Child safeguarding describes the organisational culture, policies, procedures, processes, and practices that ensure that your organisation is a safe place for children.
If your programs or services impact children or young people, you need to ensure that your organisation has strong child safeguarding.
Implementing child safeguarding standards: Why they’re important
Children and young people have the right to safety. This right is set down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally binding international instrument ratified by every country in the world, except one. It is also an ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals, which amongst its 169 targets aims to end all forms of violence and exploitation of children.
Convention on the Rights of the Child, Poster, UNICEF Australia
And yet, globally, it is estimated that one out of two children aged 2–17 years, experience some form of violence each year.1 UNICEF reports that about 15 million adolescent girls worldwide have been victims of sexual abuse in their lifetime.2
Within this devastating data set, we also know there are appalling rates of abuse, neglect and exploitation of children and young people by workers in the very organisations that exist to protect them.
We also know what needs to be done to prevent harm. There is plentiful evidence about effective safeguarding approaches that reduce risks and improve safety for children within the organisations where they spend time.
All organisations have a responsibility to safeguard children and young people by using this evidence and improving their practice.
Ensure your organisation meets international standards
Good intentions do not safeguard children, it requires leadership, organisational culture that puts children’s safety first, and purposeful and consistent strengthening of systems, policies and processes.
Safeguarding children means making sure that staff and volunteers, operations, policy and procedures, and programs, including those delivered in partnership with other organisations, do not harm children. It also means that when there are concerns about children’s safety they are responded to, and reported to the appropriate authorities.
You can have all the documents and policies in the world, but if you don’t have an organisation where children are listened to – where they actually feel safe, then nothing else matters.
To embed a child safeguarding culture, organisations need to:
- Empower the participation of children and young people to shape the service they receive.
- Understand and manage child safety risks at all levels of the organisation, including at systems, site, program and activity levels. To do this it is necessary to understand where and how children engage with the organisation. It also includes understanding child safety risks across any work that you deliver through or in partnership with other organisations.
- Consider the emerging risks associated with a greater virtual presence, as work is increasingly shifting online in international development.
- Have a written, public and accessible child safeguarding policy that describes how harm will be prevented.
- Don’t leave your Policy on the shelf. Ensure there are procedures that transform policy into child safe action, including any steps that will be taken if there are concerns or an incident occurs.
- Have child friendly feedback and complaint mechanisms that are linked with robust internal and external reporting requirements.
- Be intentional and specific about recruitment. However difficult it is to contemplate, perpetrators of child abuse continue to seek work in organisations that provide services to children and young people. Recruitment and screening processes must include child safeguarding at every step: job descriptions, advertisements, short listing, interviewing, reference checking and screening.
- Once recruited, ensure that staff, volunteers, contractors and partners are appropriately trained.
- Everyone, no exceptions, must sign onto a child safeguarding code of conduct that clearly describes professional boundaries when working with children along with what will happen if the code is breached.
How Child Wise can help you be Child Safe
We can help you safeguard children through our child safeguarding review, accreditation, coaching and training services. We have a proven track record of embedding organisational culture where child safeguarding is front of mind. Our work is rooted in a child rights approach, and we centralise the voices of children in all that we do.
Child safeguarding review
To understand how well your organisation is implementing child safeguarding standards, Child Wise can conduct a child safety review. Child Wise uses a whole-system approach to help you develop a deeper understanding of child safeguarding across your organisation. By necessity, Child Wise undertakes this process without fear or favour, recognising that the most important beneficiaries of the process are children and young people. Our reviews not only examine the quality of your child safety policies, procedures and processes, but consider the extent to which the broader organisational system enables child safe practice.
Child Safeguarding Self-Assessment
Our Self-Assessment process enables organisations to develop a comprehensive understanding of the quality and effectiveness of their child safeguarding practice. It will provide leadership with information about organisational strengths and gaps, which can be used to shape improvement plans.
Child Wise can provide tailored consulting services designed to help your organisation strengthen its child safety practice. For example, we can help clients to write, review or edit policies, procedures, or guideline documents.
Child Safeguarding Coaching
Coaching provides flexible and collaborative support to leaders to amplify strengths and navigate safeguarding challenges.
Child Wise can also assist with reviewing how your organisation has handled previous child safeguarding incidents to ensure that your procedures align with best practice.
Our child safety training includes a range of programs which are grounded in real life challenges faced by organisations. Child Wise delivers child safety training programs to leadership teams, staff and volunteers that work or engage with children and young people in their workplace.
Our training programs are designed to equip participants with vital knowledge and skills and can be delivered in person or online.
The Child Wise–NetClean partnership: Protecting children online
Child Wise has partnered with NetClean to provide you with unique technology that is capable of detecting the access and distribution of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on your work devices. Through the Child Wise-NetClean partnership, your organisation will be supported with world leading technology solutions and the right safeguarding infrastructure supported by the appropriate internal and external-facing policies and procedures to ensure your organisation is a child safe environment.
You’re in safe hands: Our expertise
Child Wise exists to ensure the safety of children and young people in organisations whose work impacts them. With 30 years’ experience, we are experts in reviewing child safeguarding risks and supporting organisations to build a strong child safe culture and systems.
In 1991, we originated as a leading voice on child rights in the Asia Pacific region and were a founding member of the global End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) network. Child Wise was the first Australian organisation to develop safeguarding standards as a framework to protect children, and in 2018, we welcomed the Australian Governments’ endorsement of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, which reflect our pioneering work.
In 2017, we became a Social Enterprise of Save the Children Australia to pursue a shared vision where children are safe from harm. This relationship expands our reach into 117 countries around the world.
Child Wise’s Global Safeguarding team has expertise across international development, humanitarian action, child protection, social work, senior leadership, change management and leading complex investigations.
We work with organisations of all sizes, in a range of sectors across the globe, including Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Pacific Island Countries. We have experience working with donor governments, UN agencies, international and national non-government organisations, faith-based organisations, as well as for-profit and corporates.
Strengthen child safeguarding in your organisation
Strengthening child safeguarding requires organisations to address the risks to children from its people and partnerships, services, programs, and operations. The better an organisation understands its risk, the better it can work to prevent harm from occurring. Risk is best understood when children themselves are engaged in the discussion.
Wherever you are on your child safeguarding journey, Child Wise is here to help and to support you on your journey. We can work with you to ensure that you are on track to meet local and global child safeguarding standard.
1. Global status report on preventing violence against children. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
2. Violent discipline, sexual abuse and homicides stalk millions of children worldwide – UNICEF. https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/violent-discipline-sexual-abuse-and-homicides-stalk-millions-children-worldwide