The Escuela Campo Alegre Student Protection Policy (SPP) is informed by the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child, Venezuelan law and the International Task Force on Child Protection (ITFCP).
Student abuse, neglect, and bullying/cyberbullying are serious concerns in schools and as they are obstacles to their education and development are not to be tolerated. Schools hold a particular institutional role in society to protect their students and to ensure that each student is afforded a safe and secure environment in which to learn and develop. Educators and school staff, having the opportunity to observe and interact with students over extended periods of time, are in a unique position to identify and support “at-risk” students and circumstances. As such, schools and educators have both a professional and an ethical obligation to identify and support students who are at risk for abuse, neglect, or bullying and/or in need of support and/or protection. Schools and educators must provide the necessary services, support and assistance required to address such circumstances for both the student and his/her family. In addition to protecting students from abuse, neglect, and bullying/cyberbullying, schools and educators must report any knowledge of suspected or identified abusers and sex offenders.
All ECA employees (faculty, office and support staff), After School Activities (ASA) contractors and providers are required to read, acknowledge, and adhere to the school’s SPP and annually sign the school’s Code of Conduct document. The Student Protection Policy is included therein.
Definition of Forms of Student Abuse/Threats to Safety (Hereinafter “Abuse”):
- Physical Abuse: Intentional (non-accidental) physical injury of a student by another student, a parent, a person responsible for the care of the child, or any member of the ECA community.
- Sexual Abuse: a) Any unwanted/non-consensual sexual activity or situation between students is not accepted and is considered sexual abuse. b) Any sexual activity/advancement/verbal interaction, suggestion or situation involving any adult community member or a person responsible for the care of the child is considered as sexual abuse.
- Emotional Abuse: An act of commission or omission by a student, a parent, a person responsible for the care of the child, or any member of the ECA community that significantly impairs the emotional well-being of the affected student. Such behaviors include humiliation; threats to injure or withdraw physical or emotional support; isolation from social contacts; and withholding things necessary for mental health such as respect, security, limits, attention, affection and love.
- Physical Neglect: Withholding (by a parent, a person responsible for the care of the child, or any member of the ECA community) of those things necessary for the student’s health and normal development. This includes adequate food, clothing, shelter, sleep, supervision, medical treatment and/or education.
- Psychological Neglect: Neglect occurs when a student is isolated, ignored, when nurturing is repeatedly withheld, or when ongoing adequate time/attention is not given to the student from parents, a person responsible for the care of the child, or any member of the ECA community.
- Bullying/Cyberbullying: Any repeated interactions, contact, actions, or attitudes communicated by a member of the ECA community which make a student feel threatened, humiliated, or unsafe.
Reporting Procedures for Abuse:
ECA requires that all members of the community familiarize themselves with these reporting requirements in the event that they witness or become aware of Student Abuse/endangerment. Updates are regularly provided to members of the community regarding changes in policy/procedures and current student protection practice through staff meetings, the faculty handbook, and periodic electronic community communication. Expectations for reporting include acting with tact, confidentiality, and sympathy; avoiding “over-questioning” of the victim; and assembling complete and detailed notes (including date and time of any observations or conversations with the student) immediately.
- Any member of the ECA community ECA employees (faculty, office and support staff, After School Activities (ASA) contractors, providers), parent or student that experiences, observes, or receives a report of signs and/or behaviors that suggest abuse or a violation of the spirit of the school’s code of conduct must immediately notify the elementary or secondary Counsellor and/or the Divisional Principal/Deans.
- The elementary or secondary Counsellor in consultation with the Divisional Principal/Deans, and the reporting faculty or community member must review, organize, and document all data points. All reported abuse cases will then be reported to the Superintendent immediately by the Divisional Principal/Deans.
- Three potential case scenarios are addressed in this policy: “No Grounds” case – The elementary or secondary Counsellor and the Divisional Principal/Deans, will make a written report and recommendation to the Superintendent, stating that there are no grounds for the Abuse allegations or a violation of the spirit of the code of conduct then the result of the case will be officially documented. The gathered information and a record of discussions held will be kept on file and electronically available for Board members to access/refer to as needed. “Suspicion Remains” case – If evidence is lacking or incomplete but suspicion for abuse remains then the elementary or secondary Counsellor and the Divisional Principal/Deans, will make written corrective or preemptive recommendations to the Superintendent and maintain confidential timed and dated notes as well as meet regularly to follow up and evaluate any further developments in the case in question. Disclosure of ongoing cases of suspected abuse will be reported to the Board and the involved parents/guardians as soon as possible. The gathered information will be kept on file and periodic updates, in writing, will be provided to the Board as the circumstances of the case merit. “Abuse Likely or Confirmed” case – If documented evidence suggests abuse (including that which is alleged to have occurred off campus) the Superintendent, following written disclosure to and approval from the Board of Directors, will immediately report cases of suspected Abuse to the appropriate authorities. Such authorities include the alleged perpetrator’s employer and/or embassy, the appropriate child protection agency in the home country of the alleged perpetrator, and in accordance with Venezuelan law the appropriate local authorities. The Superintendent, in consultation with the Board and legal/professional advisors, will take all actions necessary to ensure the safety of the student and the community.
- In the case of abuse, the Divisional Principal/Deans and the Superintendent will determine the appropriate course of action for the protection of the victim and discipline for the aggressor. The gathered information will be kept on file and timely periodic updates, in writing, will be provided to the Board as the circumstances/status of the case merits.
- All other ECA community members will be informed of reported abuse allegations on a need to know basis only. Parents of the student(s) involved in reported abuse allegations will be notified as early in the process as is appropriate for the safety and security of all involved parties. Any additional written information/observations from other personnel will be included in documentation.
- All ECA community members are expected to report any knowledge of suspected or identified child abusers or sex offenders within the school community. In the event that an ECA community member is alleged or discovered to be an abuser or sex offender, ECA will conduct a full investigation and involve the appropriate authorities. The investigation shall proceed in accordance with the administrative reporting procedure outlined in this policy.
ECA is committed to protecting each of its students in every aspect of school life. As such, ECA distributes this policy annually to all stakeholders through Faculty and Divisional Handbooks, Faculty and Divisional information sessions/meetings, Parent Handbooks, and the public ECA school website.
ECA Student Protection Policy (SPP) – Reviewed & Approved by the ECA Board of Directors on June 5 2020