Purpose

Providence Christian College takes its duty of care obligation to students seriously. The following policy confirms our commitment to ensuring our partners and us are familiar with the College’s policy and procedures as they relate to child safety and wellbeing, and to further ensure that the College is maintained as a safe, supportive environment for students.

Our partners include staff (including peripatetic), volunteers, practicum students, board members, third party consultants and contractors, as well as families and guardians engaging with the College in everyday situations.

This policy and its related procedures find application in all areas of College life from Kindergarten to Year 12, during regular academic, sporting and cultural learning experiences as well as at after-hours activities of any nature.

“All children have a right to be protected from harm and schools and teachers owe a duty of care to all students at the school. Schools have a special responsibility to protect children when they are on school premises and also to intervene when they believe the welfare of a child is at risk outside the school”. (Child Protection Guidelines; AISWA, March 2018)

Legislative Requirements

In Western Australia, the Children and Community Services Amendment (Reporting Sexual Abuse of Children) Act 2008 forms part of the Children and Community Services Act 2004.
This legislation covers the special responsibility that we and our partners (as indicated above) have, and especially the duty of care of our Principal, to protect children when they are on College premises, as well as to intervene when they believe the welfare of a child is at risk outside the College.

Prevention of Abuse

Providence Christian College supports a strong culture against child abuse, seeking to nurture a culture that mitigates against child abuse through strategies such as:

  1. Exercising due diligence when employing new staff (Eg. WWCC, police clearances, referee checks, specific questioning during employment interviews). Persons convicted of sexual offences against children will not be employed by Providence Christian College. Staff Applicants to the College will be asked to confirm their status in this regard at the interview.
  2. Ensuring that all new staff complete the Mandatory Reporting of Child Sexual Abuse (AISWA) and the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (Australian Human Rights Commission) professional learning modules.
  3. All staff are aware of the policies and procedures associated with the College’s Child Protection policy including the College Code of Conduct, Bullying, Grievance and Privacy policies.
  4. Ensuring that staff feel supported and have a mechanism for reporting any concerns they may have in relation to inappropriate behaviour towards students by fellow staff members.
  5. Ensuring that staff adhere to College policy in relation to engaging with students on social media.
  6. Ensuring that the College has clear guidelines regarding Character development and does not endorse or enforce any form of child abuse, corporal punishment or any other form of degrading punishment.
  7. Ensuring that members of the College community (staff, students and parents) are supported in dealing with issues related to child abuse.

Human Resource Practices

  1. All teaching staff employed by Providence Christian College must be registered with the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia (TRB). To be registered with the TRB, teachers must have a police clearance and a Working with Children Check (WWCC) as required under the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004.
  2. Non-teaching staff employed at Providence Christian College must hold a current Working with Children Check (WWCC) and a police clearance.
  3. Volunteers who are not parents, who have contact with children, are also required to hold a current WWCC.
  4. Volunteers who are parents are exempt from obtaining a WWCC unless on they participate in an overnight camp. However, parent volunteers who take a professional role in the College (paid or unpaid) are required to hold a current WWCC.
  5. All staff who work with students must complete the Mandatory Reporting of Child Sexual Abuse professional development.
  6. All staff (including peripatetic), volunteers, practicum students, board members, third party consultants and contractors are required to abide by the College’s Code of Conduct.
  7. Teachers responsible for students from Kindergarten to Year 12 will complete appropriate professional learning.

Protective Behaviours Programme

The College has implemented the Keeping Safe Child Protection Curriculum (Department of Education, South Australia). The curriculum has been integrated into the College Health curriculum. The curriculum enforces childrens’ rights to be safe and aims to enhance the problem-solving and communication skills of students of all ages. It also encourages individuals to identify situations that they believe are unsafe, or potentially unsafe, and to develop strategies to counter these situations and preserve their physical and emotional safety and wellbeing.

