Mumbai: As per the new child protection policy of the Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE) about 150-odd Catholic schools staff in the archdiocese of Mumbai have been asked to submit character references that will prove that they are suitable to work with children.
According to Father George Athaide, secretary of the ABE, the policy of submission of declaration forms with the names and addresses of two people who can vouch for such staff is recently framed in light of the recent cases of child sexual abuse and harassment in schools. It has been promulgated by Cardinal Oswald Gracias.
Father Athaide further enumerated that the teachers also have been asked to disclose all charges and convictions that occurred before or during their association with schools.
Teachers have also been asked to sign a child protection code of conduct stipulating that they should not use inappropriate language or behavior, which is harassing, abusive, sexually provocative, demeaning or culturally inappropriate or use mobile phones, video cameras or social media to exploit or harass children or access child exploitation material through any medium.
Though the policy has been implemented with good motive and to bring more transparency in the student teacher relationship but some teachers who have been working for several years have expressed their displeasure with the blanket implementation of the policy. They said their schools should know them better and apply the policy only to new recruits.
Child monitoring committees will also be set up in schools to take measures to protect children and prevent child abuse. The committee will inquire into alleged cases of child abuse, examine the child and the witnesses and recommend action against the abuser. In case of any such incident it will have to inform the parents of the child within 24 hours of receiving the complaint and provide counseling to the child.