How schools can protect children from abuse
When your child is in school, the school is responsible for keeping them safe from harm and abuse. The school should create a safe learning environment, identify pupils who are suffering or at risk of harm and take suitable action. The school also needs to train staff in child protection.
How schools protect children from abuse
To help protect your child, the school should have:
- staff who are trained to identify signs of abuse including what to do if they or someone else is worried about a child
- a designated teacher responsible for dealing with child protection
- procedures for checking staff before they work with children
- a child protection policy which includes procedures to be followed if a teacher or other member of staff is accused of harming a child
To read more about child protection for schools, go to:
The school should teach your child how to protect themselves. Personal, social and health education (PSHE) lessons explain:
- risky behaviour
- suitable and inappropriate physical contact
- dealing with peer pressure
Dealing with suspected cases of abuse
School staff will listen to and work closely with parents to make sure your child feels safe and protected in the school environment.
If you suspect that a child is being abused, you should report it to police or local social services. If you work in a school, you should tell the teacher responsible for child protection. They will take suitable action based on procedures set out by the local safeguarding children board, letting the authorities know where it is required.
Once the authorities are told, they will decide what to do. The school's role is then limited. School staff will not take part in an investigation, though they may be called on to give information. They may also be asked to give support to the child or young person.
To discuss concerns about child abuse contact:
- Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)
- Gateway Service Teams in the Health and Social Care Trusts
Preventing inappropriate relationships at school
It's a crime to have a sexual relationship with a child aged under 16. It’s also an offence for an adult to have a sexual relationship with a young person under 18 if the adult is in a ‘position of trust’ with that young person.
This covers relationships between school or college staff and students. It applies as long as the young person is under 18, even if they are over the age of legal consent – though there are some defences which can apply in limited circumstances.
Vetting of school staff
Everyone employed in a school will be vetted by a criminal record check. The school needs to train staff and volunteers how to identify abuse. This includes knowing what to do if they or someone else is worried about a child.
To read about disclosure and barring arrangements in schools, go to: