Evidence based practice

Child protection and respectful relationships education is the responsibility of the whole school community and is most effective as part of a whole school approach.

Why the learning matters

Students should be taught ways to protect themselves from abuse. They can be ‘enlightened without being frightened’. They can be taught to network with trusted adults and to be aware that there are people and services to help them within their community.

It is important to give students enough information so that, if faced with a situation of potential abuse, they can react quickly and seek protection effectively.

All children and young people have a right to:

  • be treated with respect and to be protected from harm
  • be asked for their opinions about things that affect their lives and to be listened to
  • feel and be safe in their interactions with adults and other children and young people
  • understand as early as possible what is meant by 'feeling and being safe'.

It is important that students learn that:

  • they should feel safe and have a right to be safe
  • some forms of touching are appropriate and others are inappropriate
  • appropriate touching can be an important part of positive relationships
  • they have a right to say NO to a person who touches them inappropriately or threatens their safety
  • it is important to tell trusted adults about such situations
  • they may have to keep on telling people until they are believed
  • help is available to them within their communities.

Acknowledging and addressing the issue of child abuse can help to remove the secrecy that protects the offender and can help prevent the lasting emotional damage caused to the victims by silence.

It has been recognised for several decades now that interventions are required to help children keep themselves safe from potentially abusive situations. The Council of Australian Governments’ National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children (Council of Australian Governments, 2009b) endorsed the need to raise children’s awareness about the risks of child sexual abuse and knowledge to foster protective behaviours which may in turn help to increase detection of abuse.

The importance of teaching child sexual abuse prevention education is endorsed in international guidelines from UNICEF and the World Health Organisation amongst others.

Learn more about the importance of child protection education.

A whole school approach

The development of a school environment and culture that models safe and respectful practices and is consistent in dealing with incidents of bullying and violence is as important a teaching tool as the formal curriculum.

School education is about preparing children and young people for healthy, fulfilling adult lives, including respectful and equal relationships. Childhood and adolescence are crucial periods for the formation of respectful, non-violent relationships later in life.

Programs should provide students with the tools to think critically about real-life situations, and assess and adapt their own values, attitudes and behaviours. Opportunities to address issues in the playground and programs to promote positive and respectful behaviours in the school environment will enhance the child protection education curriculum delivery. These programs could include activities focused on skills development, such as conflict resolution, negotiation and interpersonal skills to empower students to negotiate personal relationships. Modelling as an influence and supportive interactions, such as group work, cooperative learning, discussions, role-plays and behavioural rehearsal are also viewed as effective..

Learn more about how schools can meet their legislative requirements by addressing key department policies that directly relate to child protection education through PDHPE.

Child protection awareness training

All staff must have participated in an induction or child protection awareness training and an annual update (during the past 12 months).

Registers must be maintained in schools and workplaces of all staff child protection training. More information is available on the Child Protection website.

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