2.2.3 Child Protection

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Management, educators and staff are aware of their roles and responsibilities to identify and respond to every child at risk of abuse or neglect.

Go through the checklist and be honest so your Educational Leader and Nominated Supervisor know how to help you be the best.

E = Embedded, yes, I do that ALL the time.
K = We know we need to do that, but we don’t do
it all the time.
T = Please teach me how to do it or improve my understanding of why we need to do it.

Edu 1
Paperwork
Do you have a current Working With Children Clearance?
Planning
Do you tell your Room Leader /Nominated Supervisor when you think you need training in child protection?
Do you know there’s no need to prove that reportable conduct is occurring before reporting it?
Do you know you don’t need evidence of who’s abusing/neglecting a child before making a report?
Do you refer to the Child Protection Policy if unsure about a protection issue?
Interactions
Do you talk to team members and the Director about any child protection concerns you have?
Are you confident you know:
  • the indicators of abuse/neglect
  • the procedure for making a report of (suspected) abuse/neglect
  • mandatory reporting requirements
  • your Child Protection Policy
If the Director says they’ll make a report, do you follow up with them to ensure the report has been made?
Do you refer families to relevant support services (with their consent) when there are ‘lower level’ issues that are not reportable?
Best practice
Are visitors and students always supervised?
Do you try to have at least two adults present whenever a child is at the service?
Do you ensure a child is never taken into areas which can be locked or aren’t visible to others?
If the Director says they’ll make a report, do you follow up with them to ensure the report has been made?
Do you refer families to relevant support services (with their consent) when there are ‘lower level’ issues that are not reportable?

Definitions and Indicators of Abuse or Neglect
Indicators of Abuse

There are many indicators of child abuse and neglect. The following is a guide only. One indicator on its own may not imply abuse or neglect. Each indicator needs to be considered in the context of other indicators and the child’s circumstances.

General indicators of abuse and neglect

  • marked delay between injury and seeking medical assistance
  • history of injury
  • the child gives some indication that the injury did not occur as stated
  • the child tells you someone has hurt them
  • the child tells you about someone they know who has been hurt
  • someone (relative, friend, acquaintance, sibling) tells you that the child may have been abused

Indicators of Neglect in children

  • poor standard of hygiene leading to social isolation
  • scavenging or stealing food
  • extreme longing for adult affection
  • lacking a sense of genuine interaction with others
  • acute separation anxiety
  • self comforting behaviours, e.g. rocking, sucking
  • delay in development milestones
  • untreated physical problems

Indicators of Neglect in parents and caregivers

  • failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical attention, hygiene or leaving the child inappropriately without supervision
  • inability to respond emotionally to the child
  • child abandonment
  • depriving or withholding physical contact
  • failure to provide psychological nurturing
  • treating one child differently to the others

Indicators of Physical Abuse in children

  • facial, head and neck bruising
  • lacerations and welts
  • explanations are not consistent with injury
  • bruising or marks that may show the shape of an object
  • bite marks or scratches
  • multiple injuries or bruises
  • ingestion of poisonous substances, alcohol or drugs
  • sprains, twists, dislocations
  • bone fractures
  • burns and scalds

Indicators of Physical Abuse in parents and caregivers

  • direct admissions from parents about fear of hurting their children
  • family history of violence
  • history of their own maltreatment as a child
  • repeated visits for medical assistance

Indicators of Emotional Abuse in children

  • feeling of worthlessness about them
  • inability to value others
  • lack of trust in people and expectations
  • extreme attention seeking behaviours
  • other behavioural disorders (disruptiveness, aggressiveness, bullying)

Indicators of Emotional Abuse in parents and caregivers

  • constant criticism, belittling, teasing of a child or ignoring or withholding praise and affection
  • excessive or unreasonable demands
  • persistent hostility, severe verbal abuse, rejection and scape-goating
  • belief that a particular child is bad or “evil”
  • using inappropriate physical or social isolation as punishment
  • exposure to domestic violence

