Safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults policy



1. Purpose

The abuse of children, young people and vulnerable adults constitutes a clear infringement of their rights and a violation of the values set out in the vision, values and mission of International Service. This policy determines how International Service will work internally and across all partner organisations on the prevention, investigation and treatment of abuse of children, young people and vulnerable adults. The policy will determine: 

  • a common definition of children, young people and vulnerable adults
  • a common definition of abuse
  • a common system of recording abuse
  • the process to investigate allegations of abuse
  • identifying the resources necessary to fulfil the expectations of work in this area
  • an understanding across all staff and associates of the factors that may lead to abuse, of how abuse may be prevented and how to report suspected abuse.

Implementation of the policy statement will incorporate plans for training, for the management structures and systems necessary to support the work.

 

2. Definitions

Child: International Service uses the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) definition of a child, which is any person under the age of 18, regardless of whether a nation’s laws recognise adulthood earlier.

Youth or a young person: is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of our interdependence as members of a community. The UN defines youth or a young people, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years, without prejudice to other definitions by Member States.

A vulnerable adult: is a person over the age of 18 and who is or may be in need of additional support by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.

Children, Young Person or Vulnerable Adult Protection: The term used to describe the responsibilities and activities undertaken to prevent or stop children, young people or vulnerable adults being abused or neglected.

Staff: This includes all employees.

Associates: This includes all consultants, board members, researchers, volunteers, partner organisations, interns and students.

Child Abuse: Child abuse includes physical such as hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, restraint, or inappropriate sanctions; sexual including rape, sexual assault, sexual slavery, forced early marriage, commercial sexual exploitation; emotional abuse such as threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse; neglect including isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks, lack of physically contact, food, care, health services, schools etc. Also abuses such as bullying, child labour, domestic violence and exploitation. Both boys and girls can be subjected to child abuse. Child abuse can be inflicted on a child by men or women, or by young people themselves.

Vulnerable Young Person or Adult Abuse: Vulnerable Adult Abuse includes physical abuse (as above), sexual abuse including those above and sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not/ could not consent to or has been pressurised into consenting to; psychological abuse as above; financial or material abuse including theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits; neglect and acts of omission including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating, and discriminatory abuse including racist, sexist, that based on a person’s disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment.

Screening: This term includes Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks (often called “police checks”) which are conducted to determine if a person has any known criminal history. Additional screening measures may include identity checks, verbal referee checks and targeted, behavioural-based interview questions.

 

3. Our Commitment to Protect Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults

  • International Service is committed to protecting all children, young people and vulnerable adults, and to ensuring that they are treated without discrimination, especially on the grounds of one's sex, race, disability or age.

  • The organisation’s work is underpinned by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDRC), which set out the fundamental rights and freedoms shared by all human beings.set out the fundamental rights and freedoms shared by all human beings.set out the fundamental rights and freedoms shared by all human beings.sets out the rights and freedoms of all human beings.

  • In line with International Service’s commitment to protect all children and vulnerable people, International Service will provide awareness-raising and training for all staff and associates regarding safeguarding and reporting mechanisms.

 

4. Purpose of Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults Protection Policy

Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults abuse is a serious violation of human rights. International Service will minimise the risk of abuse occurring in its programmes and activities through the implementation of this Policy. The Child and Vulnerable People Protection Policy and Code of Conduct provide a practical guide to prevent abuse occurring within the organisation and incorporate risk management strategies.

The reporting process in the Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults Protection Policy outlines obligations and responsibilities for reporting and managing any concerns about abuse. It also protects staff and associates from unfair processes should any allegations be made about them.

International Service recruitment process includes rigorous screening of staff and associates to minimise the risk of abuse by a person employed by the organisation. Contractors will be expected to provide DBS checks and references if engaging to work with children, young people or vulnerable adults.

These strategies will assist everyone to understand their responsibilities, maintain a positive work environment for staff and also create safe environments where children and vulnerable people are protected and enabled to survive and thrive.


5. Scope of the Policy

This Policy applies to the following: 

  • Staff
  • Board Members
  • Volunteers
  • Consultants and Service contractors
  • Partner organisations and Government department and agency staff in regular contact with International Service programmes
  • People visiting programs, including journalists and donors.

 

6. Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy Implementation Strategy

The Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy and Code of Conduct will be implemented through: 

  • Children, young people and vulnerable adult protection capacity building – awareness of safeguarding issues will be constantly updated among staff and associates through policy promotion, collaboration, advocacy and ongoing training and development.
  • Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adult Protection Code of Conduct – outlines acceptable and unacceptable behaviour - for people to whom the Code applies - in relation to children, young people and vulnerable adults with whom we work. A breach of the Code may result in termination of employment.
  • Compliance – staff and associates are required to sign a written statement agreeing to comply with the Protection Policy and Code of Conduct.
  • Mandatory reporting of alleged or suspected cases of abuse – reports will be handled professionally, confidentially and as quickly as possible and will meet country, state or territory-specific legislative requirements. Any employee who intentionally makes a false or malicious allegation will face disciplinary action.
  • Risk management – effective child and vulnerable people abuse prevention strategies will be incorporated in all International Service programme designs and activities.
  • Recruitment and staff management practices – prospective and current staff will be screened and monitored to ensure the organisation does not employ or retain people who pose a risk to children, young people and vulnerable adults. Disclosure and Barring Service checks will be conducted – where available – particularly for positions working directly with children and vulnerable people. Additional screening measures will include identity checks, verbal referee checks and interview questions.


