Child Protection Policy
WFWIA has a direct impact on children as well as adults in Kenya, primarily from Kibera slum in Nairobi. WFWIA is associated with Wanawake Kwa Wanawake (WKW) in Kenya and they manage the implementation of this policy for WFWIA in Kenya.
WFWIA has no direct exposure to the welfare of children with its work in Australia.
WFWIA and WKW recognize their duty to ensure that advice and support is available to help personnel, colleagues, and volunteers to play their part in protecting children, and to ensure that such advice and support is available to all involved.
It affirms the right of those who have suffered child abuse to receive a compassionate and just response. Children, in particular, need someone to turn to when they are being abused. Often they do not know where to go for help.
As part of its response to the issue of safeguarding children, WKW has a delegated person called the Child Protection Officer (CPO) to undertake special responsibilities for keeping children safe.
As soon as there is an allegation or suspicion of any form of abuse within WKW’s area of jurisdiction, the Child Protection Officer (CPO) shall be informed and shall make immediate contact with the director of WKW and the Chairperson of WFWIA so that the approved procedures set out in the Child Protection Policy can be followed.
WFWIA/WKW work together to realise every child’s right to health, education and protection and work to help them to achieve immediate and lasting changes in their lives.
WFWIA/WKW are committed to protecting children, regardless of gender, race, country of origin or religious belief.
The work of WFWIA/WKW is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNHRC) which states that children should be protected from all forms of physical and mental violence, injury, abuse, neglect, maltreatment and exploitation, including sexual abuse.
Child abuse is a serious violation of children’s rights. WFWIA/WKW will minimise the risk of child abuse occurring in its programs and activities through the implementation of this Policy. The Child Protection Policy provides a practical guide to prevent child abuse occurring within the organisations and their partners, and incorporates risk management strategies.
Child: This is any person under the age of 18, regardless of whether a nation’s laws recognize adulthood earlier.
Child Protection: The term used to describe the responsibilities and activities undertaken to prevent or stop children being abused or neglected.
Staff and Associates: This includes all employees, consultants, board members, researchers and volunteers from within or from a partner organization.
Child Abuse: Child abuse includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect, bullying, child labour, domestic violence and exploitation including commercial sexual exploitation. Both boys and girls can be the victims of child abuse. Child abuse can be inflicted on a child by men or women, or by young people themselves. In some cases, professionals and other adults working with children in positions of trust abuse children.
Working with Children: Working in a position that involves regular contact with children, either as part of the person’s position description or due to the context of the work that brings the person into regular contact with children.
Screening: This term includes criminal record checks (often called “police checks”) which are conducted to determine if a person has any known criminal history. Additional screening measures may include: “working with children” checks, identity checks, verbal referee checks and targeted, behavioural-based interview questions.
Types of Abuse
Physical Abuse: where adults physically hurt or injure a young person e.g. hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, biting, scalding, suffocating, and drowning. Giving young people alcohol or inappropriate drugs would also constitute child abuse.
In school, bullying may arise when a parent or teacher pushes the young person too hard to succeed.
In school, activities which might involve physical contact with young people could potentially create situations where sexual abuse may go unnoticed. Also the power of the teacher over young students, if misused, may lead to abusive situations developing.
Indicators of Abuse
Even for those experienced in working with child abuse, it is not always easy to recognise a situation where abuse may occur or has already taken place.
Most people are not experts in such recognition, but indications that a child is being abused may include one or more of the following:
Signs of bullying can include:
It must be recognised that the above list is not exhaustive, but also that the presence of one or more of the indications is not proof that abuse is taking place.
NB: It is NOT the responsibility of those working with WFWIA/WKW to decide that child abuse is occurring. It IS their responsibility to act on any concerns.
WFWIA/WKW will ensure that staff and associates are clear what steps to take where concerns arise regarding the safety of children.
When the incident is specifically for sexual abuse, the child should be taken to hospital for a medical assessment and be reported to police.
