Safeguarding – From awareness to action (Follow-up-Project)

Safeguarding – From awareness to action (Follow-up-Project)

Building a culture of safeguarding is an important consideration for all Jesuit and companion schools united in JECSE network. In 2019, the Secretariat for Education of the Society of Jesus indicated that „Jesuit schools are committed to creating a safe and healthy environment for all" (Jesuit Schools: a Living Tradition in the 21st Century - An Ongoing Exercise of Discernment), making concern for safeguarding one of the 10 indicators of our schools.

Strengthening and evaluating a culture of protection in JECSE schools (2024-2025)

At the same time, efforts have begun throughout the Society of Jesus to implement the 3 Minimum Standards for Safeguarding (Global Safeguarding Audit of the Society of Jesus, 2022)

Schools are aware of the need to take action

Jesuit and companion schools in Europe and the Near East are aware of the need to take action in this area and wish to work even more closely with the Society of Jesus guidelines to build and develop a culture of protection. At the same time, our schools operate in very different cultural, social and political contexts.

Now when safeguarding awareness of school staff has grown, schools also have begun to report new needs and expectations. A survey conducted by JECSE and ZIP (Sept. 2023, 26 respondents) and interviews with people involved in the implementation of safeguarding in schools at different levels (meetings with Safeguarding Delegates, Education Delegates and teachers themselves) identified the following needs:

  • further access to model materials and tools
  • sharing good practices
  • training for staff on safeguarding,
  • guidance on staff training,
  • support in the implementation of activities, individual advice, possibility of expert support.

Preparing a detailed school safeguarding roadmap

The advisory board has now met for a kick-off meeting and prepared a detailed school safeguarding roadmap and other tools/materials needed for schools to be more involved in the creation of culture of protection. Those will be consulted with schools as well. „We are developing a culture of protection in all the schools that belongs to the JECSE network. Schools will facilitate a proactive, ongoing process of reflection and discernment about the safe school environment more broadly, and encourage methods and activities that support a positive, safe `Ignatian school climate´“, said Ulrike Gentner, Director of the Center for Ignatian Pedagogy (ZIP) in Ludwigshafen.

The members of the advisory board were very convinced of the project and its necessity: „I’m happy to collaborate in this project around safeguarding. Our pedagogical project calls us to create a safe environment for our students, inspired by authentic cura personalis. It gives joy to work with a group of committed colleagues who want to care, from a shared concern, for the children entrusted to our schools“, emphasized Frederik Van Rampelberg (Education Delegate Belgium North). „Thank you for this moment of sharing, it is also formative for me, generative of new ideas. It makes me feel on a journey, beautiful and shared, and shows me a vocational ideal that it is beautiful to feel in myself and in others. Together we can do something!”, added Prof. Giuseppe Mannino (Psicologo Clinico, Psicoterapeuta, Analista esistenziale, Esperto in formazione umana e psicologia della pace).

Making schools safe places

For Cathrin Rieger, education officer at Heinrich Pesch Haus and ZIP, it is a pleasure to be involved in this international prevention project: “Learning from each other, exchanging ideas and continuing to work together to make schools and institutions safe places for children, young people and adults. We also have to face new challenges – prevention never stops! Cyberbullying, dangers on the Internet, peer violence, parental work, etc. are new challenges that we have to face,” she said.

“We will not be able to carry out this huge task only with wise documents but spreading and sharing all around a sense of enthusiasm, hope and commitment. We have the chance to foster safeguarding culture in our schools throughout Europe“, said Manuel Fariñas de Alba (Director Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid).

Safeguarding is an ongoing process

JECSE Director Agnieszka Baran (Jesuit European Committee for Primary and Secondary Education) expressed her confidence that the joint effort and cooperation of the Advisory Board will bear good fruit for the schools in the network. “It is of utmost importance that our network continues to work together to strengthen the culture of safeguarding in our schools. It is encouraging to see the significant progress we have made in this area in recent years. However, safeguarding is an ongoing process and there is still much to do,” she said. Agnieszka Baran thanked the Center for Ignatian Pedagogy for its support and coordination of this project with JECSE. “I am also very impressed by the commitment of all the participants in this meeting to reflect with us on the challenges facing our schools in the area of safeguarding and how we can best respond to them,” said the JECSE Director. She also thanked the entire Heinrich Pesch House team for warmly welcoming the group and for creating a supportive environment to work on the difficult issue of protecting the most vulnerable from abuse.

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