P. O. Box 591
Hopkins, MN 55343
SAFEGUARDING POLICY FOR HOLISTIC MINISTRY OF CHILDREN OF THE HORN OF AFRICA
HMCHA is an international non-denominational Christian nonprofit working in 18 villages about 30 miles southeast of Addis Ababa. Our primary mission is to sponsor children so they can go to school. In addition, we respond to community requests for help in projects they cannot do by themselves. The Holistic Ministry of Children of the Horn of Africa helps children in Ethiopia rise out of poverty through education and mentoring. Sponsored children and their families are supported economically and educationally while they are empowered to achieve and strive to create change in their lives and communities. The goal of sponsorship is to help students graduate, prepared to support their own families and contribute to society.
Sponsorship includes mandatory attendance in school and at tutoring classes taught by HMCHA mentors. In addition, sponsored children go on a field trip annually, and many sponsored students and community members use our community center and library. Students going into grades 8-10 participate in a summer camp to help them prepare for high school. Despite the fact that the government has launched policies such as a child protection policy, there is no reporting in place for organizations or schools.
HMCHA has opened a new school for grades K-4 and the teachers also work for us.
WE BELIEVE THAT:
- Children and young people should never experience abuse of any kind.
- We have a responsibility to promote the welfare of all children and young people, to keep them safe and to practice in a way that protects them.
- The welfare of children is paramount in all the work we do and in all the decisions we take. All children, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation have an equal right to protection from all types of harm or abuse.
- Some children are additionally vulnerable because of the impact of previous experiences, their level of dependency, communication needs or other issues.
- Working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, and guardians and is essential in promoting young people’s welfare.
The purpose of this policy statement is to protect from harm the children and young people who receive HMCHA’s services. It also serves to provide staff, volunteers, board members, visitors, as well as children and their families, with the principles that guide our approach to child protection.
There is no government law regarding reporting of child abuse or other forms of violence in Ethiopia where HMCHA works. 48.6% of Ethiopia’s population is below 15 years old. They have encountered the challenges of child trafficking, child labor, sexual abuse, being orphaned, and dealing with Harmful Traditional Practices like female genital mutilation and kidnapping by men for marriage.
Despite the fact that the government has launched policies such as a child protection policy, abuses are still occurring in many parts of the country, but getting data is difficult because practices are hidden and illegal. 70% in Ethiopian girls are sexually abused and harassed and 30% girls were raped at least one time in their life before reaching the age of eighteen. However, nearly five out of ten girls assured that they were averagely raped three to ten times in their life span.
Child labor is one of the most prevalent causes and forms of child exploitation and abuse. Its negative effect is observed in the physical, intellectual and social development of the working children. Virtually all of HMCHA’s sponsored children live on farms, and their participation in farm work is expected. This affects their schooling, health, and thus their futures. Most of the parents of our students are illiterate so it’s more difficult to disseminate information to them.
We ensure that all who work with and engage with us understand and are supported in meeting their safeguarding roles and responsibilities. We take positive action to prevent anyone who might be a risk to children and young people from becoming involved with us and take stringent measures against any Staff, Associate or Visitor who perpetrates any act of harm or abuse against a sponsored child or one who is participating in an activity sponsored by HMCHA.
To avoid any possible question of appropriate behavior, staff members should not invite children or young people into their private living quarters. If it is necessary to meet with a beneficiary, the door to the room where they meet should be left open, or another adult or staff member should be present if privacy can be protected.
We encourage the active involvement of those we work with in their own protection.
We will seek to keep children and young people safe by:
- valuing, listening to and respecting them
- appointing a nominated child protection lead for children and young people, a deputy and a lead trustee/board member for safeguarding
- adopting child protection and safeguarding best practice through our policies, procedures and code of conduct for staff and volunteers
- providing effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, support, training and quality assurance measures so that all staff and volunteers know about and follow our policies, procedures and behavior codes confidently and competently
- recruiting and selecting staff and volunteers safely, ensuring all necessary checks are made
- recording, storing and using information professionally and securely.
- sharing information about safeguarding and good practice with children and their families via posters, group work and one-to-one discussions
- making sure that children, young people and their families know where to go for help if they have a concern.
