Child Protection Policy

Document Introduction 


Child abuse and neglect possesses a peril to the educational wellbeing of children. ARIS is totally dedicated to conserving and safeguarding the welfare of all children in its quarters. We recognize our duty to take all practical steps to support best and safe practices to protect all children from harm, abuse and exploitation. 

ARIS considers that, all children, innumerable of their gender, ages, culture, nationality and religious background have the right to protection from abuse. Consistent with ARIS’s vision, mission and core values of respect, integrity and accountability, we seek to create and maintain a school environment that is free of harassment and exploitation, and to ensure the same in all of our work with the students and communities with whom we work.

Policy Statements 

The ARIS child protection policy aims at instituting a well ordered and harmonized system that will protect the children in the school from harm and abuse of any form. This policy is linked to the local, national and international law in relation to child protection namely; the UN Convention on the rights of Children (Article 1, Article 19), the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana (Chapter 28; Article (1d), Article 3 and Article 5) and the Children’s Act. For the purposes of this policy, a child will be considered to be a person under the age of 18 years.

 

The policy applies to:

For the purposes of this policy, a child will be considered to be a person under the age of 18 years.

The policy applies to:

  • all staff
  • all contractors, e.g., consultants
  • all volunteers and interns
  • all Board members

 

Training and Education 

All parents, staff and volunteers have to be fully responsive to the policy and its procedures, recognize their responsibilities and be signed up to them.

Staff/Volunteers

The Child protection team would communicate to all staff and members their legal and moral responsibility to protect children from harm and abuse. ARIS would ensure that all members of staff recognize their duty to report concerns of abuse that arises on a child or staff conduct toward a child.

Students

  • ARIS will ensure that students are educated to identify the indicators of acts intended to cause harm to them. 
  • ARIS will ensure that students understand their responsibilities to refer any child abuse concern to the Child Protection Officer.
  • ARIS will also ensure that children understand their rights to be protected.

Parents

  • The school will alert parents in recognizing signs and symptoms of abuse.
  • ARIS will facilitate involvement of parents or careers in the work and to make the child protection policy available to them.

Procedures

Definitions
Child
A child is a person below the age of eighteen years. (UN Convention on the Rights of Children; Article 1), and the 1992 constitution of Ghana, Chapter 28, Article 5)

Child Protection

  • Any act that seeks to promote the wellbeing of children, prevent abuse and protect them from harm. 
  • Any damaging or detrimental effects on a child’s physical, socio emotional wellbeing.
  • Child abuse
  • Any physical, sexual and/or emotional acts of others on the child that cause harm on the child.

Forms of child abuse 

Child abuse can take many form including physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.

 

Physical Abuse 

Physical abuse occurs when a person purposefully injures or threatens to injure a child or young person. This may take the form of slapping, pinching, punching, shaking, kicking, burning, shoving or grabbing. The injury may take the form of bruises, cuts, burns or fractures.

Indicators 

  • Child’s inability to explain the causes of bruises , burns on the body or explanations that are vague and inconsistent 
  • A marked delay of injury and seeking medical attention
  • Increased fear , guilt and self shame
  • Parents showing little or no interest in the wellbeing of their child
  • Parents or caregivers showing little concern about the treatment and care of injury on the child.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is a chronic attack on a child or young person's self-esteem, emotional or social development. It can take the form threatening, hostility, ridiculing, intimidating or isolating the child or young person

 

Indicators

  • Showing severe or extreme form of anxiety and fear in children
  • Children showing signs of depression
  • Lack of trust in people
  • Feeling of worthlessness about life and themselves
  • A parent or caregiver or worker constantly criticizing, threatening or rejecting the child

 

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is when a child or young person is used by any stronger child, adolescent or adult for his or her own sexual stimulation or gratification, or economic gain. This can take the form of exposing a sexual body part to a child, having a sexual relation with the child, fondling the child, rape or incest. 

Indicators

  • Displaying greater sexual knowledge than normally expected for the child’s age and development. 
  • Inappropriate sexual play with other children or dolls and toys
  • Torn, stained or bloody clothing, especially underwear
  • Bruising, bleeding, swelling tears or cut on genital or anus
  • A fear of being alone with particular person

Neglect

Neglect is the failure to provide the child with the basic necessities of life (where such necessities are available), such as food, clothing, shelter and supervision, to the extent that the child's health and development are put at risk.

Indicators

  • Poor hygiene , matted hair, dirty skin or body odor
  • Unattended physical or medical problems
  • Being left unsupervised for long periods
  • Malnutrition, begging, stealing or hoarding food.

School's Child Protection Team

The school’s child protection team consists of the Director, the Child Protection Officer, teachers and the school’s Disciplinary Committee. 

