Schools in Horizon School Division shall provide an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. By law, employees of Horizon School Division will not support or ignore any situation involving the neglect or suspected abuse of children.
Child abuse and neglect are unacceptable to our society and our Division. They are complex issues requiring an approach that holds the protection of children as paramount, while respecting the rights of individuals. It is also recognized that child abuse and neglect are linked to difficult, value-laden issues such as social and economic problems, family relationships, violence, and sex. For that reason, the full involvement of Horizon School Division personnel in the implementation of child abuse protocols and programs is essential.
Legislation and Provincial Protocol
The Child and Family Services Act provides the mandate for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services and First Nations Child and Family Services Agencies to investigate suspected abuse and neglect of children by their parents, guardians or other adults in the household who provide day-to-day care and supervision of the child. Section 11 of the Act defines the circumstances in which a child is in need of protection.
This procedure is guided by The Child and Family Services Act, 1989, The Emergency Protection of Victims of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Act and the provisions of The Saskatchewan Child Abuse Protocol, 2014 prepared by the Interdepartmental Child Abuse Committee that includes representation from Social Services, Corrections and Public Safety, First Nations and Metis Relations, Health, Justice, and Education.
For purposes of this procedure, child abuse is a general term used to describe a variety of non-accidental injuries inflected on children by an adult, parent, or guardian. Please refer to the Saskatchewan Child Abuse Protocol 2014.
The definitions below provide a framework for child protection intervention. All forms of abuse identified are open to intervention, according to The Child and Family Services Act. Sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, physical abuse and severe physical neglect are considered to be criminal offences according to the Criminal Code of Canada.
Physical Abuse refers to all actions resulting in non-accidental physical injury or harm. This may include non-accidental injury, cruel or excessive corporal punishment (which may or may not cause physical injury), threats of physical harm, dangerous behavior towards a child or in immediate proximity to the child (e.g., throwing objects, use of weapons).
Sexual Abuse and Exploitation occurs when a child has been or is likely to be exposed to harmful interaction for a sexual purpose by a parent, caretaker, any person in a position of trust and/or any other person. It can include both physical and/or non-physical contact. Examples include engaging a child in sexual acts, obscene acts, taking pictures of a sexual nature (sexual exploitation), pornography, voyeurism, exhibitionism and threatening sexual assault, as well as the utilization of “grooming” techniques. (Grooming is defined as deliberate actions taken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, in order to lower the child’s inhibitions in preparation for sexual abuse or exploitation of the child.)
Physical Neglect refers to acts of omission on the part of the parent/caregiver. This includes failure to provide for the child’s basic needs and appropriate level of care with respect to food, clothing, shelter, health/medical, hygiene, safety and supervision as determined by the minimum levels of care standards.
Emotional Maltreatment refers to both emotional abuse and emotional neglect of the child. Emotional abuse includes excessive and overt rejection, criticism, and excessive demands of performance for a child’s age and ability. Emotional neglect refers to the failure of the parent/caregiver to provide adequate psychological nurturance necessary for a child’s growth and development.
Exposure to Domestic Violence or Severe Domestic Disharmony refers to a child living in a situation where there is interpersonal violence, including children witnessing, hearing or being aware of violence perpetrated by one adult figure against another adult figure, or against another child.
Failure to Provide Essential Medical Treatment refers to a parent or caregiver failing to provide essential medical treatment or to remedy a mental, emotional or developmental condition of a child.
Role of the School
Schools play an important role in the lives of children and their families. The roles and responsibilities of persons in schools, including principals, teachers, administrators, assistants, counselors, social workers, supervisory personnel, volunteers, paraprofessionals and others working in a school setting (e.g., support staff, caretakers), is to:
- report (not investigate) all suspected cases of child abuse directly to the police, First Nations Child and Family Services Agency or Ministry of Social Services in accordance with The Child and Family Services Act; (Note: The duty to report is a personal “Duty to Report” and it cannot be delegated to another individual.)
- notify the school principal that a report has been made to a child protection worker or police officer about a suspected case of child abuse;
- co-operate with police and child protection workers by providing access to information and an opportunity to speak to the child as needed;
- participate in case planning and observe the child’s progress, including behaviour, academic progress, emotional functioning and physical well- being;
- maintain a written record of observations and/or discussions with, or relating to the child;
- provide academic, social and emotional support to the child; and
- provide evidence and documentation in court proceedings.
Objectives of this Procedure
The objectives of this procedure are to ensure that suspected cases of child abuse are reported to the appropriate authorities; and to coordinate with other agencies regarding child abuse reporting, investigation, treatment, and aftercare.
Agencies to be contacted within the boundaries of the Horizon School Division regarding a report of child abuse or neglect are listed below:
Government of SK - Child Abuse/Protection Moose Jaw 306-694-3647
Government of SK - Child Abuse/Protection Regina Rural 306-787-3760
Government of SK - Child Abuse/Protection Saskatoon Rural 306-933-5961 or Toll Free 1-800-274-8297
Government of SK - Child Abuse/Protection Prince Albert 306-953-2422 or 1-866-719-6164
Government of SK - Child Abuse/Protection Yorkton 306-786-1300
Government of SK - Child Abuse/Protection Melfort 306-752-6100 or 1-800-487-8640
Touchwood Child & Family Services Punnichy 306-835-2048
Strictest confidentiality shall be maintained. Teachers and school personnel must be discreet so as to protect not only themselves, but also the rights of the child and the suspected abuser. With the exception of the transmittal to Social Services, police, school administration, and central office personnel, information related to the allegations or suspicions of child abuse, is to be held in the strictest confidence. In particular, conversations and written records, notations, or reports, are to be considered confidential and are not to be placed in the child’s regular or cumulative record or to be in any other way allowed to become known to persons who have no legitimate need for such information. This includes other staff and community members.
