Surfers Not Street Children UK is a British charity focused on the global phenomenon of street involved children (street children). It is particularly interested in the impact that adventure sports, such as surfing, can have alongside mentorship in empowering street children around the world.
Surfers Not Street Children UK seeks to impact positively the lives of street-involved children through: advocacy, partnering with organisations overseas who work directly with them, and grant-giving to those organisations. In our partnering and grant-giving work, we require evidence of high standards of policy and practice in child protection. Consistent with that, our own child protection policies mirrors that which we would expect to see in our partner front line organisations.
For the purposes of this policy, a “child” is defined as anyone under the age of 18, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
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.’1
NSPCC similarly specify “cruelty to children” or “child abuse” as ‘behaviour that causes significant harm to a child. It also includes when someone knowingly fails to prevent serious harm to a child. All forms of cruelty are damaging – it can be harder to recover from the emotional impact than from the physical effects.’ 2
These definitions therefore point to four types of cruelty:
o Physical abuse: including hurting or injuring a child, inflicting pain, poisoning,
drowning, or smothering.
1 The WHO definition of Child Abuse as defined by the Report of the Consultation on Child Abuse Prevention WHO – 1999.
2 Definition taken from Are you worried about the safety of a child?, NSPCC, 2002, available to download from http://www.nspcc.org.uk/documents/safetyofchild.pdf.
o Sexual abuse: including direct or indirect sexual exploitation or corruption of children by involving them (or threatening to involve them) in inappropriate sexual activities.
o Emotional abuse: repeatedly rejecting children, humiliating them or denying their worth and rights as human beings.
o Neglect: the persistent lack of appropriate care of children, including love, stimulation, safety, nourishment, warmth, education, and medical attention.
A child who is being abused may experience more than one type of cruelty.
Discrimination, harassment, and bullying are also abusive and can harm a child, both
physically and emotionally.
A broad term to describe philosophies, policies, standards, guidelines and procedures to protect children from both intentional and unintentional harm. In the current context, it applies particularly to the duty of Surfers Not Street Children UK– and individuals associated with Surfers Not Street Children UK– towards children in their care.
Direct contact with children
Being in the physical presence of a child or children in the context of Surfers Not Street Children UK’s work, whether contact is occasional or regular, short or long term. In the UK this could involve delivering talks to schools, churches and youth groups. Overseas this could involve project/site visits and attending conferences at which children are also present. [N.B. this list of examples is not exhaustive].
Indirect contact with children
1) Having access to information on children in the context of Surfers Not Street Children UK’s work, such as children’s names, locations (addresses of individuals or projects), photographs and case studies.
2) Providing funding for organisations that work ‘directly’ with children. Albeit indirectly, this nonetheless has an impact on children, and therefore confers upon the donor organisation responsibility for child protection issues. [N.B. this list of examples is not exhaustive].
For the purposes of this policy:
3) An overseas organisation that receives funding from Surfers Not Street Children UK, whether funding is occasional or regular, short or long term, for a specific project or towards core costs and regardless of the amount of money involved.
4) An overseas organisation involved in project work with Surfers Not Street Children UK, whether the project relationship is short or long term, a one-off or regular/ongoing arrangement, and regardless of whether or not any funding is involved.
‘A statement of intent that demonstrates a commitment to safeguard children from harm and makes clear to all what is required in relation to the protection of children. It helps to create a safe and positive environment for children and to show that the organisation is taking its duty and responsibility of care seriously.’3
2. Surfers Not Street Children UK’s core child protection principles and values
• The legal basis – the UNCRC: Surfers Not Street Children UK’s Child Protection Policy is firmly based on the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Taken holistically, the CRC provides a comprehensive framework for the protection, provision and participation of all children without discrimination to ensure their survival and development to the maximum extent possible. On the understanding that the CRC must be read as a whole, the following articles nevertheless form the specific basis of child protection: 1 (definition of ‘child’), 2 (non- discrimination), 3.1 (the best interests of the child), 3.2 (duty of care and protection), 3.3 (standards of care), 6 (survival and development), 12 (participation), 13 (freedom of expression), 19 (protection from violence), 25 (periodic review of placements), 32, 33, 34, 36, 37(a) (protection from economic exploitation, substance abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation, ‘all other forms of exploitation’; torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment), 39 (physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration).
The moral basis – a non-negotiable duty: Surfers Not Street Children UK believes that NGOs working for street children’s rights have an absolute duty to protect this already vulnerable group from abuse, mistreatment, and exploitation from within organisations intended for their benefit. This duty is imperative and non-negotiable. Without adequate standards and mechanisms of protection in place, an organisation is not only failing in its primary duty of care, but may also be negligently or recklessly fostering an environment of abuse.
