Child Protection Guidelines
National Guidelines for Child Protection from the Department of Health and
These guidelines define clearly the nature of the principal types of child abuse. With reference to schools, the guidelines note that “teachers have a general duty of care to ensure that arrangements are in place to protect children and young people from harm”.
It notes that it is the responsibility of the Board of Management to
(a) Have clear procedures which teachers and other staff must follow where they suspect, or are alerted to, possible child abuse, including where a child discloses abuse.
(b) Designate a senior member of staff to have a specific responsibility for child protection. The Principal/designated person is responsible for ensuring that the standard reporting procedure is followed so that suspected cases of child abuse are referred promptly to the local Health Board or An Garda Siochana.
(c) Monitor the progress of children considered to be at risk
(d) Contribute to the prevention of child abuse through curricular provision
(e) Promote in-service training for teachers an d members of the Board to ensure that they have a good working knowledge of child protection issues and procedures
(f) Have a clear written procedures in place concerning action to be taken where allegations are received against school employees.
It notes that the person (teacher) to whom the information is disclosed should be listened to carefully and supportively to obtain relevant facts. Confidentiality must never be promised to the person making the disclosure and the requirements to report to the health board must be explained in a supportive manner. The discussion should be recorded accurately and the record retained. The teacher should then inform the Principal/designated person who is responsible for reporting the matter to the Health Board for the Garda.
If a student informs someone in school that they’ve been sexually abused, the adult reporting that information to gardai MUST NOT name the alleged abuser. Otherwise the adult reporting the abuse becomes, in law, the prosecutor of the accused. The person in school who is told by the young person of the abuse must explain to the minor and to their parents, that the abused young person must name the abuser to gardai, otherwise the gardai cannot take action. A counsellor in school is not obliged to hand over their notes unless these are requested by the Judge in court. If the Judge requests the notes the counsellor can then write to the Court asking what they want specifically. The Courts cannot currently request as evidence a counsellor’s memo to himself/herself.