Child Safeguarding at the Overseas School of Colombo
TThe Overseas School of Colombo is aligned with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the recommendations of the International Task Force on Child Protection (ITFCP) that has set the standards for safeguarding in schools worldwide. OSC expects all individuals and groups affiliated with the school community, including staff, service and activity partners, volunteers, associated agencies, interns, contractors, guests, parents and visitors, to act with integrity and to take responsibility for keeping students safe. In coordination with the recommendations of the ITFCP, we hold ourselves to a high standard of effective recruiting practices with specific attention to child protection. Applicants must be willing to undergo a thorough background check including a police clearance report and previous employer reference checks.
OSC strives to be a Child Safe Organisation in which everyone in the community is:
- Aware of the signs and dangers of child abuse;
- Committed to preventing harm to young people;
- Able to respond and report any concerns regarding student safety and wellbeing.
What is safeguarding?
Safeguarding is not just about protecting students from deliberate harm; it is linked to welfare and what we do for all children. Safeguarding involves the process of protecting children from abuse and neglect, preventing harm to children’s health or development, and ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care.
What is normal behavior for children?
Children develop and mature at different rates. What is concerning for a younger child might be normal behaviour for an older child. If a child looks or acts a lot older or younger than their age, this could be a cause for concern. However, if a child develops more slowly than others of a similar age and there’s not a cause such as physical or learning disabilities, it could be a sign that they are being abused.
What is child abuse?
Child abuse is any action by another person – adult or child – that causes significant harm to a child. It can be physical, sexual, or emotional/psychological, but can just as often be about a lack of love, care and attention. We know that neglect, whatever form it takes, can be just as damaging to a child as physical abuse. An abused child often experiences more than one type of abuse, as well as other difficulties in their lives. Whilst abuse can be a one-off event, it often happens over a period of time, and it can increasingly happen online.
The signs of child abuse are not always obvious, and a child might not tell anyone what is happening to them. Children might be scared that the abuser will find out, and worried that the abuse will get worse. Or they might think that there is no one they can tell or that they won’t be believed. Sometimes, children don’t even realise that what is happening is abuse. The effects of abuse may be short term or may last a long time, sometimes into adulthood. Adults who were abused as children may need advice and support.
Warning Signs of Child Abuse
The possible signs of abuse are many and can include but are not limited to:
- ALL AGES:
- Talks of being left home alone or with strangers
- Poor bond or relationship with a parent, also known as attachment
- Acts out excessive violence with other children
- Lacks social skills and has few if any friends
- UNDER 5 YEARS:
- Doesn’t cry or respond to parent’s presence or absence from an early age
- Reaches developmental milestones late with no evident medical reason
- Significantly underweight but eats well when given food
- 5-11 YEARS:
- Becomes secretive and reluctant to share information
- Reluctant to go home after school
- Unable to bring friends home or reluctant for professionals to visit the family
- Poor school attendance and punctuality, or late being picked up
- Parents show little interest in a child’s performance and behaviour at school
- Parents are dismissive and non-responsive to professional concerns
- Is reluctant to get changed for sports, activities, etc.
- Wets or soils the bed
- 11-16 YEARS:
- Drinks alcohol regularly from an early age
- Is concerned for younger siblings without explaining why
- Becomes secretive and reluctant to share information
- Talks of running away
- Shows challenging/disruptive behaviour at school
- Is reluctant to get changed for sports, activities, etc
Adult Visitor Guidelines and Code of Conduct
- OSC supports a culture of mutual respect; all communications should be positive, respectful and inclusive.
- Visitors must display the OSC visitor’s pass prominently at all times.
- Permission from OSC must be granted before taking any photos or videos; no images of students may be shared in any social media or online forum; any images of students must be deleted after the permitted purpose is complete.
- Visitors may use toilets designated for adults only; no use of student toilets is permitted.
- Visitors must not take personal information from any student nor give personal information to any student including contact details and social media profiles unless permission is granted.
- Visitors must never be alone with any student nor touch any student nor invade any student’s personal space.
- Visitors must not respond to physical contact from any student; if contact occurs, visitors must report it immediately to the Child Protection Officer.
- Visitors must report any suspicious or unacceptable behaviour including physical or verbal abuse by and/or between any student or adult.
Reporting a Concern
If you have any concerns about the safety or wellbeing of a student at OSC, please do not hesitate to speak with the Head of School, Principals, Counselors, or send an email to: [email protected]
At OSC, child safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.