's basic or emotional needs. Neglect is a lack: of action, emotion or basic needs.

Family Violence is physical, emotional, sexual and other abuse by someone (usually but not always a man) of a person (usually but not always a woman) with whom they have or have had some form of intimate relationship with, such as marriage or cohabitation, in order to maintain power and control over a person. It is important to be vigilant to any signs, particularly if children are being affected.

Child Protection Procedures - Roles and Responsibilities of Staff

It is the responsibility of staff to be vigilant, have knowledge and awareness of the indicators of neglect, potential or actual abuse and to report any concerns, suspicions or allegations of suspected abuse immediately and ensure that the concern is taken seriously and reported. 

St Joseph’s School will have an appointed Designated Person for Child Protection. This function will be held by the Principal supported by the Deputy Principal. In the event that the abuse is by a staff member, the Board Chair will be informed. If the abuse is by the Principal, the Board chair will be the Designated Person for Child Protection.

Child Protection Procedures - Legislation

SOURCE: s15-16 Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989

s15. Reporting of ill-treatment or neglect of child or young person
Any person who believes that any child or young person has been, or is likely to be, harmed (whether physically, emotionally or sexually), ill-treated, abused, neglected or deprived, may report the matter to a Social Worker (Child and Young Person Family Services) or a member of the Police. Always seek advice from and inform the principal of action taken.

s16. Protection of person reporting ill-treatment or neglect of child or young person
No civil, criminal or disciplinary proceedings shall lie against any person in respect of the disclosure or supply, or the manner of the disclosure or supply, by that person pursuant to section 15 of this Act, of information concerning a child or young person (whether or not that information also concerns any other person), unless the information was disclosed or supplied in bad faith.

Child Protection Procedures - Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

  • All concerns of potential, suspected or alleged abuse must be brought to the attention of the Designated Person for Child Protection. If the Principal is unavailable then consultation should occur with the Deputy Principal. A decision will be made as to whether to seek further advice or notify Child Youth and Family. See diagram below.
  • If a child makes a verbal disclosure to a member of staff it is important that staff take what the child says seriously. 
  • Under no circumstances should a member of staff attempt to conduct an investigation or deal with concerns regarding child abuse alone. 
  • All decisions taken, including if the concern does not require notifying Child Youth and Family, must be recorded accurately in writing, dated and kept securely in a Child Protection file with the reasons clearly identified and explained. These records are to be kept confidential. 
  • Confidentiality is to be maintained. Information is to be shared only with those who need to know. However, giving information to protect children better is not a breach in confidentiality. Wherever possible eg where abuse is by someone outside family, the family/whanau should be kept informed of what information has been shared and to which agency, and for what purpose. Guidance of sharing information with family/whanau is to be sought from either the Police or Child Youth and Family. When the abuse stems from inside the family the Child Protection team is notified directly.

Principle 11 of the Privacy Act, 1993 states "disclosure of the information is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat".
Adapted from “Creating a Safe School” Child Matters NZ

Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

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Child Protection Procedures - Safe Recruitment of Staff

All employees (permanent, fixed term, relievers) to positions that have direct and/or frequent contact with children or young people will be conditional on a safety check.
Before making any appointment, St Joseph’s School will undertake a series of checks to ascertain the candidate’s identity, suitability and safety to work in the school. These will adhere to the statutory obligations contained within the legislation such as the Privacy Act, the Human Rights Act and Vulnerable Children Act.
All appointments will follow the requirements of the Recruitment and Appointment Policy and its guidelines which include:
  • The provision of a clear job description and person specifications. 
  • Verification of identification will be undertaken. 
  • Verification of qualifications (and registration where appropriate) will be undertaken. 
  • Safety checks will include police check and personal reference checks in writing and orally (at least 2), followed by a structured interview or personal assessment process. Attitudes towards children and safety around them will be assessed during this process. 
  • Full records will be kept.

Child Protection Procedures - Training of Staff in Child Protection

All staff will receive child protection training at the level appropriate to their role. The Principal as Designated Person for Child Protection will undertake more intensive training in child protection.

All staff will update their child protection training every three years as a minimum.

Child Protection Procedures - Safe Working Practices

All staff are expected to behave in a manner consistent with the St Joseph’s School Code of Conduct.

St Joseph’s School recognises that a relationship between an adult and a child or young person cannot be a relationship between equals. There is a potential for exploitation and harm of vulnerable young people. Adults have a responsibility to ensure that an unequal balance of power is not used for personal advantage or gratification. 

All staff are expected to behave in a manner that maintains appropriate professional boundaries and avoids behaviour which might be misinterpreted by others.