- using our safeguarding and child protection procedures to share concerns and relevant information with agencies who need to know, and involving children, young people, parents, families and guardians appropriately
- using our procedures to manage any allegations against staff and volunteers appropriately
- creating and maintaining an anti-bullying environment and ensuring that we have a policy and procedure to help us deal effectively with any bullying that does arise
- ensuring that we have effective ways to deal with complaints in place
- ensuring that we provide a safe physical environment for our children, young people, staff and volunteers, by applying health and safety measures in accordance with the law and regulatory guidance
- building a safeguarding culture where staff and volunteers, children, young people and their families, treat each other with respect and are comfortable sharing concerns.
As an organization, HMCHA is committed to the safeguarding of all children and young people from all forms of violence. We take very seriously our responsibility and duty to ensure that we, as an organization, and anyone who represents us does not in any way harm, abuse or commit any other act of violence against children and young people or place them at risk of harm or abuse.
We promote safe practices, approaches, interventions and environments which respect, recognize and respond to the specific safeguarding needs. We do not tolerate inequality, discrimination or exclusion.
We respond to a child or young person who may be in need of protection and or psycho-social support and intend that their welfare and best interests will at all times be of paramount consideration.
The basis of this policy is the following set of principles that guide us.
- All children and young people under 18 years of age have equal rights to protection from all forms of violence as declared in Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In addition, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes fundamental human rights, the dignity, worth and equal rights of people at any age, thus including young people aged 18 to 24 years old.
- The human rights of children and young people will be respected and applied to all irrespective of age, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnic origin, color, race, language, religious or political beliefs, marital status, disability, physical or mental health, family, socio-economic or cultural background, class, any history of conflict with the law or any other aspect of their background or identity. Inequality, exclusion, and discrimination will be challenged and will not be tolerated.
- All children and young people should be empowered and encouraged to fulfill their potential. Decisions made about children and young people will be made as far as possible with their participation and in their best interest giving full consideration to how such decisions will affect them. Children will be encouraged to express their views, which will be considered in accordance with their age and level of maturity.
- We have particular responsibilities to children and young people with whom we come into contact. No child or young person must suffer harm, intentionally or unintentionally, as a result of their engagement, association or contact with us whether as a sponsored child, a participant in our programs, projects, or events.
- We have a responsibility to inform and empower children and young people so that they learn about and are better able to exercise their rights to protection. We work with children and young people ensuring they understand the essence of this policy, our safeguarding commitment and the means by which they can report any act which goes against this policy. We will also involve them in the development of safeguarding measures within HMCHA in accordance with their evolving abilities.
- We are open and transparent, and will hold ourselves accountable for our commitment to safeguard children and young people. Safeguarding concerns can be raised and discussed, poor practice and inappropriate behavior challenged and addressed, and our safeguarding measures continuously reviewed and strengthened to ensure we remain accountable to children, young people, and their families.
- We will act on safeguarding concerns, ensuring that our actions are timely, appropriate and centered around the child or young person, taking into account their gender and other specific safeguarding needs and vulnerabilities.
- HMCHA’s approach recognizes and responds to the specific safeguarding risks and needs of the differing gender and other identities. It takes appropriate measures to address gender bias and other forms of discrimination and violence which may arise as a result of these. It supports the empowerment and fosters the inclusion of girls in the safeguarding process, in a manner that promotes equality, equity and ultimately their increased safety and protection.
- This approach exists in all stages of our operations, programs, projects, activities, influencing work, and interventions in both development and humanitarian settings thus ensuring that these are designed and delivered in a manner that does no harm to children and young people.
Our Safeguarding Implementation standards lay down the requirements for ensuring that safeguarding measures are embedded in all parts of our operations and interventions. HMCHA abides by the duty of care to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people and is committed to safeguarding practice that reflects statutory responsibilities, government guidance and complies with best practice requirements.
- We recognize the welfare of children is paramount in all the work we do and in all the decisions we take
- All children, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation has an equal right to protection from all types of harm or abuse
- Some children are additionally vulnerable because of the impact of previous experiences, their level of dependency, communication needs, or other issues
- Working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, caregivers, and other Ministries and agencies is essential in promoting young people’s welfare.
