ALL FOR KIDS ORGANIZATION (AFK)
Policy Statement and Introduction:
ALL FOR KIDS ORGANIZATION (“AFK”) believes the welfare of the child is paramount and that all children without exception have the right to protection from harm or abuse. Many of the children involved in AFK programs come from poor, impoverished communities with inadequate food, sanitation and/or shelter. Their socioeconomic conditions often result in emotional, health and physical pressures, making the young and thus already vulnerable, exceptionally so. We place the highest importance on ensuring the safety, protection and welfare of the vulnerable children with whom we work.
AFK is committed to taking all reasonable steps to promote safe practice and to protect children from harm, abuse and exploitation. There are a number of safe guards which AFK takes, including: rigorous recruitment and selection processes for staff and volunteers who work directly with children, and clear reporting procedures for incidents and suspicions.
AFK firmly upholds a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to any forms of abuse, exploitation or other misconduct which poses potential risk to any children. All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken with the highest degree of seriousness, investigated to the fullest extent, and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
This policy applies:
AFK staff and volunteers
AFKs’ visitors, donors, corporate sponsors, journalists and supporters
This policy is based on, and reflects the principles of UK legislation, British Charity Commission guidelines, part on the Child Protection Policy of World Vision-United States., the Policies and Strategies of Cambodian Ministry of Education Youth and Sport and AFK’s Code of Practice.
Code of Conduct:
- Responsibilities of all acting on behalf of AFK
- Work towards promoting and ensuring child protection in all work activities and contacts.
- Promote a positive, supportive and secure environment where all children are treated with dignity and respect.
- Be conscious of how activities, actions and situations may be perceived and are intended and thus avoid situations where abuse might be alleged, without impacting work duties.
- Promote and encourage a safe, confidential and accessible environment where opportunities are created for children to communicate openly, taking into account language barriers where appropriate.
- Constantly assess and evaluate situations and activities involving children for the risk of potential abuse or harm and make the child’s environment as safe as possible.
- Avoid being alone with a child. Ensure that at least two adults are present on school grounds when working at the school.
- Meet children in open environments, including keeping classroom doors and windows open whilst working at the school.
- Minimize or avoid physical contact with children except for reasons of health and safety or under supervision.
- Minimize contact with children outside school hours & grounds and avoid traveling with children except for reasons of health and safety. Seek approval from a line manager before having any contact with children outside school hours or before any travel with children.
- Avoid any situation which will put a child at risk of any form of harm, abuse or exploitation.
- Report any suspected cases of abuse, harm or exploitation as per center procedures.
- Uphold sanctions never to be practised, including sexual, emotional and/or physical harm, abuse, exploitation or misconduct in any form, as documented and signed by all staff, volunteers and others acting on behalf of AFK in the Code of Conduct and.
- This includes misconduct relating to the use of the internet and photography.
- Responsibilities of the Manager
- Ensure all AFK team members, consultants and volunteers understand their responsibilities for being alert to signs of abuse and for referring concerns to the Manager as per the reporting procedures below.
- Ensure any visitors to AFK schools are accompanied by some AFK team members, and volunteers trained in child protection.
- Ensure parents, leaders and elders in the AFK supported community have an understanding of the responsibility placed on AFK team members, consultants and volunteers for Child Protection and its policy and procedures.
- Ensure safe recruitment practices are always followed for Cambodia based team.
- Monitor and evaluate activities and staff practices on a regular basis.
- Follow procedures for reporting and dealing with incidents when any allegation, concern or suspicion is raised
- Undertake annual reviews of the Child Protection Policy & its procedures.
Photographs and Images:
ALL FOR KIDS ORGANIZATION protects the privacy of its programs’ beneficiaries. AFK visitors, volunteers and staff are expected to adhere to the following:
- Photographers must fully disclose how any photographs of children associated with AFK supported schools and communities will be used.
- No photographs of children associated with AFK supported schools or communities shall be taken without their consent.
- Photographers must be supervised by AFK staff or teachers at AFK supported schools.
- All photographs of children used to promote AFK must show children fully clothed, must not portray vulnerability, and must not reveal identifying information.
Definitions and Signs of Abuse:
Child abuse can be physical, emotional and/or sexual and can also include neglect. The table below summarizes each form of abuse and the possible signs that a child may show if he/she has been abused. Should a child exhibit these indicators, it should not automatically be assumed that abuse is occurring; however, any concerning behaviors and/or signs should be reported to the Manager as per AFK reporting procedures (below).
Physical Abuse occurs when a person purposely injures
PHYSICAL ABUSE: May involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parents/career fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child.
