Dáil Éireann - Volume 450 - 09 March, 1995

Written Answers. - Stay Safe Programme.

105. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Education the number of schools which are refusing to implement the stay safe programme; the reason these schools are refusing to implement the programme; the way in which this information is acquired; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4221/95]

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): It is difficult to be precise on the number of schools that have taken firm decisions not to implement the stay safe programme. The most recent reports available to my Department suggest that nationally less than 5 per cent of schools are currently in that category.

The number that may ultimately refuse to implement the programme may be gauged best from the returns for the Eastern Health Board area. The programme was piloted in that area and has operated longest there. In this area, the number of schools still reluctant to implement the programme has now fallen to 10 or 1.6 per cent of all schools in the area. In time I would expect the national figures to correspond to the experience in the Eastern Health Board area.

[970] School authorities expressing themselves as unwilling to implement the programme have volunteered a number of reasons for the position they have adopted. These include criticism of the use of “Yes/No” feelings as a guide to conduct rather than the moral values of right and wrong. It is also claimed that the programme interferes with child-family relationships, basic family values and parental rights and is of doubtful origin. Some schools have simply indicated that they are unwilling to introduce the programme at present but may do so in the future.

The introduction of the stay safe programme in primary schools is being organised by the Child Abuse Prevention Programme Company (CAPP) which operates under the auspices of the Eastern Health Board. Through regular contact with CAPP my Department monitors progress and acquires data on the implementation rate. CAPP obtains its information through regular contacts with the schools concerned.

I remain firmly of the view that the stay safe programme is eminently suitable for implementation in primary schools. I believe it is proving beneficial to all concerned in this very sensitive area.