- Protect children and young people who receive HMCHA’s services from harm.
- Provide staff and volunteers, as well as children and young people and their families, with the overarching principles that guide our approach to child protection.
This policy applies to anyone working on behalf of HMCHA, including senior managers and the board of directors, paid staff, volunteers, temporary workers, HMCHA staff and students. Failure to comply with the policy and related procedures will be addressed without delay and may ultimately result in dismissal/exclusion from the organization.
If a child or young person reports abuse of any kind to one of our staff members, that employee must in turn report it to our Country Director, whether the abuse is alleged to be perpetrated by a community member, another child or a staff member. Staff members should be observant about reporting any violation if they have seen or heard or have reason to suspect. The challenge is when the victim specifically asks for the staff not to report the case within the organization and / or to a law enforcement agency (police). This often raises issues of respecting wishes of victims while also ensuring that the organizational policy is not being circumvented by duress on the victim. What if the issue is a criminal case, can the organization report it to police? This is an area often feared especially if the victim shows hesitance and highlights the need for organizations to strengthen safeguarding procedures to support decision-making of this kind.
The employee who receives the complaint will write a description of what happened, when, who was present, where it happened and who is the abuser, if known. This information is private and should not be discussed with community members, other children or other staff members.
Keep an accurate record of:
- the date and time of the incident/disclosure
- the date and time of the report
- the name and role of the person to whom the concern was originally reported and their contact details
- the name and role of the person making the report (if this is different to the above) and their contact details
- the names of all parties who were involved in the incident, including any witnesses, the name, age and any other relevant information about the child who is the subject of the concern (including
- information about their parents or guardians and any siblings
- what was said or done and by whom
- any action taken to look into the matter
- any further action taken (such as a referral being made)
- the reasons why the organization decided not to refer those concerns to a statutory agency (if relevant).
The Country Director and employee will decide on appropriate actions, whether to report to the local kebele, to the police, or to the Ministry of Women and Children. The board will also be informed via email as soon as possible.
Storage of child protection records
Child protection records will be kept confidential and stored securely.
- Information about child protection concerns and referrals will be kept in a separate child protection file for each child, rather than in one ‘concern log’. The child protection file should be started as soon as you become aware of any concerns. Update the log in a timely manner as new information becomes available.
- Keep child protection files separate from a child’s general records. Mark the general record to indicate that there is a separate child protection file.
- Keep a log indicating who has accessed the child protection file.
Child: anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday, even if they are living independently.
Child and Adult Abuse: Children and adults may be vulnerable to neglect and abuse or exploitation from within their family and from individuals they come across in their daily lives. There are 4 main categories of abuse, which are: sexual, physical, emotional abuse, and neglect. It is important to be aware of more specific types of abuse that fall within these categories, they are:
- Bullying and cyberbullying
- Child sexual exploitation
- Child Criminal exploitation
- Child trafficking
- Domestic abuse
- Female genital mutilation
- Historical abuse (ongoing over a long period of time)
- Online abuse
- Kidnapping a minor for marriage
Child Data: Paper or electronic information containing personally identifiable information collected for our programmatic or operational purposes. A child’s data are considered confidential and include sensitive or protected categories, such as health information.
Child Welfare: Child Welfare is making the community safe for children. It includes claims of child abuse that happen outside of HMCHA activities and/or that are required by law or local norms to be reported to local authorities, which may include familial, communal or institutional child abuse allegations.
Child Abuse: Harm to a child’s emotional, intellectual, mental or psychological development. This may occur as an isolated event or on an ongoing basis. Emotional abuse includes but is not limited to any humiliating or degrading treatment (e.g., bad name-calling; threats; yelling, screaming, or cursing at; teasing; constant criticism; belittling; persistent shaming; etc.), failure to meet a child’s emotional needs, and rejecting, ignoring, terrorizing, isolating or confining a child.
