Police vetting to protect kids

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Mangonui School is about to introduce compulsory police vetting of all parents and caregivers who take part in overnight school camps, as part of a review of its child protection policies.

Principal David Sedcole, who recently attended a course on developing child protection policies, said some major changes had been made by the new Vulnerable Children Act, including firmer procedures around reporting abuse (sexual, physical, neglect and emotional) and schools' responsibility to report suspected abuse. It also provided clear guidelines on safety checks of "core and non-core workers."

"As a result of our review, and talking to other schools, we are introducing compulsory police vetting of all parents/caregivers or volunteers who come on overnight school camps," Mr Sedcole said.

"This may seem intrusive, but we need to make sure that we are using all our tools to keep children safe when in the care of the school."

The board of trustees acknowledged that the measure could cause some offence, and might deter some parents from taking part in camps.

It might also be seen as "nosy".

"The deal breaker for us is that if a person has a police record that is of a violent or sexual nature, we do not want them coming on camp with your children," he added.

"We also know that some of our parents have convictions for other reasons, like drink driving. This will come through on the police vet but it will be kept totally confidential. We all make mistakes, and the school will be extremely careful with this information."

Vetting would become compulsory next year, and Mr Sedcole would be happy to talk to anyone who wanted more information about it.

- Northland Age

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