Provided by Columbus School Staff, The Columbus School in Medellín, Colombia
How do the systems and structures at your school safeguard your students? This question was one that a group of 55 educators from our region tackled over a 2 day training hosted by The Columbus School in Medellín, Colombia, funded by AASSA and offered by the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, ICMEC.
In this training we started with the basics of defining abuse. By utilizing this common definition it allowed school level teams to make decisions and guide discussions founded in the same understanding. They then dove into the different types of abuse to determine the systems and structures present in their school to identify the different types of abuse and how the Child Protection Response Team would be made aware of a child who has been harmed. Finally, we learned about the different signs and indicators that might be present and may indicate that a child has been harmed.
An integral part of this training was learning how to address students who have been harmed with dignity. How to support them, listen to them and respond to their needs in as empathetic as possible. Has your team considered the language that is used to discuss children who have been harmed? Are you ready to embrace terms for students like: victim, survivor, child who was harmed, child who has harmed, harmful/problematic behavior?
Reporting and Responding
“If I walk up to a staff member on your campus and ask, How do you report harm or abuse to a child?, would they know how to do that?” Katia Dantas, one of the facilitators posed this question to the group. Reporting procedures should be clear and staff should be regularly trained on how to access them. Throughout the training Dr. Virgina Jordan Greenbaum and Ms. Katia Dantas referenced the Ed Portal as a resource for schools to develop, review and refine their reporting procedures. In one of the resources, Managing Allegations of Child Abuse by Educators and other Adults, teams accessed and used a flowchart to reflect on where they are in their current practices and what steps they may need to take to continue to improve their systems and structures. As part of this step we also mapped our campus to identify areas where students may go to be seen, unseen and may be at risk.
Overall, this training is highly recommended for school teams to attend together to reflect on and refine their practices. Each school attending walked away with a deeper understanding of how to safeguard children and the next steps to take within their school community. ICMEC is a professional organization and their training was focused on supporting students by supporting adults.