What’s new and what isn't in CISV's Child Protection Policy
Child protection has been a matter of utmost importance to CISV since its beginning. Training and background checks on adults in positions of responsibility for children and general CISV rules are in place to ensure that all children who are entrusted into CISV’s care are safe at all times. Demands for formal child protection provisions and rules have increased over the past few years, as public awareness of child abuse has become ever more acute. Therefore, the International Risk Management Committee, the International Executive Committee and the Secretary General decided in 2012 to pull together CISV’s existing child protection provisions, study best practice in other organizations and to formulate a new child protection policy that is binding for all of CISV, strengthening existing provisions.
Throughout 2013, CISV promotes our new Child Protection Policy and raises awareness of the issue. All 2013 Regional Training Forums and regional Risk Management trainings will include one or several sessions on child protection. In 2014, our goal is to have child protection incorporated into all trainings that CISV offers.
This FAQ page presents answers and relevant references to the questions raised during awareness raising sessions at 2013 Regional Training Forums.
What age are children? What age is one considered an adult?
Children are anyone under the age of 18. Anyone 18 or over is considered an adult. This is in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. See page 3 in our Child Protection Policy.
Are Junior Councillors (JCs) adults or children?
JCs are considered children because they are under 18 years of age, but at the same time they are in a position of programme responsibility. They are therefore both co-responsible for implementing and covered by the Child Protection Policy. See page 3 in our Child Protection Policy.
What does abuse mean?
Any form of physical, emotional, or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm. All of our child protection efforts, including the Child Protection Policy, exist to prevent abuse and to enable us to respond quickly and effectively if abuse occurs in CISV. See pages 3-4 in our Child Protection Policy.
What is bullying?
Deliberate, hurtful behaviour towards another person that is usually repeated over a period of time. Bullying is a form of child abuse, though often the person who is the bully is also a child. See page 4 in our Child Protection Policy.
CISV encourages responsible behaviour online as well as offline to protect children. For specific guidance, see pages 6 and 17 in our Child Protection Policy.
To successfully implement child protection, it is crucial that each of us know exactly what their role is. This will be the content of child protection training that we are developing for Programme leaders, Risk Managers, trainers and other roles. Two basic rules apply to all of us. First, we all have to follow the child protection policy; the adult code of conduct is a good summary of how to behave in order to ensure that CISV is a safe environment for all at all times. Second, if we suspect child abuse may have happened or may be happening, we all have a responsibility to report to the person in charge, which is either the programme director or the local/national risk manager.
What is the overlap between Risk Management and Child Protection?
Risk Management is the total set of policies, procedures, and processes that CISV enacts to protect the wellbeing of anyone who participates in a program or volunteers for the organization. Child Protection is one set of policies and procedures among many other Risk Management policies. The Child Protection Policies and Procedures specifically focus on preventing and addressing any issues of abuse or neglect. See our risk management pages here.
Investigating a report of suspected child abuse is beyond the remit of anyone in CISV and an investigation should only be conducted by trained and experienced professionals.
An initial assessment is normally all that would be expected in order to gather a basic account to be able to provide to the relevant authorities in order for them to initiate their investigation.
The authorities would need to know:
- What has happened?
- When did this happen?
- Where did this happen?
- Who was there when it happened?
These open questions could be put to a young person who has made a disclosure about possible child abuse and any account given should be recorded.
One thing that cannot be done at this stage is to challenge the child’s account. That would be an investigation.
There should also be, if possible, no gathering of information from others / possible witnesses. This would also be an investigation.