“Children and young people are our present and our future. They have the right to grow and to develop their full potential physically, emotionally and spiritually. That potential is their families’ and communities’ responsibility to nurture and fulfil.”1
“States Parties shall protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse”.2
This policy document is been prepared in line with the 1989 UN convention on the rights of the child and Article 28 of the Fourth Republican Constitution of Ghana. The document serves as a guide to parents; teachers/volunteers as well as children in the schools managed by the Catholic Education Unit in the Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims the sacredness of life and commands us to protect life at all stages and in all circumstances. This Gospel mandate especially pertains to the lives of those who are innocent and most vulnerable.
Child abuse is a global problem that affects both boys and girls and has existed since the beginning of time. It is deeply rooted in cultural, economic and social practices and in many countries including Ghana children experience severe corporal punishment in schools, especially those living in poverty are more at risk of child abuse and exploitation.
The Catholic Education Unit in Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese recognize that every child has a fundamental right to feel protected from any form of abuse and that all our staff, including volunteers have a full and active part to play in protecting our school children from harm. We believe that our schools should provide a caring, positive, safe and stimulating environment which promotes the social, physical and moral development of the individual child in the school. Through the day-to-day contact of our staff with school children and direct work with families, staff at our schools has a crucial role to play in noticing indicators of possible abuse or neglect and referring them to the appropriate agency.
Children are abused physically, sexually, emotionally and through neglect. Experience has found that physical, emotional abuse and neglect are less systematic and usually un-planned. However child sexual abuse is often planned and premeditated.
Child: in this document means every human being below the age of eighteen (18) years.
Child Protection: within the scope of this policy is the responsibilities, measures and activities that the Catholic Education Unit undertakes to safeguard children from both intentional and unintentional harm. It is the prevention and response to abuse against children and in context applies particularly to the duty of individuals associated with Catholic Education towards children in their care.
Policy is a guiding principle or document under which people operate. Therefore a Child Protection Policy is a document used to create awareness on the rights of children. This policy is to enable the staff and other stakeholders to provide quality education delivery, moral uprightness, socio-economic developments and socio-cultural integration of all children in our schools irrespective of religion, cultural background, tribe and race.
Code of Conduct: is a set of behavioural guidelines. In this context, they are guidelines for working with children as outlined in the our Code of Conduct; an extract from the Teachers Code of Conduct in Ghana.
Catholic School: refers to an educational venue as of the Catholic Education system. This includes Catholic Public as well as Catholic Private schools.
Induction: is a programme that help the successful integration of a new employee or volunteer.
Child Abuse: refers to all forms of physical abuse, emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse and exploitation, neglect or negligent treatment, commercial or other exploitation of a child and includes any actions that results in actual or potential harm to a child, it may be a deliberate act or failing to act to prevent harm.
Neglect: Neglect can be defined in terms of an omission, where the child suffers significant harm or impairment of development by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, intellectual stimulation, supervision and safety, attachment to and affection from adults, and failure to access appropriate medical care or treatment. The threshold of significant harm is reached when the child’s needs are neglected to the extent that his or her wellbeing and/or development are severely restricted.
Physical Abuse: may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical abuse, as well as being a result of an act of commission can also be caused through omission or the failure to act to protect.
Emotional Abuse: is normally to be found in the relationship between a care giver and a child rather than in a specific event or pattern of events. It occurs when a child’s need for affection, approval, consistency and security is not met. The threshold of significant harm is reached when abusive interaction dominates and becomes typical of the relationship between the child and the adult.
Sexual Abuse: involves using a child for one’s own or others’ sexual gratification. That is, forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may include physical contact, like penetrative (e.g. rape, buggery) or non-penetrative acts (oral sex), non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.