Important Information from Tusla
Please see below the text from a letter received from TUSLA. A copy of the letter can also be downloaded here:
As we are at the beginning of the school year, I wanted to link with you at this key point in
the hope that some of this information below may be off assistance to you. I am conscious
that Schools play an essential role in keeping children safe given the unique level of time
that children spend in school and the trust that children develop in their teachers.
In the last academic year, referrals from school accounted for the third highest level of
referrals from services in Louth & Meath. These referrals encompassed a broad range of
issues including Physical Abuse, Neglect, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Abuse and Welfare
On reviewing the referrals from last year, we have noticed a change in referral types and
noted that some may be preventable with increased knowledge and guidance to parents.
Obviously your primary role is education but we are conscious some schools have
mechanisms for sharing information with parents and therefore you may find it useful to
share some of the following if you have mechanism in place –
In 2015, the defense of “reasonable chastisement” in cases where a person slapped a child
was removed from Irish Law. This means parents can now be charged for hitting a child. As
it is now against the law, parents may not realise that if they do slap their child and their
child tells their teacher, you are obliged to report this to Tusla and in turn Tusla have a remit
to notify the Gardai. If you have a newsletter or webpage in your school, you may choose to
include a small note advising parents of this change in the law.
There has been a significant increase in referrals as children are often exposed to danger in
their own homes via the internet. The most common areas are –
Sexting: children sharing intimate images on line which are then used as bullying or
Online Bullying: Bullying can take place on any online forum and social media sites. It can
also take place on mobile phones and because technology is everywhere. It is more
invasive as it continues outside school.
Exploitation: adults contacting children on line.
There are some excellent resources available for schools and parents including –
Cyber Safe Ireland – https://cybersafeireland.org
Webwise – https://www.webwise.ie/
National Anti-Bulling Website – http://tacklebullying.ie/
I have attached a poster that you may want to put up on a notice board and the sites above
have many more resources that may assist you and your school. I am aware that some
school in Louth and Meath took part in Safer Internet Day in 2019 and may be interested in
progressing some initiatives on the 11 February 2020.
Signs of Safety
Last year we commenced using the Signs of Safety approach which involves spending more
time undertaking what we call “Preliminary Enquiries” and building safety & supports for
the child. I am conscious that schools may receive a response to a referral stating that
following preliminary screening, a decision has been made that an initial assessment is not
warranted. which is misleading as in many cases we will have still met the child and parent
and have addressed the concerns. This has been increasingly successful as children are
waiting less time for a response and parents have responded positively to this more
collaborative and strengths orientated approach.
Support for Parents
The Louth and Meath Children and Young Person’s Services Committee recognised that
there was not a single site that had information about family supports and parenting
courses. Therefore, we have been developing a site for each county which we will be
launching later this year.
Finally, I do appreciate how busy you are but as I am conscious of the added pressures that
child protection issues present within the school environment. While I have noted two
particular areas above, if there are other areas that you would like guidance/ advice on
please let us know.
In addition here are some useful posters also provided from TUSLA