Additional training is provided for students with disabilities, where such disabilities may limit their capacity to understand the issues involved or communicate a disclosure. Students with disabilities have the same rights to information and training in prevention and protective behaviours as their non-disabled peers.

Monitoring and Evaluating the College’s Child Protection Policy

The College’s Child Protection policy, procedures and guidelines will be reviewed biennial.

Definitions

Child abuse

Child maltreatment (abuse) refers to any non-accidental behaviour by adults or children that is outside the norms of conduct and entails a substantial risk of harm to a child or young person. The behaviours may be intentional or unintentional (AIFS: What is child abuse and neglect)

It may be the result of action or inaction on the part of a person who has a responsibility to care for a child, resulting in harm or injury to the child. The harm may include delayed physical and/or intellectual development. The maltreatment experienced is normally described in five categories:

    • Physical
    • Sexual
    • Emotional
    • Neglect
    • Family and domestic violence

Indicators of these five categories, taken from the Department for Child Protection document “Identifying and responding to child abuse and neglect – A Guide for Professionals” are described in APPENDIX 1.

Physical abuse
Physical abuse occurs when a child has experienced severe and/or persistent ill-treatment by an adult or caregiver. It can include, but is not limited to injuries such as cuts, bruises, burns and fractures caused by a range of acts including beating, shaking, illicit administration of alcohol and other drugs, attempted suffocation, excessive discipline, physical punishment or other forms.

Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse covers a wide range of behaviour and/or activities that expose or subject a child to sexual activity that is exploitative and/or inappropriate to his/her age and developmental level, in circumstances where:

    • The child is the subject of bribery, coercion, a threat, exploitation or violence;
    • The child has less power than another person involved in the behaviour; or
    • There is a significant disparity in the developmental function or maturity of the child and another person involved in the behaviour (S124 of the Children and Community Services Amendment (Reporting Sexual Abuse of Children) Act 2008).

These behaviours include observation of, or involvement with, inappropriate fondling of a child’s body, making a child touch an adult’s genitalia, showing pornographic material or sexual acts to a child, and sexual penetration of the child. Harm from sexual abuse may include significant emotional trauma, physical injury, infections and impaired emotional and psychological development.

This legislation is not intended to capture all sexual activity involving children and young people. Reference should be made to consent laws in Western Australia, The Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 s. 320-322

Emotional abuse
Emotional abuse is the sustained, repetitive, inappropriate, ill-treatment of a child or young person through behaviours including threatening, belittling, teasing, humiliating, bullying, confusing, ignoring or inappropriate encouragement. Children who have been emotionally abused are likely to have a reduced capacity to experience a range of emotions, to express emotion appropriately and to modulate their emotional experience. Children who have been emotionally abused are likely to be fearful, withdrawn and/or resentful, distressed and despairing.

Included under emotional abuse is psychological abuse. This abuse damages a child’s intellectual faculties and processes, including intelligence, memory, recognition, perception, attention, imagination and moral development. Children are likely to feel worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered or only of value in meeting another’s needs.

Family and domestic violence – Exposure to family and domestic violence is strongly associated with child abuse and neglect, and hence, is included in the definition of Emotional Abuse. It is more likely that a child’s basic needs will not be met in a family where domestic violence occurs. Witnessing violence between parents or being involved in a violent act can seriously affect the emotional health of a child and a young person. It can affect self-image, response to other people, and the ability to form healthy relationships. These children and young people don’t feel safe and secure. They believe that violence is a solution to problems, and may develop signs of posttraumatic stress disorder. Family and domestic violence is seen as child abuse when it clearly affects the child or young person’s physical, emotional and psychological development.

