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Child protection policy & guidelines

PART 1: Introduction

SUKA Society is committed to protect and to preserve the best interest of children. We work towards safeguarding children from harm by creating a safe and positive environment for children. We take our duty and responsibility of care seriously. Protecting children is an indispensable part of SUKA Society achieving its mission.

SUKA Society will achieve its objectives of protecting children by being:

  • PREVENTIVE: SUKA Society’s programmes and activities must take reasonable measures to ensure risks of harm to children are minimised.
  • REACTIVE: SUKA Society representatives must take appropriate action to address concerns and respond promptly and adequately.

This policy is based on child rights conventions, Malaysian legislation and internationally recognized good practice. It also provides a framework of principles, standards and guidelines on which to base individual and organisational practice.

GENERAL RULE

Children are all persons under the age of 18. Their welfare and best interest will be of paramount consideration when making decisions with regards to this policy.

The purpose and scope of the policy

This policy is designed to provide guidance to all SUKA Society representatives whether in the Malaysia or elsewhere. Its purpose is to help SUKA Society representatives to:

  • Understand the importance of child protection issues.
  • Know their responsibilities and ensure compliance under legal and policy obligations within and outside their work environments at all times.
  • Uphold the dignity and respect of children.
  • Ensure a safe environment for children is created through preventative measures.
  • Provide guidance to those they lead or manage on child protection issues and good practice.

A SUKA Society representative can be a staff member of SUKA Society, a volunteer, an intern, a third party service provider or anyone representing SUKA Society in providing services for children.

PART 2: Prevention of Abuse

This section covers a range of procedures and actions that should be undertaken to safeguard children and prevent abuse from taking place. This summary consists of checklists to ensure the safe selection and recruitment of all SUKA Society representatives, reduction of risks when working with partners and alliances and a strict Code of Conduct of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour when having direct and indirect contact with children.

1. Recruitment and selection

Best practice requires SUKA Society to carry out a range of recruitment and selection checks. The purpose of this Policy is to ensure effective, fair and consistent recruitment processes for all representatives recruited in Malaysia.

  • To deter applications from unsuitable people who may seek to gain access to children through SUKA Society’s activities.
  • To ensure that those who are successful in their applications are safe to work with children.

SUKA Society will ensure its recruitment and selection processes for staff and representatives comply with criteria set out below:

Recruitment and selection checklist

  • Candidates should be aware that the position if possible may require a police check.
  • Candidates should submit and sign their application form.
  • Candidates will have their employment history checked including the investigation of any gaps between jobs.
  • Candidates will have their identity checked with original documents.
  • Candidates should be required to complete a SUKA Society Self-Declaration Form .
  • Candidates will be asked specific child-protection related questions during their interview.
  • Candidates should provide two or three satisfactory referees (depending on level of contact with children).
  • Referees will be asked about the candidate’s experience in working with children and to disclose any concerns that they may have about the candidate’s suitability to work with children.

2. Requirements for SUKA Society Working with Partners

SUKA Society expects all partners such as interns, volunteers and other third party service providers working with SUKA Society to consistently apply good practice guidance on child protection to all activities involving children. All child protection concerns must be reported to SUKA Society immediately and necessary steps undertaken to address these concerns and any potential long-term effects on the child concerned.

  • Be aware and agree to abide by this policy, particularly relevant sections such as the Code of Conduct, Confidentiality.
  • Complete and sign the Volunteer Form.
  • Always be accompanied by SUKA Society staff.

3. Code of Conduct

All SUKA Society representatives are required to understand and abide by a Code of Conduct that outlines rules of appropriate and proper behaviour when working with children. This Code of Conduct is designed primarily to protect children; however it also serves to protect representatives from false accusations.

Acceptable Behaviour & Conduct:

SUKA Society representatives should:

  • Be committed to creating a culture of openness and mutual accountability at work places to enable all child protection issues or concerns to be raised and discussed and where abusive behaviour can and must be challenged.
  • Take steps to empower children by informing them of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
  • Encourage children to raise their concerns about staff or others safely.
  • Conduct a risk analysis when organising activities and programmes involving children and plan for ways of mitigating risks.
  • Ensure that risks of working alone are minimised by ensuring the “two-adult” rule and that they are always visible to others when working with children.
  • Ensure physical contact is at all times appropriate and not an invasion of the child’s privacy.
  • Use positive, non-violent methods to manage children’s behaviour.
    Raise any concerns of inappropriate behavior immediately.

Unacceptable Behaviour:

Within and outside their work environments at all times, staff and representatives of SUKA Society must not specifically:

  • Develop physical or sexual relationships with children that they interact, engage or work with.
  • Behave physically in a manner which is inappropriate or sexually provocative.
  • Spend excessive time alone with a child, away from others, behind closed doors or in a secluded area.
  • Take a child to their home or visit a child at their home where they may be alone with that child.
  • Allow a child to stay overnight at their home unsupervised.
  • Do things of a personal nature for a child that they could do for themselves.
  • Engage in sexual activity with a child regardless of the age of consent locally.
  • Be intoxicated under the influence of alcohol or drugs prior to assuming responsibility for any child.
  • Hit or otherwise physically assault or physically abuse children.
  • Act in ways that may be abusive or may place a child at risk of abuse.
  • Use language, make suggestions or offer advice which is inappropriate, offensive or abusive.
  • Condone, or participate in, behaviour with children which is illegal, unsafe or abusive.
  • Act in ways intended to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade children, or otherwise perpetrate any form of emotional abuse.
  • Show favour to particular children to the exclusion of others (for example, promising a child gifts and enticements).
  • Exploit children for their labour (e.g. domestic servants) or for sexual purposes.
  • Conduct or be part of harmful traditional practices, spiritual or ritualistic abuse.

