Child Protection Plan For The American Boychoir School

INTRODUCTION

Out of concern for the welfare of our students, their families, our faculty and our staff, The American Boychoir School is committed to a comprehensive child abuse prevention program. For adults who work with children, there are few concerns more difficult to acknowledge, comprehend, and discuss. We are committed to ensuring the safety of our community through a thorough evaluation of employees and volunteers, professional training, careful supervision and attention to the safety and well being of each individual child.

Isolation and Access
Abuse can occur when the child and abuser are isolated from others. No staff member may be alone with a student behind closed doors. Staff may not be alone in a car or in any other place with a child unless there is an open door and the child is in plain view. Staff members should work together to identify all visitors to our campus.

Corporal Punishment
The American Boychoir School prohibits any kind of corporal punishment including spanking, slapping, and shaking. The school also prohibits any physical punishment inflicted by one boy on another.

Facts about Child Abuse
Child abuse is a non-accidental injury, pattern of injuries or absence of care for a child (18 years or younger). It includes physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. According to the most recent national data from the national Children's Bureau (1999) there were approximately 3 million reports of abuse and neglect involving 826,000 victims in the United States.

Of those children reported, approximately 58% suffered from neglect, 21% from physical abuse, 11% were sexually abused and another 36% were victims of other types of maltreatment including "abandonment", "threat of harm", and "congenital drug addiction." Psychological (emotional) abuse, medical neglect and "other" account for 11% of the reports. (The percentages add up to more 100% since many children are reported for more than one type of abuse.) More than half of the reports came from professionals who work with children. Male and female children are almost equally reported except for sexual abuse where girls are three times more often reported than are boys. Parents were the identified perpetrators for four out of five reports. In the State of New Jersey, the Statute pertaining to Child Abuse and Neglect can be viewed on the internet under Title 9:6-8.

Definitions
The following definitions are provided for employees and volunteers at The American Boychoir School. It is important to note that we are responsible for recognizing and reporting possible abuse and neglect of our boys by others who are not at the School, including their parents, relatives and guardians.

The term "institution" means any facility other than a home and it applies to our school.
Note: Children also abuse and/or molest other children. Anytime there is an unequal distribution of power in a relationship, or if there is an element of force or sexual activity, that activity should be viewed as abusive.

Caretaker: A person must be a "caretaker" to be a perpetrator. Employees of the American Boychoir School are considered caretakers. New Jersey law defines caretaker as: 1)"Any person, employee or volunteer, whether compensated of uncompensated, who is responsible for the child's welfare for any period of time and in any manner; 2) Any person who has a legal duty for or voluntarily assumes the care, custody or supervision of the child in the institution for any period of time and in any manner; 3) Any staff member of, or volunteer in, an institution regardless of whether or not the staff member or volunteer is responsible for the care, custody or supervision of the child for any period of time in any manner."

Child neglect in an institution includes any omissions of care by persons responsible for children that jeopardize them in a way that can lead to physical or emotional injury. This includes inadequate or improper supervision, danger to life, health, mental or social adjustment. Neglect may be noted by a failure to supervise, to educate and to set limits. It may include failure to protect a child from the physical abuse of others, include delay in seeing health care, driving without seat belts or while intoxicated, or leaving a child improperly supervised at a swimming area. American Boychoir School staff may also detect neglect because of poor personal hygiene or improper dress for the season.

Emotional abuse includes acts that cause serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders. For example, a caretaker may use bizarre forms of punishment, such as confinement in a dark closet. Emotional abuse is often characterized by threats that cause extreme fear in the child. It may include instances of berating, ridiculing, rejecting or verbally abusing a child, or allowing others to behave similarly toward the child. There are no visible scars or injuries and the effects may be difficult to identify but the damage can be great. It may also include deprivation of food, proper shelter or required sleep. It is emotionally abusive for staff to remain passive when a child is being bullied, berated or otherwise injured by other staff or children.

Some behaviors that may be noted are withdrawn and antisocial behavior, sleep disorders, obsessive-compulsive behavior, phobias, or hypochondria. Also of note is extreme passivity or aggression.
Parental behavior may help us distinguish between the emotionally abused child and the emotionally disturbed child. Parents of an abused child may ignore or minimize their child’s behavior or to blame him for it.

Physical abuse occurs when the person(s) responsible for the child's care inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon a child, any bodily injury that cannot be sufficiently explained which may include, but is not limited to, one of the following: marks, bruises and/or welts, cuts, punctures, unexplained fractures, lacerations, abrasions, scratches, broken bones and fractured skulls, burns, human bite marks, internal injuries, suspicious scars, handprints, finger marks. —Bruises and scrapes can be expected as a result of normal childhood activities. An abused child, however, may have bruises on the abdomen or back areas of the body.

Be alert to a history that is incompatible with the injury, and to injuries that appear older than the history. Be mindful of occurrences of harsh punishment that is presented as "discipline."

