In an effort to strengthen its child safeguarding measures, APC and ESSC organized a series of workshops among its teachers, students, and staff, with the goal of developing them into competent and compassionate safe guardians of children and vulnerable adults.
A Basic Orientation Workshop on Safeguarding of Minors (BOWS) for APC teachers and ESSC staff as undertaken on 6-10 May 2019, facilitated by child safeguarding specialists Carmen La Viña, PhD and Gabriel Dy-Liacco, PhD of the Catholic Safeguarding Institute of EMMAUS Center for Psycho-Spiritual Formation., with support from the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.
The workshop tackled relevant child safeguarding concerns such as protecting minors and vulnerable adults from abuse, identifying risk factors and signs of abuse, responding to cases of abuse within the community, implementing appropriate formative parental action to children, and preventing harmful and abusive behavior from occurring.
The workshop also provided a space for participants to share their comments and concerns such as responding to child safeguarding threats outside the school premises and evaluating the effectiveness of corrective actions commonly practiced at home.
The facilitators emphasized the importance of cultural values in deciding appropriate action towards children.
“Which aspects of culture are helpful in protecting our children? Which are not? Which should be sustained? These are things that should be considered (in creating child safeguarding measures),” La Viña noted.
The workshop culminated in a drafting of child protection principles related to the most common types of relationships: child-to-child, child-to community member, child-to-staff, and staff-to-staff.
Echoing learnings to other staff
The highlights of the first workshop were echoed to other Bendum-based staff in another child protection workshop held on 11 June 2019 where the appropriate methods of proactive engagement with the youth in activities such as field work and community visits were discussed. These include:
- Staff should continuously work on establishing a strong relationship with children and youth that is based on trust and mutual respect.
- Continuous capacity-building for both the youth and the staff are necessary for a deeper understanding of their rights and responsibilities.
- Engagement with the youth is an ongoing process. There are no shortcuts for dealing with matters when seeking the best interests of the child. Communicating, listening, and reflecting are helpful in effective youth accompaniment.
Raising awareness among students
APC students also reflected on their rights and responsibilities in promoting their own welfare through a workshop facilitated by APC Deputy School Manager and Child Safeguarding Officer Mercy Pakiwag.
During the workshop, the students identified the boundaries between men and women, and among young people and adults, discussed the definition of vulnerable persons, and learned about creating a “safe self” where they make themselves and other people safe and they become conscious of actions that may potentially make others feel unsafe.
Posters about the schools child safeguarding policies were put on school buildings and the Dalēpaan to remind both students and staff on their roles in maintaining a safe and healthy environment for everyone and what to do when child safeguarding concerns arise.
APC’s Child Safeguarding Policies and Procedures in PDF can be accessed here.