Child Protection Policy

CHILD PROTECTION POLICY

Peace and Development Aid Organisation  (PDAO)

(This version of the Child Protection Policy will come into force on the 1st day of July 2108 and be reviewed with 3 years from this date)

 

INTRODUCTION

This is a statement of intent that demonstrates PDAO’s commitment to safeguard children involved directly or indirectly with our organisation from harm.

 PDAO’s position on Child Protection

Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in the world and we believe that children have the right to live happily and safely. PDAO is committed to ensuring that we protect children that we come into contact with. We are aware that the understanding and definition of abuse may differ according to the social and cultural context in which PDAO and its partner organisations work.  We therefore recognise the need to look at the complete social and cultural aspects of any given situations when considering the issue of abuse. However, these aspects must never undermine the fundamental principle that children must be protected, in line with the principles and articles contained and defined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989

 Our Commitment

We are aware that we (meaning members of the organisation including staff, volunteers, consultants, contracted staff and any person employed by or working with PDAO) may come into contact, both directly and indirectly, with children. We are committed to ensuring that our processes and policies are in place to protect children

Definitions

Who does PDAO recognize as a child? By “child” we mean any person under the age of 18 years as per “UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)” 1989.  Ratified by the Royal Government of Cambodia on October 15th 1992

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

PDAOs commitment to child protection is informed by the following principles

 Recognising Children’s Rights: The fundamental principle that children must be protected, as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989, underpins PDAOs approach to decisions about safeguarding and protecting children.

PDAO will promote children’s rights to life, survival and development, participation; non-discrimination and to have their best interests considered.

The Best Interests of the Child are Paramount:

Consideration of what is in the best interests of the child is key in any decision related to our work with children.  We will facilitate the participation of children in decision-making processes that affect them directly or indirectly. Appropriate laws will guide us but our policy may go beyond these.

Safeguarding and Protecting Children is a Shared Responsibility:

It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain vigilance, practice risk management, and to promote optimum life chances for children.

Taking a Risk Management Approach:

PDAO acknowledges that the work we do is associated with child protection risks. We are committed to identifying and minimizing preventable risk, and mitigating the impacts of unavoidable risks as they arise,

Including Child Protection Risk Review of all project activities an implement a policy of Zero Tolerance of Child abuse and exploitation

WHAT is ABUSE?

Abuse occurs when a child suffers harm or even death because of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect or exploitation or grooming by any persons. Often the person is a parent or someone in authority whom the child knows and trusts. In many cases, the child may be subjected to a combination of different kinds of abuse: for example, neglect and physical abuse.  Bullying and racism are also forms of child abuse.

“We recognize that children can abuse children”

Categories of abuse:

Child abuse is currently defined in the following catagorise: physical, emotional, sexual, neglect, exploitation and grooming:  The expanded definitions are:

Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, killing or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only in so far as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. It may involve causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children.  Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill treatment, though it may occur alone. It may include ill treatment towards a child and/or a pattern of hostile or unreasonable and seriously inappropriate degrading comments or behaviour to that child.

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening with the use of a child for sexual gratification by an adult or significantly older child or adolescent. Sexually abusive behaviours can include fondling genitals; masturbation; oral sex; vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, finger or any other object; fondling breasts; voyeurism; exhibitionism; and exposing the child to, or involving the child in, pornographic activities. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Neglect is failure to meet a child’s physical and/or psychological needs with the conditions that are culturally accepted as being essential for their physical and emotional development and well being, to likely result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failure to protect a child from physical harm or danger, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

Exploitation:

Child exploitation includes child domestic work, child soldiers, the recruitment and involvement of children in armed conflict, sexual exploitation and pornography, the use of children for criminal activities including the sale and distribution of narcotics and the involvement of children in harmful or hazardous work. Children are exploited whenever a profit is made from their vulnerability and lack of power, whenever children are abused to somebody else’s benefit and whenever they start working despite being too young or for long hours. Exploitation also occurs when children work in dangerous or unhealthy conditions, when they are underpaid or when they are coerced into forced labour, debt bondage or slavery.

Grooming

Grooming concerns predatory conduct undertaken to prepare a child for sexual activity at a later time. Grooming behaviour is where an adult communicates, by words or conduct, with a child or with a person who has care, supervision or authority for the child with the intention of facilitating the child’s involvement in sexual conduct, either with the groomer or another adult.

