Mnarani Aid Child Protection Policy
Mnarani Aid’s Child Protection Policy is based upon the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the guidance provided by other organisations and coalitions.
This policy applies to all persons acting on behalf of Mnarani Aid including volunteers and anyone acting as a representative of, or on behalf of Mnarani Aid who may come into direct contact with, or be responsible for, bringing children into contact with adults.
The Policy is binding for Mnarani Aid.
Child abuse is a global phenomenon and occurs in all countries and in all societies. It involves the physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect of children. It is nearly always preventable. A child is anyone under the age of 18 years.
Aims of Mnarani Aid’s Child Protection Policy
Mnarani Aid’s Child Protection Policy aims to ensure whenever person operating under the umbrella of Mnarani Aid children are respected, protected and empowered. Mnarani Aid’s responsibility is to always act in the best interests of the child and ensure no child is placed at risk of abuse as a result of their association with Mnarani Aid.
Our Guiding Principles
Of paramount importance is the welfare of children and their right to protection from all forms of abuse.
All children have equal rights to protection from abuse and exploitation.
Child abuse is NEVER acceptable.
Mnarani Aid has a duty of care to children and this also extends to our partners.
In Mnarani Aid, child protection is everyone’s responsibility.
Mnarani Aid will seek advice from other experts and organisations and makes referrals as required to ensure our policy is implemented to the highest possible standard.
Throughout this document the following terms are used:
“A Child” and a “Vulnerable Adult”
A “child” is defined as any person under the age of 18 years. A “vulnerable adult” is someone over the age of 18 years who is or may be exposed to abuse, harm or exploitation. Vulnerable adults specifically include some Mnarani secondary school pupils. For the purposes of this document, a child means both a child and a vulnerable adult. Within Kenyan Law, however, there are differences between children and vulnerable adults in how cases are reported and managed.
Child abuse may be a deliberate act or failing to act to prevent harm. The different forms of abuse are as follows:
Physical abuse includes inflicting physical injury upon a child. This may include burning, poisoning, hitting, punching, shaking, kicking, beating, or otherwise harming a child. It may be the result of over-‐discipline or physical punishment which is not appropriate to the child’s age and in which a mark is left on the skin.
Physical neglect may include the persistent failure to provide adequate food or appropriate clothing, medical care, sanitation, supervision, or proper protection from harm. It includes extreme cases where a child is over worked at home so there is no time to play or to go to school and includes putting a child at risk of abuse by engaging them in income earning activities for the family. It also includes harmful cultural practices.
“Emotional Abuse” (also known as verbal or mental abuse or psychological maltreatment)
Actual or likely significant and persistent emotional ill treatment, including bullying and harassment resulting in severe adverse effects on the emotional, physical and/or behavioural development of a child. It may include threatening or terrorising a child, using extreme forms of punishment, ignoring, belittling, rejecting, using derogatory terms, excessive blaming or excessive isolating, lack of love, emotional support or attention, or excessive inconsistency. All abuse involves some emotional ill treatment.
Actual or likely sexual exploitation of a child. The involvement of children in sexual activities they do not truly comprehend and to which they are unable to give informed consent or that violate the social taboos of family roles. It includes physical contact such as penetrative and non-‐penetrative acts as well as non-‐contact abuse such as forcing children to observe sexual acts and pornography.
Within this policy document for Mnarani Aid child protection is defined as the responsibilities, measures and activities that Mnarani Aid undertakes to protect children and ensure that no child comes to harm as a result of their association with Mnarani Aid, their contact with its volunteers, partners and associates. It also includes Mnarani Aid’s responsibility to ensure actions are taken to address and to report concerns of abuse appropriately and in accordance with international and local procedures.
Mnarani Aid’s responsibilities
Mnarani Aid’s responsibility is to ensure that no child suffers abuse of any sort because of the actions of Mnarani Aid and its volunteers.
Take seriously all allegations of abusive behaviour/practice in all forms.
Report incidents of abuse or suspected abuse promptly.
Action to prevent abuse
The following precautionary measures are in place to maximise child protection and minimise risk.
Recruitment and Screening
Mnarani Aid will ensure all volunteers are:
Child protection are integrated into all of Mnarani Aid’s operations and programmes.
Aware of the problem of child abuse.
Aware of and understand their responsibilities under the Child Protection Policy.
Safeguarding children from abuse through good conduct
Knowledgeable of reporting processes and able to respond appropriately and quickly when abuse is discovered or suspected.
Before recruiting new volunteers the following precautionary measures will be undertaken.
Mnarani Aid will make it clear that it has a Child Protection Policy in place through its website and by stating the same in all job vacancy adverts.
During interviews, applicants will be questioned indirectly about child protection issues.
Organisations connected to or contracted by Mnarani Aid
Any organisation or business offering services to Mnarani Aid must show that they have a child protection policy and adequate safety standards in place.
Code of Behavioural Conduct.
Volunteers are to observe the following codes where children are concerned:
Ensure that the child’s parents or teacher has consented for the child to be photographed for use in Mnarani Aid’s publicity documents. Only photographs for Mnarani Aid’s use may be taken.
Be respectful, kind, responsible, perceptive, patient and encouraging to children.
Respect children’s dignity. Listen to them carefully and be sensitive to their needs.
