Child protection in school
Schools have a general duty of care to their students.
The stay safe programme assists teachers to help children in primary school to develop their self-esteem and the necessary skills to cope with possible threats to their personal safety both within and outside the school.
Schools have a statutory responsibility under the Children First Act 2015 and must develop specific policies and procedures on how to create a safe environment to prevent deliberate harm or abuse to the children using their services.
Registered teachers are also mandated persons under the Children First Act 2015. Mandated persons are people who have ongoing contact with children and families and who because of their qualifications, training and experience are in a key position to protect children from harm.
You can find more information about child abuse, recognising the signs and reporting child abuse.
Child Safeguarding Statement
A Child Safeguarding Statement is a written statement of the service being provided and the procedures to ensure that a child using the service is safe from harm.
Primary and Post-Primary Schools must have a Child Safeguarding Statement.
The Child Safeguarding Statement must be given all school staff. It must be displayed publicly and be made available to parents and guardians and members of the public upon request.
Duty of school staff to report child abuse
The Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 (pdf), apart from those relating to a school’s Child Safeguarding Statement, apply to all school staff.
If a child tells a teacher or other member of school staff that a parent or carer or any other person is harming or at risk of harming him or her, the person who receives the information should listen carefully and supportively. This also applies if a parent or carer or any other person discloses that he or she has harmed or is at risk of harming a child.
School staff can access the support and advice of the school’s Designated Liaison Person (DLP).
The Designated Liaison Person is a resource to any staff member or volunteer who has a child protection or welfare concern. The Designated Liaison Person should be well-informed about child protection. They will help any person in their organisation who is considering making a report to Tusla (the Child and Family Agency) and will liaise with outside agencies. Tusla also provides A Guide for the Reporting of Child Protection and Welfare Concerns.
Registered teachers are mandated persons under the Children First Act 2015. Mandated persons are people who have ongoing contact with children and families and who because of their qualifications, training and experience are in a key position to protect children from harm. This means that among their responsibilities they must report child protection concerns over a defined threshold to Tusla.
Under Section 4 of the Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998, nobody will be penalised for making a report of child abuse in good faith to Tusla or the Gardaí. If you have been penalised, you can make a complaint under the Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998.
School managers in primary and post-primary schools should:
- Implement an effective child protection programme
- Monitor the effectiveness of the programme
- To manage any risk identified in respect of a child availing of the service
- Implement agreed reporting procedures
- Plan and implement appropriate staff development and training programmes
Board of Management
The Board of Management must:
- Ensure, as far as practicable, that children are safe from harm while availing of the school’s services (while attending the school or while participating in school activities)
- Carry out an assessment of any potential for harm to children while they are attending the school or while they are participating in school activities (this is known as a risk assessment)
- Ensure that a Designated Liaison Person is appointed
- Prepare and display a written Child Safeguarding Statement in accordance with the requirements of the Act
- Appoint a relevant person as the first point of contact in respect of the school’s Child Safeguarding Statement
- Provide a copy of its Child Safeguarding Statement to members of school personnel and, where requested to parents, members of the public and to Tusla
Getting adviceThe Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) operates the Childline service - a telephone listening service for children. Childline is provided free of charge 24 hours per day, all year round.
Freephone Childline: 1800 666 666
Freetext Childline: Text the word "Talk" to 50101
You can find more information about child protection and welfare and reporting a concern on the Tusla website.