Sexual abuse occurs when the person responsible for the child's care commits or allows to be committed an act of sexual abuse against a child. This may include rape, sexual intercourse, anal intercourse, fellatio, cunnilingus, manipulation of the child's genitals, buttocks or breasts; exposure of the child's genitals or permitting the child to view another's genitals for the purpose of exhibitionism. It also occurs when someone forces a child to engage in sexual activity with another child, adult, or animal. Sexual abuse occurs if anyone entices permits or encourages a child to be photographed for any obscene material.

Be alert for children who report sexual experiences, who are sexually aggressive with others, who act seductively with other children or adults, or whose knowledge and preoccupation with sexual matters is inappropriate for age and development. Be mindful of a child's reluctance to be left alone with a particular person, persistent inappropriate sex play with peers, wearing lots of clothing (especially to bed), fear of touch, eating disorders, abuse of animals, masturbation in public, nightmares or apprehension when the subject of sex or genitals is brought up.

There are no valid predictors of who will sexually molest a child. Do not assume that a person you know could not possibly molest a child. Sex offenders are difficult to detect and often present with the most respectable and benign appearance.

It should also be noted that child on child sexual abuse can be as damaging to a child as adult on child sexual abuse. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry warns of "sexual behavior between a child and an adult or between two children when one of them is older and uses coercion." Sexual activity between children is never permissible under any circumstances.

DISCOVERY AND DISCLOSURE OF ABUSE

American Boychoir School staff may suspect that a student has been abused or the student may volunteer such information. In either case, your response is important.

Do not criticize the student or claim that he misunderstood what happened. All children are to be assumed as truthful. At some future time, we may learn that the child's statements were untrue but it is never our place to challenge a child's statements.

Do not attempt to examine or closely interview the student. It is not our responsibility to investigate or interrogate. If you question a child too closely, you may confuse or frighten him.

Respect the child's privacy. Take him to a place where you can talk without distractions but in plain view of other adults.

Reassure the child that he is not to blame for what happened.

Do not make promises you cannot keep. Never tell a child that you will keep his secret. Make it clear that you must report anything that presents harm to him or anyone else. You are doing it because you care about him and because it is the law that you do so.

Encourage the student to tell the proper authorities what happened but even if he refuses, you must report according to school Protocol so that the problem can be reported to the proper authorities.
American Boychoir School staff should exercise extreme caution in drawing conclusions about who might have committed the abuse. Identification of a perpetrator is the responsibility of the state child protective services agency (the Division of Youth and Family Services [DYFS], which is responsible for investigating child abuse and neglect).

Do make notes of the event, of what was said to you and of what you saw. Note the date time, place and whomever was present or involved.

REPORTING PROTOCOL FOR AMERICAN BOYCHOIR SCHOOL

If you have any reason to believe or suspect that a child known to you at the School has been a victim of child abuse and/or neglect, you are legally obligated to initiate a report. You need not have proof or evidence. You only need to suspect that an event, or incident, has occurred or will occur. The American Boychoir School has designated the President (or in his or her absence, the designee) to be the contact with Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). You must immediately notify the President of your concerns. Do not wait until the next day or the end of a weekend. Report at once.

The President will report suspected cases of child abuse to the Department of Youth and Family Services. All staff members need to be acquainted with the policy and procedures in Appendix B. Everyone needs to be prepared to detect and report child abuse, whether perpetrated by parents, American Boychoir School staff, or others.

NO LIABILITY FOR REPORTING ABUSE
All states provide immunity from liability to reporters of suspected child abuse when the report is made in good faith. You will be held harmless from lawsuits or retribution even if you were incorrect in your assumptions as long as you made your report without malice or deceit. No one can dissuade you from reporting. A sample reporting form is included in Appendix A. The official inquiry into allegations of abuse is the responsibility of the trained DYFS investigator.

REPORTING A FELLOW STAFF PERSON
Any staff person who fails to report suspected abuse in order to protect a peer, colleague or friend will be viewed as aiding and supporting the abuse. Your primary responsibility is to protect the minor children. Failure to do so, in an attempt to protect another person, may prevent you from any liability protection.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT
The American Boychoir School prohibits any kind of corporal punishment including spanking, slapping, and shaking. The school also prohibits any physical punishment inflicted by one boy on another.

OPENNESS WITH PARENTS
American Boychoir School staff and parents need to work together to provide a safe environment for our students. The Parent Handbook contains a section on child protection. Parents should feel free to speak with the President and the Dean of Students about these issues.

CUSTODY ARRANGEMENTS
The American Boychoir School needs to be kept abreast of changes in custody arrangements for students. The custodial parents should be reminded to inform us of threats made by non-custodial parents. Custodial parents should be notified of unscheduled visits made by non-custodial parents. However, every attempt should be made to protect the child from any parental disputes that might cause emotional distress.

REPORTING PROCEDURES
All situations in which abuse is suspected will be referred immediately to the President, who serves as the primary child abuse coordinator. The Dean of Students is designated the secondary abuse coordinator. The President (or the Dean of Students in his or her absence) will initiate an investigation by the Department of Youth and Family Services if he or she feels there are reasonable grounds to suspect abuse.

The entire staff is expected to be vigilant for identifying the maltreatment of students.

EMERGENCY PROCEDURES
If a student is in immediate danger or if medical care is needed call 911. The President must be notified immediately, and he or she will notify parents.

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