Possible signs of physical abuse:
- Bruises, burns, sprains, dislocations, bites, cuts – Improbable excuses given to explain injuries
- Refusal to discuss injuries
- Withdrawal from physical contact
- Arms and legs kept covered in hot weather
- Fear of returning home or of parents being contacted – Showing wariness or distrust of adults
- Self-destructive tendencies
- Aggression towards others
- Being very passive and compliant
- Chronic running away
EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only in so far as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying, causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Possible signs of emotional abuse:
- Physical, mental and emotional development is delayed – Highly anxious
- Showing delayed speech or sudden speech disorder
- Fear of new situations
- Low self-esteem
- Inappropriate emotional responses to painful situation – Extremes of passivity or aggression
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Chronic running away
- Compulsive stealing
SEXUAL ABUSE: Involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative (e.g. rape, buggery or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual online images, watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Possible signs of sexual abuse:
- Bruises, scratches or other injuries to breasts, buttocks, lower abdomen or genital areas – Painful or frequent urination
- Difficulty walking or sitting
- Unexplained pain, itching, discharge or bleeding genital or anal areas
- Behavioral indicators (to be interpreted with regard to the child development stage)
- Over attention to adults of a particular sex
- Open displays of sexuality and unusual interest in the genitals of others – Precious knowledge of sexual matters
- Sudden change in mood or behavior
- Difficult sleeping and nightmare
- Regressed behavior, such as bed wetting, separation anxiety, insecurity – Change in eating patterns
- Lack of trust in familiar adults, fear of strangers, and men
- Acting out behavior (aggression, lying, running away, suicide attempts) – Withdrawn behavior
- Learning problems at school, loss of concentration
- Excessive bathing
NEGLECT: Is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or career failing to:
- Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment)
- Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger
- Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate caregivers)
- Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment
Possible signs of neglect:
- Frequent hunger
- Poor personal hygiene
- Constant tiredness
- Inappropriate clothing
- Frequent lateness or nonattendance at school – Untreated medical problems
- Low self-esteem
- Poor social relationships
- Compulsive stealing
- Drug or alcohol abuse
In the event of a child disclosing information containing evidence of, or potential for, harm, abuse or exploitation, AFK team members or others acting on behalf of the center are to:
- Listen carefully and not make judgments or false promises about keeping secrets
- Not reject anything as untrue and reassure the child that they believe him/her keep questions to an absolute minimum to ensure a clear and accurate understanding of what has been said.
- Tell the child that it is not his/her fault and he/she is not responsible for the abuse
- Let the child know that a report will be made so that the authorities can help to stop the abuse. Reassure the child that his/her safety and needsare of primary
- Tell the child they are pleased he/she told them
1. Reporting Suspicions, Concerns or Incidents
In the case of suspicion, concern or witness to incidence of misconduct, AFK staff members and others acting on behalf of the charity are required to follow the following procedures:
- Immediately report the incident to AFK’s Manager. AFK’s Project Coordinator may assist with translation.
- The person who received the disclosure must fully document the allegation, including time and place of the alleged incident, who was present and what allegedly occurred. This written report must be submitted to the AFK Executive Director within 24 hours of the disclosure
- The Manager shall report any allegation of physical or sexual abuse to local authorities through Cambodia’s National Police Hotline for child abuse and trafficking (+855 (0) 23 997 919) as well as the Siem Reap Police AHTJP Unit (+855 (0) 12 181 7280). Other allegations will be reported to the local authorities at the discretion of the Manager in consultation with the official Authorities. The Manager will document his/her actions
- The Manager shall report the incident to the official Authorities and the relevant School Director
- Failure to report a suspicion, concern or witness to incidence of misconduct will result in disciplinary action.
- Following the report of suspected or witnessed child abuse, harm or exploitation:
- The Manager, in conjunction with the School Director, is responsible for informing the child’s family of the allegation and any action proposed and for ensuring that every effort is made to remove or reduce immediate or future danger or risk of harm to the
- In the event of a serious allegation there will be an emergency meeting of the official Authorities called within 48 hours of the report being made. The AFK manager and official Authorities will agree on the extent of action taken overseas.
- Overseas police forces will be informed according to legal requirements and obligations
- For reports relating to AFK appointed field staff members, volunteers, AFK team members or others acting on behalf of the center, all contact and activities with children will be or near suspended whilst an investigation is conducted.
- For non AFK appointed staff (e.g. teachers appointed by the local government or members of the public), the School Director and local authorities will be informed and involved in investigations if necessary.
- Any AFK field staff members, volunteers, or other person acting on behalf of the center found guilty of misconduct will be immediately terminated from duties and will not be allowed contact with AFK children.
- Any non-AFK appointed staff found guilty of misconduct will be reported to Cambodia’s Ministry of Education, Youth & Sport, or their respective organization, authority with request for termination.
- AFK will aim to conduct all investigations both internally and in conjunction with relevant external government agencies, with the highest degree of professionalism, confidentiality, respect, sensitivity and fairness to protect all those involved. Every effort will be made to obtain independent, confidential interpreters when needed.
