Student Protection Policy and Guidelines

YIS Student Protection Policy and Guidelines




Overview


In conjunction with the school’s aim to “maintain a supportive, healthy and secure environment for learning and teaching,” we are committed to safeguarding the wellbeing of our students, staff and other community members. We view student protection as a paramount moral obligation as well as a legal duty.  


According to the World Health Organization, child abuse constitutes “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.” Research shows that child abuse occurs in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic sectors of society, and that 90% of abuse is from domestic causes and committed by individuals known to the child. Isolation is a common characteristic of abusive situations, and so we must be sensitive to the vulnerability of international school families who tend to move often and are often separated from their extended families and usual support networks.  


This document outlines policies, procedures and guidelines to prevent and protect students from harassment or abuse and to respond promptly and effectively should abuse be observed, suspected or disclosed. This includes any alleged abuse of YIS students by adults within or outside of our school community. It also includes rules and advice intended to prevent situations in which student abuse by YIS employees could occur or be suspected. Policies relating to student-to-student bullying or other abuse are covered in separate documents, and student protection is also an important consideration in policies and practices relating to health and safety, campus security, and pastoral care. These additional policy documents may be found in the staff, parent and student handbooks.



Acknowledgement

In developing this policy and guidelines we consulted with other international schools and educational organizations that have done considerable research and work in the area of student protection policy and procedures. We would like to acknowledge in particular the American School in Japan and the Association of International Schools in Africa, and thank them for allowing us to incorporate some of the text from their student protection handbooks in this document.



Definition of Terms


Physical Abuse refers to physical injury inflicted other than by accidental means upon a child, such as by willful cruelty, threat or infliction of pain.


Sexual Abuse includes any sexual advance, assault, battery or exploitation of a child. Sexual abuse includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other inappropriate verbal, written, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Within the context of the school, this includes such conduct that takes place under any of the following circumstances:

  • When submission to such conduct is made, explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of instruction or participation in other school activities;

  • When submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used by the offender as the basis for making academic decisions affecting the individual subjected to sexual harassment;

  • When such conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with the student’s work and/or academic performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or learning environment.


Emotional Abuse is any threat, intimidation, act of injustice or indignity toward a child by verbal or physical means.


Physical or Emotional Neglect refers to the failure of a duty of care or concern toward a child that leads to emotional or physical concerns.



Signs and Symptoms of Abuse


Physical abuse may involve hitting, punching, shaking, throwing, poisoning, biting, burning/scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing intentional physical harm to a child. (These symptoms could also indicate harm to self, such as cutting and suicide ideation). Signs of physical abuse may include the following:

  • Bruises, burns, sprains, dislocations, bites, cuts

  • Improbable excuses given to explain injuries

  • Injuries which have not received medical attention

  • Injuries to the body in places that aren’t normally exposed to falls, etc.

  • Repeated urinary infections or unexplained stomach pains

  • Refusal to discuss injuries

  • Withdrawal from physical contact

  • Arms and legs kept covered in hot weather

  • Fear of returning home or of parents being contacted

  • Showing wariness or distrust of adults

  • Self-destructive tendencies

  • Being aggressive towards others

  • Being very passive and compliant

  • Chronic running away


Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child so as to cause severe and adverse effects on a child’s emotional development. It may involve: conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved; that they are inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person; age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children; causing children frequently to feel frightened; or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill-treatment of a child, though it may also occur alone. Signs of emotional abuse may include the following:

  • Physical, mental and emotional development is delayed

  • Highly anxious

  • Showing delayed speech or sudden speech disorder

  • Fear of new situations

  • Low self-esteem

  • Inappropriate emotional responses to painful situations

  • Extremes of passivity or aggression

  • Drug or alcohol abuse

  • Chronic running away

  • Compulsive stealing

  • Obsessions or phobias

  • Considerable weight loss/gain

  • Sudden under-achievement or lack of concentration

  • Attention-seeking behavior

  • Persistent tiredness

  • Lying


Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. Activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative (i.e. rape) or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in the production or viewing of pornographic material or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways. Children involved in commercial sex work are victims of sexual abuse, whether they perceive themselves as victims or not. Signs of sexual abuse may include the following:

  • Pain or irritation to the genital area

  • Vaginal or penile discharge

  • Difficulty with urination

  • Infection, bleeding

  • Sexually transmitted disease (STD)

  • Fear of people or places

  • Regressive behaviors, bed wetting or stranger anxiety

  • Excessive masturbation

  • Sexually provocative behavior

  • Stomach pains or discomfort walking or sitting

  • Being unusually quiet and withdrawn or unusually aggressive

  • Suffering from what seem physical ailments that can’t be explained medically

  • Showing fear or distrust of a particular adult

  • Mentioning receiving special attention from an adult or a new “secret” friendship with an adult

  • Refusal to continue with school or usual social activities

  • Age inappropriate sexualized behavior or language


In addition to knowing the signs of victimization, below are some early warning signs to look out for in potential offenders:

  • Has “favorite” student

  • Attempts to find ways to be alone with children

  • Uses inappropriate language, jokes and discussions with children

  • Sexualized talk in the presence of students

  • Gives private gifts to children

  • Has private chats with children on Facebook/internet



Prohibition of Abuse and Reporting Obligation


YIS employees are prohibited from engaging in any activity constituting harassment, intimidation or abuse of any student, and are likewise obligated to report any suspected case of such behaviors by other individuals, either in or out of school. These abusive behaviors include any physical, sexual or emotional maltreatment or neglect of a student.

