GIS CHILD SAFETY and PROTECTION POLICY (updated June 2018)
Grace International School (GIS) is an Associate Member of the Child Safety & Protection Network (CSPN). CSPN is a collaborative network of mission agencies, faith based NGOs, and international Christian Schools intentionally and strategically addressing the issues of child protection.
GIS believes that all students have the right to protection from harm. We are committed to protecting all students from physical, mental, emotional, and sexual harm, as well as neglect, and exploitation. We strive to maintain an environment in which all students, staff, and parents are treated with respect and dignity.
Child abuse is any action by another person, adult or child, that causes significant harm to a child. The World Health Organization states, “Child maltreatment is the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years of age. It includes all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or other exploitation, which results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. Exposure to intimate partner violence is also sometimes included as a form of child maltreatment.”
Physical abuse is the inflicting of non-accidental physical trauma either by direct contact or indirect contact, such as through the use of an instrument, with the conscious or subconscious intention of hurting, controlling, or subduing a person(s) for purposes other than prescribed medical needs or non-excessive discipline. Such acts may include, but are not limited to, the following: slapping, punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, burning, holding underwater, pulling hair, or holding against one’s will.
Emotional Abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child. Acts of maltreatment include restriction of movement, patterns of belittling, intimidating, humiliating, scapegoating, threatening, scaring, screaming, blaming, sarcasm, discriminating, ridiculing or other non-physical forms of hostile or rejecting treatment.
Sexual Abuse is the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society. Child sexual abuse is evidenced by any activity between a child and an adult or another child who by age or development is in a relationship of responsibility, trust or power, the activity being intended to gratify or satisfy the needs of the other person. This may include but is not limited to:
- The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity.
- The exploitative use of a child in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices.
- The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.
Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent. Most victims and perpetrators know each other. Immediate reactions to sexual abuse include shock, fear or disbelief. Long-term symptoms include anxiety, fear or post-traumatic stress disorder. American Psychological Association
Sexual abuse may take the form of verbal, visual, or physical form. Parameters for these types of sexual abuse are noted here:
- Verbal: Remarks which include sexual threats, innuendos, comments about a person’s body or appearance, solicitation, inappropriate sexual talking, obscene phone calls, obscene or inappropriate sexual communication via the Internet, inappropriately affectionate comments, or any verbal expression with intent to arouse or stimulate; in summary any obscene communication .
- Visual: Indecent exposure, showing or taking of suggestive pictures, peeping, leering, or staring. Visual sexual abuse also includes exhibitionism, showing of pornographic material of genitals, or showing of any sexual activity or simulated sexual activity such as masturbation or intercourse.
- Physical Touching: Fondling, sexual touching, masturbation in front of the victim, rubbing, holding, and kissing for the purpose of sexual gratification. Further examples include oral, genital, anal and breast stimulation; penetration by penis, fingers, or any other body part of object, of mouth, anus, or vagina; physical contact with a person’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or in the case of a female, breasts.
Neglect and Negligent Treatment is the failure to provide for the development of the child in all spheres: health, education, emotional development, nutrition, shelter, and safe living conditions, in the context of resources reasonably available to the family or caretakers and causes or has a high probability of causing harm to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. This includes the failure to properly supervise and protect children from harm as much as is feasible.
The Child Safety Officer (CSO) in cooperation with the Superintendent will monitor child safety training for all staff in order to sustain compliance with Child Safety and Protection Network standards. Principals and Curriculum Director will work in cooperation to make sure students receive age-appropriate child safety training through the curriculum in grades K-8 and health curriculum in high school.
Training for staff members and school aides will be provided through video, in person, or in whole department meetings each year.
The following aspects of training will be addressed:
- The reality of and occurrence of child abuse in the mission and school settings
- Recognizing the types of abuse, its behavioral and emotional indicators in children, as well as red flags that signal the presence of a potential offender
- Review of the Child Safety and Protection Policy including the Child Safety Code of Conduct Agreement for staff.
- Cultural differences regarding child safety
- How to respond to a disclosure of abuse or a concern that a child may be harming another child
All GIS Staff are screened through the following processes:
- Written application.
- References from Friend, Pastor, Supervisor.
- Criminal Background Check where applicable. (If the applicant has not been living in a country that facilitates a background check process, a series of personal interviews with both applicant and references will take place).
- Personal Interviews (including Skype) following a standard format.
GIS will not hire staff that have a substantiated record of child abuse or neglect. If, after employment, a staff member is found to have been involved in substantiated child harm, abuse of neglect in the past, the staff member will face immediate dismissal.
All GIS School aides are screened through the following processes:
- School aides fill out a standard online application.
- Each school aide fills out a standard health form.
- School aides provide references and school receives references directly.
- School aides must read School Aide Handbook and Child Safety Policy.
- School aides undergo a required background check (if a background check is not possible, other arrangements will be made).
