Partner Version (The Mandala Trust)
Promoting ethical behaviour
The Koinonia Trust roots love, faith and encouragement are embedded in a partnership approach. We undertake practical actions to demonstrate Gods love to those who are marginalised and socially excluded from society. In doing so we empower people to reach their fullest potential and realize their God giving purpose in this life regardless of background or circumstance.
IMPORTANT BACKGROUND INFORMATION
According to the World Health Organisation, “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 of responsibility, trust or power.’
The NSPCC similarly specify “cruelty to children” or “child abuse” as ‘behavior that causes significant harm to a child. It also includes when someone knowingly fails to prevent serious harm to a child. All forms of cruelty are damaging – it can be harder to recover from the emotional impact than from the physical effects.’
These definitions therefore point to four types of cruelty:
- Physical abuse: including hurting or injuring a child, inflicting pain, poisoning, drowning, or smothering.
- Sexual abuse: including direct or indirect sexual exploitation or corruption of children by involving them (or threatening to involve them) in inappropriate sexual activities.
- Emotional abuse: repeatedly rejecting children, humiliating them or denying their worth and rights as human beings.
- Neglect: the persistent lack of appropriate care of children, including love, stimulation, safety, nourishment, warmth, education, and medical attention.
A child who is being abused may experience more than one type of cruelty. Discrimination, harassment, and bullying are also abusive and can harm a child, both physically and emotionally’.
A broad term to describe philosophies, policies, standards, guidelines and procedures to protect children from both intentional and unintentional harm. In the current context, it applies particularly to the duty of organisations - and individuals associated with those organisations - towards children in their care. ‘Child protection’ is a term used by many organisations for the work and programmes they undertake in the community or broader social environment. This may lead to confusion when discussing the child protection responsibilities and issues involved in managing an organisation. This policy is about organisational child protection – i.e. building a ‘child-safe organisation.’
Direct contact with children
Being in the physical presence of a child or children in the context of the organisation’s work, whether contact is occasional or regular, short or long term. In the UK this could involve delivering talks to schools, churches and youth groups. Overseas this could involve project / site visits and attending conferences at which children are also present. [N.B. this list of examples is not exhaustive].
Indirect contact with children
- Having access to information on children in the context of the organisation’s work, such as children’s names, locations (addresses of individuals or projects), photographs and case studies.
- Providing funding/resources for organisations that work ‘directly’ with children. Albeit indirectly, this nonetheless has an impact on children, and therefore confers upon the donor organisation responsibility for child protection issues.
[N.B. this list of examples is not exhaustive].
A statement of intent that demonstrates a commitment to safeguard children from harm and makes clear to all what is required in relation to the protection of children. It helps to create a safe and positive environment for children and to show that the organisation is taking its duty and responsibility of care seriously.
THE KOINONIA TRUST CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
Named person responsible for child protection:
Momo Kinnie (President)
Second named person responsible for child protection: Frances Swaray (Consultant)
The Koinonia Trust’s child protection principles as outlined in this policy are based on the human rights standards of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that are universally and cross-culturally applicable. However, whilst maintaining a strong commitment to these principles (i.e. duty of care and protection in the best interests of the child), and in the belief that such fundamental principles are not culturally negotiable, The Koinonia Trust nonetheless recognises:
- The difficulties faced by some agencies in developing child protection policies overseas (Liberia), in situations of scarcity of resources and lack of knowledge, supportive systems and legislative frameworks;
- That where child protection policies are not in place, time will be needed to develop, write and institute them;
By signing the ‘Statement of Commitment to The Koinonia Trust’s Child Protection Policy’ as required by this Policy, individuals and organisations pledge to work with The Koinonia Trust towards such implementation.
ChildHope UK has developed comprehensive training materials for organisations - both in the UK and overseas - to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate child protection policies and procedures. This toolkit and other tools are available at ChildHope.org.uk.
The Koinonia Trust’s core child protection principles and values
- The legal basis – the UNCRC: The Koinonia Trust’s Child Protection Policy is firmly based on the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Taken holistically, the CRC provides a comprehensive framework for the protection, provision and participation of all children without discrimination to ensure their survival and development to the maximum extent possible. On the understanding that the CRC must be read as a whole, the following articles nevertheless form the specific basis of child protection: 1 (definition of ‘child’), 2 (non-discrimination), 3.1 (the best interests of the child), 3.2 (duty of care and protection), 3.3 (standards of care), 6 (survival and development), 12 (participation), 13 (freedom of expression), 19 (protection from violence), 25 (periodic review of placements), 32, 33, 34, 36, 37(a) (protection from economic exploitation, substance abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation, ‘all other forms of exploitation’; torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment), 39 (physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration).