In addition to YIS employees, the school also, as appropriate, takes measures to ensure that outside contractors or volunteers who act in a teaching or supervisory role with students are made aware of and follow this policy and guidelines. Specifically, all outside substitute teachers, coaches and activity supervisors are required to sign the Student Protection Agreement prior to engaging in any class or activity with students.  


Discovery and Reporting of Suspected Abuse


YIS employees are obligated to immediately report to a school counselor or senior administrator any incident of abuse of a student that they observe, is reported to them or that they reasonably suspect. Although in urgent situations the employee may initially report verbally to the school counselor or senior administrator, as soon a practicable he/she should also fill in and submit a written Student Protection Incident Report (download from link on YIS Teaching and Learning site). Any report of suspected abuse or neglect will be treated seriously and in confidence, and employees will not be subject to any negative consequence for raising concerns in good faith. Disciplinary action may be taken against any employee who knowingly or from a spirit of malice makes false accusations.


School counselors should inform the division principal or head of school of any reported allegations of abuse or if any counseling is going on regarding abuse. Although the confidentiality of the counseling session discussions will be maintained as much as possible, the counselor is obligated to inform the head of school and/or division principal of the nature of the allegations that have been made.


YIS has an obligation to be aware of and follow Japanese laws and reporting procedures if the school becomes aware of possible student abuse. The child guidance centers and the Japanese police are the legal authorities that receive reports and investigate potential student abuse cases.


If the source of abuse is suspected to be a parent or guardian, the school counselor, in consultation with senior administrators, will inform local child protection authorities as required by law, pursuant to Article 5 of the Child Abuse Prevention Act. In the case of any credible reported allegation of student abuse by a YIS employee, the head of school, in consultation with senior administrators and/or school counselor as appropriate, will inform parents or guardians, and will also inform the chair of the Board of Directors.


Advice to Staff Regarding Student Disclosure of Abuse


School personnel should understand and know how to respond appropriately to disclosures from students, knowing that it is often very difficult for students to disclose or talk about abuse. For example, they may:

  • Try to “forget in order to cope.”

  • Worry they will lose the love of their parents or friends.

  • Fear the shame of abuse or getting in trouble for telling (especially older children).

  • Fear they will be blamed as adults tend to be believed more than children.

  • Be under threat by the offender to harm them or their family.


Understanding these fears of disclosure will help you in your response. Assure them that they are not to blame for the abuse. If a student asks to speak with you, find a neutral setting where you can have quiet and few interruptions. Determine what happened, where, when and who.  


Do not let the student swear you to secrecy, lead the student in telling (let the student explain in his/her own words), pressure the student for a great amount of detail, make judgmental remarks about the alleged abuser, or tell the student that things will get better. Do not confront the alleged abuser.


Respect the student’s confidence; share with a counselor or administrator but limit information to other staff. Explain to the student that you must tell someone else to get help and why.


If the student does not want to go home, this should be considered an emergency. Report to a counselor or senior administrator immediately.



Investigation of Reported Abuse


Upon receipt of a report of suspected abuse, the senior administrator in consultation with the school counselor and others as appropriate will decide as soon as possible if there is reasonable cause to investigate the alleged abuse. If s/he determines there is no reasonable cause to believe that abuse may have occurred, no further investigation will be pursued. However, the senior administrator or school counselor may follow up with student, parents and the reporting adult as appropriate, and the Student Protection Incident Report will be maintained in the school files.


If it is determined that reasonable cause for further investigation does exist, the head of school will be informed and a Case Management Team (CMT) comprising the relevant principal, vice-principal, counselor, school nurse (if appropriate) and tutor/class teacher (if appropriate) assembled immediately. The primary roles of the CMT are to support the student and to conduct a prompt, confidential and thorough investigation of the incident. As part of this process, the CMT is also charged with liaising with parents, consulting with outside authorities and following up with the reporting adult as appropriate.  


Alleged Abuse by Family Member/Guardian or Other Non-YIS Individual


If it is determined that the alleged abuse may involve a student’s parent, guardian or other family member, the case will be referred to the appropriate Child Guidance Center, which will be responsible for further investigation and taking appropriate actions outside the school. The CMT may also consult with other authorities, consular/embassy officials or employers as appropriate. In the case of suspected abuse by individuals who are neither a family member/guardian nor a YIS employee or contractor, parents will be notified and the incident may also be reported to a Child Guidance Center and/or police authorities for investigation and follow-up actions as appropriate.


