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Child Safeguarding and Navigating Cultural Differences

Recently, COBIS CEO Colin Bell presented to the International Taskforce on Child Protection (ITFCP), of which COBIS is a founding member, results of a survey sent to international schools relating to their work connected to Parental Engagement in connection to Child Protection. The survey was created to gauge perspective as the ITFCP continues their work to strengthen child protection practices internationally. This survey supports previous research conducted by the ITFCP, in order to identify how practices have evolved and also to identify new areas in which the ITFCP can provide development support and resources.

93% of respondents stated that online safety was something they addressed with families and caregivers; physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse were also addressed.

Respondents were asked what challenges they faced in engaging parents in child protection efforts. While 55% stated that they found that parents did not have time or interest in the subject, more than 70% stated that cultural differences among the parent body were the biggest challenge.

Respondents were then asked how they navigate the cultural differences about student wellbeing and child safeguarding issues at their school. There were a number of approaches and strategies identified:

1. Cultural Sensitivity and Adaptation

Educators recognise the importance of adapting their approach based on cultural differences and individual situations. They promote diversity through curriculum, assemblies, and events, celebrating cultural differences. Efforts are made to respect and validate cultural norms while also educating about broader perspectives.

2. Knowledge and Training

Educators emphasise the importance of continuous learning and training on cultural sensitivity and child protection. Local laws and international best practices serve as guiding principles in communication and decision-making.

3. Communication Strategies

Individualised and case-by-case approaches are employed, considering the unique needs of students and families. Translation services and multilingual communication ensure accessibility for all members of the school community. Open dialogue, workshops, and presentations help educate both parents and students on relevant topics.

4. Collaboration and Support

Collaboration with local staff, counsellors, and community experts is utilized to bridge cultural gaps and provide holistic support. Involving parents in decision-making processes and providing opportunities for input fosters a sense of ownership and partnership.

5. Focus on Well-being and Safeguarding

Child protection policies and legal frameworks serve as a foundation for discussions and interventions. The wellbeing and safety of students are prioritised, with a focus on creating a safe and inclusive school environment for all.

Overall, from the survey results we can conclude that teachers navigate cultural differences with sensitivity and understanding, prioritising the best interests of the students while fostering positive relationships with parents and the broader community.

The results of this survey have been shared with the ITFCP. Actions will arise from these discussions that will help to shape future ITFCP policies and activities.

The survey was sent to COBIS Members, as well as ITFCP founding members and all ITFCP association members. 439 responses came from a number of countries including:

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bangladesh
  • Bermuda
  • Chile
  • Côte D’Ivoire
  • Denmark
  • Ethiopia
  • Georgia
  • Guatemala
  • Indonesia
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Malawi
  • Mongolia
  • Myanmar
  • Nigeria
  • Panama
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States of America
  • Vietnam