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Stakeholders Come Together, Form Child Protection Task Force

By Bambi Betts

05/06/2014

Many readers of The International Educator may be aware of recent incidents of alleged child abuse that have shocked, saddened and concerned our international school community.

Child protection and well-being are among our most important responsibilities, so when incidents of abuse are reported, we ask ourselves, What more should we be doing?

Very recently, significant work was done to produce a Child Protection Handbook, led by Dennis Larkin and published by the Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA), with support from the Office of Overseas Schools, U.S. Department of State. This resulted in the revision and strengthening of accreditation standards for child protection and well-being by the Council of International Schools (CIS) as well as U.S. accreditation agencies.

In addition to these outstanding efforts, all of us continue to re-examine our policies and practices. Many discussions are taking place around the world–in schools, in recruiting agencies, and in the organizations that support and evaluate international school practices.

To consolidate our efforts and at the request of the European Council of International Schools (ECIS), an International Task Force on Child Protection has been assembled to review and assess existing standards, policies and practices to ensure we are doing everything we can to ensure child safety.

Our charter is to apply our collective resources, expertise, and partnerships to help international school communities address child protection challenges. This task force will undertake three actions:

1. Collect, review and assess external accreditation, inspection and other evaluation processes, standards and indicators used to regulate, evaluate and monitor school practices designed to ensure child protection and well-being, and determine what measures need to be put into place to ensure their effectiveness.

2. Assess the role of international recruiting organizations, to ensure schools have access to the best possible information to make informed decisions about candidates.

3. Collect, review, create and provide resources for school communities to establish effective operational policies and practices for the selection of school employees, and to provide training resources to ensure child protection and well-being.

We are in the process of contacting international recruiting agencies and organizations, as well as accreditation, inspection, and other external evaluation agencies to establish sub-committees that will address actions 1 and 2. A sub-committee of international school heads will be convened to discuss action 3.

We will keep you updated about our progress and look forward to hearing from you.

Task Force members currently include:
- Bambi Betts, Executive Director, Academy of International School Heads (AISH)
- Elsa Lamb, Executive Director, Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE)
- Colin Bell, Chief Executive Officer, Council of British International Schools (COBIS)
- Jane Larsson, Executive Director, Council of International Schools (CIS)
- Ed Greene, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, European Council of International Schools (ECIS)
- Roger Hove, President, International Schools Services (ISS)
- Christine Brown, Regional Education Officer, Office of Overseas Schools, U.S. Department of State.




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06/13/2014 - dannie
Thank you for taking the initiative on this difficult and problematic issue. Recent world events have focused on the vulnerability of our schools from Nigerian kidnappings to international schools around the world. Just ask Malala. external inspections and assessment is a first step. Hanging the screening on the recruiting agencies is an obvious step.

Thank you for your work in this effort. From crisis and shock come opportunity. We can make our schools safer.

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