Teen Travel Network

Child & Vulnerable Adults Protection Policy

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Child & Vulnerable Adults Protection Policy

TTN is committed to making sure that the welfare and rights of children and vulnerable adults are promoted, and that children are not harmed, exploited or abused on behalf of our programming. This Safeguarding policy was developed for use across all programs. All permanent and seasonal staff must familiarize themselves with the policy.

This policy outlines Seven (7) sets of standards, defined and advocated for and by UNICEF. These standards define what needs to be in place on TTN programs to keep children and vulnerable adults safe. Standards also list criteria that can help people and staff determine whether TTN is meeting this standard.

Standard 1: Policies and procedures to protect children from harm are established and enforced.

TTN is committed to encouraging a culture of safety and preventing or reducing risk of harm to children and vulnerable adults. TTN will do this through; safe recruitment, program staff policies for staff, code of conduct for students and vetting activities and service projects (especially those involving vulnerable populations) to be safe, ethical, sustainable and socially responsible prior to the start of programs.

Standard 2: Policy is enforced during the program.Ā 

A childā€™s right to dignity of life and bodily integrity shall be respected, nurtured and protected by all.

Every person involved in the program must make sure that the basic rights of children are respected. These basic rights are enshrined in the Children’s rights Charter established by the UN (United Nations).

This policy has been written to make sure that every member of the TTN community does everything that they can to prevent abuse. This policy aims to make sure that none of the staff on TTN programs ā€“ staff or students ā€“ does anything that could allow abuse to occur (E.g. through not following guidelines such as the Student Supervision Policy), or that could be misinterpreted by children, their families or other adults as being, or leading to abuse.

Standard 3: Reporting procedures are established and enforced.

TTN holds that the safety and wellbeing of children or vulnerable adults is an important consideration in our programs, and at no time will anyone be put at further risk of harm by delay or inaction. When it is known or suspected that an abuse has taken place, it is required that all legal and TTN procedures are followed. It is not the responsibility of anyone working for TTN, in a paid or unpaid capacity to decide whether or not abuse has taken place. However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns by reporting these to an appropriate supervisor who will decide the next steps.

Standard 4: Arrangements for ongoing training and education of staff are in place.Ā 

TTN recognizes that appropriate child safeguarding training for all those who work with children, or have a designated child safeguarding/welfare role, is an integral and vital element in ensuring best practice. Every person who works with children, or who comes into contact with them, has a role to play in protecting them. In order to carry out this role effectively and confidently, each person needs to be aware of child safeguarding issues, and should have the necessary knowledge and skills. All personnel (permanent and seasonal) who need to access child safeguarding training (which includes the TTN sexual harassment and supervision trainings) will be given it. Suitable people to train those personnel who need training will be sought and chosen. Personnel will be freed to get this training.

Standard 5: A variety of methods to communicate this Child Safeguarding Policy are in place.Ā 

TTN will ensure that all people involved with the implementation of programs from admissions through to implementation and external agencies know about this child safeguarding policy. TTN is aware that policies and procedures are only effective if all the people involved, including children, know how to use them.

Standard 6: Advice and support are available to those who need it.Ā 

TTN is aware of how distressing child abuse can be, and how difficult it is to deal with. Seasonal staff will make sure that students will know where they can go for help and advice if they have a concern [as outlined in the Program Manual]. The Sexual Harassment Policy outlines the reporting structure available to students and staff so that they can gain support in the way they need it, whether anonymously or in person.

Standard 7: Standards are made to work, and are regularly checked to see if they are working. Annual reporting and data collection will be reviewed to determine if the implementation of this policy is meeting its intention. An annual, post-summer review of cases will showcase any issues that stemmed from the field that were in direct or indirect violation of this policy. This information will be used to:

  • Analyze and review cases that occurred over the summer with a debrief among the Programing and Executive Teams.
  • Learn from, evolve and make annual updates to our policy and implementation as needed to ensure we are meeting the mark on managing this policy to the highest standard.

TTN will work out a plan for putting the Child and Vulnerable Adults Protection Policy Safeguarding Policy in place and making it work, and also for making sure that people know about it. A plan to check on the steps taken to protect children & vulnerable adults, especially looking at how well they are working, will be in place. TTN will ensure that people know about it, both formal and informal procedures will be used. The procedures that will be used can include:

  • Briefings and Meetings, Newsletters, Memos, All-Staff Emails, Conferences, Policy Documents, Networking, Listening & Talking Sharing, Discussion Training
  • Questionnaires, interviews, focus groups and formal feedback to check on the steps taken to protect children, especially looking at how well they are working, may also be used.

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Child Safeguarding Policy of TTNĀ 

TTN has adopted this Child Safeguarding Policy and requires that it be implemented. For this policy, safeguarding refers to what we do to prevent harm, while protection is the way in which we respond to harm.

This policy is in keeping with international laws and conventions. The purpose of this policy is to:

  1. Ensure all participants, children and adults are safe and well
  2. Ensure that everyone involved in the running of programs – HQ staff, permanent and seasonal staff, support staff, volunteers, and students – take every possible measure to prevent abuse
  3. Ensure that no person does anything that could allow abuse to occur, or do anything that could be misinterpreted by children, their families, or other adults as being or leading to abuse

In order to be efficient and simple, TTN has the following processes in place;

  • Online training for international and local staff to explain this Child Safeguarding Policy will be arranged.
  • An overview of the reporting structure is given to program staff and will be delivered to students as well during the program orientation.
    • Parents, children and other people involved will be informed about any local organization or school Child Safeguarding Policies, as well as about procedures for reporting suspected abuse.

