Draft child protection policy makes staff screening stringent

Draft child protection policy makes staff screening stringent

All schools and educational institutions in the State, hereafter, will need to have a checklist of a number of safety indicators including those pertaining to safety, infrastructure, transportation, child’s sexual and emotional safety, according to a draft of the Karnataka State Child Protection Policy (KSCPP), 2015 that was released a few days ago.

The draft states that the safety checklist takes into consideration different dimensions of child safety and provides indicators for assessment under five important areas of safety and protection – Physical Safety, Personal and Sexual Safety, Social and Emotional Safety, Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management and Cyber Safety.

This checklist can however be customised according to individual schools in consultation with management and staff. However, the indicators that are marked mandatory will have  be adhered to by all schools.

The draft also makes it absolutely clear that all schools in Karnataka - affiliated to the State board, those under CBSE, CISCE and Open Schools - will have to abide by the rules. Schools under the Cambridge International Examination (CIE), International Baccalaureate (IB) will have to abide by the policies and guidelines laid down by their respective authorities.

Stringent rules
The draft also has set stringent rules and guidelines for recruitment and selection of school staff, something that has been demanded by parents. The norms say that the applicants for all positions including that of head of the institution should be screened with reference/clearance certificate from the last employer.

Schools will also have to go a step further and ask previous employers and reference provider if he/she feels that there is any reason for the person concerned to not work with children and come in contact with them in the workplace.

School authorities have further been asked to seek more information from police department regarding any pending violation of law related to abuse and gather more information regarding the applicant when required. For positions where the institution is outsourcing personnel, a school has to ensure that the agency providing the personnel has recruitment guidelines that encompass the above.

Redressal mechanism
The draft also highlights a number of steps of reporting and redressal mechanism in case of safety violations. This comprises an (a) internal response mechanisms – that concentrates on what the school needs to do internally to respond to safety violations and (b) external response mechanisms – which are based on the schools’ legal obligations under applicable law to respond and report child safety violations.

The school management’s human resource policy shall also refer to the school Child Protection Policy and incorporate information about child protection measures at the institution.

So far as the review of the KSCPP, 2015 is concerned, it states that the Additional Chief Secretary will be the nodal officer to review the policy for educational institutions annually, as directed by the High Court of Karnataka. The Department of Women and Child Development shall facilitate this review in coordination with Department of Public Instruction, Collegiate Education, Police and with the other concerned departments.

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