Note:
Child abuse and neglect is defined as maltreatment done by a person who has a responsibility to care for a child (Department for Child Protection and Family Support).
However, it is very important to note that the definitions of child maltreatment mentioned in this section can be used to describe some of the behaviour that can occur in schools by one child to another. While the treatment of such behaviour may be dealt with through other policies such as Bullying and Behaviour Management, the victim of such ‘bullying’ may display some of the physical and behavioural indicators as those described in the next section of this document. These events should be treated seriously by the College with the aim of helping both parties. It is also important to note that a child who is ‘bullying’ may be doing so because they have been subjected to the same inappropriate behaviour and may require assistance through the College’s Child Safety and Wellbeing policy.

Note:
Students aged 18 and over may attend school but are legally considered adults and as such CPFS does not have a child protection mandate for them. However, they may be considered potentially vulnerable and in need of specialist services and the College continues to owe a duty of care towards them. There are many youth-specific agencies available to assist these students. Details of these are listed in section 17 of this document. Schools should contact the Police if they are aware of any assault or crime against a young adult.

Neglect
Neglect is the failure of a parent/caregiver to provide a child with the basic necessities of life. These include adequate supervision, adequate food or shelter, suitable clothing, effective medical, therapeutic or remedial care and emotional security. Neglect may be acute, chronic or episodic, and can result in detrimental effects on the child or young person’s social, psychological, educational or physical development and/or physical injury. Neglect should be considered in the context of physical, emotional or psychological abuse.

Grooming

Grooming in a child protection context refers to deliberate actions undertaken to engage in sexual activity with a child. It differs from sexual abuse in that it is primarily a preparatory activity occurring before abuse occurs, but is continued during and after the abuse to ensure the safety of the groomer.

Grooming is a subtle, gradual, and escalating process of building trust with a child and those around the child, both children and adults, with the express purpose of the sexual gratification of the perpetrator and generally involves engaging in sexual activity with the child. It is deliberate and purposeful and occurs both before and after the abuse. Abusers may groom children and supporting adults for weeks, months, or even years before any sexual abuse actually takes place. The grooming may occur in person or via cyber media.

Indicators of grooming experience are included in APPENDIX 1.

Teacher

The definition of teacher in section 124A of the Children and Community Services Amendment (Reporting Sexual Abuse of Children) Act 2008 reads:

    1. person who is registered under the Teacher Registration Act 2012, or
    2. a person who provides instruction in a course that is –
      1. mentioned in the School Education Act 1999 s11B(1)(a), (b) or (e) and
      2. prescribed for the purposes of this definition; or
    3. A person who instructs or supervises a student who is participating in an activity that is:
      1. part of an educational programme of a school under an arrangement mentioned in the School Education Act 1999 s24(1); and
      2. prescribed for the purposes of this definition; or
    4. A person employed by the chief executive officer as defined in the Young Offenders Act 1994 s3 to teach detainees at a detention centre.

Child

The definition of ‘child’ is defined in Section 3 of the Children and Community Services Act as a person who is under the age of 18 years. In the absence of positive evidence as to age, a child is a person who is apparently under 18 years of age. Young people aged 18 and over are considered to be adults and are not covered by this legislation. However, schools still owe a duty of care to all students at the school. In these instances, police should be informed of any assault or crime against a young person.

Corporal punishment

Any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light; typically involving striking a child with the hand or with an implement; but can also include, for example, forcing a child to maintain an uncomfortable position. It does not include the use of reasonable physical restraint to protect a child or others from harm (UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 8 [2006]).

Degrading punishment

Any punishment which is incompatible with respect for human dignity, including corporal punishment and non-physical punishment which belittles, humiliates, denigrates, scapegoats, threatens, scares or ridicules a child. (UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 8 [2006]).

Confidentiality

The College respects our community’s right to privacy and will protect their confidential information. The College is committed to acting in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles (APP) contained in the Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth) and with this policy.

However, when the welfare or safety of a student or other students is threatened, staff cannot agree to a student’s demands for confidentiality or a request that parents, police or other agencies not be informed.

