Keeping Children Safe From Harm
Everybody has a responsibility to keep children under 18 years of age safe from harm and abuse. Harm and/or abuse is identified in four ways.
Neglect means that a child is not being properly taken care of by their parents. This could be about poor hygiene or poor diet, being left alone at home, not being taken to appointments or not being sent to school.
Physical Abuse is where someone deliberately hurts, hits or injures a child.
Emotional Abuse is where someone shouts at, uses threats or makes fun of a child to make the child feel frightened, worthless or unloved. A child seeing violence between parents or other people in their home can also be very harmful.
Sexual Abuse is where someone influences, involves or forces a child to look at or take part in sexual activities. This could include encouraging unwanted touching, involving a child in watching pornography or forcing a child or young person under the age of consent to have sex.
A child should be able to go to school and feel safe and protected from harm or abuse. Schoolwork will help a child learn about keeping themselves safe. Lessons in school can cover drug and alcohol awareness, healthy eating, road safety, relationships, sex education and bullying.
A child will be told what to do if they are worried or concerned about harm or abuse.
Everyone employed in a school will be vetted (checked by the police) and staff and volunteers will be trained in how to identify abuse including what must be done if they or someone else is worried about a child. The teachers who have responsibility for dealing with child protection in a school are known as Designated Teachers for Child Protection.
The school will give you their child protection policy. It will explain the actions that you or the school must take if either of you are worried or concerned about a child. This will include how concerns are recorded and how they might be reported to social services or the police.
School staff will listen to and work closely with parents to make sure their child feels safe and protected in the school environment.
As a parent you are the most important person in keeping your child safe. As a parent you should:
Parents of primary school children should tell the teacher if there are any changes to arrangements about who brings their child to and collects their child from school.
Parents should contact the school if their child is absent, then ring or send in a note on the child's return to school. This assures the school that you know about the absence.
Always talk to the Principal or the Designated Teacher for Child Protection in the school if you are worried about a safeguarding or child protection concern.
More information about Child Protection in education can be obtained from the
Department of Education's website at
Belfast Education and Library Board
If you have a worry or concern: