The Importance of a Good Child Protection Policy
When you’re looking for a volunteer placement overseas, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the choices. You want to work with children, and you want to do some good. But how can you be certain that your volunteer organisation of choice is really helping children?
Question the Volunteer Organisation about Their Child Protection Policy
A good place to start is to talk with your potential volunteer placement organisation about their child protection policy. A Child Protection Policy (or CPP) is a catch-all term that refers to the rules and regulations put in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children at any given project. Every project that works with children should have one. If they do not, that is a red flag, and you may want to consider looking elsewhere. CPPs ensure every person that works at a project is on the same page with their responsibilities to children. It acknowledges that while these projects have the incredible privilege of doing a lot of good, they can, in theory, be misused for harm.
What questions can you ask?
Here are some great questions you can ask to ensure the focus is on the wellbeing of children:
- "Can I see a copy of your child protection policy document?" If they don’t have one, or claim they do but won’t show it to you, that’s a big red flag. Child protection polices should be publicly available if they have nothing to hide!
- "How do you choose which volunteers can work with children and which cannot?" Most volunteer agencies have a mostly open-door-policy for volunteers. Globalteer, on the other hand, won’t let you volunteer at our child-focused projects if you can’t pass a background check, for example.
- "What else are you doing to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children?" This allows the organisation to highlight any other practices they have in place to maximise the safety of the children.
What We Do at Globalteer to Ensure Child Protection and Why
Why it is Important
In Cusco, Peru, the city where our after-school programme Picaflor house is located, many children are at risk on a daily basis due to the lack of education on how to keep themselves safe. Our projects exist in places where we have identified areas that have large numbers of vulnerable children. A good child protection policy means making sure that we can guarantee a safe place for all of the children in our care. This also means that you’ll have a whole bunch of rules you need to follow and a few documents we’ll need you to sign. One of our big rules is allowing the children to set their own level of desired physical contact. Indeed, many of the kids are our project are very affectionate and will greet you at the gate with a big hug. However, it's important that our children know that if they don’t want hugs, they don’t have to give them.
How We Do It
At Globalteer, all our teachers, staff, interns and volunteers that work at our child-focused projects require background checks. This may seem extreme, but it’s just one step of many that we take to make sure every person that interacts with our kids are well intentioned and not a danger to anyone. We also partner another UK Charity, Keeping Children Safe, who set tough international child safeguarding standards to ensure all organisations protect children from exploitation and abuse.
Our policy outlines our code of conduct for volunteers. It includes expectations for how we behave around the children and how we ensure no child gets mixed messages about how to safely act around adults. For example, one of our rules is that you can’t take children off-site. You may have the best intentions by wanting to buy some kids an ice-cream at the local shop. However, protecting our children means making sure they don’t think following strangers into strange places is okay.
We Go the Extra Mile
In addition, Globalteer has just started rolling out an exciting new safety module for the kids in our project. We realised that our reach in the protection of children can only go so far, and we can have a greater impact if we teach children how to keep themselves safe. Therefore, we developed an 8 unit programme on personal safety. It covers everything from which parts of your body can and can’t be touched by others, to how to cross a road safely. If you are planning on visiting our children’s education projects, you may get to see this teaching unit in action!
Working with an organisation with a strong child protection policy can feel like you have a lot of hoops to jump through. But it is worth taking the time to research the project before you start. So you make sure you are volunteering in a way that is beneficial in the long term.