1. Reporting Suspected Abuse or Neglect
1. 1. The principal will ensure that all staff members are familiar with this procedure and of the legal obligation to report suspected child abuse and neglect. The failure to report is an offense.
1. 2. If a Horizon School Division employee suspects that a child is being abused or neglected, they shall directly report the disclosure information to Social Services or the police. (This should happen in consultation with the school principal, who may or may not be present when the report is made.) To be most helpful, a staff member should:
- Support the child;
- Acknowledge the child’s right to have their concern investigated;
- Listen openly and calmly without further probing questions;
- Reassure the child;
- Record what the child has reported and their observations; and,
- Report the suspected case of abuse immediately.
1.2.1. The person reporting the suspected abuse or neglect shall maintain a written record of all their observations and discussions with, or relating to the child to aid both in reporting and recall.
1.2.2. School personnel are not responsible to determine if a child is being abused or neglected before they report; it is their responsibility to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect.
1.2.3. If it is not clear that reasonable grounds to believe a child is in need of protection exist, a school staff member may consult the school principal, who may or may not consult a Superintendent or the Director of Education, but should not contact the suspected abuser or their family. This consultation cannot cause a delay in making a report to a child protection worker or police that would further put the child at risk.
1.2.4. Informal consultation with child protection workers or police is encouraged and may occur without making a formal report.
1.2.5. If after consultation, the principal and/or staff member suspect abuse, it is the responsibility of the person who receives the disclosure to formally contact Social Services and/or the police.
1. 3. Staff members may seek the support of the principal and/or Superintendent of Student Services or the Supervisor of Student Services in making a report.
1. 4. Staff members shall record the time, place, and nature of the disclosure from the child in a written report to the principal.
1. 5. If a child is a client of a student counselor, the principal shall inform that counselor of a report of abuse or neglect regarding that child.
1. 6. In all cases of suspected abuse, the principal shall consult with the Superintendent of Student Services or the Supervisor of Student Services.
1. 7. Any non-employee having reason to believe that abuse has occurred must be encouraged to report the matter to Social Services or the police. Employees advising such non-employees must inform that person that he/she has a legal obligation to report.
1. 8. If someone reports an alleged third party assault (anyone not living in the home) of a child, the person should be told to make their report directly to the police.
1. 9. If the report concerns an assault on a youth (16 years of age or over), the report must be made directly to the police. In addition, assistance may be offered to the youth by Social Services in order to facilitate making the report.
1. 10. School-based administration receiving an allegation that a Horizon School Division employee has abused a child shall refer the matter to the Director (or designate) immediately.
1. 11. The primary protection responsibility for children remains with the social worker from Social Services, and there must be no delay in proceeding with any necessary action to ensure the child’s safety.
1. 12. The purpose of any investigation is to determine whether action under the Criminal Code or The Family Services Act is required.
2. Investigative Interviews at School by Police/Child Protection Services
2. 1. The principal will adhere to the following guidelines regarding the interviewing of students:
2.1.1. Whether a report of suspected abuse originates from the school or another source, it may be necessary for the child to be interviewed by a child protection worker or the police in the school setting without parental/caregiver consent. The interview of a child without parental consent is done in many cases of physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. It is critical to ensure the child’s safety; therefore, the child should be interviewed before the parents/caregivers are notified. This provides an opportunity to ensure parents/caregivers are not able to influence the child and ensures that the child receives the required protection.
2.1.2. Arrangements to interview a child at school will be directed to the school principal (or designate) by the child protection worker or police. The principal (or designate) will make the necessary arrangements for a confidential interview to occur.
2.1.3. The child protection worker and police will determine who will be at the interview and will consider the child’s support needs and comfort level. By being present at the interview, there is a possibility that the staff member may be subpoenaed to give testimony at a child protection hearing or any criminal proceedings.
2.1.4. A written confirmation may be provided to the school by the child protection worker and/or police highlighting the meeting arrangements, acknowledging the assistance of the principa,l and indicating the general outcome of the investigation with respect to the child in the school setting. If written information is provided, it shall be retained in school files.
3. Children who Change Schools Due to an Out-of-Home Placement
3. 1. In some cases, a child may have to be removed from the parent’s/caregiver’s care to ensure the child’s safety. When a child has been apprehended, they may be placed with extended family, a foster family or a group home outside the school or school division where the child normally attends. In this case, the child protection worker is to notify the principal of the child’s new school. The principal of the sending school shall be responsible for notifying the principal of the receiving school about the child’s circumstances and academic history.
4. Monitoring a Child
4. 1. In cooperation with Social Services or the police, the principal and staff are responsible to monitor the progress of the child who has allegedly been abused or neglected as required throughout the investigation, assessment and treatment of the child and their family.
5. Support for Staff Who Report
5. 1. An employee who reports a disclosure of suspected child abuse or neglect may require counseling or debriefing support.
5. 2. Teachers may seek such support through the STF.
Reference: The Saskatchewan Child Abuse Protocol, 2014
5. 3. Support staff may seek such support through the services of the Health Region or their employee organization.
March 25, 2011
Revised June 23, 2017