So last weekend we hosted an international child safeguarding conference here at ASP, with over 150 participants representing 24 countries from all around the world, and you know what…it was really, really heavy. It was run by the committed and inspiring leaders of CIS (Council of International Schools), who hit us all very hard over the four days with the “why” behind this non-negotiable reality…that we need to make child safeguarding the top priority of international schools around the globe.
As a school, we arranged a half day release for our students so each and every english speaking faculty and staff member could go through specific sessions and keynotes, and we all left forever changed. The opening keynote began with the promise that “there is life before this conference, and life after this conference”, suggesting that the participants would be profoundly impacted as a result of what they learned…and they were right. It was intense, disrupting, and ultimately incredibly inspiring to know that we have embraced this initiative as a community to better protect our kids…what could be more important than that?
I came away from the deep dive session on Saturday evening feeling validated that we have a really strong safeguarding foundation in place as a school, but also a little overwhelmed by the work that we have left to do to become a leading school internationally in this area. As the designated child safeguarding lead for ASP, I am personally passionate about this work, and excited to engage with all of our stakeholders to ensure that we have put all measures in place to protect our kids from every possible angle.
Historically, International Schools have not done a good enough job of protecting our children from physical and sexual abuse and neglect, and we haven’t been great at identifying and reporting low level concerns…that needs to change. CIS is taking the lead as a organization, and as only the 2nd international school from around the world to take part in the CIS Child Protection Conference training, we need international school leaders to get in front of this right away…every school is affected by this in one way or another, even if they don’t know it yet, and the statistics and stories that were shared throughout the conference opened up our eyes to the urgency of this work…please go down this road as a school if you haven’t already…it’s a responsibility that cannot be ignored any longer.
Over the next several weeks we will be training our coaches, our French speaking faculty and staff, and looking for ways to ensure that every adult that comes in contact with our children (volunteers, interns, parents) has the proper safeguarding training, as well as a deep understanding of the “why” behind the work. We will also be meeting with an outside consultant to audit our facility spaces, to make sure that we haven’t left any stone unturned. I’m proud of our school for taking this on, and even though it will take an incredible amount of time and effort and resources, it will be worth every second and every penny. To save even one child from harm in the future will make this work worthwhile, but I have a strong feeling that it’s going to save many more than just one.
Thank you CIS for leading this out for our international world, and thank you in advance to the international schools who will bring a safeguarding conference to their community in the near future…don’t wait…your children’s safety is at stake. Here is a beautiful poem that speaks to the importance of rallying as a community so we are all in this together. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Whose Child Is This?
‘Whose child is this? ‘ I asked one day
Seeing a little one out at play
‘Mine’, said the parent with a tender smile
‘Mine to keep a little while
To bathe her hands and comb her hair
To tell her what she is to wear
To prepare her that she may always be good
And each day do the things she should’
‘Whose child is this? ‘ I asked again
As the door opened and someone came in
‘Mine’, said the teacher with the same tender smile
‘Mine, to keep just for a little while
To teach her how to be gentle and kind
To train and direct her dear little mind
To help her live by every rule
And get the best she can from school’
‘Whose child is this? ‘ I ask once more
Just as the little one entered the door
‘Ours’ said the parent and the teacher as they smiled
And each took the hand of the little child
‘Ours to love and train together
Ours this blessed task forever.’
– Jessie Girl Rivera
Quote of the Week…
Every child you encounter is a divine appointment
– Wess Stafford
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