POLICY FOR THE PROTECTION OF CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE
POLICY FOR THE PROTECTION OF CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE
(Child Protection Policy)
(Youth for Exchange and Understanding)
- Youth for Exchange and Understanding International Belgium (henceforth also YEU), though its Policy for the Protection of Childhood and Adolescence, wishes to express its position regarding the protection of all children and adolescents with which it comes into contract during its activities and projects.
- This policy is based on practices that already exist within the Belgium Youth for Exchange and Understanding and is an offshoot of Youth for Exchange and Understanding's Child Protection Policy, translated and adapted to the Italian regulatory, social and cultural context.
- All that is not regulated in this document should be referred to the international policy.https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EezpuiGBcOwlju_Gpn5VwJoF_Se0TDYB/view
All the provisions of this Policy are binding for:
- YEU members, employees and volunteers, (as a result of the association and employment relationship and the obligations that this entails)
- for those who for various reasons have entered contractual relations with YEU (i.e.: Base members, project partner organisations, suppliers) (based on a specific cultural clause)
- and anyone coming into contact with YEU projects involving minors (i.e. supporters visiting Child Sponsorship programmes, journalists attending projects) (as a result of the appropriate information and awareness tools provided)
The Policy refers to the Youth for Exchange and Understanding activities and projects that directly or indirectly involve minors both in Belgium and abroad, and specifically:
➔ Territorially based programmes and projects implemented directly or through partnerships
➔ Marketing and campaigning activities (for the use of image, stories,
videos featuring children, to promote our work for marketing campaigning purposes)
➔ Visits to local project sites by staff or supporters or journalists or other subjects
Youth for Exchange and Understanding Belgium (henceforth also “YEU”) is committed to protecting and ensuring the well-being of children and adolescents.
In brief, YEU considers absolute priorities:
- the interests and the safety of minors;
- equality and absence of discrimination;
- freedom of expression;
- respect for the opinions of minors on issues that concern them;
- The active participation of minors
Youth for Exchange and Understanding does not tolerate any form of mistreatment, abuse or exploitation of children: the purpose of this policy is to ensure that Youth for Exchange and Understanding acts effectively to prevent and manage the abuse or exploitation of minors by any subject that has relations with Youth for Exchange and Understanding both at international level and national level. The Policy concerns all activities that directly or indirectly involve minors.
In any case the work carried out by YEU with minors guarantees the active participation of the children in the implementation of the project developed while respecting the right to learning and amusement, the sharing of the project’s values and goals, without any discrimination whatsoever.
Roles and responsibilities
The responsibilities allocated to roles internal to YEU and to its project Partners and the Youth for Exchange and Understanding Bases are detailed below:
Youth for Exchange and Understanding Belgium staff, project Partner personnel and members of the YEU Office (see glossary) in direct contact with minors
In many activities Youth for Exchange and Understanding staff and the partners with which YEU works as well as the members of the Youth for Exchange and Understanding Office, interact with communities which include children that are at risk of being vulnerable and excluded.
This implies the possibility of becoming privy to sensitive data and information on the children, which at a later stage may be requested as elements of proof within activities concerning the protection of minors or investigative operations by the Authorities.
Youth for Exchange and Understanding staff and that of its project partners and members of the Youth for Exchange and Understanding Bases may learn about events that relate to the violation of rights, either currently or in the past that concern a minor, or mistreatments, abuses or physical or mental violence involving minors.
In these instances, or if they find themselves in situations in which the context may lead to the suspicion of such conducts:
- The observations and concerns must be immediately reported back to one's internal contact person within YEU or to the YEU Line Manager and/or Compliance Manager who shall in turn report to the Secretary General /Country Director.
- It is possible that one is required to write a detailed note on the circumstances or event that led to the knowledge or suspicion. This documentation, to be filed among YEU project documents, may be used as an element in order to protect a minor.
- If considered advisable, it is possible that the witnesses may be asked to report the event to the competent public authorities, in coordination with the Internal Contact Person or Project Manager (or one's own Line Manager) with the support of the competent internal management figures.
- All known information that is contrary to this Policy must be reported without delay to the internal contact person or to the Line Manager or the Compliance Manager.