Indicators of Sexual Abuse in children

  • they describe sexual acts
  • direct or indirect disclosures
  • age inappropriate behaviour and/or persistent sexual behaviour
  • self-destructive behaviour
  • regression in development achievements
  • child being in contact with a suspected or known perpetrator of sexual assault
  • bleeding from the vagina or anus
  • injuries such as tears to the genitalia

Indicators of Sexual Abuse in parents, caregivers of anyone else associated with the child

  • exposing the child to sexual behaviours of others
  • suspected of or charged with child sexual abuse
  • inappropriate jealousy regarding age appropriate development or independence from the family
  • coercing the child to engage in sexual behaviour with other children
  • verbal threats of sexual abuse
  • exposing the child to pornography

Indicators of Domestic Violence in children

  • show aggressive behaviour
  • develop phobias & insomnia
  • experience anxiety
  • show systems of depression
  • have diminished self esteem
  • demonstrate poor academic performance and problem solving skills
  • have reduced social competence skills including low levels of empathy
  • show emotional distress
  • have physical complaints

Case study – itchy bottom

Building relationships with children and families makes it easier to discuss difficult issues and to understand the context giving rise to the issue. Consider the following true story.

Educators at a service were concerned a four-year-old girl consistently had an itchy bottom and often had an unpleasant smell.

When educators asked her about washing at home, she said she didn’t have a bath because there was rubbish in it and she didn’t have showers either. Educators also suspected her clothes weren’t being washed.

What would you do? We need to have a child focus, which means we will start by asking ‘what is the effect of the abuse on the child’. The educators worked through their state’s reporting guidelines. The educators spoke with the Nominated Supervisor and decided to speak with the parents about the hygiene issues, stating that they may need to take the child to the doctor if her bottom worsened, and that it may be necessary to supervise the girl while she washed, which of course was necessary every day, to ensure adequate hygiene was being maintained.

The Nominated Supervisor and Room Leader asked if there was anything they could do to assist the parents.

The service then monitored the situation which thankfully improved. The parents’ working arrangements had impacted on the situation at home but improved when Mum changed jobs.

Parents may never know it was you who reported

“We live in a small country town where everyone knows everyone, and we are not afraid to report.

It’s the small things we notice and our gut feelings, then we go to the indicators and start documenting to build a picture. Once it started with a parent that stopped talking to us. It didn’t feel right, then the child started coming in the same underwear day after day. We reported and now this family receives assistance and the children are now cared for.” Nominated Supervisor

Our child protection system is based on the United Nations

Our child protection system is ‘child-centred’ in philosophy, consistent with the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC).

The National Law says

Section 162A

The approved provider of an education and care service must ensure that each nominated supervisor and each person in day-to-day charge of the service has successfully completed the child protection training (if any) required by or under the law of this jurisdiction, a Government protocol applying to the approved provider in this jurisdiction or otherwise required by this jurisdiction.

National Regulations say
Regs 84 Awareness of child protection law

The approved provider of an education and care service must ensure that nominated supervisors and staff members at the service who work with children are advised of—

(a)  the existence and application of the current child protection law; and

(b)  any obligations that they may have under that law.

Reg 175 Prescribed information to be notified to Regulatory Authority

This Regulation changed on 1st October 2017. An approved provider must notify the regulatory authority of:

  • any incident where they reasonably believe that physical and/or sexual abuse of a child has occurred or is occurring while the child is being educated and cared for by the service
  • any allegation that sexual or physical abuse of a child has occurred or is occurring while the child is being educated and cared for by the service.

Exceeding Theme Core

All educators act on and can discuss their responsibilities under current child protection laws, regularly reflect on practices to support children’s safety and make identified changes, and actively raise awareness of child protection issues with families and community members in a culturally sensitive manner.

Where is your practice compared to the above statement?

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