- Children who have been abused or are suspected of being abused will be supported and closely monitored with the highest degree of care and sensitivity wherever possible. Through supported education it would be AFK’s aim to help restore a stable, secure and predictable element in the child’s life.
2. Recruitment and Selection of Staff
The center personnel are recruited and selected to ensure their suitability to work with vulnerable children. AFK team members, consultants, and volunteers are representatives of the center and the values it upholds, thus are widely recognized as trusted and safe to children. They work with and are thus given access to contact with vulnerable children, which therefore requires rigorous screening and checks prior to assignment placing. The following are some of the measures which AFK takes to ensure safe placement of suitable and trustworthy staff:
- It is made clear to all staff, consultants, volunteers, and AFK applicants that AFK deems child protection matters of utmost importance, from the initial stages of recruitment onwards, and that it permeates every level and aspect of working for AFK.
- Job and volunteer advertisements contain job descriptions and key selection criteria to ensure that suitable candidates are attracted to the relevant position.
- All staff, consultants, and volunteers are required to read AFK’s Child Protection Policy and procedures. Each staff member, volunteer, unsupervised visitor and trustee must sign a declaration form indicating that he/she agrees to uphold safe practices and has not, nor intends to, commit any form of child abuse.
- All staff, consultant, volunteer and trustee applicants are required to provide at least 2 personal and 2 professional references with their applications. From these references at least 3 referees are contacted by telephone and interviewed about the applicant’s integrity, history, trustworthiness, responsibility and conduct with children. Referees also complete a signed written reference in support of this.
- Staff, consultant, volunteer and trustee applicants must document their criminal history and consent to a criminal records check his/her application. AFK may conduct the criminal records screening or may ask the applicant to complete and submit the criminal records check.
- Every effort is made to interview volunteer applicants in person prior to acceptance into AFK’s volunteer program. When a meeting in person is not feasible, a telephone interview will be conducted.
- All volunteers are interviewed on arrival in Cambodia prior to commencing work. If there are any
- concerns about the suitability of a volunteer, the Manager is informed and the volunteer is withheld from commencing work until the manager has fully investigated any areas of concern and completed extra background checks. If there are any irresolvable, reasonable doubts relating to a volunteer’s history or suitability to work with vulnerable children, the position will be revoked without prior warning or notice.
3. Monitoring and Evaluation
AFK pledges to regularly and routinely monitor all team members conduct and activities to ensure the ongoing protection of children is maintained to the highest level possible. This is achieved through:
- All team members/staff being aware that their conduct will be monitored and reviewed regularly according to the Child Protection policy and procedures. This will be conducted as unobtrusively as possible with minimal impact on personal integrity and duties
- The Manager meeting regularly with staff/team members and volunteers in Cambodia, to monitor and evaluate conduct, duties and behavior.
- Daily supervision of staff and volunteers by school teachers and administrators trained in child protection.
- Maintaining open lines of communication between school teachers / administrators and AFK field team member as well as between AFK field staff and Overseas based trustees, to encourage timely and effective reporting of any concerns or incidents or misconduct involving child protection.
- Annual review of policies and procedures for child protection led by the AFK manager. In the event of an incident of misconduct, the charity, school and staff operations will be immediately evaluated and reassessed on all levels in order for necessary changes and extra safe guards to be added.
All AFK team members shall ensure personal and identifying material particularly that which would place a child at risk of harm, remains private and confidential. All written reports of a confidential nature shall be circulated to the manager only, unless permission of the person/s involved is obtained, or if for legal purposes documents are required by external agencies and departments. All records, documents and correspondence involving material of a confidential matter should be kept securely, away from children or public access. Any breaches of confidentiality will be taken seriously and dealt with accordingly by AFK.
5. Record Keeping
Every effort will be made to ensure the maintenance of accurate records of concerns, risks, incidents and accidents, even when there is no need to refer the matter immediately. These records will aim to be objective and without personal bias wherever possible, and include any information from relevant witnesses. They shall be dated and signed and kept always in the possession of the AFK Manager.
6. Training and Education
AFK is committed to the creation, implementation and ongoing input of training and education strategies which will assist in creating a safer environment for its vulnerable children. Although still in its early stages of development, future plans will aim to include:
- Collaborating with school staff and other Cambodian based NGOs to develop culturally appropriate additions to the school curriculum relating to child protection issues, safety and human rights.
- Working towards programs which will promote and encourage children to develop the skills they need to recognize and stay safe from abuse.
- Developing culturally sensitive programs involving the community, to raise awareness amongst local staff on child protection issues, signs and indicators of abuse, and procedures for dealing with suspected misconduct.
- Providing children with access to information and education material on acceptable conduct and self-protection from abuse.