Monday, 22 August 2016
This afternoon we had a staff meeting about CYFs and how it relates to us at school, mostly about procedures we should follow and what to do if one of our students reports abuse to us.
First of all, it is a huge deal for a child to speak up about abuse they might be enduring. For many children in these situations, they grow up with the abuse so see it as normal, hence they don't understand what they experience on an everyday basis is not acceptable, and that they even should tell somebody. They don't tell, because they don't know any better.
If they do disclose abuse to us, as teachers, our role is then to gather information. Asking open-ended questions is good, and asking statement questions such as who was there, when did this happen are also good. What is not helpful to anybody involved, is when you use questions like did you see uncle hit mum? That kind of questioning puts ideas into the childs' head and then their answers cannot be trusted completely. We need to ask blank question so what they say is truly their own words.
Next, we talked about what the procedures are IF a child does disclose abuse. I made a flow chart to help organise my thinking.
The lady taking the meeting also talked us through the changes that are happening to the Ministry, mainly the rebranding to the Ministry for vulnerable children (In April 2017) and changes to the Vulnerable Children Act.
The meeting was very helpful and informative. One thing that I personally reflected on was how much effort and planning goes into a childs case before CYFs or the Police even get involved. With my experience with my parents being foster parents, it always seems to be such a quick process, with children being uplifted from their homes and delivered into foster care within 12 hours. But really, there are weeks or even months of work that goes on behind the scene - gathering data, confirming stories, working with various agencies, meeting with parents and extended whanau, etc etc etc.
One thing my principal Rhonda Kelly was pushing on us, was the importance of discussion. If a child says something to their teacher, record it absolutely, but talk to the siblings teachers, to this childs teacher from last year, to the SWIS worker, the nurse, etc. All these people can add to, or negate something a child has said. What could seem like nothing actually could turn out to be huge, or something that could seem huge could actually turn out to be a misunderstanding.
Discussion is so important! We need to band together around these children we love so much and work together to protect them.