1. Introducing the Child Protection Policy
1.1. Definitions used in the Child Protection Policy
Child: Anyone who is under 18 years of age.
Staff: Anyone employed with Everest Education (E2).
1.2. What is a Child Protection Policy?
A Child Protection Policy is Everest Education’s commitment to protect children from abuse, exploitation and organizational negligence – i.e. how we will keep children safe. It is the responsibility that we have to make sure our staff, operations, and programs do no harm to children or students by exposing them to the risk of harm and abuse. In addition, any concerns that we have about children’s safety within the communities or at home, are reported to the appropriate authorities.
Everest Education has a zero tolerance risk approach to child safeguarding. In practice this means that all necessary efforts will be made to comply with the Policy, irrespective of cost implications or operational inconvenience.
Our Policy considers two types of intervention:
- PREVENTATIVE – to reduce the likelihood of a child being harmed or abused.
- RESPONSIVE – taking actions to make sure that where concerns are raised or situations of suspected harm or abuse are identified, appropriate action is taken to ensure the child is assisted and to prevent similar situations occurring again.
1.3. Principles underpinning the Child Protection Policy
A number of key principles underpin the provisions of the Child Protection Policy. These include:
- Best interests of the child are the primary consideration in our decision making.
- Respect for children’s rights, including the right to protection and the right to participate in decisions affecting their lives.
- Equality of opportunity to ensure that all children have the opportunity to enjoy our activities safely regardless of their gender, ability, race, ethnicity, circumstances or age. Vulnerable children require particular attention in order to optimize their safety and protection and promote their access to opportunities.
- Consultation with children and their families regarding how we approach and respond to the Policy.
- Cultural sensitivity and recognition of local context in decision making and in informing our procedures.
- Accountability and being responsible in order to best support and safeguard the children, and taking action where we believe that a child is at risk or is actually harmed.
- Providing training and support to those working at or with Everest so that they are able to recognize, prevent and respond to child protection risks and incidents.
- Working in an honest and transparent way by informing those we work with, including children, about our Child Protection Policy, and how we work to safeguard children.
- Ensuring confidentiality to protect sensitive personal data. Information will only be shared and handled on a need to know basis which best support and safeguards the children.
- Working with others to protect children both across E2 and with other organizations. This includes law enforcement and specialist child welfare agencies where necessary.
- Monitoring the implementation and training of the Child Protection Policy on a regular basis.
1.4. What are our responsibilities?
Everyone shares responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and for supporting the implementation of the Policy, irrespective of individual roles. All those working for E2 have a responsibility to:
- Report all allegations or concerns about actual or suspected situations of abuse involving a child or children known to E2
- Report all allegations or concerns about actual or suspected staff misconduct or criminal activity involving the abuse of a child or children.
All reports should be made to the Child Protection Manager.
2. Understanding Child Protection Issues
2.1. What are we protecting children from?
E2 follows the definition of ‘abuse’ commonly used by the World Health Organization:
‘Child abuse’ or ‘maltreatment’ constitutes all forms of physical and / or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power’.
2.2. General definitions of child abuse
Abuse can be a single, one–off event or ongoing, including the accumulation of a number of seemingly less serious incidents. It can take place in all settings including in the family, school, community, institutions or online. Abuse online can take many forms including bullying, sexual harassment and child abuse images.
Five main categories of abuse are recognized under the Child Protection Policy:
- Physical Abuse: This may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.
- Emotional Abuse: This is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and long lasting effects on the child’s emotional and psychological development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless and unloved, inadequate, or valued only so far as they meet the needs of another person. It can also involve age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children, or causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child although it may occur alone.
- Neglect: This is the persistent failure to meet the child’s basic physical and / or psychological needs, where the parent would be able to do so, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s development. For example, inadequate supervision which leaves a child in a dangerous situation where they could be harmed (but only if this can be avoided). Neglect can be particularly difficult to recognise, especially in countries where there are few resources and / or high levels of poverty and deprivation.
- Sexual Abuse: This involves forcing or encouraging a child to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening or gives consent. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative (e.g. rape) or non-penetrative acts. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at pornography, taking indecent images of children, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
- Bullying: It is important to highlight that bullying can also be a form of abuse depending on its severity. Although we commonly think of adults as those who abuse, children can also be perpetrators of abuse.
3. Preventative Actions
The key to child safeguarding is abuse prevention thus E2 will do everything we can to reduce opportunities for offences and enable earlier detection and response to child protection concerns.
3.1. Systems and procedures to prevent situations of abuse
Child Protection Manager: E2 has an appointed Child Protection Manager whose primary responsibility is to advise, support and train the Child Protection Leads in each Learning Center. Any incidents involving the safeguarding of children must be reported to the Child Protection Manager.
Child Protection Leads: Each Learning Centre has a Child Protection Lead whose role is to act as a champion and advocate for child protection and to support the efforts of the Child Protection Manager. At E2 these are the Center Managers.
This will involve raising awareness of the Child Protection Policy and training staff in how to deal with incidents involving children’s safety. They will be the person who staff in the respective learning centers report any concerns involving child protection and, with the support of the Child Protection Manager, follow-up with families and / or authorities as necessary.
3.2. Safer recruitment to select staff suitable to work with children
‘Safe’ recruitment and pre-employment checks that are conducted as part of the employee recruitment process are the organization’s first chance to deter potential offenders. E2 will take all reasonable measures to prevent unsuitable individuals from working with children.. All current and new staff will sign a self-declaration form affirming that they have never been convicted of any offence involving any type of harm to a child or children, nor been warned or cautioned in relation to such a matter.
3.3. Education and training to equip staff and others with skills and knowledge
All staff must be trained on child protection as it is essential that all staff are aware of their own responsibilities, as well as organizational policy and practice.
3.4. Advice and support
All staff will have access to advice and support regarding child protection and the implementation of the Child Protection Policy, via the Child Protection Manager and Child Protection Leads.
4. Responding to allegations and concerns
E2 ensures that we respond appropriately to situations of actual or suspected abuse or harm both from within and from outside the organization. This is to promote the best interests of the child, prevent similar situations from occurring in the future and work towards legal action being taken in relation to any crimes that may have been committed.
It is not the responsibility of staff to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. All staff, however, has a mandatory duty to report any concerns – even where these are vague and are just a suspicion or ‘intuition’ that something is not right.
No staff member can agree to keep information regarding actual or suspected abuse ‘private’ as a personal confidence, even if a child has asked you to keep it a secret. It is more important to report the suspected abuse and protect the child than keep it private All reports will be kept confidential except for those that must know in order to protect the child.