Be aware of situations which might present risks to children. Take a positive role in safeguarding and promoting their safety in the office and if engaged in “Mnarani Aid” activities outside. Plan and organise the work schedule, outings, events and the workplace to minimise risks of abuse and risks to their personal safety.
Recognise a person’s developmental needs, whether a child or adult.
Always put the welfare of a child first.
Ensure a sense of accountability exists volunteers so that poor practice or potentially abusive behaviour does not go unchallenged. At the same time, create a supportive environment in which volunteers are able to help one another should one person be experiencing difficulty dealing with a particular situation.
Support a child making a complaint or expressing concerns and respect confidentiality.
Act fairly on matters that involve children and adults together.
Treat all children and adults equally without discrimination of race, culture, age, gender, disability, religion, sexuality or political persuasion.
Be positive role models.
As far as possible be visible in working with children. If necessary, move to a place where both can be seen by other colleagues or other adults. Take prudent precautions.
Be aware of the potential for peer abuse and avoid placing children in high-‐risk peer situations such as unsupervised mixing of older and younger children e.g. in the toilets.
Challenge activities which are abusive e.g. bullying, including those from a child’s peers
Take action if there are concerns about a child’s welfare, or if there are concerns about the behaviour of an adult towards a child.
If a child is hurt or distressed, offer comfort or reassurance without compromising their dignity.
Avoid any physical contact or behaviour that is inappropriate or which could be unwelcome or misconstrued.
Where physical contact is necessary, ensure it is in direct response to a person’s need. It may be appropriate to hold someone’s hand, to put a comforting arm around their shoulder or support/carry them if they have fallen. Contact must respect the age and individual stage of development. Adults should use good judgment, wisdom and caution in this respect.
Information about Mnarani Aid’s commitment to keeping children safe is openly displayed and available to everyone.
Undertake any inappropriate physical contact.
Demanding hugs and kisses
Touching chest, genital area, upper legs, buttocks, waist and stomach.
Sitting child in the centre of the lap
Seductiveness or suggestive contact
Physical contact of any kind which is done for the pleasure or satisfaction of the adult and not the child
Touching when used to express power or control over a child
Do things of a personal nature for children that they can do for themselves or an accompanying adult can do for them
Subject any child to any form of harm or abuse.
Use any form of physical aggression on children e.g. slapping, pinching or spanking as a form of correction.
Act in ways intended to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade children or otherwise perpetrate any form of emotional abuse.
Allow or engage in sexually suggestive behaviour within a child’s sight or hearing or make suggestive remarks to or within earshot of a child.
Knowingly expose a child to any situation where there may be a risk of abuse or a risk to their personal safety.
Employ a child under 16 years of age.
Condone or participate in behaviour of children which is illegal, unsafe or abusive.
If you suspect or witness abusive behaviour towards a child, use the following guidelines.
If you suspect a child is at risk:
Report the incident to a member of the school’s staff and/or the Headteacher.
If someone is being violent to a child:
If in the course of your volunteering you come across someone hitting, hurting, violently shouting at, or otherwise bullying a child, you should try to prevent the abuse if you can do so without unreasonable risk to the child or yourself. Never use or threaten physical force as this could inflame the situation and result in further violence.
Report the incident to a member of the school’s staff and/or the Headteacher.
The same principles apply if you see someone behaving suspiciously towards children.
If you receive an allegation of abuse
If you discover an incident of abuse or receive an allegation of abuse, report your suspicions or the detail of the allegation initially to a member of the school’s staff and/or the Headteacher.
Do not make your own further investigations.
If a disclosure or allegation is being made to you:
Stay calm, listen to what they say without prejudice and accept what they say without judgment.
If speaking with a child, tell them you are concerned about them, that you will ensure they will be supported by someone and ask if there is anything that can be done to help them feel safe.
Tell them at the earliest opportunity that you cannot guarantee confidentiality. Explain what this means – that some relevant professionals may need to be told.
Record what you are being told as the person tells it.
Check your understanding of the situation as needed and use only open questions when it is necessary to ask a question – e.g. please tell me what happened?
Alert a member of the school’s staff and/or Headteacher.
Consider what steps might be necessary to ensure the individuals safety.
Don’t let anxiety that you might have jumped to a wrong conclusion deter you from reporting any genuine worries that you have.
If you suspect a colleague
You may be the first to recognise that something is wrong but may not feel able to express your concern out of a feeling that this would be disloyal to colleagues or you may fear harassment or victimisation.
Such feelings, must never result in a child continuing to be unnecessarily at risk.
Remember it is often the most vulnerable children who are targeted. These people need someone to safeguard their welfare.
Don’t think ‘what if I am wrong?’ – think ‘what if I am right?’ You should voice your concerns, suspicions or uneasiness as soon as you feel you can. The earlier a concern is expressed the easier and sooner it is possible for action to be taken:
Approach a trustee of Mnarani Aid.
Try to pinpoint what practice is concerning you and why. You will need to demonstrate sufficient grounds for the concern.
Make sure you get a satisfactory response – don’t let matters rest
If an allegation of abuse is made against you
Advise a trustee of Mnarani Aid.
As soon as you become aware of an allegation, make notes of all your actions/contacts with the child in question,
Ensure you are no longer working with the person making the allegation.
Any allegation will be thoroughly investigated, with due regard for confidentiality.