How the Sisters of Mary protect the children in their care

The Sisters of Mary formalised child protection policy supports their practices to ensure that all children are protected from any form of violence, exploitation, discrimination, bullying and any other form of abuse prejudicial to their development. The policy provides staff and Sisters at the schools with clear guidance on how to approach safeguarding and the protection of children. The policy covers visitors to the programme and also applies to DBS checked WVC  staff during their visits to the schools for compliance and programme monitoring.

The child protection policy has been developed by reference to legislation from overseas authorities and agencies in all the regions where the schools are based. In all countries the policies adhere to national statutory guidelines and the programmes and their implementation are regularly checked, audited and inspected for compliance - including interviews with the children.  

All staff maintain their training in safeguarding and stay updated on changing legislation with the help of seminars and courses provided by the national ministries. The policies for each school reflect the obligations of the Sisters of Mary to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children in their care above all else and also provide guidelines for the children to protect them in their time outside of school where they are considered more vulnerable. In the Philippines there is an independent ombudsman provided to support the children and families inside and outside school with matters relating to their care. He carries out his duties neutrally and is available for any child or employee to contact.

The child protection policy applies to all children regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity. 

Scope

The child protection and anti-bullying policy covers all children in the care of the Sisters even if over the age of 18. It covers all members of the school administration, faculty, staff and any partners and stakeholders involved in the interests of the children at the Sisters of Mary schools.  

Protection of children is at the heart of the Sisters of Mary programmes. Secondary age children live-in school with the Sisters full-time for the duration of their studies, from the age of 12 until 18. Each school is a same sex, self-contained and secure educational village where the children sleep, eat and learn in peace and safety. The physical security of these villages is a priority to protect all the children and everyone working for the programmes.

Within the schools, the welfare of the children is paramount and the Sisters keep the children safe by proactive, 24 hour vigilence and ensuring that all members of the schools comply with the terms of the child protection and anti-bullying policy which are practical, constant and robust.  They ensure the rights of children are respected and upheld in all matters and procedures affecting their welfare by ensuring that all members of the community, visitors and guests are made aware of the child protection policy.

The school principal and local superior are ultimately responsible for child protection at the schools and all schools have an appointed Child Protection Committees (CPC) composed of school staff, counsellors and the Sisters. The CPC disseminates information regarding the child protection policy and ensures training and capacity building for all staff and Sisters in child protection matters. The CPC also develops and implements a referral and monitoring system for children who may have suffered harm prior to their time at school, providing referral to the appropriate local welfare or police authorities where necessary.  They monitor the implementation of positive measures and effective procedures within school to provide the necessary support for the child and those who care for the child and ensure training and updating for all staff where necessary.

In practice

In addition to the formalised child protection policy, the student manual, the studies of the children at school, teacher coaching and the programme of their daily activities raise awareness of children's rights through role playing, essay writing and school wide initiatives centred on the development of healthy relationships and understanding of and respect for individual differences.  

Report from Sister Elena Belarmino on behalf of the Sisters of Mary programmes

By the grace of God, we have never had any incidents of abuse since the time we started and we hope and pray that it will never happen. All our sisters are in constant supervision even during class hours and evening time, Sisters take turns in going around mainly to see to it that when any one of our children is sick, medical attention could immediately be given and so that the teachers and other personnel do their duties properly and are properly supervised and monitored.

Our teachers and employees know that everything we do is for the welfare of the children and the poor we take care of and educate.

If you would like a copy of the Sisters of Mary's Child Protection policy in relation to any of the country programmes please email enquiries@worldvillages.org.uk or call us on 0207 629 3050.