Child Protection Guidelines
St Mary MacKillop Primary School recognises its role in the prevention of child abuse and takes responsibility for implementing child protection practices.
St Mary MacKillop Primary School is committed to:
- Being a place where children are safe and feel safe
- Allocating resources for child protection education and programs
- Developing practices and procedures that support child protection
- Developing and providing protection and abuse prevention curriculum for students.
Staff at St Mary MacKillop Primary School are educated in the area of child protection and mandatory notification. As a legal mandate, staff at St Mary MacKillop Primary School will report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect.
The Leadership Team are committed to:
- Providing a safe school environment that ensures children are protected
- Ensuring school personnel understand the definitions of child abuse and neglect and carry out their legal obligations, responsibilities and correct procedures when notifying suspicion of child abuse and neglect
- Supporting school personnel directly involved with the handling of disclosure and notification
- Ensuring that policies and organisational procedures provide children with a safe school environment. This will be done in consultation with school leadership and CECV.
- Promoting models of behaviour between school personnel and children, based on mutual respect and consideration
- Ensuring that student management practices respect the dignity of children
- Providing training and development for all involved in child protection
- Providing training and development for all involved in abuse prevention curriculum
- Initiating and supporting the implementation of child protection and abuse prevention curriculum at the classroom level to ensure that all children have access to these programs throughout their school years.
Staff at St Mary MacKillop Primary are committed to:
- Treating children with dignity and respect, to act with propriety, provide a ‘duty of care’ and protect children in their supervision
- Notifying the Leadership Team if, in the course of their work, they suspect on reasonable grounds that a child has been or is being abused or neglected
- Providing a physically and psychologically safe environment for children
- Participating in training and development opportunities which provide knowledge and skills in mandatory notification
- Teaching children skills which will empower them to achieve and maintain personal safety
- Assisting children to develop positive, responsible and caring attitudes and behaviours which recognise the rights of all people to be safe and free from both harassment and abuse.
The following definitions are provided to assist St Mary MacKillop Primary School staff to decide if abuse is occurring and to assist them in deciding whether the impact warrants reporting.
Physical abuse consists of any non-accidental form of injury or serious physical harm inflicted on a child or young person by another person. Physical abuse does not mean reasonable discipline, though it may result from excessive or inappropriate discipline. Physical abuse can include beating, shaking, burning and assault with implements.
A child is sexually abused when any person uses their authority or power over a child or young person to engage in sexual activity. Child sexual abuse involves a wide range of sexual activity and may include fondling genitals; masturbation; oral sex; vaginal or anal penetration by finger, penis or any other object; voyeurism and exhibitionism. It can also include exploitation through pornography or prostitution.
Emotional abuse occurs when a child or young person is repeatedly rejected, isolated or frightened by threats or by witnessing family violence. It also includes hostility, derogatory name-calling and put downs, or persistent coldness from a person, to the extent that the behaviour of the child or young person is disturbed or their emotional development is at serious risk of being impaired.
Psychological or emotional abuse may occur with or without other forms of abuse. The child or young person may develop personality or behavioural disorders, or become filled with self-doubt and internalised rage, unable to form sustained and intimate relationships. There are few physical indicators, although emotional abuse may cause delays in emotional, mental or even physical development.
Neglect includes a failure to provide the child or young person with an adequate standard of nutrition, medical care, clothing, shelter or supervision to the extent that the health or development of the child is significantly impaired or placed at serious risk. A child is neglected if they are left uncared for over long periods of time or abandoned. Two types of neglect are discussed below.
Serious neglect includes situations where a parent consistently fails to meet the child’s basic needs for food, shelter, hygiene or adequate supervision to the extent that the consequences for the child are severe. For example:
- The child’s home environment is filthy or hazardous in the extreme and poses a threat to the child’s immediate safety or development and is characterised by the presence of animal or human faeces or urine, decomposing food, syringes or other dangerous paraphernalia
- The child is provided with consistently insufficient or inadequate food or nourishment for healthy development
- The child has a serious medical condition for which the parent has consistently failed to obtain treatment or dispense prescribed medication
- The parent consistently leaves the child unattended, or exposed to or in the care of strangers who may harm the child.
Neglect of medical care refers to a situation in which a parent’s refusal of, or failure to seek, treatment or to agree to a certain medical procedure leads to an unacceptable deprivation of the child’s basic rights to life or health.
Family violence is defined as violence (either actual or threatened) that occurs within a family, including physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial and social abuse. When there are strong indicators that incidents of family violence are placing children at significant risk or danger, Child Protection must be informed. Family violence is a criminal offence and can be liable for prosecution.
Reference: Protecting the Safety and Wellbeing of Children and Young People: Victorian Department of Education&Early Childhood Development 2010.