- School aides receive an assignment from a Director/Supervisor at GIS.
- School aides receive a Badge and sign the GIS Child Safety Child Code of Conduct.
Child Protection Reporting Procedure
INFORMING and REPORTING
All GIS staff or school aides who work with students are considered mandatory reporters. Any mandatory reporter witnessing an incident or having knowledge which gives reason to suspect child harm, abuse or neglect, must give either a verbal or written report to the Child Safety Officer or principal within 24 hours of the alleged incident. The CSO, will communicate with the Superintendent and others as needed within 24 hours of receiving a report.
Any reporter, student or other, may report via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include the following in your report:
- Name of the person(s) reporting the information
- Alleged victim’s name
- Name of person who allegedly caused the harm
- How the information was obtained or observed
- Details reported or suspected (dates, times, places, specifics of what happened).
- Date and time that the discovery or disclosure was received
- Date the report is written
- Who has been contacted and when
There will not be any attempt by anyone to handle the situation privately or enter into any private agreement with the alleged offender, alleged victim, or witness.
During this reporting process care must be exercised to protect the victim, the witness, the alleged person doing harm and/or the child who has harmed another child. Safety assurance and assistance will be provided for reluctant or scared witness(es). Staff and school aides are also encouraged to report indicators of possible abuse; such as, but not limited to, unexplained bruises, threats of self-harm, fear of an adult, or excessive sexual curiosity or talk.
If a mandated reporter fails to report knowledge of reasonably suspected (definition: see below) child harm, abuse or neglect he / she will be subject to discipline by GIS up to, and including, termination. ‘Knowledge’ includes student reports to a teacher or mandatory reporter. “Reasonable suspicion” defined: being objectively reasonable for a person to entertain a suspicion, based upon facts that could cause a reasonable person in a like-position, drawing on his or her training and experience (when appropriate) to suspect child harm, abuse or neglect.
The Superintendent or CSO will be responsible for notifying an employee’s mission agency or sending church at the beginning of any preliminary review. He/she will also be responsible for complying with any more specific requests for notification in the mission organization’s Memorandum of Understanding.
An initial assessment will be initiated by the CSO, who reports to the Superintendent immediately (or within 24 hours) after receiving a verbal and written report from a reporter. There are two reasons for an initial assessment:
a) to determine what further actions are needed, and
b) to ensure the safety and needs of the alleged victim
An initial assessment will be written using the levels and factors criteria to determine what further action is required. This will involve interviewing first hand witnesses/victims if the initial report is based partially or wholly on secondhand information.
- If the person who did harm is associated with the school:
a) The Superintendent or CSO will inform the person of the allegation and that an inquiry has been started. This should be done at the same time that the investigation team is ready to interview the alleged perpetrator.
b) He/she will be released from all duties at the school pending the outcome of the investigation and will be asked to remain off campus.
c) The Superintendent or CSO will contact the supervising agency (if preliminary inquiry finds probable cause).
- If the person who did harm is a student at GIS:
a) The parents will be informed of the allegation and that an inquiry has been initiated.
b) The supervising agency field leader will be notified that an investigation has been initiated.
c) Student will not attend school or school functions until the inquiry is concluded.
- If the person who did harm is not associated with the school:
a) If the person who did harm belongs to a mission organization, then the supervising organization field leader will be notified of the allegation and that an investigation has been initiated.
b) If the person who did harm is a Thai National, the local authorities will be contacted.
c) In the event that the person who did harm is a student from another school, the superintendent or Principal of that school, as well as the parents, will be notified.
- The inquiry team will immediately investigate the allegations. This inquiry will involve talking with the reporter, the alleged victim and parents, and the person who did harm. Written transcripts will be taken during all interviews to record the interviewee’s own words, not the team’s interpretation of their words. The investigation will be guided by two parameters: climate of belief, meaning that abuse or neglect could have taken place; and innocence should be presumed until responsibility is objectively collaborated.
- During the course of the investigation, the investigation team should determine whether there is the possibility the person who did harm has harmed or neglected other students at GIS or other schools or institutions. If so, the investigation needs to be widened to interview additional potential victims and/or their parents, or others who may have pertinent information.
Third Party Inquiry
A third party inquiry will be agreed upon if there is a Thai national involved, a case is brought against the Superintendent or a board member.
- The child assessment team, as advised by the school superintendent (or in case of his/her absence or in the event the superintendent is implicated, the BoT Chairperson, will appoint an investigation team as soon as possible.)
a) The definition of the third party inquiry team is at least one outside professional, but preferably three, and should include at least one man and one woman.
b) If a Thai national is implicated the superintendent will work in cooperation with the Thai Principal.
