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.

Safeguarding & Child Protection Audit (i)

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If your International School is serious about safeguarding and child protection, ask the question whether it is time you organized a bespoke school-safeguarding audit?

If you are in the early stages of developing your school’s safeguarding related policies and procedures, training, protective environment or culture, this could be a relevant and informative place to start. If however, you consider everything is effective and efficient, maybe an audit or review of your strategic and operational child protection practices is still warranted?

Is it time for you to conduct an internal audit, a peer review by a DCPO from another school, or alternatively an independent external review?

Minimum safeguarding accreditation standards: ITFCP Essential Questions

SEXTING – Youth Produced Sexual Imagery (i)

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Some adults and professionals consider sexting ‘… sending or posting of sexually suggestive images via mobile phones’. Young people tend to think of it as sharing explicitly written or intimate messages with friends. Parents also tend to think of messages rather than images.

More recently, following deficiencies in existing legislation, together with need for greater clarity for law enforcement agencies, education authorities and criminal justice systems, greater emphasis has been placed on a definition which covers the creation and sharing of sexual photos and videos of under-18s. Predominantly this activity is illegal in many countries. It also leads to the greatest complexity for schools and other agencies in response.

CEESA Article ‘SEXTING’

Recruitment (iii)

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I continue to work on cases involving poor teacher recruitment practices in International Schools.

A recurring theme is inadequate pre-recruitment checks. Potential recruits can lie or falsify records about where and for whom they have worked if comprehensive due-diligence checks are not undertaken.

Those teachers ‘found out’ mid-contract can too easily be released back into the global ‘teaching pool’ if allowed to resign without sanction or details of their misconduct being passed to member schools, umbrella associations, and teacher registration boards where appropriate. This effectively condones their behaviour and enables continuing safeguarding risks where they might secure subsequent employment.

School discipline procedures and potential criminal breaches should be considered at these times.

Bullying (i)

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Historically bullying was considered something that one set of children – bullies – do to another set – victims. Research shows a significant proportion of children who are experiencing bullying, also bully. Techniques for helping children extract themselves from a bullying culture include them understanding and talking about their losses and gains and why they are involved in such behaviour.

When asked why they bully many children say, ‘…because we don’t like that person’. They sense that if you don’t like someone it’s okay to be nasty – an attitude absorbed from others. Changing such relationships requires engaging children in thinking about how they think about and act towards the kinds of people they don’t like.’

Recruitment (ii)

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Following further revelations regarding known or suspected child abusers being dismissed from International School settings – it’s time to consider seriously enhancing your safer recruitment options.

Introduce a bespoke ‘employment disclosure form’ relevant for your school and host country. See the attached draft for some content ideas:

Sample ’employment declaration form’

If you dismiss someone from your school for safeguarding related matters or concerns (related to staff or children), then consider:

  • Notifying the appropriate local Embassy (relevant to nationality of the person dismissed)
  • For the next two years conduct regular internet searches to see if this individual appears employed in other schools. If they do, notify that school at the earliest opportunity of your concerns.

Royal Commission National Standards (Australia)

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Child safety is embedded in institutional leadership, governance and culture

Children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously

Families and communities are informed and involved

Equity is upheld and diverse needs are taken into account

People working with children are suitable and supported

Processes to respond to complaints of child sexual abuse are child focused

Staff are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children safe through continual education and training

Physical and online environments minimise the opportunity for abuse to occur

Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is continuously reviewed and improved

Policies and procedures document how the institution is child safe.

See full report below:

Click to access final_report_-_recommendations.pdf