112 WORDS: Safeguarding & Child Protection Blog

The information contained within this blog comprises a series of 112* word individual safeguarding posts, specifically tailored and adapted for Expatriate Communities and in particular the International Schools’ global community. In this context I am using the term 112 Safeguarding to mean ‘Emergency’ or ‘First Responder’ Safeguarding. Use the ‘search’ functions at the top or bottom of this page to look for specific topics of interest.

*112 being the International emergency service contact number from mobile phones and some landline phones. See link for global emergency contact details, including those where 112 can be used: Global 112 Usage

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Statute of Limitations

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The USA as the only country in the world not to have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC 1989) has recently (2019/2020) been focussed on a review of their respective state ‘statute of limitation’ laws pertaining to child sexual abuse.

In International School settings this raises a significant issue for senior leadership within strategic safeguarding and child protection team discussions. What do you know about the statute of limitations specifically related to sexual abuse – historical adult or child related – and legislative equivalents in your host countries? This knowledge has potential relevance when it comes to responding to and supporting staff or students – current and past.

Bullying (iii)

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‘Ditch the Label’ has published its annual bullying survey 2019. Findings of survey results from 2,347 children and young people aged 12-20 across the UK include: 22% said they were bullied in the past 12 months; of those bullied 62% were bullied by a classmate and 37% by someone at school they did not know; and 33% said that they had suicidal thoughts; while 41% were left feeling anxious after being bullied.

In light of this report now may be a good time to review your Peer-On-Peer Abuse policy; your anti-bullying policy and procedures; curriculum materials and suicide recognition and prevention strategies. If you need help, support or guidance, please contact me.

New Online Child Safeguarding Awareness Course

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The team from ChildSafeguarding.com together with 112 SAFEGUARDING are attending EARCOS 2019 to talk about the planned launch of a new online course in 2020.

The International Schools’ target cohort includes but is not restricted to those in the following roles: gardeners, security guards; cleaners; maintenance staff; contractors; drivers; administration staff including HR, finance, receptionists, PAs and secretaries; chaperones; volunteers; personnel carrying out accreditation processes; guest speakers; long stay visitors; returning alumni; and similar.

The course is designed for these non-teaching employees, volunteers and subcontractors operating within an International School context, no matter their role, seniority, education or background. It is structured for delivery in the languages of the respective host countries.

Safeguarding Challenges for Senior School Leadership (Part Two)

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An externally derived and bespoke safeguarding audit or review can provide your school with baseline measures and related recommendations for developing and improving standards going forward. Accreditation bodies integrate safeguarding assessment as only part of their comprehensive inspection processes.

Alternatively schools can undertake an internal review to yield some baseline data for benchmarking future progress.

Any review should examine efficacy linked to:

  • The ITFCP recommendations as a minimum standard;
  • A safeguarding ‘whole school community’ framework that is fit for purpose;
  • Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) or Child Protection Officers (CPOs) sufficiently trained and in adequate numbers for organizational size;
  • Appropriate levels of safeguarding awareness and training for all those within the ‘school community’.

Safeguarding Challenges for Senior School Leadership (Part One)

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What are your school’s benchmarks for achieving safeguarding success? Passing your regular accreditation inspections might be one? Who establishes your safeguarding standards; the accreditation bodies, you or both? Are they based on ITFCP recommendations or higher?

Is success measured by decreasing numbers of recorded safeguarding incidents at school, or by the quality of your inquiries and outcomes achieved for children? Is it ‘the best interests of the child’ that forms the central measure of safeguarding achievement, or is it assessed by the expedience with which such matters are finalized?

Consider enhancing levels of confidence and understanding for senior leadership and establish a ‘safeguarding roadmap’ via an externally derived and tailored 112safeguarding audit.

Transferring Pupil Safeguarding/Child Protection Records (i)

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All safeguarding and child protection concerns must be recorded. Related discussion-points and rationales for decision-making should be recorded as part of each child protection/safeguarding file.

When children leave your school the Designated Safeguarding Lead (or equivalent) should forward child protection/safeguarding files to the new school ASAP. A secure transfer, separate from the main pupil files, should be arranged. Always obtain a confirmatory receipt for your records.

  • Retain copies for time period designated by school policy.
  • Retain files in line with school policy for students completing education.
  • If transferring school unknown, undertake enquiries, or enact your Children Missing Education (International School protocol).
  • Consider sharing information in advance of a child leaving, if appropriate.

Bullying (ii)

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Is your school’s ‘Peer on Peer Abuse’ and/or ‘Bullying’ policy fit for purpose? Children can abuse others; generally referred to as ‘peer on peer’ abuse and taking many forms including but not limited to: bullying (including cyber-bullying); sexual violence and sexual harassment; forms of physical abuse, sexting, and initiating/hazing type violence and rituals.

Bullying generally falls into three categories: relationship-based, physical and verbal. Bullying in most countries will not constitute harassment of a student based on their protected class such as gender, race, sexual orientation, disability or religion, as these areas are likely to form the basis of specific breaches within host country state-based, federal or other national or international legislative frameworks.

Children’s Development and Wellbeing (i)

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Life is busy and children and young people are often focused on their mobile phones and other technological devices. The recent decision in Victoria, Australia, to ban mobile phones for all students at state schools, reaffirms the importance of direct and unencumbered communication between people and indeed with our selves. Students will switch off their phones and store them in lockers from the start of the school day until the final bell. In case of emergencies, parents or guardians can reach their child by calling the school. Recreating an educational environment without the distraction of mobile phones, including lessening children’s exposure to cyber bullying, makes very good sense in child development terms.

Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) – UK – for International Schools (Criminal Records Check (i)…)

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International Schools outside the UK, no longer have access to standard or enhanced DBS checks. The practice was reiterated as unlawful last year by the DBS and is being stopped. Such criminal records checks can only be conducted by the DBS on behalf of organisations based in England or Wales.

International schools should be using the International Child Protection Certificate (UK) (ICPC) for criminal records checks in respect of UK nationals, or non-UK nationals who have previously lived in the UK and are now looking to work or are already employed overseas working with children. ICPC certificates are administered by the National Crime Agency (NCA – CEOP) and ACRO Criminal Records Office

Corporal Punishment (i)

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This is a common issue being managed in many International Schools across the world. The challenge is to find a balance in terms of policy, practice, cultural context and response. Some are working hard to underpin their school’s safeguarding ethos with a UN informed approach.

Research findings concerning the harmful physical and psychological effects of corporal punishment in childhood and later life, and the links with other forms of violence, make compelling arguments for banning the practice thereby breaking the cycle of violence.

Safeguarding Committees should be placing this issue on their agenda for further development and review. I have produced a Corporal Punishment Research Paper for schools and CPOs to consider.