Staff Hiring and Onboarding

TTN has a clear and concise guide of what is (and what is not) acceptable behavior and practice when working with children and vulnerable adults. This will be signed by all employees (permanent and seasonal) and participants who come into contact with children on TTN programs. In addition to pre-hiring background checks, the safeguarding process includes training after recruitment to help staff to:

  • Understand their requirements and responsibilities.
  • Understand TTNā€™s Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy, Student Supervision Policy and Sexual Harassment Policy and identify areas where further explanation or training are required.
  • Analyze their own practice against established good practice, and to ensure their practice is not likely to result in allegations being made.
  • Recognise their responsibilities and report any concerns about suspected poor practice or possible abuse.
  • Respond to concerns expressed by students, vulnerable adults, or colleagues.
  • Work safely and effectively with students and vulnerable adults.

Reporting Practices and Procedures

If the supervisor is the subject of the suspicion/allegation, the report must be made to the next higher level in the organization hierarchy. More detail on this procedure can also be found in the TTN Sexual Harassment Policy.

TTN staff will inform all parties involved that all concerns which are voiced are taken seriously and will be investigated appropriately. In addition, steps will be taken to support/protect those who voice their concerns and the alleged victim of the abuse (if they are separate parties).

Where there is a complaint against a member of staff or student, there may be three types of investigation:

  • aĀ criminal investigation
  • aĀ Child Protective Services investigation
  • an internal TTN investigation

The results of the police and Child Protective Services investigation may also influence and inform any disciplinary action taken as a result of the internal TTN investigation, but all the available information will be used to reach an appropriate conclusion.

Any allegation that a child or vulnerable adult has been abused by either a member of staff or student must be reported to TTN senior management, who will immediately take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child or vulnerable adult in question and any other person who may be at risk.

Reporting poor practicesĀ 

If the allegation is clearly about poor practices as opposed to a suspicion, allegation or incident of abuse, TTN management will deal with it as a misconduct issue.

If the allegation is about poor practice by the TTN supervisor, or if the matter has been handled inadequately and concerns remain, it should be reported to the TTN Regional Director and/or senior management who will decide how to deal with the allegation and whether or not to initiate disciplinary proceedings.

Best Practices for Providing information to social services/policeĀ 

Information about suspected abuse must be accurate andĀ a detailed record must always be started at the time of the disclosure/concern.Ā It will ideally include the following, where possible:

  • The student or vulnerable adultā€™s name, age and date of birth.
  • The student’s or vulnerable adultā€™s home address and telephone number.
  • Whether or not the person making the report is expressing their own concerns or those of someone else which has been reported to them.
  • The nature of the allegation includes dates, times, any special factors and other relevant information.
  • Make a clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay.
  • A description of any visible bruising or other injuries. Also any indirect signs, such as behavioral changes.
  • Details of witnesses to the incidents.
  • The student’s/vulnerable adultā€™s direct account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising or other injuries occurred.
  • Whether the parents/guardian were contacted.
  • If so, what has been said?
  • Has anyone else been consulted? If so, record details.
  • If the student or vulnerable adult was not the person who reported the incident, has the student or vulnerable adult been spoken to? If so, what was said?
  • Has anyone been alleged to be the abuser? Record details.
  • Where possible, referral to the police or social services should be confirmed in writing and the name of the contact who took the referral should be recorded.

It is important to remember that, although not mandated reporters, as TTN staff, it is our responsibility to report all suspicions, allegations and incidents to the appropriate TTN supervisor where it concerns the safety and wellbeing of the student. TTN supervisors have been trained to advise on next steps.

When should staff report/record incidentsĀ 

If any of the following occurs, staff should report this immediately to the appropriate supervisor and record the incident. Staff should also ensure the local partner staff and parents/guardians are informed:

  • A child or vulnerable adult suffers an injury
  • A child or vulnerable adult seems distressed/uncomfortable in any manner as a result of someoneā€™s actions, even if it is based on a misunderstanding or misinterpretation
  • If a child, vulnerable adult or any other person appears to be sexually aroused by a staff member or any other adult that comes into contact with the group.

Safety on ProgramsĀ 

TTN has clear guidelines on what to do to keep children safe ā€“ before, during and after activities. A risk assessment will figure out how best to run activities. Strategies will be worked out to deal with any risks identified. The following good practices will be adhered to minimize risk;

  • Vetting. All individual staff who are involved in events and activities with students (whether these activities are ongoing or ā€˜one offā€™) must be vetted and checked to see if they are suitable in line with TTNā€™s Supervision Policy.
  • Supervision. Appropriate levels of supervision, depending on the type of activity, will be put in place.
  • Health and Safety. Proper checks will be carried out to ensure that venues are safe, that there are enough changing areas and toilets, and that there are first aid supplies, safe transport, suitable sleeping arrangements and adequate insurance.
  • Informed Consent. TheĀ  party that is responsible for organizing any activities with local youth need to gain informed consent from students and their families to participate in this work. In many locations around the world, this is verbal consent, however formal documentation is always preferred when available.
  • Use of IT equipment. Care will be taken to reduce risk to students from risks associated with various online activities and the use of images when they are involved in an activity, a group or an event.

Social Media and technology on programsĀ 

There is evidence that some people have used volunteering as an opportunity to take inappropriate photographs or video footage of children and vulnerable adults. All TTN staff and students should be vigilant, and any concerns should be recorded and reported to the appropriate supervisor.

There is no intention to prevent staff or students from taking photos of volunteer activities. However, TTNā€™s Social Media Guidelines must be adhered to. In addition, there may also be project-specific guidelines for students and staff regarding photography of people on the project, which must be managed and enforced by TTN staff. All TTN photos should be stored and used appropriately.

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