The ASEAN Journal of Education ASEAN Journal of Education

Child Protection Policy Compliance in a Catholic Educational Institution


Karen L. Zamora1 , Dennis V. Madrigal,2 ,


Abstract

Child protection policy is a statement of commitment of schools to safeguard children from harm and foster their holistic development and welfare. Using a sequential explanatory mixed method design, the paper examines the extent of compliance of the Catholic educational institution in the Philippines with the Department of Education (Dep.Ed.) Order No.40 on Child Protection Policy. The participants of the study are school personnel and parents of the Basic Education Department who assesses the extent of the school’s compliance with the Child Protection Policy in the areas of the school environment and admission policy, school personnel, information and procedures, safety measures for children, prevention and intervention programs, and personnel training and development. The investigation further seeks to determine the insights of the participants into the child protection practices of the school. The data are gathered using a validated researcher-made questionnaire and a semi-structured interview. The findings show that the Catholic educational institution has complied with the provisions of the child protection policy yet the personnel training and development are partially complied. A significant difference was found in the extent of compliance of the Catholic educational institution with the child protection policy when the assessors are grouped according to their classification. It is recommended that child protection should be integrated into the quality management system of the school to establish quality assurance measure in dealing with child protection related matters.

Introduction

 

Child Protection Policy is a statement of commitment of schools to safeguard children from harm which, if effectively implemented, can foster their holistic development and welfare. The policy further serves as the basis for the quality of protection that academic institution can provide for the children in school (Broadley & Goddard, 2015). Accordingly, child protection policy advocates the right of children to be safe and secured of their needs for their complete development and success in life (The Inter-Parliamentary Union and UNICEF, 2004).

 

Moreover, studies on the international legal system and child developmental pointed out that child protection has evolved to upholding children's dignity and welfare as human beings by educating individuals, teaching skills, monitoring progress, and delivering effective support services (Fiorvanti et al., 2014). Correspondingly, all school personnel need to enrich themselves with the appropriate knowledge, training, and skills on child protection (Appleton, 2012).  In Asia and the Pacific regions, child protection policies are in place, but their implementation is weak and not thoroughly systematic. Similarly, the personnel in the academic community are uncertain as to what constitutes child protection regarding its extent, interpretation, preventions, and responses (UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, 2012).

 

In the Philippines, the 1987 Constitution provides that “the State shall defend the right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to their development” (Article XV section 3 item B). However, the nationwide policies on child protection are inadequate due to narrow understanding and the presence of gaps in its application in schools (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2012). In response, Dep.Ed. 40 s. 2012, also known as the Child Protection Policy was designed and implemented to provide the framework and guidelines for the protection of children in school from violence, exploitation, discrimination, and other forms of abuse.

 

Evidently, a safe and healthy environment is an essential element of school's health. Jones et al. (2007) stress the importance for schools to attend to the pressing environment safety concerns for children to completely develop and maximize their full potentials. For children, the school environment serves as the platform for interaction within the socio-psychological framework of the school (Kaur & Kumar, 2012). In the same way, the schools must guarantee the best interest of children (Adam, 2008) when it comes to their safety and security. Thus, it is imperative that the school environment must be safe for children to achieve fruitful learning. The children who are exposed to stress are believed to be those who are not physically secure in their surroundings. Thus they cannot attain holistic learning. Thus, a safe and healthy school environment for children serves as a foundation for their outstanding performance and achievements (Robers et al., 2012).

 

In this context, the school personnel acting as second parents of children in school must perform their functions for the welfare of the students (Fiorvanti & Brassard, 2014). The duty and the responsibility to prevent and mitigate untoward incidents and to take care of children during emergencies are compulsory to all school personnel. The continuous evaluation of the existing safety measures of the school must be performed faithfully to ensure children’s safety and to anticipate possible challenges in its implementation. Also, proper and close coordination among school personnel together with the parents is critical to the safety and protection of children (Ewton, 2014).

 

Consistent with its vision-mission to provide a well-rounded formation of the human person, the Catholic academic institution under study formulated and implemented policies and guidelines on Child Protection in consonance with Dep,Ed, 40 to ensure the safety and security of all students in school. Hence, this study was conceived to determine the extent of its compliance with the Child Protection Policy.  The findings of the study were utilized for designing a Capacity Building Program for school personnel that will fill in the gaps on the school’s child protection policy through the enhancement of effective personnel recruitment, continuous information dissemination, personnel training, and collaboration among concerned parties.

 


Key words: Child Protection, Health and Safety, Policies, Quality Assurance
     
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