All employees and collaborators of Symplexis are actively involved in promoting child safety – specifically in the context of protecting children against abuse – as well as safeguarding and facilitating children’s rights. Symplexis’ work is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a legally binding international instrument supporting children’s rights to survival, development, participation and protection. The UNCRC was adopted in 1989, and has been signed and ratified by 196 countries.
We believe that child protection is crucial to ensuring that children under the age of 18 have the rights, information and space in which they can express their views and communicate effectively with other children and adults. Children can only become empowered agents of change to improve their lives and that of their families and communities if they are safeguarded from abuse, discrimination and harm of any kind, be it physical, sexual, emotional or neglect.
A “child” as defined in Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), means “every human being below the age of 18 years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier”
Symplexis’ Child Protection Policy constitutes a framework of rules, standards and guidelines intended to:
- make all employees, experts and research associates of Symplexis realize the importance of taking action to protect children against abuse;
- undertake appropriate intervention in the case of suspected child abuse and/or direct threat to their health and life;
- develop within the organization a culture of work based on children’s rights and constant learning.
This policy applies to all Symplexis’ employees, consultants, contractors, experts and volunteers employed by or working with the organisation.
- A “child” is defined as anyone under the age of 18, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).
- According to the World Health Organisation, “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.
- “Child protection” is defined as the policies, standards, guidelines and procedures to protect children from both intentional and unintentional harm.
- “Child participation” asserts that children and young people have the right to freely express their views and that there is an obligation to listen to children’s views and to facilitate their participation in all matters affecting them within the family, schools, local communities, public services, institutions, government policy, and judicial procedures. World Vision considers child and youth’s meaningful, safe, and appropriate participation a key strategic priority for ensuring sustained child well-being and creating democratic societies with informed and engaged citizens.
- “Staff” is defined as those who are employed directly by or volunteer for, Symplexis, as well as staff and volunteers of partner organisations whilst they are working with children and young people in the care or supervision of Symplexis.
One of the key priorities of Symplexis is to protect and promote within its capacity the rights of all children falling under its mandate.
Procedure for Responding to Child Abuse
Any issues of suspected child abuse must be taken seriously and handled in an appropriate manner that ensures the child’s safety.
All staff should normally discuss their concerns with their immediate senior manager, be it a Project Manager or a Head of Department. Any information provided to the Project Manager or a Head of Department will be handled with strict confidentiality. Discussions held with a Project Manager or a Head of Department should focus on:
- evidence that the child’s protection has been broken;
- the identified risks to the child/children;
- measures to safeguarding children and minimise risk; and
- action/next steps.
Reporting suspected or actual child abuse is mandatory for all employees, consultants, contractors, experts and volunteers employed by or working with Symplexis. Information about suspected abuse must be accurate and a detailed record should always be made at the time of the disclosure or when the concern arises. The information given on an Incident Report Form should include the following:
- The child’s name, age and date of birth of the child;
- Whether or not the person making the report is expressing their own concerns or those of someone else;
- The nature of the allegation. Include dates, times, any special factors and other relevant information;
- A description of any visible bruising or other injuries using the body chart to indicate the location of such bruises or injury. Also details of any indirect signs, such as behavioural changes;
- Details of witnesses to any incident/s;
Where it is suspected that any form of criminal behaviour is taking place at a programme, the appropriate local authorities should be informed immediately and their advice followed. Information sharing will be restricted to those who have a need to know in order to protect children.
Role and responsibilities of staff
Symplexis ensures that all staff working with children, both paid and voluntary, have been appropriately vetted and screened.
The ability of staff to protect children in their care is critical. All staff will be expected to undertake training in child protection at a level appropriate to their position. Symplexis will ensure that such knowledge is kept up-to-date and relevant. As part of its child protection training, Symplexis will:
- provide comprehensive written documents on Symplexis ‘s Child Protection Policy to all new staff/partners;
- incorporate extensive information on the company’s Child Protection Policy in the briefing procedures for new staff;
- provide child protection training for staff assigned in projects where they will work directly with children.
The Board of Symplexis is ultimately accountable for this policy and responsible for its implementation. The monitoring of adherence to this policy is made through the mandatory tracking of the Child Protection Policy Implementation Standards and Symplexis’ Code of Conduct by all parts of the organisation.
If a Symplexis’ member, associate or representative contravenes the policy, whether within or outside the context of our work, in ways that are criminal, grossly infringe children’s rights, or contravene the principles and standards contained in this document, Symplexis will take immediate disciplinary action and any other action appropriate to the circumstances.