All strong concerns for the welfare of children believed to be maltreated by parents/caregivers are discussed with the Department of Child Protection or the Police Child Abuse Investigation Unit before advising parents/caregivers. These agencies will then decide on any further action and/or the provision of advice to parents/caregivers. Police and CPFS are available to provide advice on child abuse concerns.

Procedures

Child sexual abuse – MANDATORY REPORTING

Section 124B of the CCS Act 2004 states in part: “A person who… believes on reasonable grounds that a child –

    1. has been the subject of sexual abuse that occurred on or after commencement day; or
    2. is the subject of ongoing sexual abuse; and

forms the belief —

    1. in the course of the person’s work (whether paid or unpaid) as a doctor, nurse, midwife, police officer, teacher or boarding supervisor; and
    2. on or after commencement day, 
      must report the belief as soon as practicable after forming the belief. 
      Penalty: a fine of $6 000.

For procedures and notification steps relating to the reporting of child sexual abuse please see the College Mandatory Reporting of Child Sexual Abuse Procedure.

Information from the Department of Child Protection and Family Support (APPENDIX 1) should assist staff in evaluating their concerns.

Note: The concerns could arise from teacher observations, or from a disclosure of abuse or neglect by a student or someone with a responsibility to care for the student.

Recognition, notification and support of students at risk of, or victims of, physical, emotional or psychological abuse or neglect (Non-mandatory reporting procedure)

Step 1 
The teacher/staff member makes observations and keeps note of concerns that exist that have led them to a belief that a report may be necessary
OR
A student (or someone with a duty of care) discloses abuse or neglect.

Note: It may assist Teachers to think in terms of reporting a behaviour or a series of behaviours and concern/s rather than reporting an individual family.

Step 2
The Teacher’s observations or the child’s disclosure should be discussed, in the first instance, with the Head of School and the Principal, or the Board Chair, if it is not appropriate to discuss it with the Principal.
It is not the role of the Teacher to investigate child abuse or neglect matters – concerns should be reported to the Principal.
The Teacher and Principal may wish to consult with the College Counsellor.

Note: It is vital to remember that confidentiality is paramount and that disclosure of this information should only be discussed with those in the College who are required to know.

Step 3
All disclosures or strong concerns of abuse or neglect will be reported to CPFS by the Principal or Teacher. At no time should the College be conducting an investigation into the matter. CPFS will then decide on how to proceed.

IMPORTANT: To avoid interfering with any investigative process initiated by CPFS or the Police, the Principal or teacher must seek advice from CPFS or Police prior to informing the parent/carer of a concern of abuse or neglect.

If, following a report, a family approaches the College to receive support for their child, it is recommended that any interview be conducted with a minimum of 2 school members present (eg. The Principal and one other) to provide support.

Note: It is important to remember that the focus of the meeting should be the welfare of the child.

The Principal will arrange ongoing support for the staff member/complainant, the student and anyone else affected (including advocacy and other support services). The need for ongoing support is often necessary as the teacher will continue in their role with the student and the CPFS’s role may continue for an extended period of time

Children left at College

It is imperative that the College exhausts all avenues attempting to contact the child’s family and emergency contacts. If no contact can be made the Principal or senior staff member may drive the student/s home to establish contact with the family. If the College is still unable to make any contact with the child’s family, the Principal should contact the local district office of the DCP and report the matter to the appropriate authorities.

Parents

Parents wishing to report an issue pertaining to Child Protection where they are not the primary caregivers should refer to the College Grievance Policy for procedural guidance. If such a report is made by a person or persons who wish to remain anonymous and whose information is unsubstantiated, the College will require the matter be referred directly to the Police.

Staff

The Criminal Code (see Appendix 5 on Legal Considerations) stipulates that a child under the age of 16 years is not able to give consent to any activity of a sexual nature in any relationship with an adult. In addition, the law does not allow activity of a sexual nature to occur between a child under 18 years of age and a person who holds a position of authority over the child.

