Policy for protection of privacy and rights of children in our care

Introduction and overview:

Children are ‘Supremely important National asset’, and the future well being of the Nation depends on how its children are growing and developing. Children need special protection of their tender age and physique mental immaturity and incapacity to look after themselves and therefore children must be brought up, in an atmosphere of love and affection and under the tender care and attention to attain full emotional, intellectual and spiritual stability and maturity and acquire self confidence and self respect and a balanced view of life with full appreciation and realization of the role which they have to play in the Nation.  The welfare of the child is chief. All children without exception have the right to protect from abuse regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual or beliefs. The authorities, staff, home Incharges, teachers and other adults engaged with children are therefore duty bound to provide an environment that supports and promotes children’s dignity, development and protection.

Approach:

The Child Protection Policy is guided by the National Policy for Children, 2013, of Government of India, which is a reaffirmation of the government’s commitment to the realization of all rights to children. This approach enables all children to access, participate in and profit fully from learning opportunities in a space that inspires their confidence and holistic sense of well-being. Participation of children in the process is a right to every child.

Child Protection:

Child Protection Policy applies particularly to the duty and responsibility of authorities, and other stakeholders associated with the El Shaddai towards children in our care. Child Protection Policy defines El Shaddai’s commitment to safeguard children from harm and abuse. It helps to create a safe and child sensitive environment for children, shows that El Shaddai is taking its duty of care seriously, and importantly specifies stakeholders’ responsibilities and roles in the protection of children. 

‘Child’ is any person under the age of 18 years, or one who has not completed eighteen years of age as per the Juvenile Justice Act 2000. 

Child protection is defined as the responsibilities, measures and activities undertaken to safeguard children from intentional and unintentional harm. Child Sensitive Environment: When the atmosphere of a place makes a child feel comfortable, be herself/himself without inhibition, and is non-threatening.  

Child Abuse: 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.’

Sexual abuse: Acts or behaviour as defined in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO)

Neglect: A condition where there is failure to protect the child from exposure to any kind of harm or danger that results in significant injury in the health and development of the child. Neglect is often prolonged and includes starvation or not providing nutrition, not providing emotional support, leaving child unsupervised or not providing medical, educational, and other basic care such as shelter, clothing etc. 

Harm: An act or behaviour, often intentional, that hurts, causes grievous injury, pain or trauma to the child. Most often this is physical and sometimes could also be self-inflicted – Cutting, burning, misuse of substances and such.

Who’s bound by the policy? 

The policy will apply to all personnel and persons related to El Shaddai and who come in direct or indirect contact with children. 

  • Board and Management
  • Permanent, temporary and contract staff
  • Volunteers, consultants, experts and such
  • Service providers 
  • Any person visiting and accessing the premises of El Shaddai

Aim of child protection:

The aim of the Child protection policy in El Shaddai is  To protect the child against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation and to create ‘child safe’ environment,  both internally and externally where children are respected, protected, empowered and active in their own protection, and where the staff is skilled,  confident, competent and well  supported in meeting  their protection.  To allow the staff/volunteers to make informed and confident responses to specific child protection issues. To define roles and responsibilities and accountability of El Shaddai staff and other stakeholders.

Governing Principles

The right of the child to have her or his best interest taken as primary consideration. Every child has a right to be heard, listened to and to participate in all processes and decisions affecting her or his interest and the child’s views shall be taken into consideration with due regard to the age and maturity of the child. All measures will be taken to ensure that the child is safe and is not subjected to any harm, abuse or maltreatment while in contact with the care – takers and education system. All children shall be treated equal and given equal opportunity and treatment. Confidentiality shall be maintained when there has been abuse, especially when there has been sexual abuse. 

Guiding Principles

  1. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, Article 19, 
  2. The Indian Constitution
  3. National Policy for Education 1992, which emphasizes child centric approach and prohibits corporal punishment in schools.
  4. National Policy for Children, 2013 – Guiding Principles X: safety and security of all children is integral to their well-being and children are to be protected from all forms of harm, abuse, neglect, violence, discrimination, deprivation, abandonment, separation, abduction, sale or trafficking  for any purpose or in any form, pornography, alcohol and substance abuse, maltreatment and exploitation in all settings including care institutions, schools, hospitals, crèches, families and communities.

Legal Framework

The key child legislations in the context of protection of children are the following:

  1. The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation )Act 1986 (CLPRA)
  2. The Juvenile Justice  (Care & Protection) of Children Act 2000 and Amendment Act 2006, (JJA)
  3. The Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act 2005
  4. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006
  5. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE)
  6. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 (POCSO)
  7. The Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013 

Obligations

The scope of this policy covers the responsibility of El Shaddai towards safety and protection of children. 

