Our Commitment to Child Safety
Child Safeguarding is a major concern at the International School of Port of Spain. Child abuse and neglect is a concern in schools throughout the world. The abuse and neglect of children is a violation of children’s human rights and an obstacle to their education and development. All schools hold a particular institutional role in society to protect children and to insure that they are afforded a safe and secure environment in which to grow and develop. Schools and educators are unique because they have the opportunity to observe and interact with children over a long period of time, and are or should be able to identify children who need help and protection. As such, schools and educators have a professional and ethical obligation to identify children who are in need of help and protection and to take steps to ensure that the child and family avail of the services needed to remedy any situation that constitutes child abuse or neglect. In addition to protecting children from abuse and neglect, schools must also protect them from suspected or identified abusers and sex offenders.
All staff employed at ISPS must report suspected incidences of child abuse or neglect whenever the staff member has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect. Staff members must also report suspected or identified child abusers and sex offenders. Reporting and follow through of all suspected incidences shall proceed in accordance with administrative regulations respective to this policy. Furthermore, the Director, after consulting with the Board President, may determine to report cases of suspected child abuse/abusers and neglect to appropriate employment sponsor, to the respective embassy, to the child protection department of the local authorities, if that is determined to be the appropriate course of action. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Children’s Act 2012 inform the approach ISPS uses in working/being in contact with children.
Child Abuse and Neglect Definitions
- ISPS defines a child to be anyone under 18 years of age as defined by the UNCRC and the Children’s Act 2012
- Physical Abuse: The inflicting, or allowing the infliction, of intentional, non- accidental physical injury to a child by a parent or person responsible for the care of the child.
- Physical Neglect: The withholding, by a parent or person responsible for the care of the child, of those things necessary for his/her health and normal development, including adequate food, clothing, shelter, sleep, supervision, medical treatment and education.
- Sexual Abuse: The involvement of a child in any sexual act or situation. All sexual activity between a child and parent or person responsible for the care of the child is considered sexual abuse.
- Emotional Abuse: An act of commission or omission, by the parent or person responsible for the care of the child that significantly impairs the emotional well-being of a child. This includes: humiliation; threats to injure or withdraw physical or emotional support; isolation from social contacts; or withholding things necessary for mental health such as respect, security, limits, attention, affection and love.
- Psychological Neglect: The young person is isolated, ignored; nurturing is withheld; little or no time or attention for the young person from the adults responsible.
The school's’ orientation procedures include guidelines as to what adults working in school should do in the event that they become aware of child protection concerns. Staff will be informed of changes to policy and procedures and updated in good child protection practice through staff meetings and the faculty handbook. As a part of this policy, all adults who come on campus will be required to sign the ISPS Code of Conduct and participate in a child safety training which will include the signs and symptoms of the various signs of abuse.
- Where staff observe signs, which give cause for concern they must make this known to the Division Principal without delay. This must be carried out with tact, confidentiality and sympathy. Over questioning should be avoided. Notes must be taken, including date and time of any conversations held with the child as soon as possible.
- Both the Principal and the person raising the concern must log details of the concern in writing. This must then be communicated to the Director as soon as possible.
- Other staff should be informed of concerns on a need to know basis only and any suspicions or additional information added to the concern notes.
- Following initial discussions it may be decided that other reasons are responsible for the concern and the possibility of child abuse can be ruled out. If this is so, then the matter can be dropped, but notes will be held in a secure area.
- Following initial discussions with the Director, it may be decided to monitor the situation. In this case, the class teacher (s) is (are) responsible for keeping confidential notes in a secure area recording daily observations. All notes must be dated and times noted where appropriate.
- If a child talks openly and makes direct references to being abused, a referral should be made to the appropriate Division Principal immediately.
- All decisions regarding the reporting of a case of abuse outside of the school, including to parents, will be made by the Director.
ISPS will make child protection a part of every aspect of the school. As such, ISPS will distribute this policy annually to all stakeholders through Faculty and Division Handbooks, Parent Handbooks, and the ISPS web site. In the case of a staff member or community member being reported as an alleged offender, ISPS will conduct a full investigation following a carefully designed course of due process.
Training will be provided to all staff so that they would be able to identify and recognize possible signs of abuse and follow the formal complaint procedure annually.