Dr.Ambedkar Sheti vikas va sanshodhan sanstha (ASVSS) does not tolerate any form of child abuse or exploitation. Children who come into contact with ASVSS must be protected from deliberate or unintended actions that place them at risk of child abuse, sexual exploitation, injury, discrimination and any other harm.
In all actions concerning children, the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration with ASVSS being committed to the principles of the Convention of the Rights of Children 1989 and the Declaration of Human Rights 1948 both of which promote respect for the rights of children
ASVSS is committed to:
- Creating and maintaining an environment, which is conducive to promoting the rights of all children.
- Prevent and deal with any kind of abuses and exploitation of children.
- Promote safe practices and protect children from harm, abuse, neglect, discrimination and exploitation in any form.
- Take positive actions to prevent child abusers from becoming involved with the organization in any way.
- Take stringent measures against any of its staff and/or associate who abuses a child.
- Be guided by the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012.
2. Purpose and Scope
ASVSS Child Protection Policy is to ensure that ASVSS has guidelines in place to ensure protection from deliberate or unintended actions that place them at risk of child abuse, sexual exploitation, injury, discrimination and any other harm by any member of the organization. This policy provides guidance and direction to all associated with ASVSS so that:
• ASVSS staff members and representatives understand issues of child protection; are aware of\the problem of child abuse, violence against children and strive to prevent and/or report occurrences of child abuse in their work
• Organisational risks and duty of care towards children are covered through implementing procedures to safeguard children through good practice.
• There are clear guidelines on reporting suspected child abuse and all forms of violence against children.
• There are clear consequences for the breach of guidelines.
The scope of ASVSS’s Child Protection Policy (and any adaptions made to ensure legal compliance within an ASVSS) applies to:
• All ASVSS staff members, whether full time, part time or engaged on fixed-term contracts (staff members must act in accordance with this policy in their professional lives and are encouraged to do the same in their personal lives).
• Consultants, interns, volunteers, board members, representatives of partner agencies and any other individuals, groups or organisations who have a formal/contractual relationship with ASVSS that involves any contact with children.
• Donors, journalists, celebrities, politicians and other people who make contact with or communicate externally about children must be made aware that this Policy applies to them while visiting ASVSS programmes or offices.
- 3. DEFINATION
|Any person under the age of 18 years
|Child Abuse-It is defined as all form of physical abuse, emotional ill treatment, sexual abuse and exploitation, neglect or negligent treatment and includes any action that result in actual and potential harm to child. a. Physical Abuse – the use of physical force against a child that results in harm to the child. Physically abusive behaviour includes shoving, hitting, slapping, shaking, throwing, punching, kicking, biting, burning, strangling and poisoning. b. Emotional ill treatment—refers to a parent or caregiver’s inappropriate verbal or symbolic acts toward a child or a pattern of failure over time to provide a child with adequate non-physical nurture and emotional availability. Such acts have a high probability of damaging a child’s self-esteem or social competence. c. Sexual Abuse and exploitation – is evidenced by an activity between a child and an adult or another child who, by age or development, is in a relationship of responsibility, trust or power; the activity being intended to gratify or satisfy the needs of the other person. d. Neglect or negligent treatment – the failure by a parent or caregiver to provide a child (where they are in a position to do so) with the conditions that are socially and culturally accepted as being essential for their physical and emotional development and well being.
|The rights of any person below the age of 18 years as recognized by the UNCRC and other concerned international instruments and operationalized through Indian legislation.
|Safeguard from all forms of physical, sexual, mental, emotional, spiritual, economic and social abuse and exploitation. Child Protection within the scope of this policy is defined as the responsibilities, measures and activities that ASVSS undertakes to safeguard children from both intentional and unintentional harm.
|“Child friendly” means any process, interpretation, attitude, environment and treatment, that is humane, considerate and in the best interest of the child (Model Rules of JJ Act 2007 1). It includes a suitable, non-threatening environment for the holistic growth and development of children.
|Children hailing from critical backgrounds including dysfunctional families, working children, destitute, orphans, street children or children in acute vulnerable situations or any environment that is risky and might inhibit the growth and development of the child shall also be considered as critical background.
4. Roles and Responsibilities
4.1 Line Managers
To report and record any incident of concern about child protection to the appropriate child protection agency.
• Ensure staff members who are in contact with children are aware of, and provide induction on ASVSS’s Child Protection Policy, as well as ensure access to Child and Human Rights documents.
• Ensure that staff members are aware of procedures for reporting concerns and their responsibilities in reporting.
• Ensure parental or guardian consent is sought for any activity with a child and encourage parental participation in activities involving children where ever possible.
• Ensure parental or guardian consent is sought before gathering any interviews, images or footage of children. Ensure that the parent or guardian understands the purpose of this activity and how the images or footage will be used.
• Ensure that any content gathered is used responsibly without risk to the child.
• Ensure that children remain in their known environment and are never removed from their known environment.
• Plan and organise the work and the workplace so as to eliminate risks to children.
• Be aware of situations which may present risks and ensure these are supervised appropriately.
• Be involved and available to the community in all work with children.
• Ensure that staff members are accountable for the welfare of children during ASVSS activities.
• Ensure that poor practice or potentially abusive behaviour towards children by ASVSS or partner staff members does not go unchallenged.
• If a Funding Affiliate ensure ASVSS’s Child Protection Policy is shared with the supporters and to get the policy signed and returned by the supporter prior to departure.
• Ensure ASVSS’s Child Protection Policy is included as part of any partnership agreement or memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ASVSS partners.
4.2. Human Resources
Ensure ASVSS’s Child Protection Policy for all staff is included in the offer letter to all new staff members and all ASVSS Board members.
• As part of the acceptance procedure, staff members will be asked to sign a declaration of the policy stating that they are aware of its existence and will abide/adhere to it. The declaration will be kept on the staff members file and may be referred to in legal proceedings if a staff member is found to be in breach of the policy.
• Ensure that roles and responsibilities regarding child protection are incorporated into job descriptions.
• Ask pertinent questions when requesting references for a new member of staff, particularly with regard to any dealings and work with children prior to joining ASVSS.
• Request references from bodies charged with child protection, if such exist, if the staff member will be required to spend a lot of time with children. Where local legal requirements for criminal record checks are in place they must be complied with.
• Should there be an instance of child abuse then HR would support the investigation and ensure that the necessary policies and procedures are adhered to.
4.3 All ASVSS Staff
All staff must:
• Be aware of the local and international laws protecting the rights and welfare of children.
• All staff must endeavour to promote the rights and welfare of children at all times; both in the work place and at home.
• Staff members should also raise awareness of child protection and ASVSS’s Child Protection Policy to children, parents and communities they work with so they are able to report any form of child abuse.
• When children are involved in a program event e.g. during a workshop, conference or meeting, rally or campaign, educational trip etc. organising staff must ensure that children are in a safe and conducive environment and are protected from any kind of abuse.
• Should there be an instance of child abuse then HR would support the investigation and ensure that the necessary policies and procedures are adhered to.
In general, it is inappropriate for staff members to:
• Spend unnecessary time alone with children.
• Take children home, particularly if they will be alone with the staff member. Unless they are acting to protect the child/children.
• Inappropriately use children to solicit support, financial or otherwise.
• Promote any form of child labour – exploitative or otherwise.
• Demonstrate or practice discriminatory attitude/approach/treatment towards the children with disabilities, children of indigenous backgrounds, children of sex workers and people living with HIV/AIDS.
Staff members must never:
• Act in ways that may be abusive (physically and emotionally) towards children.
• Develop physical/sexual relationships with children.
• Develop any form of relationship with children who could in any way be deemed exploitative or abusive.
• Place a child at risk of abuse or exploitation, or be aware of these and not do anything about it.
• Exploit their own position vis-à-vis the children by making them run errands, do domestic work or carry out other forms of economic exploitation.
• Make inappropriate referrals to the relevant state institutions responsible for protection of children and other organisations offering responsive services for child abuse.
• Disempower children – Staff should discuss with them their rights, what is acceptable and unacceptable, and what they can do if there is a problem.
Staff members must avoid actions or behaviours that could be construed as poor practice or potentially abusive. For example, they must never:
• Use language, make suggestions or offer advice which is inappropriate, offensive or abusive.
• Behave physically in a manner which is inappropriate or sexually provocative to children.
• Have a child/children with whom they are working to stay overnight at their home without others being present.
• Sleep in the same room or bed as a child with whom they are working.
• Do things for children of a personal nature that they can do for themselves (e.g. write letters on behalf of children).
• Condone or participate in conduct which is illegal, abusive or unsafe for children.
• Act in ways intended to shame, humiliate or degrade children, or otherwise perpetrate any form of emotional abuse.
• Discriminate against, show differential treatment, or favour particular children to the exclusion of others (e.g. recruitment for fundraising activities, selective award of gifts).