1. Incident Reporting
It is mandatory for any allegation, belief or suspicion of child abuse (past or present) by a WFWIA/WKW employee, sponsor, donor, board member, other partner or child’s family member to be reported immediately to the CPO or Chairperson of WFWIA.
If a child reports an incident, the child/young person must be taken seriously and listened to carefully. Once an allegation is made there should be an immediate response that protects the child from further potential abuse or victimisation. Where appropriate, the family of the child victim should be informed of the allegation and action proposed and they should be consulted where possible as to the process to be followed. This process will be steered and guided by the CPO or Chairperson of WFWIA, depending where the incident occurred.
2. Document the incident
As soon as possible (within a period of 24 hours of the disclosure), the CPO of WKW or Chairperson of WFWIA, receiving the disclosure, needs to have fully documented the allegation, including the time, place, witnesses etc. This report will possibly be used in court if charges are forthcoming.
Documentation should include:
3. Guidelines for responding to a child making an allegation of abuse
A child who is abused will occasionally confide in an adult whom the child feels that he/she can trust. The important thing to remember is that if a child does approach you, he/she is doing so in the hope that you will act to stop the abuse happening, even if you are asked not to do anything with the information.
IF A CHILD BEGINS TO TELL YOU ABOUT ABUSE IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO:
IF A CHILD BEGINS TO TELL YOU ABOUT ABUSE, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO NOT:
Find an opportunity to explain that it is likely that this information will need to be shared with others, and at the end of the discussion tell the complainant what you plan to do next and with whom this information will be shared.
Remember: it is important that everyone in the organization is aware that the person who first encounters a case of alleged or suspected abuse is not responsible for deciding whether or not abuse has occurred. That is a task for the professional child protection agencies following a referral to them of the concerns about the child.
All reports should be submitted to the CEO of WKW and to the Board of WFWIA immediately after being received by the CPO or Chairperson of WFWIA.
WFWIA/WKW will ensure that action is taken to support and protect children where concerns arise regarding possible abuse.
5. Investigation of complaints
Physical and/or sexual abuse of a child is a crime. Organisations may be required to notify authorities when there are reasonable grounds for reporting abuse, particularly if the allegations are made in Australia or involve an Australian citizen.
Allegations made overseas will need to consider national legislation or internal procedures to investigate and address the allegations.
Internal investigations will consider a confidential, thorough, impartial and prompt process. The investigation may consist of interviews with witnesses and others as appropriate, collection of information about the alleged conduct, gathering of documentation, or other procedures as appropriate. The individual alleged to have violated this policy would have the opportunity to present his or her view of the events in question. WFWIA/WKW will hold its determination until the investigation is completed.
The reporting process in the Child Protection Policy outlines obligations and responsibilities for reporting and managing any concerns about child abuse. It also protects staff and associates from unfair processes should any allegations be made about them.
WFWIA/WKW’s recruitment processes include rigorous screening of staff and associates (including volunteers) to minimise the risk from a person, who poses a risk to children, being employed by the organisations.
These strategies will assist everyone to understand their child protection responsibilities, maintain a positive work environment for staff and associates and also create safe environments where children are protected and enabled to survive and thrive.
The policy should be reviewed yearly or whenever there is a major change in the organisations or in relevant legislation.
Child Protection Officer (CPO)
Informs the CEO of WKW of any alleged or suspected incidents.
Advisory panel / professional conduct committee of WKW
The role of the CPO is to:
Who can report?
What to report?
When to report?
Who to report to?
What will happen?
Child Protection Policy Implementation Strategy
The Child Protection Policy and Code of Conduct will be implemented through:
Statements to Be Signed by Staff & Associates
All Staff and Associates having contact with children must sign a Statement in the form set out below prior to commencing their employment/role of associate or at the commencement of this Policy.
Statements signed by Staff and Associates must be returned to the Child Protection Officer of Wanawake Kwa Wanawake or the Chairperson of WFWIA (depending on where the staff and associates are situated).
WFWIA/WKW’s commitment to child protection is based on the following principles:
Scope of the Policy
This Policy applies to the following: