CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
For the purpose of this policy, a child will be considered to be a person under the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is obtained earlier.
Hope Initiative’s (HOPE) Child Protection Policy and Code of Conduct affirms HOPE’S fundamental belief that children have the right to be protected and free from abuse and exploitation.
HOPE endorses the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989), and specifically Article 19 which states that
“State parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.”
HOPE’s Child Protection Policy addresses the protection of children in all areas and levels of the work of HOPE and will be revised regularly to ensure it remains relevant and complies with current legislation.
HOPE believes that the protection of children from abuse is the responsibility of all those who participate in the work of HOPE
In keeping with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations, Article 1), a child is a person under the age of 18 years.
Protecting children from harm is the responsibility of all those who participate in the work of HOPE. This Policy applies to:
All of the above will be referred to as HOPE representatives throughout this policy.
Each person is responsible for having a thorough knowledge of this policy and the procedures set out below, acting in accordance with this policy and complying with the HOPE Child Protection Code of Conduct.
Breach of this policy or the Child Protection Code of Conduct constitutes an act of misconduct and is grounds for disciplinary action and/or termination of employment or engagement.
This policy is informed by a set of principles that derive from the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child:
3. Definitions and indicators of child abuse and its effects
3.1 Definition of child abuse
Child abuse or maltreatment constitutes all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship or responsibility, trust or power.
3.2 Physical abuse
Physical abuse of a child is that which results in actual or potential physical harm from an interaction or lack of interaction, which is reasonably within the control of a parent or a person in a position of responsibility, power or trust. These may be single or repeated incidents.
3.3 Emotional abuse
Emotional abuse includes the failure to provide a developmentally appropriate, supportive environment, including the availability of a primary attachment figure, so that the child can develop a stable and full range of emotional and social competencies commensurate with her or his personal potentials and in the context of the society in which the child dwells. There may also be acts towards the child that cause or have a high probability of causing harm to the child’s health, or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. These acts must be reasonably within the control of the parent or person in a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. Acts include restriction of movement, patterns of belittling, denigrating, scapegoating, threatening, scaring, discriminating, ridiculing or other non-physical forms of hostile or rejecting treatment
Neglect is the failure to provide for the development of the child in all spheres: health, education, emotional development, nutrition, shelter and safe living conditions, in the context of resources reasonably available to the family or caretakers and causes or has a high probability of causing harm to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. This includes the failure to properly supervise and protect children from harm as much as is feasible.
3.5 Child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse is the involvement of the child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violate the laws or social taboos of society. Child sexual abuse is evidenced by this activity between a child and an adult or another child who by age or development is in a relationship of responsibility, trust or power, the activity being intended to gratify or satisfy the needs of the other person. This may include but is not limited to:
Commercial or other exploitation of a child refers to the use of the child in work or other activities for the benefit of others. This includes, but is not limited to, child labour and child prostitution. These activities are to the detriment of the child’s physical or mental health, education, or spiritual, moral or social-emotional development.
4. Statement of responsibility
This policy affirms HOPE’s commitment to the welfare of children and their protection from abuse and exploitation.
HOPE recognises that the abuse and exploitation of children happens in all countries and societies across the world. All child abuse involves the violation of children’s rights.
Child abuse is never acceptable and a commitment to children’s rights in general also means a commitment to safeguard the children with whom HOPE is in contact.
All HOPE representatives are responsible for promoting children’s rights and championing the protection of children. HOPE and partner management are responsible for the implementation of this policy and ensuring that all parties comply with the Child Protection Code of Conduct.
Particular management responsibilities as set out in this policy include building child protection awareness, advocacy, rigorous recruitment and selection practices, training, and responding appropriately to allegations.
HOPE will ensure that all HOPE representatives have read and are aware of HOPE’s Child Protection Policy. This Policy will apply to all HOPE representatives.
HOPE will ensure that where any work or project involves working with children, all risk assessments will incorporate risks to children. Risks to children will also be considered when developing and implementing disaster response activities.
The organisation implementing an activity holds the primary responsibility for ensuring that risks to children are managed effectively.
All HOPE partners will confirm that they have read and understood the HOPE Child Protection Policy and agree to strictly adhere to the Policy when signing the MOU with HOPE .
It is mandatory for any allegation, belief or suspicion of sexual, physical or emotional abuse or neglect of child abuse (past or present) by anyone participating in the work of HOPE to be reported immediately to the HOPE BOARD or relevant Country Director.
A child or person reporting an incident must be taken seriously and listened to carefully. Once an allegation is made there should be an immediate response that protects the child from further potential abuse or victimisation. The family of the child should be informed of the allegation and action proposed and they should be consulted where possible as to the process to be followed.
When concerns arise, all parties will be directed through a formal complaints process .
Distance the alleged perpetrator
The best interests of the child may warrant the standing down of the alleged perpetrator while an investigation commences. A person who has been stood down is entitled to a just process that does not pre-suppose guilt or innocence. The allegations should not be discussed or communicated to any person outside the process until a final outcome is known. The reasons for a decision to stand down a person must be fully documented.
Document the incident
As soon as possible, the person receiving the disclosure must fully document the allegation, including the time, place and witnesses. This report will be used as the basis of investigation and possibly used in court if charges are forthcoming.
Confidentiality is crucial to a fair and effective reporting procedure. It is unacceptable and potentially defamatory for concerns of child abuse (and abusers) to be spread throughout the organisation rather than being directed through a formal complaints process. All participants must understand the importance of following the set reporting lines when concerns arise. Confidentiality protects the child, the abuser, the notifier, the respondent and the organisation, and ensures a fair and proper process.
Investigation of complaints
Internal investigation will undertake a confidential, thorough, impartial and prompt process. The investigation may consist of interviews and witnesses and others as appropriate, collection of information about the alleged conduct, gathering of documentation, or other procedures as appropriate. The individual alleged to have violated this policy would have the opportunity to present his or her view of the events in question.
Physical and/or sexual abuse of a child is a criminal offence. Organisations may be required to notify national authorities when there are reasonable grounds for reporting abuse.
HOPE will not tolerate any form of coercion, intimidation, reprisal or retaliation against any HOPE representative who reports any form of abuse or exploitation, provides any information or other assistance in an investigation.
Vigilance in recruitment and selection
All persons covered by this policy must adhere to strict guidelines in the selection process for volunteers and others. The recruitment guidelines will be reviewed regularly and updated regularly to ensure that they accurately reflect child safe recruiting and screening standards. This will include:
We will not permit a person to work with children if they pose an unacceptable risk to children’s safety or wellbeing.
We will not engage an individual with a criminal conviction related to children All personal information, and in particular police checks, will be treated in a sensitive and confidential manner.
All personnel working with children, including volunteers, will be asked to sign an Authority for a Police Check. Where a Police check cannot be obtained, all reasonable measures, including background and reference checks, will be undertaken to ensure the person does not pose a risk to children.
Training and Development
HOPE’s Child Protection Policy is made available to all HOPE representatives and others visiting or involved with HOPE projects. Child Protection Policy training will be available to all staff and further training upon request.
Use of child photos and information
Pictures, images, or other likenesses of children and/or information related to children that could compromise their care and protection will not be made available through any form of communication media. Images of children should not be accompanied be detailed information relating to their place of residence.