Vulnerable Children: Law and Policy in Nova Scotia School Boards

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Hennessey, Stephanie
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The Children and Family Services Act (1990) requires all professionals, who work with children, including teachers and other school personnel, to report suspected child abuse to a child protection agency. The Education Act (1995-1996) requires that public school boards within the province create policies aimed at protecting school community members from abuse and harassment. With these considerations, public school boards in Nova Scotia are responsible for creating their own policies, administrative procedures, and professional development on reporting child abuse, which may lead to inconsistencies in policy content across the province. Clearly outlined school board policies, however, can aid school personnel in making informed decisions about detecting and reporting suspected child abuse. This research presents an analysis of Nova Scotia public school board child abuse reporting policies and examines their alignment with federal and provincial legislation. All boards had established reporting child abuse policies, but the information contained within the documents and the accuracy with which they reflect federal and provincial legislation varied across the province. Between boards, there was an inconsistent application of provincially legislated reporting guidelines and an absence of clear expectations with respect to training school personnel to report suspected child abuse. Policy recommendations are proposed and areas of future study are suggested based on the findings.
Vulnerable children, Nova Scotia, child abuse,