Child Protection Policy

Statement of commitment
We are committed to the welfare and rights of children. All children will be treated with respect regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, ethnic or social origin, disability, birth or other status. This includes all children under 18 years of age. We are committed to encourage staff to familiarise themselves with the child protection policy to protect and provide a safe environment for children. This is also to protect OIC Cambodia and encourage donors to have confidence in the project. We are committed to comply with all relevant local legislation on child rights and welfare in order to provide what is in ‘best interest of the child’, including labour laws that apply to children. We encourage all staff to give respect and dignity to all children in their care. Child carers are encouraged to be good role models, spending time with each child, listening to them, encouraging children when they do something well and giving good explanations on why they should not do something else. They should provide discipline firstly through verbal means.
Communicating the issue
We are committed to informing children, decision makers and the public through the media that child abuse is wrong. It is also understood that keeping silent is wrong. Child protection policies provide a safe and positive environment for children and are foundational in the education, research and advocacy initiatives that we are involved in. We are committed to educating staff about the importance of child protection so that children are protected from abuse by staff and others. This is also a preventive measure to protect staff and the organisation’s integrity. We actively encourage the development and active implementation of child protection policies to all NGOs, groups and networks in Cambodia through our meetings with them. Where possible, children are also included as key stakeholders because we believe that children have the right to speak and be heard. Involving children in the process also enables them to know their right to protection. Children are encouraged to have active cooperation, share information and be involved in advocacy initiatives.
Behavioural protocols
All staff, volunteers, interns, consultants, visitors, donors or sponsors of OIC are expected to treat all children and other staff with respect and dignity. Inappropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative or demeaning language or behaviour towards children will not be tolerated. Each individual must sign a statement to say that they have read the policy, will respect it and understand that action will be taken in cases of inappropriate behaviour. There will be careful regulations about the forms of discipline that can be used, encouraging primarily verbal discipline or withdrawing privileges. Staff are strongly encouraged to inform their director when discipline is inappropriate. Discipline must be non-violent and non-humiliating. Whenever possible, it should be ensured that another adult is present when working in the proximity of children. Sleeping close to unsupervised children will not be allowed unless absolutely necessary. That a child will not be engaged in any form of sexual activities or acts. Adults will always be responsible for their behaviour and cannot blame the child even if the child ‘provokes’ or acts in a ‘seductive’ way. That computers, mobile phones, video and digital cameras will be used appropriately, and never to exploit or harass children or to access child pornography through any medium. If protocols are broken, the person involved will be disciplined and may lose their job. Communities and children with whom OIC staff work will be informed of the protocols and will be assured that project support will not be discontinued if they report suspicious behaviour. Also, staff will not be asked to leave for reporting suspicious behaviour. Where children are placed in communities, there will be careful screening and training of foster parents to ensure safe and adequate care will be given.
Recruitment and Screening
Refrain from hiring children for domestic or other labour which is inappropriate given their age or developmental stage, which interferes with their time available for education and recreational activities, or which places them at significant risk of injury. Screening is equally important for volunteers/interns, board staff and consultants. Information on child protection policies must be given before and on acceptance of employment. A form must be signed agreeing to the child protection policy and stating that they have not had any previous convictions for abuse against children or violent behaviour. Their future employers will be informed if dismissed for abuse. References should be checked preferably by telephone to give previous employers an opportunity to express concerns verbally. All staff/volunteers must obtain and submit a police background check/police certificate/criminal record or certification for the right to work with children/young adults (e.g. a Queensland Blue Card, etc.) as issued by their passport country.
Responses to allegations
Immediately report concerns or allegations of child abuse in accordance with appropriate procedures. Procedures must be set out by the organisations to ensure that all staff know what to do if an allegation is made, either by a child, parent, staff member or visitor. We encourage all staff to adhere to the country’s labour code, if available. All members of the team will encourage their staff to be open in discussing the potential of abuse in their organisation. Where an allegation has been made that a staff member/visitor to the organisation has abused a child then OIC will investigate and take the appropriate action to deal with the situation.
Use of children’s images and personal information for promotion, fundraising and development education
Before photographing or filming a child, assess and endeavour to comply with local traditions or restrictions for reproducing personal images. Before photographing or filming a child, obtain consent from the child or a parent or guardian of the child. It must be explained how the photograph or film will be used. Ensure photographs, films, videos and DVDs present children in a dignified and respectful manner and not in a vulnerable or submissive manner. Children should be adequately clothed and not in poses that could be seen as sexually suggestive. Ensure images are honest representations of the context and the facts. Ensure file labels do not reveal identifying information about a child when sending images electronically.

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