Disclosures

ARIS will ensure that staff and other workers are clear about what steps to take when concerns arise regarding the safety of children and to know appropriate quarters to disclose a concern.

 

Incident Reporting 

It is mandatory for any allegation, belief or suspicion of sexual, emotional or physical abuse (past or present) by an ARIS employee, sponsor, donor, board member or other person, to be reported immediately to the Child Protection Officer or to the Director. Children, who report incidents of abuse regarding themselves or other children, must be taken seriously and listened to.

Once an allegation is made there should be an immediate response that protects the child from further potential abuse or victimization. Where appropriate, the family of the child victim should be informed of the allegation and action proposed and they should be consulted where possible as to the process to be followed.

This process will be steered and guided by the Child Protection Officer and the Director.

Documenting the incident 

As soon as possible (within a period of 24 hours of the disclosure), the staff member receiving the disclosure must have fully documented the allegation in the form of a report, including the time, place, and any witnesses. This report may be used in court if charges are forthcoming. 

All reports should be submitted to the Child Protection Officer, who will discuss the case with the Director.

Resoponding to Disclosures

ARIS has a Child Protection reporting procedure that takes into account the local context of Ghana and the culture of the child involved. 

If any staff member is alleged to have committed, or been arrested for, or convicted of, criminal offences relating to child abuse then the staff member's contract will be immediately terminated and the case transferred to the school’s disciplinary committee.  

If the incident occurs in Ghana or involves a Ghanaian, the Executive Board will consult with legal counsel and all appropriate bodies (e.g., Police, Department of Family and Community Services) to ascertain due process and guide participants accordingly, subject to the nature of the incident reported.

If the incident involves an international staff member (non-Ghanaian), then the appropriate Embassies, Diplomatic Missions and bodies will also be contacted and consulted.

 

Case Review 

Internal investigations will involve a confidential, thorough, impartial and prompt process. The investigation may consist of interviews with witnesses and others as appropriate, collection of information about the alleged conduct, gathering of documentation, or other procedures as appropriate. The individual alleged to have violated this ARIS policy will have the opportunity to present his or her view of the events in question. ARIS will hold its determination until the investigation is over.

Investigations of Complaints 

Physical, emotional or sexual abuse of a child is a crime. ARIS may be required to notify authorities when there are reasonable grounds for reporting abuse, particularly if the allegations are made in Ghana or involve a Ghanaian citizen. Allegations involving international staff and students will need to take into account international and national legislation and procedures in order properly to investigate and address the allegations. ARIS will work closely with relevant embassies and governments to resolve such allegations. It is important to note that consideration should be given to how the local authorities will treat the alleged perpetrator (e.g., torture, death penalty, corrupt justice systems) as well as the child (e.g., will the child be victimised, criminalised or forced to undergo medical checks).

Support and Monitors

Prevention 

ARIS will ensure that, through awareness and personal and professional conduct, staff and others minimize the risk to children.

Vigilance in Recruitment and Selection

The Human Resources team and Administration Office adhere by strict guidelines in the recruiting process of new staff, consultants, volunteers and interns. The recruitment guidelines will be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that they accurately reflect child-safe recruiting and screening standards. The recruitment guidelines will include: 

  • A clear and bold statement that confirms ARIS’s commitment to child protection in all contracts
  • Adopting ‘best practice’ recruitment and selection techniques
  • Conducting reference checks
  • Conducting police checks where required and feasible

Police Checks

All personnel who work with children will be asked to sign an authorisation for a police check. In addition, police checks will be conducted for all full-time, part time and long-term contract employees, regardless of whether or not they work with children. 

In cases where international and national criminal record checks cannot be completed in time, or where a country does not provide criminal record checks with adequate reliability, rigorous referee checks will be used instead.

Code of Conduct 

All staff, consultants and volunteers will be expected to sign and adhere to a Code of Conduct for the Protection of the Child.

Code of Conduct for the Protection of the Child

  • Use of Child Photos and Information
  • Pictures, images, or other likenesses of children and/or information related to children that could compromise their care and protection will not be made available through any form of communication media without proper protection and understanding of their use. Moreover, any images of children will not be accompanied by detailed information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Internal investigations will involve a confidential, thorough, impartial and prompt process. The investigation may consist of interviews with witnesses and others as appropriate, collection of information about the alleged conduct, gathering of documentation, or other procedures as appropriate. The individual alleged to have violated this ARIS policy will have the opportunity to present his or her view of the events in question. ARIS will hold its determination until the investigation is completed.

Review of this Policy

ARIS will review this policy every three years or earlier if warranted.

Adopted: January 2014

To be reviewed: January 2017