New Hope Cambodia’s (NHC) Child Protection Policy has been developed in order to provide a clear framework for managing and reducing the risks of child abuse by persons engaged in volunteering or working at NHC and delivering NHC’s program activities.
The policy applies to all members of the NHC management team and staff, our overseas business partners and any sponsor, visitor or volunteer who will come into contact with children through NHC. All enquiries about this policy should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NHC has four on ground Child Protection Officers (CPOs). Their names and contact details are displayed in the Volunteer Office, NHC School, NHC Clinic and the NHC Community Development Department. These details are written in both Khmer and English.
Purpose of this Child Protection Policy
Child abuse happens in all societies throughout the world. Child abusers can be anyone including those who work with or care for children.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that :
- All children have equal rights to protection from abuse and exploitation
- Everyone has the responsibility to support the care and protection of children
- We are all accountable and have a duty to help eradicate child abuse
This child protection policy articulates NHC’s zero tolerance approach to child abuse and child pornography. It provides a framework for managing and reducing risks of child abuse by persons engaged in delivering NHC’s program activities.
The policy’s overall goal is to protect children from abuse of all kinds in the delivery of NHC’s program activities. The policy outlines practical steps to increase NHC’s capacity to manage and reduce risks of child abuse. While it is not possible to eliminate risk entirely, much can be done to reduce opportunities for child abuse.
Child means any human being below the age of eighteen years of age.
Child abuse includes sexual exploitation, physical and or mental harm deliberately caused to a child.
Sexual abuse is when someone involves a child in a sexual activity by using their power over them or taking advantage of their trust. Often children are bribed or threatened physically and psychologically to make them participate in the activity.
Physical abuse is a non-accidental injury or pattern of injuries to a child caused by a parent, caregiver or any other person.
Psychological abuse can occur where the behaviour of the parent or caregiver damages the confidence and self esteem of the child, resulting in serious emotional deprivation or trauma.
Child Abuse is Crime
NHC’s Child Protection Policy is a statement of intent that demonstrates a commitment to safeguard children from harm. It makes clear all requirements in relation to the protection of children. The policy helps to create a safe and positive environment for children and shows that the organisation is taking its duty of care seriously.
Recognising Signs of Abuse
Recognising indications of potential abuse is complex and there is no simple checklist to allow easy recognition. There are potential warning signs that you can be alert to but they should be observed and assessed with care. It should not be automatically assumed that abuse is occurring, and talking to the child may reveal something quite innocent. It is important, however, not to dismiss significant changes in behaviour, fears, worries, and physical indicators a child is exhibiting. Do not ignore these signs, but remember it is not your role to become an investigator. Report any concerns to a NHC Child Protection Officer.
NHC’s Statement of Commitment
NHC’s first priority is the safety and well being of the children under its care. Our strict Child Protection Policy will endeavour to ensure that children are not exposed to abuse, exploitation, violence or neglect. Our guidelines protect both the child from abuse and adults from false accusations.
Zero tolerance of child abuse: Child abuse is not tolerated by NHC, nor is possession of, or access to, child pornography. NHC actively manages risks of child abuse associated with delivering its program activities and trains its management, overseas business partners and all sponsors and volunteers who come into contact with children through the NHC organisation on their obligations. NHC will not knowingly engage with, directly or indirectly, anyone who poses an unacceptable risk to children or associates with any individual or organisation that does not meet NHC’s child protection compliance standards in their operations and activities.
Recognition of the best interests of the child: In reference to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, NHC is committed to upholding the rights and obligations of the convention. NHC recognises that some children, such as children with disabilities and children living in areas impacted by disasters (natural or conflict based), are particularly vulnerable. All decisions and actions concerning a child will always be made in the best interests of the child. NHC will enforce a policy of non-discrimination at all times and all children will be treated equally with love and respect.
Sharing responsibility for child protection: To effectively manage risks to children, NHC requires the active support and cooperation of all personnel engaged in implementing NHC’s program activities. All personnel must meet the terms of this child protection policy and will be held accountable for complying with it.
Participation and Self- Determination: NHC abides by the principle that a child has the right to have his or her views taken into account in major decisions affecting their life in accordance with their age development They will be given the opportunity to express their ideas and views and be heard on matters which affect them. NHC aims to provide safe and friendly environments where children can develop and grow in a healthy way.
Use of risk management approach: While it is not possible to eliminate all risk of child abuse, careful management can reduce the incidence of child abuse associated with aid activities. This policy introduces risk assessments and treatments for a range of recognised risks to children.
Implementation of this Policy
Ensure co-ordinated policy implementation
To ensure coordinated implementation of the policy, NHC has a team of four on ground Child Protection Officers (CPOs).
The team consists of two female and two male personnel. The CPOs’ responsibilities include promoting child protection throughout the organisation, coordinating and facilitating training and procedures for the NHC staff and management team, overseas business partners and all sponsors, visitors and volunteers who come into contact with children through the NHC organisation. The CPOs are also responsible for monitoring internal and external policy compliance and coordinating policy reviews. The CPOs also serve as the central contact points for enquiries (internal and external) about child abuse and child protection.
