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Child Protection Policy

Document Outline

  • Preamble
    • Application and Definitions
      • Physical abuse
      • Emotional abuse
      • Neglect
      • Child Sexual Abuse
    • Awareness
      • Training and Development
    • Prevention
      • Vigilance in Recruitment and Selection
      • Police Checks
      • Code of Conduct
      • Use of Child Photos and Information
    • Reporting
      • Incident reporting
      • Document the incident
    • Responding
      • Distance the alleged perpetrator
      • Confidentiality
      • Reprisal
      • Counseling support
      • Investigation of complaints
    • Review of this Policy

Preamble

This policy statement affirms ARIS’s commitment to the welfare of children and their protection from abuse, exploitation and neglect.

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.

ARIS is committed to having child-safe school.

Application and Definitions

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

Child abuse can be physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect or sexual abuse.

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.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is a chronic attack on a child or young person's self esteem. It can take the form of name calling, threatening, ridiculing, intimidating or isolating the child or young 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.

Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is when a child or young person is used by an older or bigger child, adolescent or adult for his or her own sexual stimulation or gratification, or economic gain.

Awareness

ARIS will ensure that all staff and others are aware of the problem of child abuse and the risks to children.

Training and Development

All staff will receive information relating to ARIS’ Child Protection Policy during the induction process. Further training will be provided during the course of employment.

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.

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.

Reporting

ARIS will ensure that staff and others are clear about what steps to take where concerns arise regarding the safety of children.

Incident reporting

It is mandatory for any allegation, belief or suspicion of sexual 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 Principal.

If a child reports an incident, the child/young person must be taken seriously and listened to carefully. 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 Principal.

Al-Rayan International School has a Child Protection reporting procedure that takes into account the local context of Ghana and the culture of the child involved.

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 Principal and the School Executive Board.

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, Human 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 (Police, Immigration…) will also be contacted and consulted.

Responding

ARIS will ensure that prompt action is taken to support and protect children where concerns arise regarding possible abuse.

Distance the alleged perpetrator

The best interests of the child/young person may warrant the standing down of a staff member, consultant or volunteer while an investigation commences. Staff members stood down will receive full pay and will be entitled to a just process that does not pre-suppose guilt or innocence. The allegations should not be discussed or communicated to other people until such have been considered and a decision made by the school’s Disciplinary Committee. The decision made should be documented and filed.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality is crucial to a fair and effective reporting procedure. It is unacceptable and potentially defamatory for concerns of child abuse (and abusers) to be divulged to others rather than being directed through the formal complaints process. All participants must understand the importance of following the prescribed reporting lines when concerns arise. The right to confidentiality protects the child, the notifier, the respondent and the school, and ensures a fair and proper process.

Reprisal

ARIS will not tolerate any form of coercion, intimidation, reprisal or retaliation against any employee who reports any form of abuse or exploitation, provides any information or other assistance in an investigation.

Counseling support

Professional counseling support will be made available to all parties involved.

Investigation of complaints

Physical and/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 (eg., torture, death penalty, corrupt justice systems) as well as the child (eg., will the child be victimised, criminalised or forced to undergo medical checks).

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