Some operational definitions in the context of ASVSS
1. Direct contact with children – Being in physical presence of a child or children whether the contact is occasional or regular, short term or long term, residential or nonpresidential.
2. Indirect contact with children – Working with the stakeholders concerned with issues of child rights and child protection to create a child friendly environment.
3. Corporal Punishment – Any deliberate infliction of physical/emotional pain on a child by an adult.
4. ASVSS programs – This would refer to all the interventions and initiatives taken by the organization to achieve its objectives.
Zero tolerance of child exploitation and abuse
ASVSS does not tolerate child exploitation and abuse. Such action attracts criminal, civil and disciplinary actions, as the case may be. ASVSS works to reduce the risks of child exploitation and abuse associated with delivering project activities and trains its staff on their obligations. ASVSS will not knowingly engage—directly or indirectly—anyone who poses an
unacceptable risk to children. ASVSS will also not accept and not employ any child for work.
Recognition of the best interest of the child
ASVSS is committed to upholding the rights and obligations under The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) ratified by India. ASVSS recognises that some children such as those with disability and children living in areas impacted by disasters are particularly vulnerable.
Sharing responsibility for child protection
To effectively manage risks to children, ASVSS requires the commitment, support and cooperation of Government and other civil society organisations.
According to Protection of Children from Sexual offence Act 2012, offence against a child including but not limited to sexual harassment is a serious offence and once reported to the Police, the enforcement agency will take action as per the law and ASVSS shall render all possible assistance to the agencies in enforcing the law. Confidentiality ASVSS shall maintain the principle of confidentiality in all the cases related to vulnerable
children. It would not disclose any information that adversely affects the safety and dignity of a child.
Internal procedures for handling complaints related to child exploitation and abuse A 3-member nodal committee would be responsible to lay down the procedure of receiving complaints against violation of any provision of the policy within the organisation. For operational clarity, the Internal Complaint Committees (ICC) constituted in each state in accordance with the provision of Sexual Harassment of Woman at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 would be the body to receive the complaints of violation
of child rights in their respective states. The ICC would act under the supervision and guidance of the nodal committee on matter related to child rights. The nodal committee shall organise regular orientation sessions and workshop to spread the awareness about the policy within the organisation and sensitise its functionaries to respect the rights of children. The composition of this committee is as follows:
- Ms. Shaila Kurane : chairman
- Mr. Nandu More : Member
- Mr. Goraksh Gurav : Member
Child Protection Code of Conduct
All ASVSS staff must comply with ASVSS’s Child Protection Code of Conduct which sets stringent standards for personal behaviour. ASVSS expects staff to use common sense and avoid actions or behaviours that could be construed as child exploitation and abuse in the course of their association with ASVSS.
Reviewing the child protection policy regularly
This policy will be reviewed every three years, and lessons learnt will be incorporated into subsequent versions.
Applicability of the Policy
All ASVSS staff including full time, part time and consultants, volunteers, interns and students and visitors of ASVSS’s programme.
ASVSS CHILD PROTECTION CODE OF CONDUCT
I acknowledge that, _______________________ have read and understood the
ASVSS Child Protection Policy.
I declare that, that I have never been involved in or convicted of any act or offence involving any type of harm to a child or children, nor have I ever been warned or cautioned in relation to such a matter. I also declare that there are no civil or criminal proceedings of any nature pending against me at the date of this declaration relating to any allegation concerning any type of harm to a child or children.
I declare that, that I have never been involved in or convicted of any act or offence involving any type of sexual harassment or any other offence of a serious nature, nor have I ever been warned or cautioned in relation to such a matter. I also declare that there are no civil or criminal proceedings of any nature pending against me at the date of this declaration relating to any allegation concerning any type of offence which is serious in nature.
I authorize ASVSS to seek references or approach previous employers for verifying information on disciplinary offences relating to children. I also undertake to provide any detailed disclosure if required in future pertaining to this declaration.
I understand that compliance/adherence to the above-mentioned policies is mandatory and non-compliance/non-adherence or giving false/inaccurate information may lead to termination and may entitle ASVSS to enforce its legal rights or to seek legal remedies against me.
This declaration is confidential and is extended in order to accredit my suitability to work with children and community at large whilst providing services to ASVSS; this declaration may not be used totally or partially for any other purpose except that for which it is expressly made.
The contents of this acknowledgement and undertaking have been read over and explained to me in vernacular and I am executing the same voluntarily after understanding and agreeing with the content.