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Boards Support Strengthening Child Abuse Protocols

Boards Support Strengthening Child Abuse Protocols -- NZSTA

New Zealand School Trustees Association is adding its voice to community concern over child abuse.

President Chris France says the incidence of child abuse has been in the spotlight recently, and boards recognise that they have a role to play in helping highlight any areas of concern.

“All children have the right to be educated in a safe and healthy environment, and boards are aware of the need for a clear protocol to be in place to ensure fair and correct procedures are followed in the reporting of child abuse.

“Overcoming this problem requires a community approach, which of course includes schools. That is why NZSTA ensures school boards are well aware of their responsibilities and the role they can play.”

NZSTA signed a set of protocol with the Ministry of Education and the Children Young Person and their Families in 1996.

Chris France says NZSTA supports Government initiatives to clarify and strengthen these existing protocols.

However, he says it must be recognised that reporting can be seen as risky by teachers, boards and principals.

“Any protocol is only as good as the weakest link and schools do get disillusioned if reporting does not produce immediate action. It is essential that there is prompt follow-up by other agencies such as CYPF and the police. It is also essential that protocols reflect what all parties can actually deliver rather than an ideal.”

He says any changes also need to be made in the context of ensuring there are sufficient resources and funding.

“Clearly the primary function of a school is to ensure its students are getting the best possible education. But more and more schools are taking on the role of social agencies as well, which of course costs money and time. If schools are required to become social agencies then funding must reflect these additional demands.”

Chris France says NZSTA has already established an 0800 helpdesk that boards can easily access to ensure they have all the information they need to make informed decisions in the area of reporting and dealing with cases of child abuse.

For more information contact NZSTA President Chris France.
Phone: (025) 441-397.


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