GIS – THE SPECIAL EDUCATION UNIT IS TAKING STRIDES TO SHIELD SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS FROM ABUSE.
The Special Education Unit within the Department of Education has taken steps to ensure that staff who work within special needs schools are trained in recognising the signs of abuse, should any circumstance arise.
Special needs children can be misunderstood when trying to signal their discomfort, due to an inability to communicate. Dale St. Juste, Education Officer within the Special Needs Unit said projects are being implemented to alleviate this occurrence, by helping to raise awareness of the signs of abuse among faculty members within special schools.
“We are engaging the staff as well as the students within the special school community in Saint Lucia—especially where the entire population of that school consists of children with special needs—with education and sensitisation programmes that will alert them to the possible risks to being exposed to abuse,” he said. “For example, recently we had a safeguard workshop for the staff of all special needs schools..”
Mr. St. Juste explained that it is necessary for all members of the faculty to receive training, since on a typical school day a child makes contact with different members of staff, and what might not be clearly evident to one staff member, might be glaringly apparent to another.
“The auxiliary staff at the schools also have close interactions with the children and sometimes they observe things that the teachers may have missed out on, because the teacher might be busy preparing for a lesson. For example, the cook who normally prepares and serves the food may notice who is eating and who is not eating.”
Mr. St. Juste said the objective of the abuse training program is to provide a complete safeguard or shield around the child at all times, at the school.”