4. Communications Regarding Children

SUKA Society is committed to ensuring all interviews and footage of children are undertaken with sensitivity in order to safeguard the child’s right to dignity, confidentiality and privacy. Where possible, children should be prepared for interviews prior to being interviewed.

Children who are not being interviewed or named can be photographed in public places (e.g. in street scenes) without use of written consent forms. Verbal consent from these children will be sought where practical.

Pictures of children should always be decent and respectful. Consent to use information obtained in interviews and/or images of children who have been interviewed should be obtained from children themselves (if they are of an age, understanding and possess the maturity to do so) and from their parents and/or guardians. Consent can also be obtained retrospectively.

When SUKA Society wish to use images or information about children, they should assess the risks of harm or stigma to the child as follows:

  • Level 1 (Low risk of harm or stigma)
    Faces, first names and geographical location may be revealed.
  • Level 2 (Medium risk of harm or stigma)
    Faces, pseudonyms and vague geographical location may be revealed.
  • Level 3 (High risk of harm or stigma)
    Faces and visuals to be concealed, pseudonyms to be used and locations will be changed.

Third Party Individuals or organisations requesting the use of any SUKA Society resource depicting children, such as personal information, videos or photographs, will be required to sign an agreement with SUKA Society as to the proper use of such materials. Failure to adhere to the terms could result in the termination of permission.

4. Protecting Privacy & Confidentiality

Over the course of a SUKA Society representative’s involvement with SUKA Society’s work, he or she may learn of certain facts about individuals serving and other clients being served by SUKA Society that are of a highly personal and confidential nature. Examples of such information may include, but is not limited to, children identities, medical condition and treatment, finances, living arrangements, prior abuse/exploitation/trauma, legal status, employment, sexual orientation, addresses, phone numbers, etc.

SUKA Society representatives should:

  • Understand that all such information must be treated confidentially and that any breach may result in termination of services by SUKA Society.
  • Agree not to disclose any information of a personal and confidential nature to any person not affiliated with SUKA Society and/or authorised to be released by SUKA Society without specific permission.
  • Agree that the use confidential Information is only to the extent necessary to perform the authorized duties given and in doing so must uphold the best interest of the client.
  • Agree to not use any confidential information in a way that would be harmful to the client or SUKA Society.
  • Ensure all confidential documents are stored in a manner as prescribed under the guidelines of SUKA Society.
  • Agree to talk with assigned SUKA Society’s staff in any situation in which the representative may have questions about confidentiality issues, or possible violations of these issues.
  • Agree that when relationship with SUKA Society ends, the representative will continue to honor the confidentiality of any client specific information he or she may have learned.

 

PART 3: Intervention

This section looks at what to do when a child tells you they have been abused. It highlights the indicators of abuse so that you are aware of what to look for when a child discloses they have been abused. It also looks at the types of disclosure you may expect, and what the steps are for managing the disclosure.

1. Indicators of abuse

Representatives of SUKA Society should be aware of some of the indicators of abuse and neglect, so that concerns can be raised. These signs and indicators should never be ignored, but equally they do not always mean a child has been abused, as other explanations are possible.

2. Disclosure of abuse

SUKA Society is committed to acting upon and investigating disclosures (i.e. when a specific allegation of abuse is made against a named individual) and suspicions (i.e. when concern is expressed or observed that abuse may have taken place) swiftly. At all times, the welfare of the child is of paramount consideration.

3. Managing disclosure from a child

4. Reporting mechanism

There are three types of reports that can be made:

To make a report concerning a staff or a representative of SUKA Society, please call 03-78774227 and ask to speak to the administrator or email the administrator at sarahteo@sukasociety.org.

To make a report concerning a partner or a volunteer, please call 03-78774227 and ask to speak to the administrator or email the administrator at sarahteo@sukasociety.org.

To make a report related to a child abuse you have witnessed in the community or an institution, please call the police hotline at 999 or Talian NUR at 15999. In an emergency situation where a child is in need of immediate medical assistance, refer to the nearest hospital emergency department urgently.

GENERAL RULE

All SUKA Society representatives have a duty and right to report a suspected incident of child abuse directly to their superior or the authorized officer in charge of child protection. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

5. Responsibility to report and duty to cooperate

Identities of informants will be confidential, particularly where there may be safety issues. The Subject of Complaint (or alleged perpetrator) and all witnesses must cooperate with internal and external investigations and hearings. This will ensure that they will be provided an opportunity to present their side of the story.

6. Duties of the Authorised Officer in Charge of Child Protection

Within 24 hours of receiving a complaint with regards to this policy or information on an allegation of child abuse, SUKA Society shall convene a Child Protection Meeting to obtain further information, assess the concern, take next steps and inform the authorities if necessary.

SUKA Society will appoint and delegate the investigation to a Child Protection Investigating Officer if the matter is in breach of this Policy and therefore requires further investigation.

SUKA Society will monitor the progress of the investigation and give guidance as appropriate and make recommendations pending the outcome of the child protection meeting and investigations carried out based on what is in the best interest of the child(ren).

GENERAL RULE

Focus the Child Protection Investigation on establishing the facts of the matter and gathering evidence to either substantiate or refute the allegations made against the subject of complaint (alleged perpetrator).

 

PART 4: Implementation, Monitoring and Review of Policy

This section looks at how the policy can be communicated to everyone who represents SUKA Society to ensure they understand their roles and responsibilities.

SUKA Society will take the following measures to support effective implementation, monitoring and review of this policy:

For further information regarding our child protection policy, please write to: enquiry@sukasociety.org