In the wake of sex-for-food scandals within Oxfam, the United Nations, and the aid sector generally, as well as the multiple child sexual abuse scandals within the United States Olympic Committee, many youth-serving organizations are asking themselves how they can safeguard the children they seek to serve. Responding to this question, Keeping Children Safe has developed multiple resources to help organizations develop and implement child protection policies.
Keeping Children Safe (KCS) is an organization with its mission embedded in its name. They have worked with more than 4,000 organizations worldwide to implement international child safeguarding standards. Due to their efforts, some 134 million children are “better protected from exploitation and abuse.” But KCS won’t be satisfied until they have reached their vision of all children having a “safe and healthy development into adulthood.” They know that a lack of child sexual abuse reports often represent issues within the program’s system rather than an actual reflection of child safety. For this reason, KCS is working hard with organizations to close gaps and establish standards that protect both children and staff.
The standards they implement focus on four main areas: policy, people, procedures, and accountability. Each of the standards build off of each other. The policy declares the organization’s commitment to keep children safe, people puts the responsibility on staff and all associates to understand and adhere to the policy, clear procedures provide the framework to uphold the policy, and continual self-audits ensure accountability and improvement within the organization. (For info on how to create and implement these standards in YOUR organization, click here).
Recently, in light of the ever-increasing influx of displaced persons to internally displaced persons (IDP) or refugee camps, Keeping Children Safe released their newest campaign: Safeguarding Children in Conflict and Crisis. They recognize that those individuals fleeing conflict are in extremely vulnerable of positions and that it is completely unacceptable for staff of any organization offering “aid” to sexually exploit those they serve. Like so many around the world, KCS was disgusted by the multiple “sex-for-food” scandals initiated by peacekeepers and other NGO personnel. But unlike so many, Keeping Children Safe has a plan to do something about it.
Keeping Children Safe calls for: 1) “All organizations to safeguard children in line with international standards, 2) Donors to insist that the organizations and initiatives they fund implement robust child safeguarding measures, and 3) World leaders to champion the safety of children at the highest levels by tabling a UN Resolution on child safeguarding.” It is time to stop being merely horrified by what is in the news and start doing something to stand against sexual abuse of children—especially within child serving agencies.
Keeping Children Safe’s work provides an important challenge to all organizations to review and improve their child protection policies and procedures. Does your organization already have a child safeguarding policy in place? If you answered “yes” when is the last time your leadership reviewed the policy? It may be time for a reevaluation of your organization’s policy. If you answered “no,” learn how YOU can champion child safety within your organization here under the “How You Can Help” section.