Project Coordinator and Line Manager
The project's internal contact person and staff line manager are required to:
- Guarantee the appropriate circulation and knowledge of this policy, assessing and promoting the necessary information to staff, partners and Youth for Exchange and Understanding Bases with the possible support of competent internal management figures.
- Ensure that the staff, the partners and the members of the YEU Bases are aware of how they should report suspect cases and are aware of their responsibilities on this front.
- Report to competent authorities any facts that arouse suspicion or concern regarding possible violations of the rights of children, with the support of the internal legal department.
- Ensure that the parents/tutors/educational and reception institutions back and promote the participation of minors in the activities offered by the YEU programmes, even via signed consent if deemed advisable or required.
- Ensure, via the staff or the partners, to obtain parental/tutor consent to the activities involving the collection of photographic or film images, guaranteeing all the necessary information to enable them to understand the purpose of said activity and the use of the images and the footage.
- Programme and organise the activities and the environment so as to promote the health, welfare and psycho-physical development of minors.
- Act, as far as possible and in contexts where it is advisable, in such a way as to promote the reduction of environmental and social conditions that may involve risks.
- Promote as far as possible the involvement of the communities where minors reside, in order to enhance the understanding and participation of adults who can act as reference within projects involving minors.
- Reject all improper conduct by staff or partners, and ensure that any violation of the Policy is duly confronted by setting in motion the actions mentioned herein.
- Through the competent functions, disseminate, raise awareness and train personnel on the issues concerning the protection of children even through the circulation of this document which is an integral part of the Association's Internal Regulations. Guarantee that all contractual relationships with subjects which, together with YEU or on behalf of YEU, work together with children are complete with an explicit reference to this policy. Guarantee that the functions responsible for promoting our field work in Belgium and abroad formally inform the subjects involved (i.e.: journalists, and supporters) of the need to comply with this policy. The Line Managers and Compliance Managers must oversee the correct application and report to the Secretary General.
- Ensure the application of the policy as well as reports to competent authorities in the event of abuse or exploitation of minors. The violation of this policy entails the application of appropriate disciplinary actions.
The Heads of Human Resources, Legal Affairs, Media Relations and Supporter relations
- Human Resources: ensure that the staff directly involved in activities that involve the participation of minors heed and sign the Childhood and adolescence protection Policy acceptance document.
- Legal affairs: for all relations of a contractual nature draft Policy acceptance documents to be signed appropriately or suitable contractual clauses, which establish that in the event that the same is violated, ActionAid will have the right to terminate the relative agreement as a result of non- fulfilment and obtain reimbursement of damages. The Project Manager / Project Contact person shall file the statement among the project documents.
- Reports with the Media and Supporters: verify that supporters and journalists visiting projects have been formally informed about this policy.
NOTE: YEU PARTNERS and STAFF must never act independently if they come to know about or suspect instances of abuse or exploitation. The protection of minors is a responsibility of the state and society. The decisions are taken collectively within the Association or by those who have the power to take specific decisions.
Consequences linked to violations of the Childhood Protection Policy
Conduct in violation of the law or this policy that concerns minors - such as, by way of example:
- Inducing or forcing a minor to engage in any form of sexual activity.
- Any form of commercial exploitation of children including child labour or trafficking.
- The use of photos of children for pornographic or improper purposes.
- Subjecting any child to mistreatment or cruel, humiliating or degrading actions.
- Subjecting a minor or minors to physical, verbal or psychological mistreatments. shall be reported to the authorities of the legally competent countries.
Any member of YEU staff that violates the above principles or directly or indirectly participates in similar conducts or actions or that may be ascribable to those described above shall be immediately dismissed. Every contractual relationship will be terminated and the names of suppliers, project partners and supporters shall be removed from the database.
General guidelines regarding activities involving minors
Generally speaking, it is inappropriate to:
- Be alone with children or organise activities without the joint presence of another staff member (of volunteers, tutors, parents, etc.) unless it is strictly necessary and has been discussed with one's contact person or unless it is functional to the activities performed.
- Use children in inappropriate ways to solicit support, whether financial or of any other kind.
Anyone working with children must never:
- Hit or in any way physically or psychologically mistreat children.
