A message from “CRS” for parents about safeguarding in community schools

UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Dalia Younis ©
UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Dalia Younis ©

What does safeguarding mean?

Safeguarding is the Catholic Relief Services – CRS policy to ensure all staff and students are protected from any kind of harm which may include abuse, exploitation, harassment, discrimination, etc.

What is the difference between Abuse and Exploitation?

Abuse is when someone deliberately causes harm to another. This could happen among students, or between a staff member and a student. It includes hitting, slapping, kicking, punching, and saying hurtful things to another as well as any forced sexual activity or sexual activity between an adult and someone younger than 18.

Exploitation is when a staff member asks you or your child to do something in exchange for a service or favour. For example, if a teacher offered your child a good grade on an exam in exchange for money.

What are the warning signs of child abuse at School?

According to UNICEF, sometimes you may not be able to see clear signs, but if some of the following signs and signals are clear, it may become a red flag that there is a problem:

  • Physical marks (such as injuries or bruises) without a reason
  • The child does not want to go to school
  • A sudden change in the child’s behaviour
  • Aggressive or unjustified negative behaviour
  • A physical complaint that does not have a medical reason (such as difficulty sleeping or headache) 
  • Sudden decline in educational and academic achievement and difficulty concentrating

 

What is the code of conduct?

The code of conduct is a document that lists all Do’s and Don’ts that the school staff should abide by. School Managers are trained by CRS on developing it in their schools and commit their staff to sign it and respect it.

Message to the parents:

It is very important to CRS that your children are able to learn in a safe environment without any harm. CRS is working with schools to reduce physical safety hazards and clearly define acceptable and unacceptable behaviours between staff and students. We want to make sure you know that it is unacceptable for any CRS or school staff to:

  • Humiliate students or call them derogatory names
  • Ask for or accept gifts or personal favours from students or their parents
  • Send private messages via text or social media to students
  • Invite students to meet outside of school
  • Spend time alone with a student when no one else is around
  • Speak or touch a student inappropriately
  • Physically harm a student

In order for schools to be approved for grant applicants, they must agree to this code of conduct. We encourage you to inform your children of these prohibited behaviours and report if they occur by:

  • Informing the school manager and following up on the issue until there is an appropriate response and/or 
  • Informing CRS. “While we may not be able to resolve issues that do not directly involve CRS staff, we will always listen to your concerns and try to support as best we can”.

Working Days: Sunday – Thursday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM except for National Holidays. For any further inquiries please call: 

Mobile number: 01285003114 / 01000564747

Email: infoegypt@crs.org

Facebook Page: @CatholicReliefServicesEgypt

For suggestions and complaints on WhatsApp: 01000564747

Suggestions or complaints box at CRS office: 33 Street 106, Maadi

Why is CRS giving focus to this matter?

CRS has launched a new project that works on enhancing safeguarding inside community schools. CRS is working with schools to reduce physical safety hazards and clearly define acceptable and unacceptable behaviours between staff and students. As key actors in students’ safety, CRS makes sure parents and caregivers know what behaviours are unacceptable and know how to report if they occur.

How does CRS deal with the reported cases?

If CRS receives a report about unacceptable staff behaviour, CRS will first offer information on available health and psycho-social services, if needed. They will then escalate the case to the CRS safeguarding focal point and the focal point will contact the reporter to ask any follow-up questions and discuss any risks related to the next steps.

Each case is dealt with uniquely depending on the specifics of the incident, but all reports will be treated seriously and confidentially.

However, it is important to note that while CRS is always willing to listen to concerns and support as much as possible, CRS’s ability to address concerns about non-CRS staff is limited. For complaints about school staff behaviour, CRS strongly recommends first addressing the issue with school management, if possible.

Are there any consequences on me or my child in case of reporting?

Reporting is tackled very confidentially. Upon receiving your report, the CRS safeguarding focal point will contact you first before taking further action to discuss the next steps and any associated risks. CRS would never disclose the identity of the person that reported without their consent.

What is my role as a parent?

  • Inform your kids about the staff behaviours that are unacceptable
  • Inform your kids that they can tell you if anything happens at school that makes them feel uncomfortable. 
  • Listen intently if they talk about any problem that happened to them at school or if they were subjected to any abuse at school.
  • Report any concerns you have about staff behaviour to school management and/or CRS.

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