CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
Freedom Thinkers Education
Freedom Thinkers Education PBL Society expects all students, staff and other members of the Society to be treated with respect and courtesy, in accordance with the Code of Conduct.
The Society is committed to protection of its school’s learners from physical, emotional and verbal neglect and/or abuse, and sexual abuse. It is equally committed to protection of staff from victimization through false and/or unsubstantiated allegations or charges of child abuse.
Under the Child, Family and Community Service Act, principals and teachers have a legal responsibility to report all suspected cases of abuse and/or neglect to a child protection social worker in the Ministry of Children and Family Development. This policy provides relevant procedures to follow.
At Freedom Thinkers Education PBL Society we value respect for each other. This allows students, staff and society members to feel safe, to develop a sense of belonging, to forge friendships with peers and maintain respectful relationships. With this sense of community, the opportunity for teaching and learning is optimized.
The safety and well-being of children is paramount.
POLICY AND PROCEDURES
Our policy models a respectful environment that is intended to prevent possible child abuse from occurring and, in the event that it occurs, promotes healing and justice for the victim, and healing and accountability for the abuser.
There are many underlying causes of child abuse.
Child abuse can be overt or subtle, and may continue undetected by anyone other than the victim.
Our staff are leaders who nurture and model a school climate that fosters community, is intended to prevent child abuse, and supports healing in cases were such abuse to occur.
Staff shall make students aware that they can safely communicate complaints about child abuse and any other related matter to staff; however, must also explain to the students that it is their duty to report any suspected child abuse. The Child, Family and Community Service Act requires that anyone who has reason to believe that a child may be abused, neglected, or is for any other reason in need of protection, must report to MCFD. This report should be made immediately by the individual that the disclosure was first made to.
Staff must report any evidence of child abuse that comes to their attention to a Child Protection Social Worker in the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
In addition to making a verbal report, staff must document the allegation in a written report to ensure complete and accurate information is shared with child abuse investigators.
The written report shall be submitted to the MCFD and Board of Directors in a sealed envelope and the information not be available for others to read.
The ASO (Sandra Cushway) shall also advise the Inspector of Independent Schools when an employee of the school is reported for alleged child abuse. If the Principal is the subject of the alleged child abuse, the Board of Directors shall advise the Inspector.
If a decision made by the Society as a result of a child abuse allegation involves any disciplinary measures against a teacher or principal, those disciplinary measures shall be reported to the Commissioner of the Teacher Regulation Branch.
All actions taken regarding these adults shall be documented, including names, times and methods of communication, and a copy retained in the administrative files.
The records of all informal and written complaints, and all information and documentation
gathered or produced during, or as a result of, complaints shall be considered confidential by the parties and the Society, except as required by law
The identity of a staff member who has reported suspected child abuse shall not be revealed, except as required by law.
Should the identity of the staff member who has reported suspected child abuse become known to the alleged abuser, the Board shall support the reporting staff member by:
a) Notifying police and Ministry for Children and Family Development, if the alleged abuser harasses or threatens the reporting staff member,
b) Notifying the abuser that the Board considers the reporting staff member to have acted according to her/his legal responsibility and that the Board supports the actions of the staff.
Involvement of Other Agencies
The Society shall cooperate with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the RCMP,
and local police in investigating charges of child abuse.
Dismissal of Staff
If it is demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Board that a staff member has been abusive and/or
inappropriately involved including, but not specifically restricted to, sexual involvement with a child or children of school age, the Board will consider such conduct a fundamental breach of the staff's duties and obligations and may dismiss the staff.
Discipline of Students
If a student is found to have sexually abused another student, the Principal shall take the following action:
1. Notify the students and their parents/caregivers, and the Board that action will be taken.
2. Notify the appropriate authorities.
3. Ensure that a formal plan is prepared to address healing for the victim and accountability for the abuser. The plan shall include specific accountabilities for monitoring and follow- up, and may include serious disciplinary action.
4. Ensure that all steps in the plan are implemented in a timely manner.
5. Document a summary of these events, including names, times and methods of communication, and retain a copy in the administrative files.
IV. Process and Timelines
To enable timely responses to issues as they arise, the Principal may delegate his/her authority under this policy to another teacher for periods when the Principal is unavailable.
Time is of the essence in dealing with child abuse, since the victim may continue to be subject to abuse while the interventions and planning are under way.
All initial responses shall be undertaken without delay, and where required, a plan shall be completed within ten (10) working days.
Parties involved may consult the Complaints and Appeals Policy.
Appointed School Official (ASO) – Sandra Cushway (principal)
Alternate Appointed School Official (AASO) – Bev Baker (teacher)
The following definitions are intended to enhance understanding of this policy. They are descriptive only and not intended to be used for any legal actions.
Any person under 19 years of age.
As defined in the Inter-Ministry Child Abuse Handbook, child abuse includes physical,
emotional and verbal neglect and/or abuse and sexual abuse.
Criminal records check
A check covered by the Criminal Records Review Act (CRRA) and conducted by the Office of the Attorney General. Individuals working unsupervised with children must have had a CRRA check unless exempted under s.3 of the CRRA.
Emotional and verbal abuse
A pattern of destructive behaviours or verbal attacks by an adult on a child. Typical
behaviours may include rejecting, terrorizing, ignoring, isolating, humiliating, insulting, scapegoating, exploiting or corrupting a child.
The failure of those responsible for the care of the child to meet the physical, emotional
or medical needs of a child to an extent that the child's health, development or safety is endangered.
Any deliberate physical assault or action which results in, or may result in, a non-
accidental injury to a child, and which exceeds that which could be considered reasonable discipline.
Relevant criminal offence
The Criminal Records Review Act designates which offences are relevant to the protection
of children. Only offences associated with physical or sexual abuse, as listed in the Act, Schedule 1, are considered. This includes indecent acts and violence. It does not include offences that are not relevant to the protection of children.
Any sexual exploitation of a child whether consensual or not. It includes touching of a
sexual nature and sexual intercourse, and may include any behaviour of a sexual nature toward a child, such as, menacing or threatening sexual acts; deliberate exposure of a child to sexual activity or material; and permitting, encouraging or requiring a child to engage in conduct of a sexual nature for stimulation, gratification, or self-interest of another person.
In determining whether behaviour is of a sexual nature, one should ask whether a reasonable observer, looking at the behaviour in its context, would conclude that it is. This would exclude normal affectionate behaviour towards children and normal health or hygiene care.
Sexual activity between children may constitute sexual abuse if the difference in age or power between the children is so significant that the other or more powerful child is clearly taking sexual advantage of the younger or less powerful child. This would exclude consensual, developmentally appropriate sexual activity between children where there is not significant difference in age or power between the children.
Any individual who is employed by the Freedom Thinkers Education Society, including an independent contractor who has entered into an agreement with the Society.
Work with children
Working with children directly, or having, or potentially having unsupervised access to
children in the ordinary course of employment or in the practice of an occupation.
Reference: Child, Family and Community Service Act