  • Ensure El Shaddai has reporting mechanisms in place, and follow prescribed procedures.
  • Facilitate capacity building of key personnel for effective implementation of the policy.
  • Follow safety standards and measures.
  • Report incidence of abuse or harm, safety violation or any untoward incidence to the appropriate authorities for immediate action.
  • Put in place preventive measures and mechanisms for child safety and protection.

Promoting good practices in El Shaddai:

Abuse can occur within many situations including family, communities, centres, homes, school, office, vocational centre and El Shaddai environment. Any staff, instructor, teachers, official and volunteers will have regular contact with children and be an important link in identifying cases where the children need protection.

Key Priorities

Survival, Health and Nutrition

El Shaddai stands committed to ensure equitable access to comprehensive, and essential, preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative health care and adequate nutrition, of the highest standard, for all children before, during and after birth, and throughout the period of their growth and development.

Education and Development

Every child has equal right to learning, knowledge and education. El Shaddai recognizes it’s responsibility to secure this right for every child, with due regard for special needs, through access, provision and promotion of required environment, information, infrastructure, services and supports, towards the development of the child’s fullest potential.

Participation

 El Shaddai has the primary responsibility to ensure that children are made aware of their rights, and provided with an enabling environment, opportunities and support to develop skills, to form aspirations and express their views in accordance with their age, level of maturity and evolving capacities, so as to enable them to be actively involved in their own development and in all matters concerning and affecting them.

Advocacy and Partnerships

El Shaddai shall encourage the active involvement, participation and collective action of stakeholders such as individuals, families, local communities, nongovernmental Organisations, civil society Organisations, media and private sector including government in securing the rights of the child.

Good practice guidelines in El Shaddai:

  • Our engagement and involvement with children is Governed by El Shaddai child protection policy.
  • All personnel should be encouraged to demonstrate excellent behaviour in order to protect themselves from false allegations.
  • All El Shaddai workers and projects should strictly adhere to the following child protection standards so that children are not exposed to exploitation or abuse at any level at any time.
  • Any one (staff/In charge) suspected of child abuse or inappropriate behaviour will be dealt with severe action that may include investigation as well as severance of employment of relationship
  • El Shaddai will ensure that all communication about children will portray them as dignified citizens of the country. No attempt will be made to portray them as victims.
  • Always work in open environment avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication.
  • Children and parents are informed of the policy and procedures as appropriate: all concerns and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously by board of management.

Child protection procedures and systems

Protection of the child is the most important consideration

Behaviour Protocols

  • A code of behavior for board, staff and volunteers is maintained. The consequences of breaching the code are clear and lined to disciplinary and grievance procedures.
  • A code of conduct for behaviour includes precise clarification of unacceptable forms of behaviour that will result in a formal enquiry and which can lead to disciplinary measures being taken, or criminal proceedings instituted, as well as guidance on appropriate/ expected standards of behaviour of adults towards children, and also of children towards other children.  (Refer to the Annexure – procedural guidelines)
  • Requirements for board, staff and volunteers to learn about child protection in accordance with and as appropriate to their rules and responsibilities.
  • Risk Management involves identifying the potential for an incident to occur and taking steps to reduce the possibility of its occurring.
  • The approachability and supportiveness of managers regarding staff supervision, induction periods, and appraisal is essential for complete understanding of moral and legal responsibilities.

Use of Photos/DVD’s

  • El Shaddai will only take and use images (photographs, videos and DVDs) that are appropriate and are considered to be safe from misuse.
  • Ask permission from children before taking photographs of child/children except under exceptional circumstances, based on the child/children’s best interest, where this might not be possible or desirable.
  • Children will be made aware of why their pictures are being taken and how they will be used.
  • El Shaddai will take extra precautions to ensure that only appropriate images are used for the website.
  • If an image of a child is used, the child’s correct name will not be published. If a name is published, no image will be used without specific consent.

Recruitment / Employment and  screening

  • Job analysis allows definition of the tasks involved and the type of person needed for the position. Hence all posts in El Shaddai Charitable Trust have job descriptions and key selection criteria that describes the ideal skills, experience, knowledge and understanding required from a person, in order to carry out the position.
  • El Shaddai Charitable Trust screens all staff and volunteers as a part of its recruitment and selection process. Similar to the CRB (Crime Regulations Bureau) verification check in the UK, the El Shaddai has initiated police check (LPC-Local Police Check) for all selected candidates as a compulsory procedure.
  • Consultants and volunteers working for El Shaddai Charitable Trust will be asked to abide by its Child Protection Policy and Behaviour Code of Conduct. Those with an enhanced CRB check less than three years old will be asked to produce it. Without it, consultants must organise an enhanced CRB check.
  • Consultants living overseas/abroad in countries where CRB checks (or similar) are not possible must provide El Shaddai Charitable Trust with details of two Organisations that will provide professional and character references. Satisfactory references must be obtained before the consultancy or voluntary placement can commence.