- The moral basis – a non-negotiable duty: The Koinonia Trust believes that the partner projects working to support children have an absolute duty to protect this already vulnerable group from abuse, mistreatment, and exploitation from within organisations intended for their benefit. This duty is imperative and non-negotiable. Without adequate standards and mechanisms of protection in place, an organisation is not only failing in its primary duty of care, but may also be negligently or recklessly fostering an environment of abuse. Any organisation that claims to be working for the benefit of children must make sure that it is not putting children at risk through lack of attention to child protection policies and procedures.
- An end to silence: Silence breeds abuse and exploitation of children. Child sex abusers will seek out organisations with weak communication structures and thrive where secrecy and shame prevail. Furthermore, without proper policies and explicit procedures in place, NGOs are extremely vulnerable to false allegations of child abuse. The Koinonia Trust therefore encourages strongly the projects supported by them in:
- creating an environment where issues of child protection are discussed openly and are understood between children and adults;
- promoting open lines of communication both internally and externally within and between organisations to improve awareness and implementation of child protection policies and practices;
- creating a framework to deal transparently, consistently and fairly with allegations concerning abuse.
- Children’s participation – a space and a voice: Child protection is not only about policies on paper. The best way to protect children is to empower them to protect themselves. Creating a space where children feel able and willing to speak out about abuse, free from abusers, empowers them to become actors in their own protection without further discrimination or shame. “Children have the right to communication – to enable them to receive information, to ask questions, to make choices, and to make decisions.” The Koinonia Trust believes that helping children to find a voice is an essential step to helping them to claim their individual rights. Children will only benefit from this policy if they are aware of their rights and are given the proper environment in which to exercise them. The Child Hope child protection toolkit includes suggested activities to assist organisations in this process (see org.uk).
- Taking it further: Child protection is not just about reading and signing a piece of paper: the policy sets out guidelines and standards to be put into practice. These include, amongst other measures: recruitment procedures, review of management structures, creation of a space for children to speak out, staff training, and development of transparent protocols. ‘Above all, it must be remembered that it is the children, not the standards, that are sacrosanct; and although abuse must never be tolerated, the standards are no more than a tool in the service of promoting the welfare of children.’
- Capacity building: The Koinonia Trust understands the need for capacity building on issues of child protection and appreciates the constraints and conditions under which organisations operate. Supporting materials are available at: org.uk
- Challenging complacency: Resistance to addressing child protection issues may come from lack of understanding of the nature of child abuse, lack of commitment to the organisation / programme, and a sense that child abuse happens elsewhere.
These principles underlie all of the following standards set out in The Koinonia Trust Child Protection Policy
What is a Child Protection Policy?
A Child Protection Policy provides a framework of principles, standards and guidelines on which to base individual and organisational practice in relation to areas such as:
- Creating a ‘child safe’ and ‘child friendly’ organisation (in relation to environmental safety as well as protection against physical, psychological and sexual abuse)
- Prevention of abuse
- Personnel recruitment
- Education and training
- Management structure
- Guidelines for appropriate and inappropriate behaviour/attitude of adults towards children and of children towards each other
- Guidelines for communications regarding children
- Recognising, reporting and reacting to suspected and alleged abuse
- Ramifications of misconduct in relation to the policy and procedures
This policy is not solely directed towards sexual abuse, but rather encompasses all aspects of child protection including, but not limited to: proper recruitment, training and managerial procedures, health and safety measures, physical harm, disciplinary measures in relation to children, working with information about children, and the ramifications of misconduct.
What a Child Protection Policy is not:
Signing this policy does not absolve projects from further action. It is the beginning, not the end of child protection. This policy is not solely directed towards sexual abuse. This policy is not exclusive to organisations working directly with children on a regular basis; it applies to every individual and organisation affiliated with The Koinonia Trust in any way: “Many organisations – especially those that do not work directly with children – do not believe the standards are relevant to them because of many factors. [The Koinonia Trust disagrees] and believes that every organisation (whether they work directly or indirectly with children, whether they are funding or being funded) must take responsibility for child protection.”
Why do we need a Child Protection Policy?
‘Any international NGO should have a child protection policy if its direct or indirect beneficiaries include individuals under the age of 18’
- Poverty stricken children are especially vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and ill-treatment. Many may have already experienced ruptured relationships of trust or abuse of an adult-child relationship in the form of physical, psychological or sexual abuse.
- Organisations working with vulnerable children have been, are and will continue to be vulnerable to harbouring abuse until the issues are brought into the open.
- Organisations without protection policies, guidelines and systems are more vulnerable to false or malicious accusations of abuse.
- Without proper policies, guidelines and procedures in place, allegations of abuse, whether founded or unfounded, can destroy an organisation’s reputation. This will have serious implications for fundraising (thus undermining an organisation’s entire portfolio of work, even beyond the scope of the particular project concerned)..
