MARTA Centre's Child Safeguarding Policy
MARTA believes that every child has a right to be protected regardless of his or her gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or disabilities. MARTA is commited to safeguard children in its daily operations by applying the child protection principles stated in this policy. MARTA’s Child Safeguarding Policy is based on Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by United Nations in 1989, its protocols, Council of Europe Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, national child protection laws of Latvia and best international procedures.
- All children have equal rights to protection from harm.
- Everybody has a responsibility to support the protection of children.
- Organisations have a duty of care to children with whom they work, are in contact with, or who are affected by their work and operations.
- If organisations work with partners they have a responsibility to help partners meet the minimum requirements on protection.
- All actions on child protection are taken in the best interests of the child, which are paramount.
Definitions and Terms
Within this Policy a child is any individual under the age of 18.
What is child protection?
Child protection is the responsibility that organisations have to make sure their staff, operations, and programmes do no harm to children, that is that they do not expose children to the risk of harm and abuse, and that any concerns the organisation has about children’s safety within the communities in which they work, are reported to the appropriate authorities.
Definitions of harm
Physical abuse: actual or potential physical harm perpetrated by another person, adult or child. it may involve hitting, shaking, poisoning, drowning and burning. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of or deliberately induces illness in a child.
Sexual abuse: forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities that he or she does not fully understand and has little choice in consenting to. This may include, but is not limited to, rape, oral sex, penetration, or non- penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching. It may also include involving children in looking at, or producing sexual images, watching sexual activities and encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Child sexual exploitation: a form of sexual abuse that involves children being engaged in any sexual activity in exchange for money, gifts, food, accommodation, affection, status, or anything else that they or their family needs. It usually involves a child being manipulated or coerced, which may involve befriending children, gaining their trust, and subjecting them to drugs and alcohol. The abusive relationship between victim and perpetrator involves an imbalance of power where the victim’s options are limited. It is a form of abuse that can be misunderstood by children and adults as consensual.
Child sexual exploitation manifests in different ways. It can involve an older perpetrator exercising financial, emotional or physical control over a young person. It can involve peers manipulating or forcing victims into sexual activity, sometimes within gangs and in gang-affected neighbourhoods. It may also involve opportunistic or organised networks of perpetrators who profit financially from trafficking young victims between different locations to engage in sexual activity with multiple men.
Neglect and negligent treatment: allowing for context, resources and circumstances, neglect and negligent treatment refers to a persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and /or psychological needs, which is likely to result in serious impairment of a child’s healthy physical, spiritual, moral and mental development. It includes the failure to properly supervise and protect children from harm and provide for nutrition, shelter and safe living/working conditions. It may also involve maternal neglect during pregnancy as a result of drug or alcohol misuse and the neglect and ill treatment of a disabled child.
Emotional abuse: persistent emotional maltreatment that impacts on a child’s emotional development. Emotionally abusive acts include restriction of movement, degrading, humiliating, bullying (including cyber bullying), and threatening, scaring, discriminating, ridiculing or other non-physical forms of hostile or rejecting treatment.
Commercial exploitation: exploiting a child in work or other activities for the benefit of others and to the detriment of the child’s physical or mental health, education, moral or social-emotional development. It includes, but is not limited to, child labour.
This policy applies to all staff and associates.
- all staff, national and international
- all volunteers and interns
- all contractors, e.g., consultants
- all Board Members
- all partners including local community based partners
- guests and Visitors
A) Recruitment of staff
MARTA will ensure that it applies the highest standards in its recruitment and vetting policies across the organization. Candidates are checked for their suitability for working with children and their understanding of child protection.
Protection checks, such as disclosure of previous convictions or police checks (if disclosure is unavailable), forms an important part of our recruitment policy and covers all those representatives that we have an employment relationship with. Checking evidence of identity and the authenticity of qualifications, requesting self-declarations about previous convictions, and a minimum requirement of at least two references are carried out in all cases.
Checklist for recruitment and selection is available in Annex 4 and should be used when designing the job description, analysing the duties and considering child safeguarding risks held in the position.
Child safeguarding principles will be included in the induction of all new staff members including volunteers and Board Members. The training of Children Safeguarding Principles will be held annually for every staff member. MARTA’s job advertisements will include a statement that child Safeguarding Policy is in place.
All MARTA’s associates, staff and volunteers must obey by the Code of Conduct which is designed to protect child rights and to protect associates from false accusations and to protect the name and reputation of MARTA. The Code of Conduct is mandatory for all MARTA’s staff including volunteers and associates. Any violation of the Code of Conduct will result in disciplinary procedure which may include dismissal and/or criminal action depending on the severity of the case. The Code of Conduct is available in Annex 1.