RESULTS OF INQUIRY
- The inquiry team will submit a written and verbal report of the results to the superintendent or his designate. A recommended action plan will also be submitted and will include such things as recommended actions relating to both the alleged perpetrator and the victim, such as termination of contract, not being on school property, counseling for the victim, and other appropriate recommendations.
- If the review or investigation indicates that reasonable grounds do not exist to believe that abuse or neglect has occurred, or that insufficient information was obtained to make a determination either way, the superintendent will notify the alleged victim, person who did harm, and their field leaders of their supervising agencies. A Statement of Findings will be given and a copy kept in their files.
- A summary of the Statement of Findings will be given to the superintendent, who will notify:
- the Chairman of the BoT
- the field leader of the supervising agency
- parents of both victim and perpetrator (if a student) and
- the appropriate consulate or embassy
- Copies of all child abuse or neglect investigations will be maintained in a confidential file at GIS throughout the history of the school.
- The Thai Principal will be notified in order to file a report with Thai authorities.
- Board-contracted parties found to have engaged in child harm, abuse or neglect shall be dismissed immediately and prohibited from being on GIS property in the future.
- A student of GIS found to have engaged in child harm, abuse or neglect shall be expelled immediately and prohibited from being on GIS property in the future.
- Non-board-contracted parties (including teacher substitutes, non-staff coaches, and school aides who serve regularly) found to have engaged in child harm, abuse or neglect shall be prohibited from further services at GIS and prohibited from being on GIS property in the future.
GUIDELINES FOR HANDLING AN UNRESOLVED COMPLAINT
- Often it is impossible to determine the truth of a child harm, abuse or neglect allegation. In such cases, the investigative team will update all parties involved in the outcome.
- The CSO or a member of the child safety assessment team will speak with the person who allegedly did harm concerning:
a) Reviewing the GIS Child Harm/Abuse and Neglect Protection and Investigation policy.
b) Mentioning that reprisal or retaliation against the alleged victim will be grounds for discharge and must not be taken. If the person who did harm is a department head/Principal/supervisor, they must be warned that taking retaliatory action could result in GIS as well as the department head/Principal/supervisor being held liable for retaliation.
- The CSO or a member of the child safety assessment team will speak with the alleged victim and cover the following:
a) Reassuring the alleged victim that it was right to come forward.
b) Arranging with the alleged victim to continue to monitor the situation. For example, arranging to meet with the alleged victim again a month later, and then make other follow-up appointments.
c) Offering to transfer the alleged victim to another class or another assignment if this is feasible.
- Any and all documents concerning the child assessment and the statement of findings must be kept confidential.
PROTECTION FROM LIABILITY FOR ERRONEOUS REPORTS
A mandated reporter or other individual whose report turns out to be false shall not incur liability for reports made in good faith. Liability will not incur unless it is proven that a false report was knowingly submitted or made with “reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the report”.
A student who knowingly makes a false report is subject to long term suspension.
An employee who knowingly makes a false report is subject to termination.
DISCRIMINATION / SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY
Grace International School does not discriminate in access to programs or in its hiring, enrollment, or treatment of persons because of race, sex, color, nationality, or ethnic origin.
Sexual harassment of students or employees by other students or by employees of Grace International School is prohibited. We are committed to providing a stable learning and working environment. School authorities will not tolerate any sexual harassment of students and staff. All students and all school employees are expected to conduct themselves with respect for the dignity of others.
Definition of sexual harassment:“Sexual harassment” means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, made by someone from, or in, the work or educational setting.”
Individuals who feel that they have been subjected to sexual harassment are encouraged to report the matter promptly to one of the school officials designated below. Teachers or students who observe sexual harassment should report the matter to one of the school officials designated below. All complaints will be promptly investigated.
Sexual harassment should be reported to one of the following individuals. These individuals are specifically authorized to receive complaints and to respond to questions regarding sexual harassment. Students may choose to report to a Principal, Administrator, CSO or Superintendent.
The superintendent’s office will house or serve as a clearing house for all discriminatory / sexual harassment reports.
Every effort will be made to protect the privacy of the parties involved in any complaint. However, GIS reserves the right to fully investigate every complaint, and to notify a student’s parent/guardian and appropriate government officials as the circumstances warrant.
Protection against retaliation:
- It is against GIS’s policy to discriminate or retaliate against any person who has filed a complaint concerning sexual harassment or has testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in any investigation or hearing concerning sexual harassment.
- If, after investigation, it is determined that the complaint was filed out of malicious intent, this policy will not apply.
- When any staff member receives a complaint, he/she shall immediately inform the Superintendent or Principal. The Superintendent or Principal will direct an investigation. If the investigation confirms the allegations, prompt corrective actions shall be taken.
- The individual who suffered the harassing conduct shall be informed of the corrective action taken. In addition, any employee or student found to be responsible for sexual harassment in violation of this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action up to and including long-term suspension or termination. The severity of the disciplinary action will be based upon the circumstances of the infraction.