Child Protection – Guidelines and Procedures – Department of Education and Science In conjunction with “Children First – National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children”
Aim : “To assist and give direction and guidance …..to school personnel in protecting children and dealing with allegations/suspicions of child abuse.” Dr. Michael Woods, T.D., Minister for Education and Science, April 2001.
A Child is …… • “a person under the age of eighteen years, excluding a person who is or has been married” 3.1.2 – page 31 – “Children First”.
National Children’s Strategy (2000) – sets out objectives for the next ten years • Vision – “an Ireland where children are respected as young citizens with a valued contribution to make – where all children are cherished and supported by family and the wider society; where they enjoy a fulfilling childhood and realise their potential” Page 4 – The National Children’s Strategy – “Our Children – Their Lives”
Vision • “the safety and wellbeing of children must be a priority” 1.1.3 – page 5 – D.E.S. Guidelines
Teachers • …are the main care givers to children outside the family context and have regular contact with children in the school setting. 6.8.1 – page 50 – “Children First” • “the sheer normality, routine and safety of school may be powerfully therapeutic for a vulnerable child” – Robbie Gilligan – Professor of Social Studies – T.C.D.
The Child Care Act, 1991 • Replaces Child Care Act, 1908. • This landmark legislation……”is the basis for dealing with children in need of care and protection” • This Act regards the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration.
Child Care Act, 1991 • Is the fundamental legislative provision for child protection and welfare • Gives health boards statutory responsibility not only to protect but also to promote the welfare of children • Provides for the provision of family support services
Report of the Kilkenny Incest Investigation - 1993 • Kelly – a child is dead - 1996 • West of Ireland Farmer case: Report of the Review Panel – 1998
Fr. Brendan Smyth case • Dear Daughter • States of Fear • The Swimming Report
Report Minister for Health set up an investigation headed by Ms Catherine McGuinness S.C. with the following terms of reference: • Investigate why action to halt the abuse was not taken earlier by the Health Board. • To make recommendations.
Findings and Recommendations • That the Minister for Health would prepare revised procedures for the identification, investigation and management of child abuse to replace the current guidelines.
Findings and Recommendations • A standardised notification system. • Precise and workable definitions of physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect • A systematic training programme for all personnel who may come in contact with child abuse
Findings and Recommendations • To carry out their role effectively, teachers and school principals need to be able to recognise child abuse and know how and to whom to report when they are concerned.
Findings and recommendations • We recognise that teachers cannot be expected to diagnose and treat cases of child abuse. • Role of teacher in the identification of child abuse is significant and must be recognised in the development of any comprehensive programme.
Report • Team of inquiry was set up by the Western Health Board, 2nd May 1995. • Reported 11th November 1995. • Made forty four recommendations.
Findings and Recommendations • Report was an indictment of the Health Board and its maladministration in dealing with the Fitzgerald family • There was lack of leadership and direction • An overemphasis on sexual abuse compared to other abuses/ambivalence to neglect • 1987 guidelines failed every test to protect the children • Need to legislate for statutory, legal indemnity • Mandatory reporting
Findings and Recommendations • Abuse was allowed to continue because of managerial failures and a lack of integrated approach between different bodies within the Health Board. • Child Centred approach in the context of the family unit was recommended. • Mandatory Reporting.
The Report praised the following: • Field Social Worker • School Vice Principal • A General Practitioner
Please note…… • Child abuse occurs in any type of family • Child abuse occurs outside families • Abuse is perpetrated by adults in trusted positions e.g. clergy, swimming and other sports coaches etc. • Research on Child Protection has shown that emotional abuse and neglect are the most frequently reported forms of child abuse and yet are screened out most easily.
Domestic Violence Act, 1996 • Gives health boards power to intervene to protect individuals and their children from violence
Remember…. • Living with and witnessing domestic violence can be a form of emotional abuse • There is an established relationship between domestic violence and child abuse • Domestic violence can be an indicator of child abuse • Continuing abuse can impact negatively on a mother’s ability to parent and on her relationship with her children
Freedom of Information Act, 1997 • Enables members of the public to obtain access to personal information relating to them • Any reports made by schools to health boards may be subject to the provisions of this Act
Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998 • Vital part of child protection legislation • Provides immunity from civil liability to any person who reports child abuse “reasonably and in good faith” 1.3.1 - Page 6 - D.E.S Guidelines.
The Education Act, 1998 • Teachers have a general duty of care towards children • Schools are obliged to give practical effect to the constitutional rights of children as they relate to education
Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 • Provides a comprehensive new framework for promoting regular school attendance and tackling the problems of absenteeism • Is part of policy to reduce disadvantage
Remember….. • Persistent failure to attend school constitutes neglect • Absenteeism can be an indication of dysfunction in the family • The absent child is deprived of the protective/supportive aspects of school
U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child • A charter of human rights for all children • Ratified in Ireland in 1992 • Legislation since then relating to the welfare of children must take into account principles of Convention • Articles 19, 34 and 35 refer particularly to child protection.
How to recognise possible signs of abuse • 2.3.1 – DES Guidelines – page 8 • Indicators of possible abuse are outlined in Chapter 3 and Appendix 1 of the “Children First” Guidelines.
3.1.1 – page 31 – Children First Definition and recognition of Child Abuse
NEGLECT Neglect can be defined in terms of an omission, where the child suffers significant harm or impairment of development by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, intellectual stimulation, supervision and safety, attachment to and affection from adults, medical care 3.2.1 – Children First – page 31
Harm • Harm can be defined as the ill treatment or the impairment of the health or development of a child. Whether it is significant is determined by his/her health and development as compared to that which could reasonably be expected of a child of similar age. • 3.2.2 – Children First – page 31
Neglect – generally becomes apparent in different ways over a period of time rather than at one specific point. Events Threshold of significant harm
Threshold of significant harm • ….is reached when the child’s needs are neglected to the extent that his or her well-being and/or development are severely affected. • 3.2.3 – Children First – page 31
Developmental diagram Expected Child development Threshold of significant harm Neglect over a period of time
Developmental diagram Expected Child development Event triggering flux Threshold of significant harm
NEGLECT - • Circumstantial neglect is usually a passive form of abuse involving omission of care • Wilful neglect constitutes a deliberate deprivation by a parent/carer of a child’s basic needs
EMOTIONAL ABUSE • Emotional abuse is normally to be found in the relationship between a care-giver and a child rather than in a specific event or pattern of events. It occurs when a child’s needs for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met. • 3.3.1 – Children First – page 31
PHYSICAL ABUSE - is any form of non-accidental injury or injury which results from wilful or neglectful failure to protect a child. • Shaking • Use of excessive force in handling • Deliberate poisoning • Suffocation • Induced Illness - Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy – see bottom page 32 and Appendix 2 of Children First. • Allowing or creating a substantial risk of significant harm to a child 3.4.1 – Children First – page 32
SEXUAL ABUSE • Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for his/her gratification or sexual arousal or for that of others. 3.5.1. – Children First – page 33.
Peer Abuse • Children abused by their peers • Abuse reactive behaviour 11.3.3 • Sexually obsessive behaviour 11.3.4 • Abusive behaviour – elements of domination, coercion, bribery and secrecy – inappropriate age gap. 11.3.5 • Both parties may be victims. Chapter 11 – pages (105 – 108) – “Children First”
Dimensions of Childhood Development • Physical and Mental well-being • Emotional and Behavioural well-being • Intellectual capacity • Spiritual and Moral well-being • Identity • Self-care • Family relationships • Social and peer relationships • Social presentation