Exploitation: The actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, power differential, or trust for the benefit of the individual leveraging their position, power, privilege, or wealth (through enticement, manipulation, coercion or trickery) to engage a child in labor, domestic servitude, forced criminality, soldiering or organ harvesting. Typically, the person(s) exploiting a child does so in order to profit monetarily, socially, or politically. It can happen to one or a group of children, in the community of origin, outside of the community, or internationally. The exploitation of a child may include but is not limited to:
- domestic servitude (e.g., cleaning, childcare, cooking, etc.)
- forced labor (commonly in factories or agriculture
- forced criminal activities such as pickpocketing, begging, transporting drugs, manufacturing, drugs, selling pirated, merchandise
- forced to become child soldiers or join a gang
Grooming: is the process in which an adult builds a relationship with a child or the child’s caretaker to gain the child’s or the caretaker’s trust for the purposes of sexually abusing and/or exploiting the child. Grooming typically occurs in phases, and it can happen online or face to face, by a stranger or by someone the child or caretaker knows. Since it is a gradual process, it can sometimes be difficult to detect. Here are a few indicators that an adult may be grooming a child or his/her caretaker:
- Favoring the child over others
- Providing the child with rewards or privileges
- Isolating the child from others
- Expressing interest in a child who is particularly vulnerable or in need of support (e.g., previous abuse of the child by another)
- Befriending the parents or caretakers who are responsible to protect the child
- Providing the child with alcohol or drugs
- Building intimacy (i.e., having inside jokes or telling the child that nobody understands him/her like the groomer does)
- Threatening, blackmailing, intimidating, or scaring a child by saying the groomer will do something to the child’s family or friends
Neglect/ Negligent Treatment: The failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs either deliberately or through negligence. Neglect includes but is not limited to failing to provide adequate food, sufficient or seasonally-appropriate clothing and/or shelter; failing to prevent harm; failing to ensure adequate supervision; failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment or providing inappropriate medical treatment (e.g., administering medication when not authorized); or failing to provide a safe physical environment (e.g., exposure to violence, unsafe programming location, unsafe sleeping practices, releasing a child to an unauthorized adult, access to weapons or harmful objects, failing to child-proof a space that children will occupy, etc.).
Physical Abuse: Non-accidental use of physical force that inadvertently or deliberately causes a risk of or actual injury or suffering to a child. Physical force includes but is not limited to hitting, shaking, kicking, pinching, pushing/pulling, grabbing, burning, female genital mutilation, torture, and other physical acts. Physical injury or suffering may include but is not limited to bruises, marks, soft tissue swelling, hematomas, fractures, sprains, dislocation, burns, damage to organs, death, permanent disfigurement, and any other non-trivial injury.
Representative: Employees, volunteers, consultants, Board members, Partners and others who work with children on HMCHA’s behalf, visit HMCHA programs, or who have access to sensitive information about children.
Sexual Exploitation & Abuse: All forms of sexual violence and coercion, sexual solicitation, manipulation or trickery including incest, early and forced marriage, rape, involvement in or exposure to indecent images/video (aka pornography), sexual slavery/trafficking, statutory rape and kidnapping for marriage. Sexual abuse may include but is not limited to indecent touching or exposure, explicit sexual language towards or about a child and grooming. Sexual abuse does not always involve touching. Sexual Exploitation is any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust for sexual purposes including but not limited to profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another. Be aware that technology is a tool sometimes used to sexually exploit a child. The sexual exploitation and abuse of children under the age of 18 is child abuse and a policy violation. It may also constitute a criminal offense, depending upon the age of consent, local laws and customs.
SAFEGUARDING AS PART OF OUR WORK
In safeguarding children, HMCHA is committed to the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:
- Non-discrimination (article 2)
- Best interest of the child (article 3)
- Right to life survival and development (article 6)
- Right to be heard (article 12)
- Code of Behavior for Adults
- Code of Behavior for Sponsored Children and Young People
- Contact details
CODE OF BEHAVIOR for ADULTS
This behavior code outlines the conduct that HMCHA expects from all our staff and volunteers. This includes board members, HMCHA staff, and anyone who is undertaking duties for the organization, whether paid or unpaid.
The behavior code aims to help us protect children and young people from abuse and reduce the possibility of unfounded allegations being made. It has been informed by the views of children and young people.
HMCHA is responsible for making sure everyone taking part in our services has seen, understood and agreed to follow the code of behavior, and that they understand the consequences of inappropriate behavior.