Alleged Abuse by YIS Employee


In the case of alleged abuse by a YIS employee or contractor, the individual who is accused of abusing a student will immediately be removed from contact with students and the allegation will be quickly and thoroughly investigated. The head of school, in consultation with the chair of the Board of Directors, will appoint the Case Management Team. If the alleged abuse involves the head of school, it should be reported to the chair of the Board of Directors, who will determine who will lead and participate in the investigation.


The CMT should include at least three members and has the same roles as described above. Other than as required to investigate allegations or fulfill legal obligations, care must be given to protect the alleged victim(s), the alleged perpetrator(s), and the reporter of the allegation by restricting information access to those who need and have the authority to know. The CMT will prepare a written report of its investigation to be submitted to the head of school and Board chair.


Upon receipt of the CMT’s investigation report, the head of school, in consultation with the Board chair, will take appropriate remedial action including, but not limited to, the following.


If the allegation is deemed credible:

  • Take steps immediately to ensure the safety and privacy of the reporting person and the alleged victim and perpetrator.

  • Suspend the alleged perpetrator for some or all of the investigative period. In accordance with labor regulations, such suspension will be with full pay and benefits.

  • Notify the victim’s parents as soon as reasonably possible about the allegations and the investigation process.

  • If a violation of the law is suspected and the decision is made to refer the alleged perpetrator to local police or other appropriate legal authorities, the school will cooperate fully with any subsequent external investigation as required by law.


If the allegation is not deemed credible:

  • Notify the alleged perpetrator and victim’s parents as soon as reasonably possible about the findings of the report and reasons for determining that the allegation is not credible.

  • Notify the reporting person about the findings of the report and reasons for determining that the allegation is not credible. If it is determined that the reporting person knowingly or out of a spirit of malice made a false allegation, the head of school will take appropriate disciplinary action.


Consequences:


A YIS employee who is proven to have violated any of these regulations will, at the very least, be officially reprimanded in writing. The violation may also result in more serious consequences, including suspension or immediate termination, depending on the circumstances. The head of school, in consultation with the Board chair, will determine the disciplinary consequence(s), or the Board chair in the event that the head is to be disciplined. The disciplinary action will be explained to the employee by the head of school in a meeting also including the divisional principal and/or the Board chair. If inappropriate behavior is found to have occurred, but not at a level that constitutes abuse, the perpetrator will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action as determined by the head of school.



Prevention of Student Abuse


YIS will not hire employees who have a known record of abusive behavior. Multiple reference checks are conducted as part of the hiring process for all employees and they are also required to provide a police report* from their most recent country of residence and/or a signed affidavit from their current employer, in a form provided by YIS, stating that they have no criminal record. Further, applicants for YIS positions must agree in writing with the terms of this policy as part of the contracting process. It should be noted that the provision of a false statement is punishable by law.


In addition to this policy and guidelines to address the prevention, reporting and investigation of student abuse, abuse prevention and awareness training is provided to all YIS faculty and staff. We endeavor to make sure that outside contractors or volunteers who act in a teaching or supervisory role with students are made aware of the document and follow these guidelines.


*If available; many countries do not provide police reports.


Avoiding Problematic Situations


The following guidelines for YIS employees are intended to prevent situations in which student abuse or the suspicion of such abuse might occur.

  • YIS employees should not use phone calls, texting, social media, emails, or similar technology to have one-on-one private communication with students for non-school-related matters.

  • YIS employees should not socialize with students off campus without knowledge and approval of the student’s parents or guardian, and never on a one-to-one basis with an individual student.

  • If a YIS student other than a YIS employee’s own child or child under the employee’s legal guardianship is living in an employee’s home or staying overnight for an extended period of time, the head of school should be notified.

  • YIS employees should not smoke or use tobacco products, or be intoxicated under the influence of alcohol or other substances at any time while in the presence of students.

  • School-sponsored trips should have female and male chaperones when both girls and boys are on the trip and at least two chaperones for overnight trips.

  • YIS employees should not shower or bathe or be disrobed with students under any circumstances. The employee may for supervisory or safety purposes enter locker rooms or bathing areas where students are present, but s/he should be fully clothed, alert the students that s/he is entering the room, and if possible tell another adult that s/he is going to check on the students in the bathing/changing area. In such cases, and unless in urgent situations, supervisors should only enter changing areas of the same sex (i.e., male supervisors in boys changing areas only; female supervisors in girls changing areas only).

  • YIS employees other than trained school counselors should be cautious concerning counseling students about sensitive issues. When in doubt about the appropriateness of advising a student on a particular issue, they should refer the student to a school counselor or division principal.

  • In general, the door should be left open whenever a YIS employee is alone in a room with a student for any longer than a few minutes. There may be cases when this is not practical (e.g., counseling sessions with school counselors, one-to-one music lessons, etc.), in which case the teacher should inform another adult that s/he will be meeting individually with the student. If an employee is alone with a student in a room, s/he should not sit between the student and the door.





Community Resources



TELL Counseling Tokyo and Yokohama - http://www.telljp.com/index.php?/en/counseling/

International Mental Health Professionals Japan - http://www.imhpj.org/



Updated August 2016