By Jane Larsson
The impact we’ve made as a volunteer taskforce has been significant, especially considering it was only five years ago that we set out to make a difference, as our Charter called upon us to do:
To apply our collective resources, expertise, and partnerships to help international school communities address child protection challenges.
Those of us who founded The International Taskforce on Child Protection (ITFCP) determined it was time to chart our course for the future, and so we did.
We gathered at the US Department of State in Washington DC and were hosted by the Office of Overseas Schools, a founding member of the Taskforce. Our group of 50 professionals comprised experts and leaders from across multiple professions—education, government, law, medicine, law enforcement, accreditation, charity, research and social services. Collectively, our expertise is broad and the knowledge, responsibilities and influence we have within our respective professions is deep.
Keynotes focused on peer-on-peer abuse and working with governmental agencies and law enforcement to screen educators and manage allegations of abuse. We learned of new initiatives and resources from the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC). We had the opportunity to liaise with the heads of accrediting agencies. And, given that many of us in attendance directly manage very challenging cases of abuse, we heard from psychologists who provide supervision and care for professionals who suffer from (or are at risk for) vicarious trauma.
The following five areas of impact emerged from our discussion, our focus for the next five years.
Goal 1: Ensure student voice informs all our actions.
Goal 2: Clarify the Taskforce identity and legitimacy as we report on our work and advocate for child protection.
Goal 3: Develop ownership and responsibility for child protection by school leaders and governing bodies.
Goal 4: Review, strengthen and ensure consistency in the external evaluation of child protection standards and practices.
Goal 5: Strengthen education, training and policies for student safety and well-being, solidly evidence-based through research.
We’ve mapped out our near-term, mid-term and long-term actions and we’re now forming volunteer committees and chairs to pursue each of the five goals.
As our actions gather pace and traction we’ll keep you fully informed. Until then, we’ve listed some useful ways further below for you to expand your knowledge of child protection practices so you can take action in your own community.
Thanks go to the US Department of State, and specifically the Office of Overseas Schools and Christy Brown, for hosting this pivotal meeting. I’m proud to work alongside each of the founding members of the Taskforce as Chair and share this update on our collective behalf.
Useful links and resources:
- Find out more about the International Taskforce on Child Protection (ITFCP)
- Safeguarding standards
- Child protection and student well-being workshops from CIS
- Useful resources from CIS, the taskforce and other organizations
- Blog: How CIS child protection workshops have impact and address key challenges
- Blog: Student mental health and well-being: Supporting students in transition from school to university
- Blog: Our well-being agenda for international education