In the event that a staff member is reported to be, or suspected to be involved in an incidence of abuse, the matter should in the first instance be reported to the Principal who will investigate the matter.

Communication to the College Community: Child Protection Policy

Information relating to the College’s Child Protection Policy will be published and communicated in the following documents and digital spaces:

    1. College website
    2. Staff Handbook
    3. Seqta (Policies)
    4. Referred to in newsletters as appropriate.

References and Associated Documents

Acts and Regulations

    1. The School Education Act 1999 and the School Regulations 2000
    2. Children and Community Services Act 2004
    3. Children and Community Services Act Amendment (Reporting Sexual Abuse of Children) Act 2008
    4. Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
    5. Western Australian College of Teaching Act 2004
    6. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992; the Disability Standards for Education 2005

Policy Development and Guidelines Documents

    1. Policy Development Guidelines; Policies and Procedures Guidelines for Schools; Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia. (AISWA), October 2014.
    2. Child Protection Guidelines; Policies and Procedures Guidelines for Schools; AISWA; March 2018
    3. Child Protection Policy; Catholic education Commission of Western Australia. (2013)
    4. Child Protection Policy; Education Department of Western Australia (November 2013)
    5. Critical Incidents in Non – Government Schools; Department of Education Services website.
    6. Department for Child Protection – Child Abuse and Neglect

Associated College Policies and Procedures

    1. Duty of Care Policy;
    2. Critical Incident Policy;
    3. Providence Christian College Code of Conduct
    4. Mandatory Reporting Policy
    5. Providence Staff Employment Policy
    6. Providence Christian College Privacy Policy
    7. Excursion Procedures and Guidelines – Providence Christian College
    8. Character Development Policy
    9. Grievance Policy (For Parents)
    10. Bullying Policy

APPENDIX 1 – Indicators of Child Abuse and Neglect

The following list of indicators is not exhaustive but contains those that will be of most use to staff. This list has been taken from the Department for Child Protection document “Identifying and responding to child abuse and neglect – A Guide for Professionals”.

Students frequently show indicators from more than one category and the examples listed are not necessarily exclusive to a single category of abuse. Any of these indicators may suggest that a student is being abused, neglected or at risk of harm; however, indicators should be considered in the context of the student’s age, medical and developmental history, and capabilities. In addition, mental illness, substance abuse and domestic violence within families must also be considered.

The single most helpful item for staff to consider is the deviation from normal or baseline behaviour of a child. A child who has been abused experiences mixed emotional and physical responses to abuse and may well be confused by the disconnect between respect/love for the abuser and abhorrence or ambivalence to the abuse itself.

Physical abuse could be represented by:

    • broken bones or unexplained bruises, burns, or welts in various stages of healing;
    • the child or young person is unable to explain an injury, or explanations given are inconsistent, vague or bizarre;
    • direct admissions from the parents that they are concerned that they might harm their child;
    • a history of family violence;
    • marked delay between injury and obtaining medical assistance;
    • a parent who shows little concern about the welfare of their child or the treatment and care of the injury;
    • repeated presentations of the child to health services with injuries, ingestions or minor complaints (this could also be an indicator of Factitious Disorder by proxy, a rare expression of physical and emotional abuse);
    • the child or young person is unusually frightened of a parent or carer, or is afraid to go home;
    • the child or young person reports intentional injury by their parent or carer;
    • arms and legs are kept covered by inappropriate clothing in warm conditions;
    • ingestion of poisonous substances including alcohol or drugs;
    • the avoidance of physical contact by the child (particularly with a parent or carer).

Sexual abuse could be represented by:

    • sexualised behaviours inappropriate to their age (including sexually touching other children and themselves);
    • knowledge of sexual behaviour inappropriate to their years;
    • disclosure of abuse either directly or indirectly through drawings, play or writing that describes abuse;
    • pain or bleeding in the anal or genital area with redness or swelling;
    • fear of being alone with a particular person;
    • a child or young person implying that he/she is required to keep secrets;
    • the presence of sexually transmitted disease;
    • sudden unexplained fears;
    • enuresis and/or encopresis (bed-wetting and bed soiling).