Increase awareness of child protection issues
Staff and volunteers
A key step in reducing risks to children when delivering program activities is to increase awareness of risks and how to manage them. NHC’s staff and management team receive training on child protection issues and on their obligations under the policy, including mandatory reporting of concerns or allegations of abuse. Training will also be provided to long term volunteers upon induction and before they travel overseas to conduct work on behalf of NHC. Training is also provided to all personnel at NHC and those attached to NHC’s overseas business partners. NHC sponsors who request contact with children associated with NHC are screened, trained, provided with procedures and are escorted during meetings by staff.
All sponsors who request contact with children associated with NHC must first sign a NHC Code of Conduct and undergo a National Police Check, or equivalent, with their country of abode.
The best way to protect children is to empower them to protect themselves.
Awareness programs for parents, children and the wider community.
NHC conducts child protection awareness programs for families and the wider community on the following issues:
- The rights of the child and healthy parenting
- The danger of ‘grooming’ from strangers
- Child sex trafficking
Internal recruitment and screening processes
NHC’S processes employ stringent screening measures to ensure that inappropriate persons are not allowed access to children associated with the organisation. These include a national police check or equivalent on all personnel engaged by NHC before they are provided with access to the children. NHC will continue to evaluate and improve these processes.
Personnel recruitment, screening and orientation
- Advertisements for job vacancies will make it clear that NHC is committed to child protection and that prospective employees’ commitment to child protection must be a condition of employment.
- All prospective NHC associates will be informed of NHC’s Child Protection Policy at the start of any recruiting process
Enhance internal procedures for handling complaints relating to child abuse
NHC has internal procedures for handling complaints related to child abuse, including child pornography. The procedures outline obligations and responsibilities for reporting on and managing concerns about inappropriate behaviour. It is mandatory for members of the NHC management team, staff, volunteers, sponsors and NHC’s overseas business partners to immediately report to the NHC Child Protection Officers any concerns relating to child abuse and child pornography by anyone covered by the policy. If any of the NHC Child Protection Officers are the cause for concern then the NHC Managing Director or the local Police will be informed. (Refer to Procedures Regarding Complaints)
Ensure appropriate use of communication systems
NHC’s guidelines on appropriate use of its communication systems cover child pornography. Using any system to access child pornography is illegal and will be dealt with promptly, including immediate reporting to relevant law enforcement agencies.
Incorporate child protection strategies into risk management procedures
Under this policy, risks of child abuse are now assessed as part of the initial risk assessment for program activities. Procedures have been developed to ensure these risks are assessed efficiently and that effective risk management strategies are in place. Risks to children identified during initial risk assessments are managed throughout program activity implementation.
Ensure risks to children are managed in disaster situations
NHC recognises that children living in areas impacted by disasters (natural or conflict based) are particularly vulnerable. All personnel implementing NHC’S disaster response activities must comply with the policy’s child protection compliance standards. Risks to children must always be considered when developing disaster response activities.
Responsibilities of NHC supporters
NHC is committed to the welfare of children and their protection from abuse and exploitation. Every person who engages in the work of NHC, including the NHC staff and management team, sponsors, volunteers and our overseas business partners, share in the responsibility to take every precaution to protect the children and families we serve.
NHC website, child imagery and child protection
NHC is committed to protecting the security, privacy, and dignity of the children whose parents, guardians and community leaders have graciously allowed them to be a part of our child and family sponsorship programs. The policies below describe how we protect children in relation to the web sponsorship process.
Security: Children have the right to be completely secure from the fear or reality of any potential abuse (either physical or emotional) resulting from an inappropriate contact by a sponsor or any other person. NHC will only release limited information about the children. We don’t include last names, community names or locations, or any other information that might identify the location of the child. We intentionally withhold this information until after the identity of the sponsor is verified. Sponsors of children/families must also agree not to attempt to contact a sponsored child, his or her family or community members, in any manner other than that prescribed and permitted by NHC. Telephone calls, emails or unplanned visits to the child’s residence and community are not allowed by any NHC sponsor, visitor or volunteer.
Privacy: We take potential misuse of child photographs on the web very seriously. Children and their families must be assured that NHC is protecting the integrity of the information about them that has been given, including photographs. Privacy also demands that children, their families and communities be shielded from any potential inappropriate contact from sponsors or others. For this reason, NHC does not allow downloading, copying, or replicating photos or other information relating to children and their communities on our website without our prior written permission. Child/family profiles are presented for the purpose of conveying appropriate information about the sponsorship relationship, and are not to be distributed.
Dignity: The lives of children, their families, and members of their community should be represented with accuracy and dignity. All photographs, films, videos and DVDs must present children in a dignified and respectful manner and not in a vulnerable or submissive manner. Children must be adequately clothed and not in poses that could be seen as sexually suggestive. We consider the children and families we work with as our partners, together helping to bring holistic transformation to communities living in poverty. We seek the full, informed consent of parents, guardians, and/or community leaders for a child’s participation in our child sponsorship program.
Review child protection policy regularly
NHC’s Child Protection Policy will be reviewed every three years or earlier if warranted, and lessons learned incorporated into subsequent versions.