Projects supported by The Koinonia Trust are bound by this Child Protection Policy
Any project supported by is The Koinonia Trust bound to the Trust’s Child Protection Policy and guidelines. They will be:
- Expected to identify and name a senior individual within the organisation who will be held accountable for reading The Koinonia Trust Protection Policy and signing, on behalf of the organisation, the relevant ‘Statement of Commitment’ attached to this policy document
- Expected to provide with The Koinonia Trust the name of a contact person within the organisation for communication on child protection issues.
There should be a Code of Conduct developed by Projects supported The Koinonia Trust by which is appropriate to the circumstances of the Project to protect any child from abuse. The Code of Conduct includes guidance on appropriate / expected standards of behaviour of adults towards children, and also of children towards other children.
- The Code shall be prominently displayed / easily accessible for everyone associated with the project..
- The project shall disseminate and promote copies of the Code of Conduct.
Template for a Code of Conduct
- The Code of Conduct should be interpreted in a spirit of transparency and common sense, with the best interests of the child as the primary consideration.
Minimising risk situations:
- Try to: avoid placing yourself in a compromising or vulnerable position; be accompanied by a second adult whenever possible; meet with a child in a central, public location whenever possible. Keep in mind that actions, no matter how well intended, are always subject to misinterpretation by a third party.
- Try not to be alone with a single child, including in the following situations: in a car, overnight; in your home or the home of a child. Do not show favouritism or spend excessive amounts of time with one child.
- The Koinonia Trust is aware that there will be different local norms around physical contact between children and adults and the Code of Conduct should be amended accordingly.
- Do not: engage in or allow sexually provocative games with children to take place; kiss, hug, fondle, rub, or touch a child in an inappropriate or culturally insensitive way; sleep in the same bed as a child; do things of a personal nature that a child could do for him/herself, including dressing, bathing, and grooming; encourage any crushes by a child.
- Do: wait for appropriate physical contact, such as holding hands, to be initiated by the child.
- Do: Be aware of the power balance between an adult and child, and avoid taking any advantage this may provide.
- Do not: use language that will mentally or emotionally harm any child; suggest inappropriate behaviour or relations or any kind; act in any way that intends to embarrass, shame, humiliate, or degrade a child; encourage any inappropriate attention-seeking behaviour, such as tantrums, by a child; show discrimination of race, culture, age, gender, disability, religion, sexuality, or political persuasion.
- Do: be aware of the potential for peer abuse; develop special measures / supervision to protect younger and especially vulnerable children; avoid placing children in high-risk peer situations (e.g. unsupervised mixing of older and younger children).
- Do not: allow children to engage in sexually provocative games with each other.
- Do: develop clear rules to address specific physical safety issues relative to the local physical environment of a project (e.g. for projects based near water, heavy road traffic, railway lines).
- Access to printed and electronic personal information about children should be restricted to the minimum number of people who need to know within the project. Personal and physical information that could be used to identify the location of a child within a country and cause them to be put at risk should not be used on the organisation’s website or in any other form of communication for general or public purposes.
- Every child has a right to be accurately represented through both words and images. The project’s portrayal of each child must not be manipulated or sensationalized in any way. Children must be presented as human beings with their own identity and dignity preserved. Text and images included in any print, broadcast or electronic materials such as brochures, publications, reports, videos or websites should depict an accurate and balanced depiction of children and their circumstances. Sufficient information should be provided where possible as to their social, cultural and economic environment. Where children are indeed ‘victims’, the preservation of the child’s dignity must nevertheless be preserved at all times. In these circumstances, ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures are useful to depict a balance between victimisation and empowerment.
- As far as possible, people [including children] should be able to give their own accounts rather than have people speak on their behalf, and people’s [including children’s] ability to take responsibility and action for themselves should be highlighted.
- Language and images that could possibly degrade, victimise or shame children;
- Making generalisations which no not accurately reflect the nature of the situation;
- Discrimination of any kind;
- Taking pictures out of context (e.g. pictures should be accompanied by an explanatory caption where possible).
- In images, children should be appropriately clothed and not depicted in any poses that could be interpreted as sexually provocative.
- Always ask permission from the child / children themselves before taking photographs or moving images except under exceptional circumstances, based on the child / children’s best interests, where this might not be possible or desirable.
- To the greatest extent possible, the project should acquire informed consent / the permission of the child, child’s guardian for the child in order to use the image for publicity, fundraising, awareness-raising or other purpose (which should be made clear to the consent-giver).
- Individuals or organisations requesting the use of your Project's resources such as photographs should be required to sign an agreement with your organisation as to the proper use of such materials.