CHILD PROTECTION POLICY MANAGEMENT  

The responsibility for managing this policy lies with the PDAO’s Executive Director (ED) supported by the Child Protection Committee. All information relating to concerns about abuse must be given to the Child Protection Committee. This information will be securely kept and managed by the Child Protection Committee. The policy will be reviewed at least every three years

The Child Protection Committee

Will consist of five staff members and will include the ED and at least one female. (Appendix 1) The interests of the child are of paramount concern and any urgent medical needs should be addressed as a priority.

Steps taken

  • Each project activity will have will undergo a “Child Protection Risk Review” with development of “Risk Logs of organisational activities that may cause harm to children and the ways to reduce the potential or real threats.
  • All PDAO staff and volunteers will be introduced to, receive training on appointment and remain familiar with this Children Protection Policy document (with emphasis on PDAOs Code of Conduct). It will be given to all staff at the commencement of their employment and be available to all staff at all times.  Staff and volunteers will also be updated should any of this policy change
  • Staff, volunteers, contractors and any person working with PDAO will be required to sign and date PDAO’s Child Protection Policy.
  • PDAO will train and raise awareness for all staff and volunteers to understand the importance of the issues of child protection and also to inform them of what precautions and actions they should take to ensure the welfare of the children. Training will be carried out every two years
  • All PDAO employees, supporters, and volunteers will be made aware of the steps that PDAO has put in place to ensure the safety of children that PDAO comes into contact with.
  • Two named people will be responsible for dealing with concerns or allegations of abuse and who will follow this step-by-step guidance document on what actions should be taken.
  • PDAO will conduct checks for all staff, volunteers, consultants and trustees to establish if there is any history of child abuse and take any relevant action as defined within the Policy
  • PDAO will ensure that all staff, volunteers, consultants and trustees are given a copy of this policy as part of their induction and be asked to sign the policy
  • PDAO staff, supporters and volunteers will be required to work according to this policy when in contact with children.
  • PDAO will foster an open culture at PDAO where adults and children can voice their concerns about abusive or unethical conduct.
  • PDAO will review regularly our practices to ensure they are consistent with the letter and intent of this policy.
  • PDAO will outline the steps to be taken in cases where abuse is suspected or reported

 Child Protection Code of Conduct

 You will:

  • Treat children with respect and without discrimination, i.e. regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status
  • Be aware of your behaviour and avoid any actions/behaviour that can be seen as child abuse
  • Always ensure that another adult is present when working in the proximity of children
  • Refrain from physical punishment or discipline of children
  • Refrain from hiring children for domestic or other labour which is inappropriate given their age or developmental stage, which interferes with their time available for education and recreational activities, or which places them at significant risk of injury

Comply with all relevant local legislation, including labour laws in relation to child labour

  • Immediately report concerns or allegations of child abuse or policy non compliance
  • Respect national laws and policies relating to children
  • Respect privacy for children when taking photos and obtain written permission of parent or guardian beforehand
  • Respect privacy for children when using children’s images, including not naming child or children featured or portraying them unclothed or in a sexual suggestive manner
  • Disclose and report any personal charges or convictions relating to a crime or offence against children, including those under traditional law

You will not:

  • Use language or behaviour towards children that is inappropriate, bullying, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative, demeaning or culturally inappropriate
  • Engage children in any form of sexual activity or acts, including paying for sexual services or acts
  • Use children for labour which places them at risk of injury or effects their development
  • Take photographs or videos of children without written permission from their parent or guardian
  • Take photographs or videos of children portraying them unclothed or in a sexual suggestive manner
  • Use any computers, mobile phones, or video and digital cameras appropriately, and never to exploit or harass children or to access child pornography through any medium (or ‘Use of children’s images for work related purposes’)
  • Invite unaccompanied children into my home or while performing work duties into my place of work, unless they are at immediate risk of injury or in physical danger
  • Sleep close to unsupervised children unless absolutely necessary, in which case I must obtain my supervisor’s permission, and ensure that another adult is present

RESPONSE AND REPORTING  

Roles and Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of every member of PDAO staff to identify and report concerns   about harm, or suspected harm, and to take part in, as required, the process of investigation.  All PDAO staff and volunteers irrespective of job role or status, has a responsibility to pass on any concerns immediately to the designated persons.

At this time, the designated persons are 1) ED of PDAO, Mr.Vicheth CHOEUN or 2) Financial Officer; Ms Vorleak Chhan

It is not necessary to have definite evidence of abuse or for the abuse to fit precisely with above definitions of abuse.  If a member of staff has a general concern or suspicion, this requires further discussion and advice should be sought from the Executive Director of PDAO or other members of the Child Protection Committee.

