TEACHERS PLAY THEIR PART TO PROTECT AND CARE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE IN THEIR COMMUNITY BY BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR STUDENTS AND SHOWING THAT THEY RESPECT AND VALUE THEM.
In the classroom:
-Build positive relationships with the students in your class. By being approachable and listening to them, you show young people that they are important and that you care.
-Include students in planning: by listening to what young people have to say on issues that affect them (such as their education), you will work to ensure that they feel heard and that you can appropriately address their needs.
-Share details of local youth events and services by setting up an information board or online network within your classroom or school. Encourage help seeking behaviour by discussing the role of community services and how young people can access them.
-Have discussions about difficult topics such as bullying, exam stress, mental health and different types of abuse. Ensure conversations aim to develop young people’s strengths and resilience.
-Be aware of the signs children and young people may show that are indicators of child abuse and neglect and further inform yourself of the mandatory reporting principles.
-Consider facilitating education on child abuse and violence prevention.
Whole of School Approach to Child Abuse and Violence Prevention Education:
As children spend much of their time at school, classrooms are safe, structured environments that can provide child abuse and violence prevention education.
NAPCAN is involved in the implementation of child abuse prevention programs in primary and secondary schools around Australia, through the Love Bites, All Children Being Safe, and #Friends programs. Informed by this experience and also best practice standards for respectful relationships education; some of the key learning from this work includes:
-Engaging and consulting a variety of stakeholders within the school to ensure consistent messages are provided to young people.
-School audits to ensure policies are effective and identify any areas where additional policies need to be implemented.
-Programs delivered to students provide age appropriate material.
-Engage parents and community members to assist in making materials relevant to local issues/concerns.
-Prioritising the safety of children and young people by linking them with supports in their community and having facilitators that work within a Code of Conduct and that programs have dedicated time for planning.
-Including young people in the development, evaluation and review of programs ensures prevention programs are engaging. It also means the program is informed by the experiences of children and young people.
-Aligning programs with existing curriculum supports teachers to more readily integrate key child protection learning outcomes as required.
-Delivery of professional development to school staff, regarding child abuse and violence prevention, can increase teachers’ skills and confidence in the delivery of prevention programs; as well as their response to individual students’ concerns.
As a primary school teacher, I believe that developing a sense of wellbeing within a school is as important as developing literacy or numeracy skills (if not more so).
I try to foster a classroom environment that is welcoming, fair and respectful to all. I find that developing these foundations and expectations are important in setting children up for success, for building their confidence and in making them feel valued. Being reflective about my own practice and providing time for rich discussion around these themes is also a winner.
I meet with teachers regularly to check if everything is going alright with the kids – I tell them to keep an eye on what is happening in class rooms. Youth Connect is an external agency that attends the school and helps us getting children involved in after-school experiences, giving them work connections and helping them with TAFE classes.
We also send the children on cultural and career excursions to help them develop outside of school and run sporting and community events at school.
We encourage staff to get professional development to grow while teaching. I personally keep up with the department’s code of conduct, the staff are trained on it as well as a mandatory part of their education, and new teaching initiatives.
A constant communication between parents and guardians is vital in keeping children safe and cared for. Informing parents about good things happening at school is as important as letting them know as soon as possible if something is troublesome.
We have adopted a whole school approach to making sure that students acquire personal skills needed to keep themselves safe. Through programs such as “Love Bites”, “Peer Support” and “Respectful Relationships”, we are empowering our students, developing connections and creating a sense of belonging within the Tempe High School community.