Emotional or Psychological abuse could be when:

    • the parent or carer constantly criticises, threatens, belittles, insults, or rejects the child or young person with no evidence of love, support, or guidance;
    • the child or young person exhibits extremes in behaviour from overly aggressive to overly passive;
    • delayed physical, emotional, or intellectual development;
    • compulsive lying and stealing;
    • high levels of anxiety;
    • lack of trust in people;
    • feelings of worthlessness about life and themselves;
    • eating hungrily or hardly at all;
    • uncharacteristic seeking of attention or affection;
    • reluctance to go home;
    • rocking, sucking thumbs or self-harming behaviour;
    • fearfulness when approached by a person known to them.

Neglect may be characterised by:

    • signs of malnutrition, begging, stealing or hoarding food;
    • poor hygiene: matted hair, dirty skin or severe body odour;
    • unattended physical or medical problems;
    • the child or young person states that no one is home to provide care (inadequate supervision, failure to ensure safety);
    • child or young person appears constantly tired;
    • frequent lateness to school or absence from school;
    • inappropriate clothing, especially inadequate clothing in winter;
    • alcohol and/or drug abuse present in the household;
    • frequent illness, low-grade infections or sores;
    • hunger.

Grooming:

In the early stage, a committed offender will employ grooming behaviour and because it is so subtle and gradual the child may not be aware of the actual abuse when it occurs and that it is wrong or harmful. The grooming occurs not only with the child but also with those supporting networks around the child which might act as a deterrent or protective element. The perpetrator will invest significant energy and patience to minimise the risk of detection and exposure.

The groomer will employ manipulation, guilt, shame, bribery, coercion or exploit low self-esteem to psychologically manipulate the child and as a result, the child becomes increasingly dependent on the groomer and increasingly alienated from protective elements including possible sources to disclose to. Plausible deniability is part of the strategy that the groomer employs to ensure that staff don’t take seriously the possible disclosures of a child. This is a deliberate strategy employed to maintain the secrecy of the abuser so that the abuse is concealed and to ensure the silence of the child.

The groomer will exploit vulnerabilities of the protective elements around the child, including parents and family circumstances, organizational and systemic weaknesses. Groomers are very adept at identifying anomalies, boundary ambiguities, and the lack of systemic awareness; at deflecting attention from their own actions and intentions. While distinguishing between appropriate intent and inappropriate intent is very difficult, particularly for a child, it is essential that the College has very clear expectations and boundaries around behaviours so that there can be rigorous accountability when dealing with children.

Organisations must invest in increasing understanding around providing a safe environment for children and adults to challenge existing practice, to be able to raise concerns around unprofessional behaviour and to have a shared understanding of what a safe school is.

Grooming behaviour with children may include, but is not limited to:

    • selecting, befriending a child and gaining his or her trust, exploiting the child’s vulnerabilities;
    • testing a child’s boundaries through telling inappropriate jokes, roughhousing, backrubs, tickling, or sexual games;
    • moving from non-sexual touching to “accidental” sexual touching. This typically happens during play so the child may not even identify it as purposeful, inappropriate touching. It is often done slowly so the child is gradually desensitized to the touch;
    • manipulating the child to not tell anyone about what is happening. The abuser may use a child’s fear, embarrassment, or guilt about what has happened. Sometimes, the abuser uses bribery, threats, or coercion;
    • causing the child to feel responsible for the abuse. Children may not notice or may become confused as the contact becomes increasingly intimate and sexual.

