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Incident Report Forms FAQ

Frequently asked questions on Incident Report Forms


Q. How do I know whether or not to report something?

Our guidelines state: 

This form is to be used when an incident occurs at a CISV international programme. Not every incident will require full reporting. Examples of situations to report are those requiring medical (including psychological) attention, those involving criminal behaviour as well as violations of CISV guidelines on Behaviour and Cultural Sensitivity (R-07) where consequences have been imposed. Although generally, it will be up to a Programme Director or Leader to do so, an Incident Report Form can be filled in and submitted by anyone who feels there is a matter that should be reported. 

The Incident Report Form is well known in International Programmes. Reporting incidents outside these programmes, (in JB events or trainings, for example) is also encouraged. 

The incident reporting system and the reports submitted are reviewed regularly so that all incidents, including deficiencies in training and preparation of leaders and JCs, may be used by the organisation to improve the way we run our programmes. 

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Q. If a delegation experienced noncompliance with basic program rules (i.e.: Three meals and appropriate snacks must be provided and covered by the host NA’s hosting budget) how would NAs raise such issues? 

Most incidents are handled well during the programmes and any conflicts resolved by being pro-active and employing early intervention strategies. The IRF that is subsequently submitted can be used to highlight good practice. If there is no satisfactory resolution during the programme, an IRF may still be filed to inform the NA involved. 

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Q. I have been told it is good practice to document evidence of a potential incident but at what point do I submit? 

A potential incident can be averted by early contact with a local or national risk manager which may dispense with the need for a report. 

Most incidents are handled well during the time of the programme and the form can be completed as soon as practicable, There may be times when an incident is ongoing and notifying the regional or international risk manager will be necessary to seek the more immediate support that may be required, as well as submitting the form as soon as possible. 

It is also important that we record any near misses or chance incidents – a spontaneous event that was beyond control of individuals involved that did not result in injury, illness or damage, but had the potential to do so (e.g., acts of nature, building failures related to structure, electrical or plumbing, release of hazardous substances etc.). These can inform our training and procedures. 

Documentation is very important. Keeping notes on observations that you suspect would lead to reporting on behavioral issue requiring consequences will help with completion of the IRF, should it subsequently be required. The key to deciding when or if to submit involves exercising good judgement and decision making skills. When in doubt contact the risk manager for guidance. 

Completion of an IRF should never be used as a threatened consequence or to manage behavior issues. If there are issues, these should be addressed with appropriate conflict resolution practices. 

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Q. If I observe anything but I am uncertain if it is a rule violation, what should I do? 

It is important to share your observations with the Camp Director and/or other staff to discuss how the situation should be addressed and/or whether it should be a documented incident. 

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Q. To whom should Incident Report Forms be submitted? 

It should be sent in confidence to the host National/Chapter Risk Manager, with a copy to incident.report.form@cisv.org (which will go to the International Risk Manager and the Administrative Coordinators at the International Office). 

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Q. Since this form is submitted internationally, is it the equivalent of "telling on someone" or "writing them up?" 

No. The report form should be used as a vehicle to address concerns and to seek continuous improvement. The report should focus on the facts, not opinions. In an organization committed to improvement it is very important that information regarding medical or behavioral issues be followed up on in order to ensure a safe and productive programme experience for all participants. 

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Q. What are the consequences? 

If the report merits follow up it is brought to the attention of the National Risk Manager of either the participant involved or, if relevant, for the national association concerned. The expectation is that the national risk manager will conduct an appropriate investigation and report back to either the Regional or International Risk Manager with the outcome. 

Depending on the incident and the seriousness of the infraction, the Sending Chapter (NA) may implement follow up actions (e.g. identify leaders needing further training, or even suspension of membership). Follow up actions may also include review of chapter (NA) policies or procedures (e.g. selection criteria). 

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Q. If I submit an IRF and there are consequences for individuals involved, will they ever know who submitted it? 

Confidentiality is extremely important in this process. The report must only be shared on a need to know basis. The contact details of the person submitting the report, for example, should not be shared. Depending upon the nature of the report, however, anonymity cannot be assured. If the report is very 

serious then the person reported on may need to know the identity of the person submitting the report in order for them to give an informed response to the report. 

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Q. Could there be consequences for me as the submitter? 

No, if the report is submitted in an honest manner and without malicious intent there should be no consequences for the submitter. 

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Q. What happens if I report second hand information that turns out to be inaccurate? 

If the report is submitted in an honest manner and without malicious intent there should be no consequences for the submitter. In cases of suspected child abuse the advice should always be that the welfare of the child is our highest priority. Always do something if you have a concern about a child. It is always better to do something and get it wrong than do nothing and something happens to that child. 

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Q. Should I include my National Association "for the confidential attention of? 

Yes. Send the IRF in confidence to the host National/Chapter Risk Manager, with a copy to incident.report.form@cisv.org. There are some National Associations who require that their members send a copy to their National Risk Manager. These National Associations who make this extra requirement have a duty of care to ensure that the report is treated in confidence and is only shared on a need to know basis. 