7. Reporting process

Who can report?

  • Anyone – children, young people, vulnerable adults, beneficiaries, partners, volunteers, staff

What to report?

  • Allegations, disclosures or observations of child abuse or suspected breaches of the Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adult policy

When to report?

  • Within 24 hours or as soon as practically possible

Who to report to?

  • Any child, young person or vulnerable adult abuse allegations against staff/associates must be reported to the in-country Safeguarding Leads, the Global Safety and Security Specialist and the Director of International Programmes. The confidentiality of the child, young person or vulnerable adult must be respected as far as possible and sensitive information will only be shared where necessary.
  • Concerns for the safety or wellbeing of any child, young person or vulnerable adult must be reported to the in-country Safeguarding Leads, the Global Safety and Security Specialist and the Director of International Programmes.

What will happen?

  • Situation and information will be assessed/ investigated and a confidential report will be made in compliance with this Policy and/or within the context of local, state and country legislation.
  • The organisation’s relevant senior manager must always be notified.

Possible outcomes

  • Nothing – no case is found
  • Criminal matter or child/ young person/ vulnerable adult protection report made to Police either locally or in the UK.
  • Victim’s and alleged perpetrator’s safety needs assessed and responded to.
  • Breach of this Policy resulting in performance management or termination of employment.

 

8. Statements to be Signed by Staff & Associates

  • All staff or associates must sign a Statement in the form set out in Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults Protection Code of Conduct prior to commencing employment, or at the commencement of this Policy.
  • Statements signed by Staff and Associates must be returned to the Director of Corporate Services on or before the first day of work.

 

9. Review

The Policy will be monitored on an ongoing basis and reviewed at least every two years.

Appendix 1.

Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults Protection Code of Conduct

I, (insert name) agree that in the course of my association with International Service,

I will:

  • Treat all people with respect regardless of age, race, colour, sex, language, disability, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, birth or other status
  • Provide a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for all, including children, young people, vulnerable people, parents, employees and volunteers
  • Provide a safe environment for children, young people, vulnerable people, parents, employees and volunteers to speak up about issues that affect them
  • Refrain from using corporal punishment on children, regardless of cultural norms
  • Immediately report concerns or allegations of abuse in accordance with International Service’s reporting process
  • Comply with local, national and international child, young people and vulnerable adults protection laws
  • Ensure that, whenever possible, another adult is present when I am working with children, young person or vulnerable people, or in the proximity of them
  • Advise my supervisor/manager of my involvement in any situation where my actions could be misinterpreted
  • Advise my supervisor/manager if I am involved in any situation which would be likely to bring the organisation into disrepute, and
  • Advise my supervisor/manager if I am being investigated for any crime or charged with any criminal offence.

 

And I will not:

  • Use inappropriate language – whether of an offensive, discriminatory, demeaning, abusive or sexual nature – particularly when in the presence of under 18s.
  • Engage in behaviour to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade, or otherwise emotionally abuse another person
  • Marry or engage in sexual activity with any person under the age of 18
  • Act in a sexually provocative manner or engage children in any form of sexual activity.
  • Pay for sexual services regardless of local laws.
  • Hold, kiss, cuddle or touch a child in an inappropriate, unnecessary or culturally insensitive way
  • Condone or participate in illegal, unsafe or abusive behaviour
  • Discriminate against or in favour of particular children to the exclusion of others 
  • Spend time outside work requirements with any child connected with International Service’s programme activities
  • Hire children for domestic or any other labour which is inappropriate for their age or development, interferes with their education or play, or places them at risk of injury
  • Violate the privacy of children, young people or vulnerable adults we are working with by carrying out tasks of a personal nature that they can do for themselves, or which are outside our sphere of responsibility, such as toileting them or changing their clothes
  • Sleep in close proximity to any children unless it is absolutely necessary, for example when being hosted in a family home, in which case I will keep my supervisor/manager informed and ensure that a responsible member of the child’s family is present, (noting that this does not apply to my own children).
  • Access or create sexually abusive or inappropriate images of children: and
  • Use computers, mobile phones, video or digital cameras or any other technology for the purpose of exploiting or harassing children or any other person.

 

Use of children’s images

Before photographing or filming a child for work related purposes, I will:

  • Assess and comply with local traditions or restrictions on reproducing personal images
  • At a minimum, obtain and document verbal consent from children, young people and vulnerable adults and/or their parent or guardian and explain how the photograph or film will be used. Written consent should be obtained, where possible
  • Ensure photographs, films, videos and DVDs present all people in a dignified and respectful manner and not in a vulnerable or submissive manner.
  • Children should be adequately clothed and not in poses that could be perceived as sexually suggestive
  • Ensure images are honest representations of the situations and the facts
  • Ensure the identities of children, young people and adults in photographic and electronic images are not disclosed except with explicit permission from the individual or their parent / guardian
  • Ensure these files are stored securely and access is limited on a needs basis to relevant staff only.

 

Kerry Jones Kensah, Director of International Programmes

Version: 5.0 – February 2018