Grooming behaviour with adolescents may include additional strategies, such as:

    • identifying with the adolescent. The abuser may appear to be the only one who understands him/her;
    • displaying common interests in sports, music, movies, video games, television shows, etc;
    • recognizing and filling the adolescent’s need for affection and attention;
    • giving gifts or special privileges to the adolescent;
    • allowing or encouraging the adolescent to break rules (e.g., smoking, drinking, using drugs, viewing pornography);
    • communicating with the adolescent outside of the person’s role (e.g., teacher, or coach). This could include, for example, texting or emailing the teen without the parents’ knowledge.

In addition to grooming the child, the groomer will use deflection strategies to remain unchallenged. Some of these strategies may include where the perpetrator:

    • promotes self and creates a reputation as caring, child-loving, competent, available, trustworthy, truthful;
    • raises doubts about the motives, mental health, reliability of the child or anyone else who might approach support services with allegations;
    • fosters dependency as someone the family can rely on; and
    • positively represents a child to others so as to be perceived as someone who would never harm the child.

Preventing or interrupting the Grooming process

Some abusers have a particular preference for children within particular age bands and some studies have shown that groomers will take child-focused employment primarily to get access to a particular cohort of children. Within an organisational context, holding all staff members accountable to the College code of conduct and challenging boundary crossings and violations is one of the most accessible strategies to combating grooming behaviour.

Employees, other professionals and volunteers, and others must have very clear understandings of the expectations around interactions with students and the processes for reporting concerning behaviours. Where an employee is investigated for behaviours considered to be grooming, the Principal is obliged to report this to both the Director-General of DES and the TRBWA.

APPENDIX 2 – Responding to Disclosure

If a student makes a disclosure of abuse or neglect, staff should be aware of the immediate needs of the student and know what to do in these circumstances. Children will rarely use adult language or specific terms when disclosing abuse, the language used will be at the developmental level of the child, so staff may not initially pick up the nuances of the disclosure.

Most disclosures are accidental, that is the child did not intend to disclose, and it is likely that the disclosure will only be partial. Staff should not attempt to elicit a full disclosure or ask direct questions. The child should be encouraged to speak freely, ie a free narrative, but staff should not try to direct the child down a particular path of thought.

Advice for staff dealing with a student or students who have made a disclosure to them:

    • Use protective interrupting if students begin to disclose in class or in a public area – acknowledge that you have heard them and stop them from disclosing any further in public
    • Be supportive and gently indicate that they might tell you about it in a more private situation and quietly arrange to see them as soon as possible, in a situation away from the students.
    • Establish clear limits on confidentiality and emphasize that where:
      • The student is in danger from someone else or a danger to someone else, and/or
      • The student is a danger to themselves (self-harming, suicide)
        the disclosure will be reported to an appropriate person.
    • Listen attentively, be supportive and understanding.
    • Acknowledge that it is difficult to talk about such things and try to identify the student’s fears.
    • Allow the student to tell you about the event in their own words, be calm and non-judgmental.
    • Reassure the student that it is alright to disclose, that they are believed and that they are not to blame.
    • Tell the student that a report will be made to a person who will be able to provide protection.
    • Allow the student the option of support during any agency interview and reassure them of the availability of continuing support.
    • Document the disclosure and subsequent discussion and actions.
    • Explain what will happen next and try and stay with the student until the necessary steps have been taken to ensure their safety and support.

Staff must be mindful that they do not:

    • Push for details, put words into students’ mouths or conduct an investigation.
    • Express judgment of the student or apportion blame, to the perpetrator or the family.
    • Get angry, upset or show shock.
    • Promise “not to tell” when there are clear limits on confidentiality and accountabilities to report concerns.
    • Give a lecture about right and wrong or give excessive pity.
    • Say forget it, you’ll get over it, or other such minimising statements.
    • Engage in general staff room discussions about the disclosure.

Staff must be aware that a disclosure can arouse strong feelings of shock, anger and helplessness. It is important to control these feelings. They can be worked through after the disclosure by seeking appropriate support.