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IHEB Reporting Child Abuse

Adopted: October 17, 1988

Amended: June 23, 2009

Background

Student safety and the best interests of students are of paramount concern for the Board of Education. Children have a right to be protected from abuse and neglect. Children depend on others for their safety and well being. Children experiencing abuse or family violence are at increased risk of experiencing neglect, and emotional, sexual, or physical abuse. Understanding what child abuse and neglect are, and knowing how to take appropriate action are critical to ensure the safety and well being of children.

The Board of Education is committed to working co-operatively with professionals and community organizations to enhance child abuse reporting and investigation. The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act emphasizes that intervention services should be provided in a manner that supports the child who discloses abuse and the need to remove the child from an unsafe situation.

Policy

Anyone who has reason to believe, that a child has been, or there is substantial risk that he or she will be abused or neglected by an adult, has a legal duty under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act to promptly report the matter to the local Child and Family Services Authority.

Definitions:

Disclosure is a child telling someone about an abuse. The disclosure might be direct or indirect. Children commonly delay telling another person about abuse so a child’s disclosure must be taken seriously.

Emotional abuse is the impairment of a child's mental or emotional functioning or development and there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the emotional injury is the result of:

  • rejection;
  • deprivation of affection and/or cognitive stimulation;
  • exposure to domestic violence or severe domestic disharmony;
  • inappropriate criticism, threats, humiliation, accusations or
  • expectations;
  • the mental or emotional condition of the guardian of the child or of
  • anyone living in the same residence as the child;
  • chronic alcohol or drug abuse by anyone living in the child's home.

Family violence is defined as any use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship. It may include a single act of violence, or a number of acts forming a pattern of abuse through the use of assaultive and controlling behaviour. The pattern of abuse may include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Criminal harassment (stalking)
  • Threats to harm children, other family members, pets, and property

Neglect is if the guardian is unable or unwilling to:

  • provide the child with the necessities of life;
  • to obtain for the child, or to permit the child to receive, essential
  • medical, surgical or other remedial treatment that is necessary for
  • the health or well-being of the child, or;
  • to provide the child with adequate care or supervision.

Physical abuse is an intentional, substantial and observable injury to a child.

Sexual abuse is inappropriate exposure or subjection to sexual contact, activity or behaviour, including prostitution-related activities. Exposing children to child pornography or luring children through the Internet are forms of sexual abuse.

Guidelines

The school principal must ensure all school staff are aware of the obligations and provide written procedures to follow when a student discloses any form of neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, witnesses family violence or is involved in prostitution or related activities.
When a child discloses abuse or family violence to a staff member, the staff must not probe for details. Staff must listen to the information provided and document what was reported as soon as possible in the child's own words. A record of the disclosure should also include other persons present and comments made.

Section 4(1) of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act states: "any person who has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a child is in need of intervention shall forthwith report the matter to a director." To report "forthwith... to a director" means promptly notifying the Northeast Child and Family Services Authority by calling 780 – 743 – 7416 and asking for an intake officer.

Staff is to fulfill their legal obligation to report by directly reporting to Child and Family Services Authority. Once the report is made, the staff member must inform the school principal of the report made. The responsibility for investigating allegations of abuse or family violence rests with Child and Family Services Authority. School staff is prohibited from interviewing a child after receiving the initial disclosure as this interferes with the formal or criminal investigation.

A report to the local Child, Youth and Family Services Authority should include:

  • the staff member’s name and school telephone number
  • staff member’s relationship to the child
  • any immediate concerns about the child's safety;
  • the location of the child;
  • the child's name, age, address;
  • information on the disclosure such as when and where the abuse took place, how long the abuse has been going on, current location of the abuser or parents/guardians;
  • the child's condition and any concerns about the child's immediate safety; and
  • any other relevant information concerning the child and/or family, including whether the child is from the Aboriginal community or the possibility of a language barrier.

Information obtained during a child intervention investigation must be kept confidential. School staff is prohibited from sharing any information, which could identify a child or a child’s guardian who is involved in the child intervention system.

Notes, reports or written documentation on student disclosures of abuse or violence, are to be kept separate from the student’s record or any other record accessible to school staff. All notes, reports or documentations made regarding the disclosed abuse or violence must be made available when requested by police or caseworkers.

The protection and best interests of children prevail over the interests of parents/guardians when cases of child abuse are reported and/or investigated. If a disclosure by a child indicates possible abuse by a parent/guardian, staff should not notify the child's parents/guardians. The caseworker for Child and Family Services Authority assumes responsibility for notifying the child's parents/guardians.

Abuse, violence, or suspicion of abuse of any student by an employee of the Board of Education must be reported forthwith to the Superintendent by the school principal.

The school principal shall cooperate with a request by Child and Family Services Authority or police to interview a student on school premises. If an interview is requested of a student, the principal shall request formal identification of the person making the request to verify the person is in a position of authority. It is the responsibility of the investigator to notify the parents. Any interviews conducted on school premises must be conducted in ways that minimize any distraction for the student, other students or staff and the proceedings of the school.

The school principal or teacher may participate in the interview of the child, if requested by the investigator. In this case, the school principal or teacher shall remain silent and provide comments or answer questions when specifically requested by the investigator.

School staff must cooperate with police or investigators should a student be apprehended from the school premises during the course of an investigation. It is the responsibility of the investigator to notify the parents. If school staff are contacted by the parent inquiring of the whereabouts of the child who has not returned home, the school shall provide the parent the name and phone number of the investigators or police.

References

Legal Reference:

School Act 45

Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act

Protection of Children Involved in Prostitution Act

Drug Endangered Children Act

Cross Reference:

Responding to Child Abuse:  A Handbook (2005). Government of Alberta, Edmonton, AB:   Author

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