Child Protection

All staff employed at the American Community School must report suspected incidences of child abuse or neglect whenever the staff member has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering abuse or neglect.  Reporting and follow up of all suspected incidents of child abuse or neglect will proceed in accordance with administrative regulation/practice as outlined in the Emergency Response Manual. Furthermore, cases of suspected child abuse or neglect may be reported to the appropriate employer, to the respective consulate in Amman, to the appropriate child protection agency in the home country, and/or local authorities.

This policy will be distributed to all staff annually and be included in the application packets. Training will be provided on an annual basis to ensure the ACS staff is informed and educated about child protection issues. Every effort will be made to implement hiring practices to ensure the safety of children.

In the case a staff member is reported as an alleged offender, the Superintendent will conduct a full investigation following a carefully designed course of due process.

Definitions of Abuse and Neglect

Child maltreatment is any act, intentional or not, that results in harm, potential harm, or the threat of harm to a child. The failure to provide for a child’s needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm is also child maltreatment. The four types of child maltreatment include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Each one is different, yet harmful to the child. Sensitive educators can pick up cues of possible maltreatment by observing children’s behavior at school, observing physical signs, or during routine interviews with parents. It is important to note that the recognition of child maltreatment is based on a cluster of indicators that form a picture of abuse rather than on the detection of one or two clues (similar indications can be observed for spousal abuse).

Physical Abuse

  • Any physical or threatened injury, inflicted by a person responsible for the child’s care on a child other than by accidental means. Injuries include bruises, cuts, bites, scalding, bone fracture, welts, burns, wounds, punctures, or malnutrition. 
  • Any injury resulting from physical punishment that requires medical treatment is considered outside the realm of normal disciplinary measures.

  • Any physical injury that cannot reasonably be explained by the child’s history of injuries.

Possible Indicators of Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained bruises and welts on any part of the body

  • Bruises of different ages (various colors)

  • Injuries reflecting the shape of the article used (electric cord, belt, buckle, paddle, hand)

  • Injuries that regularly appear after absence or vacation

  • Unexplained burns, especially to soles, palms, back, or buttocks

  • Burns with a pattern from an electric burner, iron, or cigarette

  • Rope burns on arms, legs, neck, or torso

  • Injuries inconsistent with information offered by the child

  • Immersion burns with a distinct boundary line

  • Unexplained lacerations, abrasions, or fractures

Sexual Abuse

  • Subjection by the child’s parent, guardian, or person responsible for the child’s care, to any act which constitutes criminal sexual conduct, intrafamilial abuse of incest. Sexual contact is intentional touching/fondling of the victim's own intimate parts or the intimate parts of another person. The touching can occur over the victim’s clothing. Intimate parts refer to the primary genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttocks, or breast. Sexual abuse may include threatened sexual abuse, child pornography, and juvenile prostitution.
  • Sexual abuse vs. sexual assault: Most U.S. State laws distinguish between abuse/assault based on who has committed the acts. It is defined as ‘abuse’ if it was committed by a person responsible for the care of the child. It is defined as ‘assault’ if it is committed by a person who is not responsible for the care of the child.

Possible Indicators of Sexual Abuse

  • Sexual knowledge, behavior, or use of language not appropriate to age level

  • Unusual interpersonal relationship patterns

  • Venereal disease in a child of any age

  • Evidence of physical trauma or bleeding in the oral, genital, or anal areas

  • Difficulty in walking or sitting

  • Refusing to change into PE clothes, fear of bathrooms/locker rooms

  • Child running away from home and not 

  • giving any specific complaint

  • Not wanting to be alone with an individual

  • Extremely protective parenting

Child Neglect

  • Failure by a parent, guardian, or another person responsible for the child’s care to supply a child with necessary food, clothing, shelter or medical treatment when reasonably able to do so. 
  • Failure to protect a child from conditions or actions which imminently and seriously endanger the child’s physical and mental health when reasonably able to do so.  

  • Children without necessary subsistence, education, or other care because the parent neglects or refuses to provide such care.

  • This is characterized by failure to provide for a child's basic needs, including, physical neglect: refusal of or delay in seeking health care, abandonment, inadequate supervision and expulsion from home, or refusing to allow a runaway to return home.
    Educational neglect: permission of chronic truancy, failure to enroll a child of mandatory school age, and inattention to a special educational need.
    Emotional neglect: includes such actions as chronic or extreme spouse abuse in the child’s presence, permission of drug or alcohol use by the child, and refusal or failure to provide needed psychological care.

  • In international schools and settings, it is very important to distinguish between neglect and a parent’s or caretaker’s failure to provide necessities of life because of cultural norms.

