October 27, 2004 VNN8733
Child Protection at Bhaktivedanta Gurukula and International School
BY ANANDA VRINDAVANA DEVI DASI
EDITORIAL, Oct 27 (VNN) As a school Director, teacher and mother I can openly say that I'm dedicated to the well-being and protection of the children under my care. As we know, unfortunate incidents can take place anywhere. That's not surprising. What is important is how we deal with them, and perhaps even more important, how we try to prevent them in the first place.
I appreciate Bhima-karma Prabhu's concerns for the safety of the children. I will try to clarify some of the misinformation he has about the Child Protection procedures we follow in the BGIS (Bhaktivedanta Gurukula and International School):
The Vrindavan school did not create the procedure it follows. Rather, all CPT investigations are done in the manner worked out in consultation with the ICOCP/APVC (the Child Protection Office). This was established in the late 90s, soon after the CPO office was established. The CPO is our authority in the child protection field, and we have worked closely with the office from its inception. I think any concerns are best addressed by the CPO.
Our standard procedure is that a majority of the CPT members must be from outside the school staff when a teacher is being investigated. The point that two of the three CPT members were BGIS staff was a mistaken one.
Instead, the investigation was done by Parvati Prabhu (a community member), Madan Gopal Prabhu (a devotee from Australia who has been in Vrindavan for several months--not a school staff member), and me (School director). The essence of the report is:
A teacher tried to touch a student. He only got as far as touching the shorts. The student, being trained in the "no, go, tell" child protection training, told him "no!" and informed a staff member. The offender was immediately suspended and later removed. He admitted he did it, and a similar attempt with another student was also discovered at this time. The CPT team listed a number of recommendations for his future that he is following and that was approved by the Child Protection Office.
Immediately after the CPT reached their conclusions, a report was sent to the Child Protection Office. Furthermore, the 6-devotee team that is a GBC for Vrindavan was informed along with a number of senior devotees serving in Vrindavan. Several discussions were held with the students, a meeting and discussion was convened with the teachers, and the parents were informed and offered the option of counseling their son at the school's expense. Even when a prospective parent inquired about the possibility of placing her son in the school and asked about the child protection procedures we follow, she was informed of the recent incident.
In the school, we have five Gurukulis on the staff. They have all voiced satisfaction and appreciation for the school's child protection program.
We are striving to act with responsibility and transparency, and will continue our efforts to address any concerns regarding our child protection program by the established procedure: working under the direction of the CPO.
Ananda Vrindavan devi dasi
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