“So, can anyone tell me, what is meant by the term, vulnerable child?” asked the Child Protection Officer.
Silence fell across the meeting room as the sixty-plus teachers contemplated the question. The Child Protection Officer waited for an answer from her podium at the front.
“A CLA – a Child Looked After,” said the Art teacher. “Or any child who is statemented?”
“Correct,” said the Child Protection officer. “But apart from CLA’s in foster care, or statemented kids with SEN requirements, any child who needs some kind of support to attain average levels of mainstream education is termed vulnerable.”
A hushed snigger went round the room. The Child Protection Officer smiled. “Yes, you’ve caught on. That means most of the kids at this school, doesn’t it? Now then, next question. Can anyone tell me, what does the term neglect mean in regards to Child Protection?”
The Science teacher put up his hand. “Er… when a child isn’t getting the proper food and care?”
“That’s right. Neglect means when a child’s physical or psychological needs aren’t being met. Same question then, in relation to sexual abuse.”
“Rape,” said the P.E. teacher. “Incest. Subjecting a child to pornographic materials. An adult coercing a youngster into sex.”
“Yes,” said the Child Protection Officer. She shifted her stance on the podium, an air of discomfort about her expression. “How about physical abuse?”
The I.C.T teacher put up a hand. “I think physical abuse means excessive hitting of a child.”
An eruption of laughter broke out across the sixty-plus teachers.
“Excessive?” prompted the Child Protection Officer.
“Well… I think it’s ok to hit your child, but not to leave a bruise.”
“So a bruise is excessive?”
“I guess… yeah.” The I.C.T teacher gave an awkward smile.
The Media teacher sniggered. “We need to find ways to not bruise our kids then!”
“Hit them on the ankle or foot where it won’t be seen,” laughed the Learning Support teacher.
The Child Protection Officer gave a tight-lipped smile until the room descended into calm once more.
“Alright then, I think you’ve all established what excessive means.” She turned to the I.C.T teacher. “Oh… and welcome back from your maternity leave, Angela.”