PURPOSE OF THE POLICY
This policy has been designed to promote best practice, protect children from harm, protect personnel from false accusations and protect the reputation of Media Concern Initiative for Women and Children.
Media Concern Initiative envisages a Nigeria and Africa where the response to sexual violence is crucial to development.
VISION FOR CHILDREN
Media Concern Initiative sees a future where children can grow up in abuse - free environment
GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR CHILD PROTECTION
We believe a child is defined as any person below the age of 18 years by our Child Rights Acts and has the right to be protected against all forms of physical, sexual, emotional and mental harm, including violence, abuse, neglect, injury, maltreatment and exploitation (as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989).
The World Health Organisation defines Child Abuse as all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.
The welfare of the child is of paramount importance to us.
1. All children have equal rights to protection from abuse and exploitation; they have the right to be safe at all times and MediaCon has an obligation to provide child safe and child-friendly environments and programs to ensure this
2. Each child has a fundamental right to life, survival and development. MediaCon’s child-centred community development approach provides a basis for ensuring the realisation of children’s rights to be protected from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation.
3. All children should be encouraged to fulfil their potential, and inequality and discrimination should be challenged.
4. Children will be assured the right to express their views freely and this will be given ‘due weight’ in accordance with their age and level of maturity. We will not discriminate against the child. The child will be treated with respect irrespective of gender, nationality or ethnic origin, religious or political beliefs, age, physical or mental health, sexual preference and gender identity, family, socio-economic and cultural background, or any history of conflict with the law.
5. Everybody has a responsibility to support the care and protection of children.
6.MediaCon has particular responsibilities to children who come into contact with us. No child must come to harm as a result of their engagement with us, as a sponsored child, a participant in our program or as part of any our fundraising or advocacy campaign.
7. These particular responsibilities extend to those individuals or organisations that are associated with MediaCon. Therefore, everyone working for or associated with MediaCon’s work must be aware of and adhere to the provisions of this policy.
8. All decisions regarding the welfare and protection of children and our decisions and actions in response to child protection concerns and breaches of this policy will be guided by the principle of ‘the best interests of the child’.
Media Concern Initiative is committed to preventing harm to children. We mitigate any harm to children by Media Concern staff through:
- Undertaking recruitment checks on all personnel (be they paid or volunteer).
- Asking about their attitude and understanding of child protection
- Asking about their employment history with children
- Asking personnel to sign a declaration form about any criminal or other convictions that they may have.
- Asking all personnel to sign and actively implement the Child Protection Policy, particularly the Code of Conduct.
- Asking all staff to be vigilant and report any concerns they may have about a child’s protection
- Asking all staff to encourage children and adults to come forward about any child protection concerns they may have
- Encouraging organisations we work with to write (where one doesn’t exist), implement and review their Child Protection Policy.
- If any child, volunteer, intern, consultant, or member of staff has any concerns, has witnessed or suspects that a violation of this policy has taken place it should immediately be reported as soon as possible to the Executive Director and/or directly to the authorities, according to what is deemed most appropriate.
- All reports will be treated with the utmost seriousness.
- Upon receiving a report the Executive Director will record and act upon the suspected violation, with the primary consideration being for the safety and wellbeing of the child. This may entail the suspension of the member of staff/volunteer (pending investigation) and report to the authorities. Full support will be offered the child concerned.
AWARENESS OF THE POLICY
All personnel (staff, volunteers, interns, contractors, consultants, governing board members, trustees and others) will be given a compressed copy to append their signature as acceptance and acknowledgement of knowledge of the policy. We will bring to the attention of our partners, collaborators and others the Child Protection Policy which will be made available on our website. A printed copy will be made available on request only, due to resource levels.
The Code of Code applies to all personnel including staff, volunteers, interns, consultants, trustees, board members and any person who has to perform any activity within our premises or programmes and activities.
In preventing the abuse of children, personnel must not:
- Hit or physical harm, abuse or assault a child.
- Perpetrate any form of emotional harm or abuse, such as humiliating, degrading, belittling, shaming or excluding a child.
- Perpetrate any form of touching or non-touching sexual harm or abuse, such as the use of inappropriate language, fondling, holding, kissing, hugging, inappropriate touching, do things of a personal nature a child can do for themselves or developing a physical or sexual relationship.
- Act in a way that could be deemed exploitative or abusive e.g. hiring/employing of those under the age of 18 years.
- Act in a way that may place a child at risk of physical, mental or emotional abuse or exploitation.
In their contact with children, personnel must:
- Follow the principle of the ‘two-adult’ rule, unless there is a clear reason that makes it impractical to follow. (The two-adult rule means that two or more adults supervise and be present at all activities involving less than 18 years of age).
- Not stay alone overnight, in the course of your work, with one or more child, whether in the staff member’s house, project premises or elsewhere.
- Not spend excessive time alone with children away from others.
- Photos and text in IEC materials (including electronic mediums) must not demean or denigrate children, use inappropriate language and where appropriate must maintain the confidentiality of children.
- The personal and private details of child beneficiaries must remain confidential unless permission from the person in question is obtained to use the information in a non-confidential way.
In following best practise advice, personnel must
- Avoid actions or behaviour which could constitute poor practice or potentially abusive behaviour
- Work to minimise risks by working in an open and transparent way, undertaking risk assessments for activities being planned, being aware of situations which may present risks and managing risks.
- Encourage children to raise any concerns they have.
- Report concerns to the person responsible or Child Protection within Media Concern for Women and Children and/or the relevant authorities. So that poor practice and abusive behaviour do not go unchallenged.
POLICY IMPLEMENTATION & REVIEW
- It is the Executive Directors responsibility to ensure that this policy is implemented, that any relevant staff training required is undertaken and that it is reviewed every three years (date of next review Dec 2020).
- It is the responsibility of the Senior Programme Officer to ensure that all new personnel (paid and volunteer) read, understand and sign a copy of the policy.