C) Risk Analysis
Risk analysis will be undertaken prior any activity involving children or visits when children are present or research with children and measures will be taken to mitigate any risk. Risk mitigation strategies will be developed, which minimise the risk to children, and incorporated into the design, delivery and evaluation of programmes, operations and activities which involve or impact upon children.
In MARTA’s use of visual images, both photographic stills and video, the overriding principle is to maintain respect and dignity in the portrayal of children. MARTA strongly supports the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which makes the best interests of the child a primary consideration (Art. 3), and states that every child has the right to privacy (Art. 16) and protection from all forms of exploitation (Art. 36). Whilst we acknowledge that images are an essential element in portraying our work to the general public and other constituencies, and for raising funds, we strive to maintain the dignity of everyone with whom we work and will not use images that are disrespectful or demeaning.
In MARTA’s use of visual images we adhere to the principles and guidelines set out in Annex 3. The stated principles are employed to regulate our use of images of children. The guidelines that follow will be of particular use to staff in the field in contact with children.
E) Social media
MARTA’s social media policy covers organization’s Facebook, Twitter, Draugiem.lv, YouTube, Flicker, Instagram and IR.LV accounts including Facebook Groups and is binding for all staff and volunteers who have access to the accounts – social media administrators, editors and managers.
How to behave on social media:
1) The accounts should be used for MARTA’s purposes only and not as a workers personal account.
2) Any communication using social media should be kept public and logged. Incoming and outgoing messages should be saved and kept.
3) All contact with young people using social media should be kept appropriate, as it would be when face-to-face and should only relate to work responsibilities.
4) No personal details should be provided about children on any social media accounts.
5) A parental permission is required before using any photographs or video clips of children. The photographs and videos should be appropriate.
6) Before posting any material depicting children the fact that it can be shared by anyone for purposes that may differ from what was intended needs to be considered.
When establishing partnerships MARTA will negotiate with each partner the measures they can implement to protect children. Risk assessments will be carried out before entering into a partnership. MARTA will not partner with organizations or individuals that exploit or harm children in any way or refuse to adopt basic child safeguarding measures. MARTA will request to be informed within 24 hours if serious incidents regarding children rights happen in partner organizations. MARTA will assess the incidents and decide whether to terminate the partnership.
Any suspected or actual breach of the present Child Protection Policy must be reported without delay to the designated focal person in MARTA identified to all staff and partners as responsible for receiving such reports. The focal person is trained to deal with child safeguarding issues and will activate MARTA’s child protection procedures.
In normal circumstances, any concerns about the safety of a child would trigger a report under MARTA’s Child Protection Policy, however, if it is known in advance that the children involved in a project or children receiving consultations by MARTA’s specialists are at risk and may have been or are currently experiencing abuse – it is not practical to report. In these circumstances, the normal threshold for reporting is suspended.
A) Managing disclosure
MARTA is acting upon and reacting to disclosures responding within 24 hours. During all investigation procedures in MARTA children must be respected and listened to without criticism.
Ms Irina Mazurika has been assigned as a child safeguarding person or Focal Person and is responsible for listening to staff complaints and for filling in reports.
All children that come to MARTA’s office or participate in MARTA’s activities should be informed about the identity and role of the Focal Person. MARTA’s child friendly Child Safeguarding Policy should be presented to the children.
Strict confidentiality should be maintained throughout the process. Information must not be send by fax, but by e-mail.
For serious cases (any maltreatment with criminal nature, e.g. rape, beating etc.) a commission will be established with participation of the Director, Focal Person and Therapist. The Commission has to ensure all involved parties have access to counselling and will decide:
- whether to report the incident to the police or other authorities;
- what kind of support the child needs;
- if the accused person needs support (as they might be innocent)
- if someone (e.g. Focal Person) needs to be appointed to carry out internal investigation or monitor the investigation process.
- in case the person is fired and his/her new employer contacts MARTA the Commission has to decide what information to reveal.
If the case is public a press release should be prepared before media arrive.
The complaint should be logged with confidentiality. All the reports have to be kept in a secure place.
If a Focal Person receives a report about an incident that did not happen in MARTA and is not connected to MARTA’s activities in any way it should not be ignored and must be reported to the appropriate authorities.
Child Safeguarding is a responsibility of every employee and is stated in every job description. Every employee must sign the code of conduct and the policy. All staff undergoes training on child rights and safeguarding principles. A poster displaying incident reporting procedure should be displayed in MARTA’s office. A child friendly version of the Policy has been developed and should be displayed in MARTA’s office.
MARTA should continue its work on building capacity of its partners regarding Children Safeguarding and should continue to advocate the principles among other organizations. The incidents (what happened, how often and what action was taken) should be included in the report to the Board. Mr. Inge Engeland Johansen has been assigned as the Board member responsible for children safeguarding.
Monitoring and evaluation
A two year action plan has been created for implementation of the policy and should be monitored by the Focal Person every two years.
Full document and annexes can be downloaded here.