The role of staff and volunteers
In your role at HMCHA you are acting in a position of authority and have a duty of care towards the children and young people we work with. You are likely to be seen as a role model and are expected to act appropriately.
You are responsible for:
- prioritizing the welfare of children and young people
- providing a safe environment for children and young people
- ensuring equipment is used safely and for its intended purpose
- having good awareness of issues to do with safeguarding and child protection and taking action when appropriate
- following our principles, policies and procedures including our policies and procedures for child protection/safeguarding, whistleblowing and online safety
- staying within the law at all times
- modeling good behavior for children and young people to follow
- challenging all unacceptable behavior and reporting any breaches of the behavior code to the Country Director or a person appointed by him
- reporting all concerns about abusive behavior, following our safeguarding and child protection procedures
- this includes behavior being displayed by an adult or child and directed at anybody of any age
- treat children and young people fairly and without prejudice or discrimination
- understand that children and young people are individuals with individual needs
- respect differences in gender, sexual orientation, culture, race, ethnicity, disability and religious belief systems, and appreciate that all participants bring something valuable and different to the group/organization
- challenge discrimination and prejudice
- encourage young people and adults to speak out about attitudes or behavior that makes them
- promote relationships that are based on openness, honesty, trust and respect
- avoid favoritism
- be patient with others
- exercise caution when you are discussing sensitive issues with children or young people
- ensure your contact with children and young people is appropriate and relevant to the work of
the project you are involved in
- ensure that whenever possible, there is more than one adult present during activities with children and young people
- If a situation arrises where you are alone with a child or young person, ensure that you are within sight or hearing of other adults
- If a child specifically asks for, or needs some individual time with you, ensure other staff or volunteers know where you and the child are.
- only provide personal care in an emergency and make sure there is more than one adult present if possible unless it has been agreed that the provision of personal care is part of your role and you have been trained to do this safely.
- listen to and respect children at all times
- value and take children’s contributions seriously, actively involving them in planning activities wherever possible
- respect a young person’s right to personal privacy as far as possible.
- If you need to break confidentiality in order to follow child protection procedures, it is important to explain this to the child or young person at the earliest opportunity.
When working with children and young people, you must not:
- allow concerns or allegations to go unreported
- take unnecessary risks
- smoke, consume alcohol or use illegal substances
- develop inappropriate relationships with children and young people
- make inappropriate promises to children and young people
- engage in behavior that is in any way abusive
- including having any form of sexual contact with a child or young person.
- let children and young people have your personal contact details (mobile number, or email) or have contact with them via a personal social media account
- act in a way that can be perceived as threatening or intrusive
- patronize or belittle children and young people
- make sarcastic, insensitive, derogatory or sexually suggestive comments or gestures to or in front of children and young people.
Upholding this code of behavior
You should always follow this code of behavior and never rely on your reputation or that of our organization to protect you.
If you have behaved inappropriately, you will be subject to our disciplinary procedures. Depending on the seriousness of the situation, you may be asked to leave HMCHA. We may also make a report to statutory agencies such as the police and/or the local authority child protection services.
If you become aware of any breaches of this code, you must report them to the Country Director or his designated staff.
CODE OF BEHAVIOR FOR SPONSORED CHILDREN & YOUNG PEOPLE
This code of behavior aims to make sure everyone who participates in HMCHA’s services and activities knows what is expected of them and feels safe, respected and valued.
HMCHA must make sure that everyone taking part in our services has seen, understood and agreed to follow the code of behavior, and that they understand the consequences of inappropriate behavior.
We expect people who take part in our services to display appropriate behavior at all times. This includes behavior that takes place outside our organization and behavior that takes place online.
This code of behavior aims to:
- identify acceptable and unacceptable behavior
- encourage cooperation, honesty, fairness, and respect
- create an environment where your self-esteem, self-respect, and self-confidence will grow
- encourage you to recognize and respect the rights of others
- encourage you to take responsibility for your own behavior
- help resolve conflicts and make it clear what will happen if you decide not to follow the code.
