For both the adult and the child, life is development and developing is life. The calculus of the difference between the child and the adult resides in the way adults relate to children who are in their power—that is, in education. Education nurtures judgement and aims to improve citizens to become better human beings by having more Arete. In the Homeric poems, the person of Arete is of the highest effectiveness; they use all of their faculties—strength, bravery, and wit—to achieve real results. In the Homeric world, then, Arete involves all of the abilities and potentialities available to humans. The outcome of schooling within this frame is reasoned agency and moral freedom. The assumption is that a society can teach the very virtues that would sustain it. In Protagoras’ view, Athenian parents gave their children an ethical education and well-formed teachers would discipline their pupils in poetry and music. This was supplemented by physical training and instruction in the laws of the city- its civics.
But children are vulnerable to neglect and abuse or exploitation from within their family, at school and from those who have care of a minor including purveyors of private and public transport. These threats manifest themselves in a variety of forms, including: sexual, physical and emotional abuse; neglect; exploitation by criminal gangs, and organised crime groups; traffickers; drug pushers; online abuse; sexual exploitation and the influences of extremism leading to radicalization. Whatever form the neglect and abuse or exploitation may take it is important to formulate child-centred protocols to deal with every allegation of misconduct.
Old School approaches of tribunals and methods of taking evidence are not child-friendly and have never taken into account the need to protect the child-victim nor have they considered sufficiently the features of childhood and adolescence that set children apart from adults in the provision of care in every circumstance, nor have the architects of regulatory measures able to foresee the gamut of misconduct which plague children and pervade schools of today.
The tools, techniques, methods and the constellation of beliefs deployed in instances of misconduct that involve persistent irregularity and unpunctuality become intrusive and do not protect the child when the misconduct is sexual in orientation. In fact, they render the voice of the child invisible and such voices shrivel into a murmur within the cacophony.
Children are not small adults. A paediatric approach is what is required to protect child-victims. Paediatrics involves the care of infants, children and adolescents. Embracing the notions of compassion and empathy found in paediatric methods may result in higher levels of conviction of adults who exploit the vulnerability of children in education settings. Detection of misconduct is not the problem. Conviction is.
It is the case that many child-victims and their suffering mothers bluntly refuse to report the criminal offence to the police, to be present at civil-service tribunals, to allow the child-victim to write or even sign a statement of the particulars or even facilitate the drafting of a timeline.
In instances of sexual misconduct in education settings in some jurisdictions children have benefited from videography of the avowal of the child-victim by the investigating officer (IO). This serves to secure evidence immediately and adheres to the principles of expedition. In some instances the IO is required to gather DNA evidence and to manage the chain of custody alongside forensic experts. Such protocols require interagency collaboration to protect the rights of the child and to secure and store evidence.
To protect the child the Family Court can work alongside the Children’s Authority to appoint a guardian ad litem for a child; request that the Solicitor General or the Senior Children’s Attorney assign a Children’s Attorney to represent and safeguard the voice of the child and perform such other functions as the Court may think necessary, pursuant to section 21 (a) (b) of The Family and Children Division Act 2016 or any other written law. The Child becomes the client.
The child can also be removed from the presence of the accused by appointing a Children’s Intermediary. The Children’s Authority Assessment Centre at Mt. Hope provides medical examinations, psychological assessment and/or a psychiatric evaluation and forensic medical examinations to gather and document evidence in collaboration with the Police. Forensic Interviews which are semi-structured, non-leading, legally defensive and developmentally appropriate are conducted to gather a child’s account in collaboration with the Police. A multidisciplinary team observes the interview from another room and assist the interviewer with questions. These interviews are stored on video.
Special provisions are now in place to support dialogue with children who have communication difficulties and unaccompanied children. This child-centred approach is supported by the Children Act 2012 and requires authorities to give due regard to a child’s wishes when determining what services to provide before making decisions about action to be taken to protect individual children. These duties complement requirements related to the wishes and feelings of children who are, or may be, looked-after including those who are provided with accommodation and children taken into police protection by the Child Protection Unit of the TTPS.
Local Government Authorities in some jurisdictions along with their partners now develop and publish local protocols that set out clear arrangements to manage such cases consistent with the requirements of statutory guidance.