This is a strange advocacy for me. I am an advocate of prevention through enlightenment. That is why it is our core belief in matters of Child Protection is that Enlightenment is Superior to Enforcement™.
This piece is precipitated by the sad news that was posted on this platform last week. It reads, ‘a pupil died in one of the schools around us here. He was in school on Thursday last week as the story has it. But he was taken to hospital on Friday because he complained of pain on the chest. He was X-rayed and it was revealed he has lumps of blood around his chest area probably as a result of a fall. He passed on last Sunday but the story took a bitter twist when his family started making a case with the school that the boy fell in school but that the school management concealed it.’
I do this piece today, using this fresh but sad case as an opportunity for a clarion call to action.
The mere fact that a child dies in a school or under the care of a school does not make the school culpable except a clear case of negligence is established.
The question however is, what is the benchmark for culpability or otherwise. I think the benchmark for culpability is not good intentions alone. Interestingly, sincerity is not the leading the tool here.
What then is the benchmark? The global benchmark of establishing culpability or otherwise is whether there is a Child Protection System in place, codified into a policy, which carefully and professionally identifies the roles and responsibilities of every handler, the child comes across in the school and equip through consistent training, briefing and debriefing the handlers to play the assigned roles. Handler here will include everyone within the school system, who relate with the children directly or indirectly. The foregoing will include academic, non-academic, support staff, service providers and visitors.
The first question globally is always what professional measures are put in place for the protection of children at all times? The Child Protection System, codified in to a Child Protection Policy is a major game changer for the school in terms of the quality of protection available to the children and her defense against negligence.
Therefore, in cases like arise, the quality of protection and the culpability or otherwise of the school is determined by the existing Child Protection System and adherence to same.
Let me say finally that I have studied extensively the circumstances under which children have died in schools within our beloved country and please check it out; the schools are more often than not culpable. Their culpability is traceable to two fundamental issues: 1. Lack of Child Protection System codified into a policy; 2. Failure to adhere to the tenets of the Child Protection System due to internal compromises and lack of expertise to prevent or respond.
It is no more fashionable or professional to hang the protection of the precious children under our care the skeletal banner of hope. Professionalism and best practice demand that we take practical and effective steps toward the protection of our precious children.
The question, which all of us as teachers and school leaders must ask and answer now is very simple, does your school have a functional Child Protection System, codified into a policy? If you do, I rejoice with you that you have taken professional and globally compliant measures to ensure and assure the protection of the precious children under your care.
If you do not have a Child Protection System, codified into a Child Protection policy, I make bold to say, having spent over 19(nineteen) years and invested thousands of dollars, researching this subject matter and working with leading local and international organisations within and outside the educational sector, you are countless miles behind schedule in the protection of the precious children within your care. Therefore you cannot categorically say, with the strength of best practice and professionalism that the children under your care are safe and sadly, you are utterly defenseless, if cases of abuse occur within your institution of learning.
Permit me to rest my case here and advice that both parents and school leadership, in the case under review should call for a coroner enquiry into the cause and circumstances of death of the child as the immediate way forward, working with the Lagos State Government.
I, The Preacher shall be available for clarifications and professional guidance both at all level.
Do have an INSPIRED week.
Your IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PRECIOUS AFRICAN CHILD,
C) 2016 by Taiwo ‘ODINAKACHUWU’ AKINLAMI…All Rights Reserved
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