Child protection guidelines

Prevention policies/activities in schools

Abuse is a serious matter and no-one deserves to be abused. Abuse can take a number of forms, all of which can be damaging to the victim.

Whenever Police or other resource people provide education about child protection, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • The school must have an effective child protection policy that clearly describe how to identify and respond to suspected abuse and neglect (as required under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014).
  • Everyone in the school community shares responsibility for preventing the abuse of children.
  • So that children can recognise, avoid and report abuse, they should be taught skills, knowledge and attitudes through regular and planned relationship education programmes (e.g. Kia Kaha and Keeping Ourselves Safe or Loves-Me-Not).
  • Abuse prevention and relationship education should take place at all school levels.
  • Lessons should not be unsupported one-off events, but should incorporate effective pedagogy.

In particular, it needs to be remembered that:

  • children don't always know that sex abuse is wrong and reportable
  • young children are not always capable of judging adults’ motives
  • abuse in family/whānau and close relationships is more damaging and significantly more likely than abuse by strangers – minimise teaching of 'stranger danger'
  • the core of learning activities for students should include identifying danger signals, asserting rights to be safe, identifying and respecting private anatomical parts, developing problem-solving and social skills, and gaining confidence to seek help.

Further information

For further information, see:

Response policies/activities in schools

Whenever child abuse, neglect, relationship violence, or cyberbullying is reported, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • All reports of abuse must be listened to and acted on.
  • Many people fail to report abuse in case their suspicions are wrong. Section 16 of the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act (1989) protects people who notify concerns of abuse in good faith from civil and criminal proceedings.
  • The child’s safety should always be the paramount consideration in the notification process.
  • No decisions or actions in respect of suspected or actual child abuse, neglect, relationship violence, or cyberbullying are to be made by any staff member in isolation unless there are concerns for the immediate safety of the child.
  • A consultative approach is essential to ensure the safety of the child and the staff member. Staff must discuss their concerns with the principal or nominated person/advocate. Where applicable, follow the board's complaint policy.
  • Decisions about informing parents or caregivers about suspected or actual child abuse or neglect should be made after consultation between the school and Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki.
  • Effective child protection requires a full, accurate and prompt sharing of information.

Further information

For further information, see:

Contact information

To find your local Police station go to www.police.govt.nz/contact-us/stations

Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki: telephone 0508 326 459 or email contact@mvcot@govt.nz

School–Police response protocol

School and local Police are encouraged to develop and agree protocols about when and how Police will respond to potential or actual offending by young people related to child abuse, relationship violence, serious and/or sustained assaults or other severe byullying.

This could be done as part of the Partnership agreement (DOC, 83KB) on how the Police and school partner together in general.

Suggestions as to when to involve Police in bullying are provided in Preventing and responding to bullying: A guide for schools (2015).

Specific guidelines for online abuse

Online abuse prevention policies/activities in schools

Whenever Police or other resource people provide education about online safety and responsible behaviour on the internet, learning outcomes should emphasise:

  • protection of personal information
  • responsible internet use
  • the consequences of poor decisions about disclosing personal information, including photographic imagery
  • options for seeking help.

Further information

Also see our sample online safety intervention plan:

Contact information

To find your local Police station go to www.police.govt.nz/contact-us/stations

Teachers and students can report concerns about online behaviour through the Online Reporting Button ORB.

Online abuse response policies/activities in schools

Whenever a case involving online child exploitation or cyberbullying is reported, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • The child’s safety should always be the paramount consideration in the notification process.
  • Privacy issues must be considered in respect of notifying parents/caregivers of online child exploitation, as young people may not want the circumstances disclosed to parents/caregivers.
  • Schools should seek guidance on the most appropriate course of action.

School–Police response protocol

Schools and local Police are encouraged to develop and agree protocols about when and how Police will respond to cases of online child exploitation.

This could be done as part of the Partnership agreement (DOC, 83KB) on how the Police and school partner together in general.