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Q. For the "date of incident," what happens if there are multiple incidents? Should they be reported separately or is it best to include them on the same form? Which of the incidents do I make note of in this section? 

Many reports are submitted that cover multiple incidents but these are often indicative of a course of conduct, for example, and the multiple incidents give a clearer picture of the situation. If the incidents are quite separate and each incident requires individual follow up then submit separate forms. If the incidents are related, you can include additional sheets as required. 

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Q. Why do I need to submit so much personal information? 

There may be a need to clarify information that is provided during a subsequent investigation. The contact details provided should not be shared unnecessarily. Investigations are an important part of due diligence that help uncover the root causes of the incident and provide those involved with better information about how to correct and prevent similar situations in the future. 

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Q. Can I prefer to remain anonymous if my Programme Director signs off and is able to provide any additional information? 

No, this is not preferred practice. When a programme ends it becomes more difficult to direct any follow up queries through the programme director. The identity of the person making the report also often lends context to the report itself. IRFs are confidential documents and information will only be shared with those who need to know the details for follow up purposes. 

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Q. In what kinds of situations should the parent/guardian be contacted? Who should make this decision? Who should be the one to communicate the incident? 

If the incident involves child protection issues or serious injury then we have a duty of care to contact the parent/ guardian. In a programme the Camp Director is best placed to make this decision. It is best practice if the local risk manager in the chapter of the parent/guardian, accompanied by someone in the chapter who personally knows the parent/guardian, communicates the information to the parents. 

With less serious incidents, it is important that the parent and Leader agree before travel what they wish to be advised about. 

Occasionally parents may be contacted if additional information is needed in order to adequately support the physical or mental health of the participant. The Leader, together with the Director and hosting and sending RMs should make this decision. 

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Q. What is the timeline for contacting the various parties (i.e. CISV individuals, parents/guardians, local authorities)? 

The nature or seriousness of the incident will dictate the timeline. As a parent/ guardian your expectation may be that you will not be alerted to minor incidents but will expect to be notified of serious incidents involving your child. In cases where we are obliged to report incidents to the local authorities these reports should be made as soon as possible. 

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Q. What kinds of details should be included in this section? Is there anything that is particularly useful to include? What should not be included? 

Include details that add value, are relevant to the specific issues, paint a clear picture of what happened and allow the reader to gather, evaluate and analyze the incident. Include factual information in a logical order without comment, inference, opinions or rumors. 

If the IRF contains criticism then this should be constructive. Along with the perceived problem, suggest possible solutions. To give the IRF balance it is also good practice to point out something that is perceived to have been good during the programme (i.e. – Overall the kids had a good time and enjoyed this experience). 

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Q. If I was told something happened but did not observe it personally, can I still fill complete an IRF? 

Yes. A report can be submitted without the incident being observed by the person submitting. Care should be taken not to rely solely on hearsay. You must acknowledge who provided the information; do not adopt the observation as your own. 

Investigating a report of suspected child abuse is beyond the responsibility 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 provide a basic account to the relevant authorities in order for them to initiate their investigation. 

The account should include: 

* What happened? 

* When did it happen? 

* Where did it happen? 

* Who was there when it (description of situation) happened? 

You could pose these open questions to a young person who has made a disclosure about possible child abuse. All accounts should be recorded. 

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Q. Is it ever appropriate for a participant (even a minor) to fill in this portion? What if they were the one that witnessed or was involved in the incident? 

It is best practice for an adult to complete the description of the situation on behalf of the child, bearing in mind the advice concerning not conducting investigations. 

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Q. As a Leader, am I responsible for taking any action at the time? What about follow up? When do my responsibilities end? 

We are all responsible for looking after the wellbeing and safety of everyone else in CISV - staff, volunteers, parents, and participants. Once the safety and wellbeing of those concerned has been assured and the matter reported, any appropriate follow up becomes the responsibility of the risk managers concerned. 

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Q. In what situations should the police or local authorities be involved? Is it best to call my Local Risk Manager or National Risk Manager for guidance first? What about the host country's Risk Manager(s)? 

The host country’s local risk manager is in the best position to determine if a report to the local authorities is required, and who else needs to be notified. 

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Q. Is it okay to talk to the media? Who should be responsible for this? 

The crisis communication guide gives advice about speaking to the media. This guide advocates a person from the crisis communications team within the host chapter or NA for this responsibility. 

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Q. What about the incidents that are handled well? 

There are often serious incidents that are handled very well during programmes and have a satisfactory outcome. These incidents should also be recorded so the good practice can be captured and shared. 

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Q. What happens to IRFs? 

All reports are read by the International Risk Manager and are either filed or receive follow up through the Regional Risk Managers or as appropriate. Regular reviews seek to identify opportunities for improvement in programming or procedures through the development of policy or the delivery of training. 

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Any concerns or ideas to seek to improve our reporting system can be sent to your respective Regional Risk Manager or steve.lavelle@int.cisv.org.

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