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Sunday 11 December 2016

Teachers told they should report abuse suspicions 'without delay'

Published 02/12/2016 | 02:30

The guidelines for schools are clear that a report of alleged child abuse or neglect should be made to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency 'without delay'
The guidelines for schools are clear that a report of alleged child abuse or neglect should be made to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency 'without delay'

The guidelines for schools are clear that a report of alleged child abuse or neglect should be made to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency "without delay".

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These rules are set out in the statutory 'Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children'.

They point out that every organisation, be it public or private, that provides services for children or that is in regular direct contact with children needs to follow the guidelines.

Each must identify a designated liaison person to act as a go-between with outside agencies.

The designated liaison in King's Hospital is the the headmaster John Rafter. The deputy designated liaison is the deputy head Louise Marshall.

The designated liaison person is responsible for ensuring that the standard reporting procedure is followed, so that suspected cases of child neglect or abuse are referred promptly to Tusla or in the event of it being unavailable to An Garda Síochána.

"Any person reporting a child abuse or neglect concern should do so without delay to Tusla," the guidelines state.

Danger

A report can be made in person, by telephone or in writing. The guidelines stress that under no circumstances should a child be left in a situation that exposes him or her to harm or to risk of harm pending Tusla intervention.

"In the event of an emergency where you think a child is in immediate danger and you cannot get in contact with Tusla, you should contact the gardaí. This can be done through any Garda station," the guidelines add.

The standard form for reporting child welfare and protection concerns to Tusla should be used by professionals, staff and volunteers in organisations working with or in contact with children.

The guidelines were drawn up following a series of scandals which arose out of reports of alleged abuse or concerns not being made by various agencies.

There were instances where one agency assumed another had made a report.

In other cases bodies failed in their duty of care to make a report.

Irish Independent

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