Dos and don’ts
- cooperate with others
- be friendly
- listen to others
- be helpful
- have good manners
- treat everyone with respect
- take responsibility for your own behavior
- talk to a mentor or the Country Director about anything that worries or concerns you
- follow this code of behavior and other rules (including the law)
- join in and have fun!
- be disrespectful to anyone else
- bully other people
- behave in a way that could be intimidating
- be abusive towards anyone
[Please print a copy of these dos and don’ts and ensure they are visible at all times]
What happens if I decide not to follow the code of behavior?
This code of behavior is part of our process for making sure everyone who takes part in our activities receives the support they need.
Minor or first-time incident
If you behave in a way that doesn’t follow our behavior code, our staff or volunteers will remind you about it and ask you to comply with it. They will give you an opportunity to change your behavior.
This gives you the chance to think and to plan how you could behave differently, with support from staff and/or volunteers.
If you continue not to follow the code of behavior after your first reminder, or if your behavior is more serious, you will be given a formal warning by the person running your activity. They will make a record about what happened and inform your parents or guardians if this is appropriate. They will also talk with you about what happened and agree what support you need to improve your behavior in the future. We may also decide that a sanction is appropriate, such as restricting you from taking part in some activities.
If the support we have put in place isn’t helping you to change your behavior, we may need to give you a final warning. Again this will be recorded and we’ll inform your parents or guardians as appropriate. At this point, we may need to talk with you and your parents or guardians about other services that might be more able to give you the support you need. If necessary, you will be removed from our sponsorship program.
Child protection procedures
- If any member of staff or volunteer becomes concerned that your behavior suggests you may be in need of protection or that you may present a risk of harm to other children and young people, they will follow our child protection procedures. This may involve making a referral to the appropriate local authority.
- If child protection procedures are necessary we will talk this through with you and your parents as soon as possible, unless doing so would put you in danger or or interfere with a police investigation.
The role of parents and guardians
- We see parents and guardians as valuable partners in promoting positive behavior and will involve them as appropriate.
- We will always inform and involve your parents or guardians if you receive a formal warning about your behavior, unless doing so would put you in danger.
Disclosure is the process by which children and young people start to share their experiences of abuse with others. This can take place over a long period of time – it is a journey, not one act or action. Children may disclose directly or indirectly and sometimes they may start sharing details of abuse before they are ready to put their thoughts and feelings in order. Not all disclosures will lead to a formal report of abuse or a case being made or a case being taken to court, but all disclosures should be taken seriously. It takes extraordinary courage for a child to go through the journey of disclosing abuse. It’s vital that anyone who works with children and young people undertaking this journey is able to provide them with the support they need.
How disclosure happens
Children and young people may disclose abuse in a variety of ways, including:
- directly– making specific verbal statements about what’s happened to them
- indirectly – making ambiguous verbal statements which suggest something is wrong
- behaviorally – displaying behavior that signals something is wrong (this may or may not be deliberate)
- non-verbally – writing letters, drawing pictures or trying to communicate in other ways.
Children and young people may not always be aware that they are disclosing abuse through their actions and behavior. Sometimes children and young people make partial disclosures of abuse. This means they give some details about what they’ve experienced, but not the whole picture. They may withhold some information because they:
- are afraid they will get in trouble with or upset their family
- want to deflect blame in case of family difficulties as a result of the disclosure
- feel ashamed and/or guilty
- need to protect themselves from having to relive traumatic events.
When children do speak out it is often many years after the abuse has taken place
Barriers to disclosure
Some children and young people are reluctant to seek help because they feel they don’t have anyone to turn to for support. They may have sought help in the past and had a negative experience, which makes them unlikely to do so again. They may also:
- feel that they will not be taken seriously
- feel too embarrassed to talk to an adult about a private or personal problem
- worry about confidentiality
- lack trust in the people around them (including parents) and in the services provided to help them
- fear the consequences of asking for help
- worry they will be causing trouble and making the situation worse
- find formal procedures overwhelming
Country Director: Endalew Fida Terefe tel. 011 251 1911 379 156
Local in Ethiopia: 0911 379 156
Board Member: Carol Pfleiderer
U.S. tel: 1-952-465-1349. CST
When in Ethiopia 0942 110 500