Possible Indicators of Child Neglect

  • Child is unwashed or hungry

  • Parents are uninterested in the child’s academic performance

  • Parents do not respond to repeated communications from the school

  • Child does not want to go home

  • Both parents are absent from Amman for any period of 24 hours or greater, without appropriate provision made for child’s care, and a temporary guardian named

  • Parents can not be reached in the case of emergency

Emotional Abuse

  • An injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of the child’s ability to function within a normal range of performance and behavior with due regard to the child’s culture. Document: intensity, frequency, and duration.
  • Emotional abuse includes acts or omissions by the parents or other persons responsible for the child’s care that have caused, or could cause serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders

  • Emotional abuse is the most difficult form of child abuse to identify. Some effects of emotional abuse may only become evident in later developmental stages in the child’s life. The behavior of emotionally abused and emotionally disturbed children is often similar. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms of abuse are identified.

  • For the abused or neglected individual, behavioral indicators may exist alone or may accompany physical indicators. Behavior indicators serve as warning signals that a child may be experiencing abuse.

What happens when an ACS Employee has reasonable cause to suspect abuse?

These indicators of abuse and neglect will be used by the staff member as a guideline for reporting to the counselor, who will determine if the case needs further attention.  A report must be made when a staff member has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect.  All reports are confidential.

What happens after suspected abuse or neglect is reported?

Where there is cause to suspect child abuse or neglect, it is the responsibility of the staff member to report his or her suspicions to the counselor, or to the principal if the counselor is not available. In all cases, the principal will be notified. It is the responsibility of the principal to inform the head of the school of the suspected case of child abuse or neglect.What happens after suspected abuse or neglect is reported?

All staff, faculty, and administrators are mandated to report incidences of abuse and neglect. All ACS employees are also required to report suspicion of abuse or neglect. All reports of abuse and neglect must be made to the counselor within 48 hours for immediate response.  If imminent danger is suspected, the 48 hour time allowance does not apply. It should be reported immediately to the counselor or principal as a determination must be made if it is safe for the child to go home that day.

Reporting Procedures

Step 1:  Information Gathering

When a child reports abuse or there is reasonable cause to believe that abuse is occurring, the teacher will seek advice from the grade level counselor or building administrator within 48 hours. If imminent danger is suspected, the 48 hour time allowance does not apply.  It should be reported immediately to the counselor or principal as a determination must be made if it is safe for the child to go home that day.  After the counselor interviews the child, they will notify the school-based response team, and then take initial steps to gather information regarding the reported incident. The response team will include the division administrator, counselor, psychologist, school nurse, and other individuals as the principal sees fit. In all cases, follow-up activities will be conducted in a manner that ensures that information is documented factually and that strict confidentiality is maintained. The following procedure will be used:

  1. Interview staff members as necessary and document information relative to the case

  2. Consult with school personnel to review the child’s history in the school

  3. If warranted, forward report to the Child Protection Team (See Flow Chart)

  4. If a report is not substantiated, the Counselor will keep electronic records stored in the Safeguarding Team Drive.

Based on the acquired information, a plan of action will be developed by the Child Protection Team to assist the child and family. Actions that shall take place are:

  • Administrator and counselor (and others as deemed necessary) meet with family, present the School’s concerns, review the Child Protection Policy, and establish an action plan

  • On-going observations of the child by the teacher, counselor, or administrator

Possible follow-up actions include:

  • Referral of the student and family to external professional counseling with Release of Information to counselor

  • Contact sponsoring employer regarding concerns

  • Consultation with the consulate of the country of the involved family

  • Consultation with the school’s legal advisor

  • Report to local/international authorities

  • Family Consultation

Most cases of suspected abuse or neglect will be handled by school counselors, such as those involving:

  • Parenting skills related to disciplining children at home

  • Student-parent relationships

  • Mental health issues such as depression, low self-esteem, grieving

Some cases will be referred to outside resources, for example:

  • Mental health issues such as depression, psychosis, dissociation, and suicidal ideation

Cases reported for investigation and outside resources:

  • Severe and ongoing physical abuse or neglect

  • Sexual abuse and incest

In extreme cases when families do not stop the abuse or concerns remain about the safety of the child, a report could be made to:

  • The embassy of the country of the involved family

  • The employer sponsoring the involved family

  • Local/international law enforcement

Step 2: Follow-up Procedures

Subsequent to a reported and/or substantiated case of child abuse or neglect:

  • The counselor will maintain contact with the child and family to provide support and guidance as appropriate

  • The counselor will provide the child’s teachers and the principal with ongoing support

  • The counselor will provide resource materials and strategies for teachers

  • The counselor will maintain contact with outside therapists to update the progress of the child in school

  • Follow up meeting with administrator and counselor to evaluate progress, debriefing on progress