- Act in ways that may be considered, according to the law or local culture as well as according to the principles recalled in this Policy, as insulting or in violation of the same.
- Put a minor at risk of abuse or exploitation, or be privy to such actions and not act to prevent, stop or limit the risk and protect the minor.
- Exploit one's position in relation to the child by favouring economic exploitation.
With reference to this Policy and local customs and traditions, by way of example other actions or conduct are described that are considered inappropriate or offensive:
- Using language or making suggestions or providing advice that may appear disrespectful or insulting.
- Behave in a sexually ambiguous manner towards children.
- Allow or participate in unlawful or unsafe conduct for children.
- Act in ways that children may feel embarrassed, humiliated or degrader or otherwise promote/not obstruct others from acting in such a way.
- Discriminate or nurture certain children to the exclusion of others.
Forms of abuse and exploitation of children
Any physical, emotional or sexual damage committed on a child is considered a form of child abuse or exploitation. One must bear in mind that the culture of the local community is crucial when attempting to understand these forms, and how to act to avoid them and the risk that the staff and YEU programmes are side-lined by the local community.
With reference to the sources indicated at the beginning (specifically the Child Protection Policy of YEU International) we provide four main categories of abuse and exploitation below which it is important to be aware of:
This is a form of persistent and psychological mistreatment that has a serious impact on the behaviour and development of the child. It implies a negation of normal respect and may take the shape of personal criticism, humiliations or persistent discrimination without any positive interest or concern. Purely by way of example this can happen in situations in which the children are subject to a level of persistent discrimination owing to the fact that they are not accompanied, the selective handing out of gifts, selective recruitment (as in the case of selections for the purpose of fund collection), with reference to different economic/social status, gender, religion, ethnic origin, bullying and other forms of prevarication.
This category may include any direct act causing physical harm to the child and/or youngster that is not the result of an accident. It may include tasks or jobs that are clearly beyond the child's capacity to fulfil them safely.
This category includes all forms of sexual acts performed on the child by another person and includes sexual abuse and molestation. The identification of this kind of abuse can be very complex when it takes place with older minors (adolescents). The main issue here is exploitation, which we consider to be taking place if an adult (or in any case a minor against other minors) has acted using the power of authority, influence, age or position or the use of physical force or emotional manipulation against a minor. This may also include the exposure of the failure to prevent exposure of children to all forms of pornography or sexual acts.
This is connected to the persistent failure to prevent the child being exposed to danger or extreme shortcomings in addressing important aspects of physical or medical care which may severely compromise the child's health or development. This can take place when an operator is not capable of appropriately supervising a child's safety and/or exposes a child to extreme conditions or an avoidable risk of catching diseases or suffering serious injury. In this sense one must take into consideration local legislation governing child labour.
- Minor: any person under the age of 18 (age bracket that includes the early infancy, childhood, preadolescence and adolescence). In these documents the terms “minor”, “childhood”, “children” etc., will be used to the same effect.
- Abuse and mistreatment of a minor: any act that physically or psychologically harms a minor, that directly or indirectly causes damage or impedes the healthy and safe development towards adulthood. With reference to the categories established by the World Health Organisation, the main forms of “abuse” are referred to as physical violence, emotional violence, negligence and negligent treatment, abuse or sexual exploitation.
- Sexual exploitation of a minor: any exploitation, whether actual or attempted, of a condition of vulnerability, of a power or trust differential relative to a minor for sexual purposes. YEU also considers abuse any sexual activity with a minor who is under the legal age of consent in the country in which he or she is living, regardless of supposed consent; as well as consensual sexual activities with a minor with an age above that of valid legal consent in the country in which it takes place, but below the age of 18 (even if it is not considered a crime locally), it will in any case be treated as a violation by this Policy.
- Project Partner: every organisational subject (in Belgium or abroad) that supports the realisation of YEU’s projects with its own resources and/or staff, and with which YEU signs an agreement (i.e. an MOU).
- Project contact person: otherwise also referred to as Internal contact person, is the person who acts as the operations coordinator of the action or project manager, directly employed by YEU or its project partners.
Staff: every person connected to YEU via a labour, collaboration or volunteer contract