Child Safeguarding – Create Child Safe Environments

Children are vulnerable and must be protected from harm where they have their daily activities. Most of us know this and we talk about how awful it is when children have been violated, but few do something to stop it from happening. The truth is that children all over the world are being victims of abuse and exploitation of different kinds at schools, organisations, churches and other places where we believe they would be safe. The ‘known’ cases are quite a few, but the ‘hidden’ and ‘not reported’ even more.

GCF, which has been active in the Child Protection sphere for several decades, takes this seriously and is aware of how organisations of all sorts and sizes need to create child safe environments to respond to the risks and threats children may face within their specific work and activities. Did our awareness lead to anything? Yes, a new programme, Child Safeguarding, became reality and has so far included organisations in South Africa, but also other African countries. This is one of the programmes that could successfully continue straight throughout the pandemic. Isn’t the internet great?

You might wonder what Child Safeguarding is and how it works, so let’s explain.

Firstly, to safeguard a child, the child must be protected from abuse, exploitation and maltreatment. Anything harming the child’s health and development must be stopped. Whatever group activity they participate in, it must be in a safe and caring environment and necessary actions must be taken so that the child will get the best outcome in life.

We easily think about school, sports activities or other group activities like Sunday School or the Scouts where one or several teachers, trainers or leaders are involved, but how about the transport to and from the place where the activity is? Is your child safe there? How about during toilet break, is your child safe then?

GCF’s Child Safeguarding programme includes assessment and support of organisations to improve their capacity, policies and processes around the topic. The assessment brings up things like, in what way they have contact with children as well as the organisation’s risks and existing mitigation measures as per international child safeguarding standards. Depending on what the organisation already has in place, the interventions may differ slightly but comprises training on Child Safeguarding, developing Child Safeguarding policies, codes of conduct and processes for integrating and mainstreaming Child Safeguarding into the organisation’s strategies and programme interventions. This takes time, but when the organisations work towards the above, GCF continues to mentor them and offers further Capacity Building when needed to reach safer environments for every child they come in contact with.

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Written by Anna-Karin Öhrnstedt

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