“If we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much.”
– Marian Wright Edelman
It is holiday and many NPOs, churches and ECD centres are running holiday programmes. This is so important to create circles of support around children, but does your organisation have an effective child protection policy?
There are at least six reasons why it is important to have a child protection policy if your organisation works with children:
1. It aligns your organisation with legal requirements
First, within the law there are certain legal requirements for organisations that work with children:
a) The one part has to do with the process of screening people to ensure their suitability of working with children.
b) The second part has to do with the obligation to report child abuse and neglect.
An effective child protection policy ensures that your organisation will meet these legal requirements if implemented consistently.
2. It brings everyone onto the same page in working with children
Second, a child protection policy is also a working document that provides a shared framework and language to all people within the organisation. It provides clear boundaries, rules and communication lines to keep everyone safe and communicates the organisation’s commitment to child protection.
3. It provides a good foundation for recruiting and appointing the right people
Third, a child protection policy also guides the organisation in terms of recruiting and appointing people who really care about children. It provides guidelines on aspects such as screening, doing reference checks and monitoring the interaction between workers and children.
4. It provides clear rules in the best interest of children
In addition, it is important for every child-focused organisation to make a firm commitment to always act in the best interest of children. To make this practical, clear rules are needed on how services must be implemented. This include various aspects related to services such as transport, the implementation of discipline, choice of activities, data protection as well as health and safety measures just to mention a few.
5. It provides guidelines for reporting child abuse and neglect
Sadly, child abuse and neglect is a reality within our communities. A child protection policy enables workers to identify and to report child abuse and neglect in the correct way. If we don’t act as the voice for the voiceless, how will traumatised children receive the necessary support services? A well-implemented child protection policy makes the organisation a true child protection ambassador.
6. It creates trust with stakeholders
Lastly, in order to become a trustworthy organisation, the effective implementation of a child protection policy communicates with stakeholders such as parents that the organisation has the relevant systems and processes in place to ensure that children are truly safe-guarded.
Let’s make a commitment to make child protection a reality and not just a check-box. Together, we can create safe spaces where children not only matter, but can thrive to reach their fullest potential.