All concerns or suspicions of Child Abuse should be reported within 24 hours

 Procedures in regard to the welfare of a child

It is the responsibility of PDAO staff, volunteers or persons working with PDAO to ensure that concerns are reported and that issues raised are listened to and handled appropriately by the ED and the Child Protection Committee or external agencies. It is not the responsibility of PDAO staff or volunteers to investigate or establish all the necessary details from the child to establish the truth.

 Speaking with the Child in response to reported incidents

  • Ask them if there is anything that they immediately would like or need to happen to make them feel safe.
  • Tell the child that you are concerned about them
  • Allow the child to tell you as much as they want to regard the issue, in their own time, without interrupting
  • Write down as much as you can about what you are being told.
  • Limit any questions to clarifying what happened and strictly avoid leading the child or adult by making suggestions or introducing your own ideas in the questions.
  • Tell the child that, regardless of their wishes, you may have to share the information that they have given you with other relevant professionals
  • Tell the informing child or adult that you will make sure you refer the matter to the right people.
  • Re-assure the child that it is the right thing to tell and that somebody will support them at all times.
  • Tell the child what you will do next
  • Assure them that staff will do everything they can to try to make this happen but don’t make promises you can’t keep
  • If the child is concerned about confidentiality ensure you never give guarantees of confidentiality to children or adults wishing to confide something serious.
  • You can guarantee that the information that you pass on will be to the minimum number of people who need to be told to resolve the problem

 Recording and Information

  • A written record should be undertaken as soon as is reasonably possible and must be dated and signed. All records relating to the protection issue must be kept safely and securely by the relevant person. All records must contain detailed information that can be accurately used in case conferences and court proceedings. If possible it is often particularly helpful to have noted the timing and location of particular events. (Appendix 2)
  • When written records are being made, the language used by the individual raising concerns must not be altered or amended.
  • All written reports should be provided within 24 hours

Personnel can be suspended or transferred to other duties if they are under investigation or dismissed if it is found out that they have breached the Child Protection Code of Conduct

 Confidentiality

All incidents should be treated confidentially and relevant information must be retained by all those involved within the boundaries of the investigation, as appropriate to each participant’s role.  At all times the child’s safety is paramount and only those with a right and a need to know should be given the appropriate information. Staff should be aware that under the circumstances described in this policy it may be necessary to take action even if the consent of the person raising the concern cannot be obtained.

The Role of Board

The Board have ultimate responsibility for the conduct of PDAO and the application of this policy. The Board will review the policy and receive a report on its application at on a yearly basis .The Board shall require the ED to advise the Board of any serious breaches of the policy by PDAO staff, contractors and volunteers.

 Recruitment (Safer Recruitment –Safer Child)

PDAO will take all reasonable measures in its recruitment procedures to identify staff that may have had a history of abusing children.  Any positions advertised will indicate that PDAO has a rigorous “Child Protection Policy” in place that must be followed at all times and that  ‘’Safeguarding checks’ will be carried out on each candidate to be interviewed.

These will include:

  • Criminal record checks
  • Disclosure of previous convictions and or “Statutory Declaration”
  • Verbal Referee checks
  • Behavioural based interview questions that include the applicant attitude towards children and or the protection of children
  • Identification check on age of applicant

Criminal Records Disclosures

Are completed for all Trustees, present staff and consultants. When meeting with all local partners, PDAO staff members, consultants and volunteers must adhere to the PDAO Child Protection Policy and “Code of Conduct”

Partner Organisations

Partner organisations are encouraged to have child protection procedures in place. If they do not have a clear policy in place, PDAO will assist the organisation in developing one by providing a copy of this policy and explaining the reasons for the policy.

Photography/Filming Policy

PDAO takes its duty of care for children seriously and aims to ensure that all our programs comply with child protection policies. Written material and visual images used by PDAO must be appropriate and not denigrating for any child.  If a photograph considered for publication by PDAO gives a staff member cause for concern, or the suitability of photographic images otherwise gives rise to a query, the matter should normally be escalated immediately to the ED in the first instance for resolution.

Complaints about this policy and procedures or their use

If you are concerned about any aspect of this policy and procedures or their use in the first instance these should be addressed to the ED and the Child Protection Committee. This policy will be reviewed every two years, or more frequently if appropriate.