1. Promoting the Welfare of Children

We recognise that due to day to day contact with children, staff is well placed to observe the outward signs of abuse.  Staff will therefore:

  • Establish and maintain an environment where children feel secure, are encouraged to talk, and are listened to.
  • Ensure that children know that there are adults in the school/home whom they could approach if they are worried.
  • Include opportunities in the curriculum (daily programme) for children to develop the skills they need to recognise and stay safe from abuse and promotes a positive, supportive and secure environment and give children a sense of being valued.
  • We recognise that children who are abused or witness violence may find it difficult to develop a sense of self-respect. They may feel the sense of helplessness, humiliation and blame. The home/school/project may be the only stable, secure and conventional element in the lives of children at risk. When attending their behaviour may be challenging and disobedient or they may be withdrawn.
  • The school/home will ensure that the child knows that some behaviour is unacceptable but they are valued and not to be blamed for any abuse which has occurred

2. Interaction  with the children

A. Direct Contact with Children:

Being with and in the physical presence of a child or children as part of their professional/homes/office/ school related work, be it regular, occasional, temporary or long term.

B. Indirect Contact with Children:

Those whose work does not require them to be in the physical presence of a child but includes access to personal details and information, data on children including photographs, case files etc.  

a. Minimizing  risks

  • Always develop special measures/supervision to protect younger and especially helpless children.
  • Avoid placing yourself in a compromising or helpless position.
  • Develop clear rules to address specific physical safety issues related to the local physical environment of a project (eg: For projects based near water, heavy road traffic, railway lines). Avoid placing children in high-risk peer situations (eg: Unsupervised mixing of older and younger children).
  • Always meet a child in a central, public location whenever possible.
  • Immediately note the circumstances of any situation which occurs.
  • Avoid doing something that could be mistaken by a third party.
  • When taking the children especially girls for outings, no male staff/driver will accompany, only a female staff should accompany.
  • No child from the home are permitted to stay overnight in the home of any personnel at any time except in exceptional circumstances authorized by the competent authority.
  • Be aware of the potential for peer abuse, there shall be no tolerance towards any form of violence against children.
  • The personnel must dress appropriately and in a culturally sensitive manner when they interact with the children.
  • No visitor is permitted to give gifts to individual children.
  • Inexperienced personnel should not try to handle the children with complicated problems. (Sexual abuse).

b. Never:

  • Ignore or participate in behaviour that is illegal or unsafe.
  • Try 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. Be accompanied by a second adult whenever possible.
  • Show favoritism or spend excessive amount of time with one child.
  • Do things of a personal nature that a child could do for him/herself, including dressing, bathing, and grooming.  Never make children attend to the personal needs (pressing feet, domestic chores,…etc.)
  • Put forward inappropriate behaviour or relations of any kind.
  • Wait for appropriate physical contact such as holding hands, to be initiated by the child.
  • Behave physically in a manner that is inappropriate or sexually offensive.
  • Engage in or allow sexually offensive games with children to take place.
  • Develop physical/sexual relationships with a child.
  • Be aware of the power balance between an adult and child, and avoid taking any advantage this may provide.  Hit or otherwise physically assault or physically abuse a child (corporal punishment).
  • Use language that will mentally or emotionally harm a child.
  • 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 influence. 

Monitoring and Review

Systems to ensure that all staff and volunteers working with children are monitored and supervised and they have opportunities to learn about child protection in accordance with their roles and responsibilities.

El Shaddai shall be committed to the on-going monitoring and periodic review of the implementation of the Child Protection standards, behavior protocols, response and reporting mechanisms. Annual staff and personnel appraisals will include preventive and proactive measures by the staff members in this area, and their adherence to standards.   

Conclusion

Be they the government or private are duty bound to protect every child from any form of harm or abuse, at the earliest. Immediate and speedy response to actual or perceived harm or abuse is of vital importance.

 

Bring Childhood back to the Children

Change does not happen overnight. Our Childhood Changemakers know this. Their regular donation gives children back their childhood and young lives can have a chance at futures.

Have a comment or query? Get in touch with us:

Address: El Shaddai House Socol Vaddo, Assagao Goa-403507
Phone: +91-832-2268440/50

Charity Reg. No: 009/IV/Vol.1 80G Tax Exemption No.: CIT/PNJ/E-1/142/80G/2009-10/944
FCRA Reg. No: 271830134, 12A Reg. No.: 718/E-2/12A/CIT/PNJ/1999-2000
Note: Donations to El Shaddai Charitable Trust is eligible for 50% Tax Exemption under 80G (Indian nationals only)

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Phone: 01409 254876 | Email: ukoffice@childrescue.net
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