Child and Adult Safety and Protection Policies
The safety, privacy, and well-being of all members of the community are of paramount importance to VMA. Every student and member of the community must be afforded a safe, supportive, caring environment in which to learn, grow, and contribute. To help maintain such an environment, VMA has adopted guidelines and appointed a designated liaison to serve as the first point of contact in matters concerning community members’ protection.
The VMA community consists of many constituencies fulfilling varied roles, including students, teachers, staff, parents, and visitors. To serve all members our community VMA holds the highest values and standards of behavior towards self and others. To continue to make VMA a safe and supportive place to learn and grow, members of our community must adhere to the following guidelines and protocols.
2. Abuse and Harassment
Abuse is defined as any repeated action done with intent or reasonable potential to intimidate, manipulate, or harm a person physically or emotionally. These actions include but are not limited to: physical abuse (e.g. hitting, pushing, etc.), harassment (including sexual), and bullying.
Harassment is defined by the victim’s perceptions, not the perpetrator’s intent. Harassment is any repeated action that is unwanted and has the intent or potential to cause harm or distress. This may include but is not limited to: verbal comments, messaging, non-verbal behaviors (e.g. staring or “ogling,” stalking), touching or other physical contact.
3. Intent vs. Impact
Regardless of whether or not words or actions are intended to abuse or harass, some can have that impact. Abuse and harassment are not defined by intent but rather by the impact on the victim. For example, a seemingly innocent comment could be intended as a compliment but perceived as inappropriate. If a message has any potential for misinterpretation, it’s best to stop and think if there is another way to phrase it to avoid a potentially harmful outcome. Taking extra time to reflect can prevent another community member from feeling offended or harassed, and can help ensure one’s intent is well received.
Abuse and harassment are not tolerated at VMA. All members of the VMA community are strictly prohibited from engaging in abuse of any kind. All VMA employees are required to report suspected cases of abuse or harassment in accordance with the procedure detailed in this policy (below).
Official academic, health and disciplinary records of students maintained by VMA will only be shared with students, immediate legal guardians, faculty on a need-to-know basis and, when authorized, outside educational institutions. The information will only be released through official channels such as in-person meetings, school email, school mailings and the school management system. No personal information of any kind will be shared through personal email accounts, public postings, school-wide emails, WeChat or other messaging or social media sites without the permission of the individual. Management of personal information, health and disciplinary records of VMA staff will also follow this principle. All VMA employees are required to report suspected cases of privacy violation using the procedure detailed in this policy.
5. Procedure for Reporting and Investigating Abuse , Harassment or Privacy Violations
Community members concerned that their or others’ privacy may have been violated, or that they or others may have suffered emotional or physical abuse from another member of the VMA community, are asked to immediately share their concern with the designated liaison.
Student issues must be reported to the Director of Student Wellness Center (SWC) through email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Adult issues must be reported to the Director of Administration Office (AO) through email: email@example.com.
Concerns will be fielded, recorded, and managed confidentially with the utmost discretion. The designated liaison will conduct an initial interview to collect relevant information. The SWC or AO will then open a case file that includes the initial report document and any gathered evidence.
Once a case is filed, a team consisting of the designated liaison and one of the school’s Principals will investigate. Investigations will, whenever possible, be completed within a two-week period after a case has formally been filed. In the event that unique circumstances arise, additional time may be needed. If interviews and fact-finding yield sufficient evidence to support the claim, immediate action will be taken to address the situation. Action may include but is not limited to: informal verbal warning, formal reprimand, or removal from the community. When appropriate, law enforcement authorities will be contacted to conduct an external investigation.
6. Zero-tolerance Policy for Abuse and Harassment
VMA maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding emotional or physical abuse of any individual. Faculty, staff, and students found to have abused another individual will be immediately removed from our community. VMA holds the right to inform the next employer of any staff who has been fired from VMA because of abuse. Any employee concerned that emotional or physical abuse may be occurring is required to report their concern according to the procedure described in this policy.
While VMA also maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment, some incidents involve lack of intention and/or awareness. For example, words or actions meant as a compliment could have the unexpected effect of making others feel uncomfortable. In such cases, it may be deemed appropriate to offer education and a second chance.
7. Zero-tolerance Policy for Reprisals against reporters
In order to maintain a functioning protocol for responding to cases of possible abuse or harassment, people must feel safe reporting concerns. Community members—witnesses, supporters, or victims—who report concerns to the designated liaison are protected from reprisals. Regardless of the gravity of an original claim or concern, any reprisals against the reporter or victim will be grounds for immediate dismissal from VMA.
8. Protection Against Distress
Distress, a negative emotional experience, can be caused by a number of events that are unrelated to abuse, harassment, or privacy violation. For example, a student may experience distress after failing an important test or ending a romantic relationship. Regardless of the cause, community members aware that an individual may be experiencing distress are asked to refer that individual to the designated liaison, who will refer the individual to the appropriate support at VMA. All referrals will be kept confidential.
9. Open-door Policy
Any community member in crisis and/or in need of immediate help should come directly to the designated liaison. In the event that the designated liaison is unavailable, any individual may go directly to a Principal. All meetings will be held in strict confidence.
Vanke Meisha Academy
6 March, 2019