Reporting and reaction protocol
Projects supported by The Koinonia Trust are strongly encouraged to develop a process within their project for reporting and reacting to witnessed, suspected or alleged child abuse and/or violation of the Child Protection Policy which is made available to, and understood by, all employees, volunteers and trustees of the Project. Children themselves should be made aware, in a language and age-appropriate way that they understand, what to do if they feel uncomfortable and want to report something. The process includes:
- The guiding principle that the best interest of the child, the need to ensure the immediate physical and psychological safety of the child, and the desire to secure the best outcomes for the child should always govern decisions regarding what action should be taken in response to concerns. Child abuse aims to disempower children. The reporting and reaction protocol should aim to restore that empowerment by allowing children to govern as much as possible decisions regarding action that is taken in light of concerns or allegations.
- Guidance on dealing with allegations from a child that ensure that the child is treated with respect:
Template for process regarding allegations from a child
- When a child informs you that he/she is uncomfortable or concerned with a specific person’s (adult or child) behaviour towards them or another child, the following steps must be taken:
- Reassure them that they were right to report the behaviour.
- Listen carefully and calmly to them and ask questions to clarify the allegation so that you will be able to later report the incident correctly.
- During the conversation, try not to repeat the same questions to the child, as this gives the child the impression that they did not give correct information the first time and they are not fully believed.
- Do not promise secrecy to the child. Inform the child that you must report the incident or inappropriate behaviour as it is in their best interest.
- Take proper steps to ensure the physical safety and psychological well being of the child. This may include referring them for medical treatment or to a psychologist.
- Make certain you distinguish between what the child has actually said and the inferences you may have made. Accuracy is paramount in this stage of the procedure.
- Do not permit personal doubt to prevent you from reporting the allegation to the proper supervisor.
- Let the child know what you are going to do next and that you will let them know what happens.
- Guidance on confidentiality and information sharing which clarifies that the protection of the child is the most important consideration. This includes a standardised system for reporting incidents, concerns and referrals and storing these securely. Records should be signed and dated.
- Records must be kept securely in a locked place to which access is restricted. Project Managers have a particular responsibility in maintaining the confidentiality of these records and must ensure that the records, or any information they contain, are made available only to relevant parties. The transfer of information – verbally, through the mail, electronically, etc. – should be done in such a way that confidentiality is maintained.
- The Project must take appropriate steps within its power to protect the child/children in question from further harm. If your concerns involve immediate harm to a child, act without delay, as inaction may place the child in further danger. If you know any information about the maltreatment of a child, it is your responsibility to tell someone. All employees, contractors, trustees, officers, interns and volunteers must therefore act immediately and report suspicions, however uncertain, to the designated person (or alternate designated person) in accordance with the organisation’s reporting procedure (refer to flowchart and response form). The designated person may in turn seek guidance on further action in the local context (if overseas) or from local social services and the police (if in the UK).
- In certain instances there will be the obligation for the Project and its staff and others to report concerns to the appropriate external bodies. This will usually occur as a consequence of the reporting procedure. However, if urgent action is required in order to protect children then it may be prior to the reporting procedure.
- Projects are asked to provide relevant contact details for child protection services, local social services department, police, emergency medical help and helplines. These contact details will be readily available and easily accessible.
- Projects are asked to make arrangements for providing supervision and support to employees, contractors, trustees, interns and/or volunteers during and following an incident or allegation.
Management Flowchart for Reporting Suspected Abuse
Ramifications of Misconduct
- Depending on the outcome of the independent investigation: ‘If it comes to light that anyone associated with a project supported by The Koinonia Trust commits acts in relation to children – whether within or outside the context of the project's work which are criminal, grossly infringe children’s rights, or contravene the principles and standards contained in this document, the project is strongly encouraged to take immediate disciplinary action and any other action which may be appropriate to the circumstances’. This may mean, for example, for:
- Employees – disciplinary action / dismissal
- Volunteers, trustees, officers and interns – ending the relationship with the organisation
- Partners – withdrawal of funding / support
- Contractors – termination of contract
Depending on the nature, circumstances and location of the case, the project is also strongly encouraged to consider involving authorities such as the police to ensure the protection of children and criminal prosecution where this is appropriate.
STATEMENT OF COMMITMENT
Projects supported by The Koinonia Trust
“I, Momo Kinnie and Frances Swaray, on behalf of The Koinonia Trust, have read and understood the standards and guidelines outlined in this Child Protection Policy. The Koinonia Trust agrees with the principles contained therein and accepts the importance of implementing child protection policies and practice in its work.
The Koinonia Trust is open to working with the Mandala Trust to explore the implications of this policy for our organisation, and to work together to build our mutual capacity to develop and implement child protection policies and practice while associated with the MandalaTrust.
The designated contact person within The Koinonia Trust is responsible for communication with on The Koinonia Trust child protection issues is Mr Momo Kinnie .