Interviewing children re a disclosure or concern

The most globally recognised model used for interviewing children and achieving best evidence is based on a UK program called:  Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings – Guidance on interviewing victims and witnesses, and guidance on using special measures’.

The document dates back to 2011 and there has been some criticism since that time as to whether it is still fully fit for purpose. The guidance remains widely used.

Around this time there was a joint inspection reviewing the validity of the material as well as considerable academic research and training material being made available on the topic of interviewing children.

Where does your school stand with such interview training for staff?

Predictor of potential abuse: ‘High Criticism – Low Warmth’

Types of parenting styles and their effects on children

‘High in criticism’ and/or ‘low in warmth’ are phrases often associated with a problematic ‘parenting style’, which can have adverse outcomes for children – and if persistent can reach the emotional abuse threshold.

When you examine the attributes of an ‘emotionally abusive’ parent you might notice behaviours directed towards their children that include high levels of criticism and/or a lack of physical or emotional affection.

Children thrive better in situations where the family environment is low in criticism and high in warmth, and family environments can be unfavourable for children where there is high criticism and low warmth.

What ‘parenting-styles’ and related behaviours do your staff notice and learn about in safeguarding training?

Values Statement on Child Rights

One of the International Task Force on Child Protection (ITFCP) Expectations for schools: ‘A values statement on child rights, aligned with the responsibilities set out in the …(UNCRC), has been developed and formally adopted by the school’.

Such values statement, either separate or integrated within already existing Mission, Vision, Values, Principles & Practices or similar statements – will be a decision for individual organizations. Good practice would include:

(i) In line with ITFCP Essential Question 6: ‘Does the school communicate publicly its child protection policy/procedure?’, consider publicly communicating a statement online as well as within recruitment, admissions and other areas of relevant business.

(ii) Include the statement within your Child Protection Policy.

Recruitment (v)

Safer recruitment practices and procedures should be at the centre of an international schools’ safeguarding practices: through planning, shortlisting, assessment, vetting, induction and rigorous probation periods. All of this should be embedded in your safer recruitment policy and underpinned by your safeguarding and child protection policy. 

How then do you recruit the very best staff? Professional recruitment led by trained, informed and experienced staff is the way to ensure that those candidates selected are of the best caliber and reach the highest of safeguarding standards.

Start your preparation on this topic by looking at the International Task Force on Child Protection (ITFCP): ‘Recommended Screening & Assessment Practices for the International School Recruitment’. 

Safeguarding supervision – a new resource from Supervision in School

Supervision in School, recognise that effective supervision is needed now more than ever as DSL workloads increase and schools return to normal. Achieving this need involves offering a reflective supervision programme that takes a systemic approach, acknowledges current legislation and recognised standards for supervision.

The engaging, facilitated sessions use high-quality, pre-recorded videos to take you through a step-by-step reflective process exploring six critical areas: attendance; mental health; contextual safeguarding/ peer on peer abuse; partnerships; domestic abuse; and record keeping. Sessions explore your strategic approach alongside individual cases.

To ensure a strengthened whole school system, the programme includes DSL wellbeing, mentoring and skills for safeguarding for all staff.

Overview of the programme here

Virtual NOVA Community Crisis Response Team Training

Virtual NOVA Community Crisis Response Team Training (Basic) on Zoom. Inspirational three-day training event from Wednesday 28 – Saturday 31 July 2021: Relevant to school counsellors, senior leaders and others with an interest in crisis response. ‘School crisis, transportation accidents, suicide, earthquakes, tsunamis can happen anytime to anyone. When crisis occurs, individuals and the communities in which they live are changed forever. This training will prepare participants and their organisations to respond to the emotional aftermath of crisis, whether few or many are involved.’ Upon successful completion, a certificate of completion will be issued by National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA), USA. 

Interested in attending, or for further information, follow the link here.

Intrafamilial Child Torture (ICT):

ICT Policy Report & Case Study

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, Center for Child Policy has published a policy paper making the case for intrafamilial child torture (ICT) – torture directed against children by their primary caregivers – as a separate form of child abuse. It is one of a seven-part-series on the topic illustrating how ICT differs from other forms of child maltreatment.

A separate case study of ICT has also been published.

Professionals who regularly have contact with children, such as teachers, school counselors, or clergy, if knowledgeable about the indicators of child torture, may be able to sensitively engage children and help them disclose and provide support during referral and intervention. 

Age of Criminal Responsibility

Working within the International School sector…do you know the minimum age of criminal responsibility in your host country? I find many Designated Safeguarding Leads, Child Protection Officers, or members of Strategic Leadership Teams tend not to know, and so people try and guess if quizzed as part of a safeguarding audit, for example. It is, however, very important from a safeguarding perspective to know the answer!  

Why would it be important to understand any variation in your host country from other countries where you have been based?

Where might this information be stored such that it is accessible within your organization? 

To whom might this information be relevant within your school community?

Online Child Protection Course: ChildSafeguarding.com

This online child protection initiative was launched in June 2020 and now has registrants in 53 different countries. The courses are available in 30 languages with more on the way. An amazing tool for International Schools trying to reach those cohorts within their whole-school community where local languages can be a barrier to understanding and communication. Safeguarding and Child Protection can be complex topics at the best of times. This basic course breaks down the content into easy, manageable parts and empowers everyone to become part of the broader school safeguarding team.

CEO Matt Harris, was recently interviewed by David Niven from Social World Podcast. Listen to the interview at (Number 093).

Toilets, Washrooms & Changing Rooms (i)

This is a common issue in my International Schools’ work. Legislation and guidance exists for UK based schools for ‘toilet and washing facilities’. Requirements are governed by the Department of Education as detailed in ‘Advice on Standards for School Premises’ (March 2015).

 Independent School Standards Regulation 23A stipulates:

  1. Suitable toilet/washing facilities are provided for the sole use of pupils;
  2. Separate toilet facilities for boys and girls aged 8 years or over are provided except where the toilet facility is provided in a room that can be secured from the inside; and
  3. Suitable changing accommodation and showers are provided for pupils aged 11 years or over who receive physical education.