An end to silence: Silence breeds abuse and exploitation of children. Paedophiles will seek out organisations with weak communication structures and thrive where secrecy and shame prevail. Furthermore, without proper
policies and explicit procedures in place, NGOs are extremely vulnerable to false allegations of child abuse. Surfers Not Street Children UK therefore believes in:
o creating an environment where issues of child protection are discussed openly and are understood between children and adults;
o promoting open lines of communication both internally and externally within and between organisations to improve awareness and implementation of child protection policies and practices;
o creating a framework to deal openly, consistently and fairly with allegations concerning both direct and indirect abuse.
Children’s participation – a space and a voice: Creating a space where children feel able and willing to speak out about abuse, free from abusers, empowers them to become actors in their own protection without further discrimination or shame. “Children have the right to communication – to enable them to receive information, to ask questions, to make choices, and to make decisions.”4 Surfers Not Street Children UK believes that helping children to find a voice is an essential step to helping them to claim their individual rights. Children will only benefit from this policy if they are aware of their rights and are given the proper environment in which to exercise them.
Taking it further: Child protection is not just about reading and signing a piece of paper: the policy sets out guidelines and standards that must be put into practice. These include, amongst other measures: recruitment procedures, review of management structures, creation of a space for children to speak out, staff training, and development of transparent protocols. ‘Above all, it must be remembered that it is the children, not the standards, that are sacrosanct; and although abuse must never be tolerated, the standards are no more than a tool in the service of promoting the welfare of children.’5
Challenging complacency: Resistance to addressing child protection issues may come from lack of understanding of the nature of child abuse, lack of commitment to the organisation/programme, and a sense that child abuse happens elsewhere. Organisations
should ask themselves: “If safety and well being of children are not at the centre of the organisation’s programme/activities, then why not?” ‘It is unfortunate and unacceptable that it will take an horrendous incident to shock some organisations into action’. Surfers Not Street Children UK will challenge complacency as a matter of course.6
4 Quoted from Sense International Child Protection Policy, Section 2.1.2
5 Setting the Standard: A common approach to Child Protection for international NGOs, anonymous INGO quotation, p.6.
• These principles underpin all of the following standards set out in this document.
3. The need for a Child Protection Policy
‘Any international NGO should have a Child Protection Policy if its direct or indirect beneficiaries include individuals under the age of 18’7
It is the duty of Surfers Not Street Children UK to ensure that the promotion of children’s rights includes specifically protecting children from accidental harm as well as deliberate abuse within organisations intended for their benefit. This policy will assist in fulfilling this duty.
Street-involved children are especially vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and ill-treatment at the hands of carers, other project workers, and those with access to their personal information. In the case of children who have run away from home, many have already experienced ruptured relationships of trust or abuse of an adult-child relationship in the form of physical, psychological or sexual abuse.
Organisations working with vulnerable children have been, are and will continue to be vulnerable to harbouring abuse until the issues are brought into the open.
Organisations without protection policies, guidelines and systems are more vulnerable to false or malicious accusations of abuse.
Without proper policies, guidelines and procedures in place, allegations of abuse, whether founded or unfounded, can destroy an organisation’s reputation. This will have serious implications for fundraising (thus undermining an organisation’s entire portfolio of work, even beyond the scope of the particular project concerned) as well as damaging the reputation of the street children NGO sector as a whole.
4. The Surfers Not Street Children Child Protection Policy
Staff and Personnel
As a condition of working with our organisation, all trustees, employees, officers, staff, interns, volunteers, researchers, consultants, and advisers of the Surfers Not Street Children UK are required to undergo the following:
Satisfactory clearance through a police check conducted by the Disclosures DBS.
Both acceptance of and commitment to our Child Protection Policy and Code of Conduct for working with children.
Signing a personal declaration stating any criminal convictions, including spent convictions.
Providing the name and contact information of two character references they have known for no less than two years, excluding family members.
6 Adapted, with selected quotations, from ECPAT Australia, Choose with Care, p.34.
7 Setting the Standard: A common approach to Child Protection for international NGOs, Standard 1 (Policy).
Training and Education
Training and education are essential to implementing the Child Protection Policy. Surfers Not Street Children UK is a very small organization with minimal staff but we will endeavor to ensure that appropriate training is given.
Any trustee, employee, officer, staff member, intern, volunteer, researcher, consultant, or adviser who has direct contact with children either in the UK or overseas will be fully informed of Surfers Not Street Children UK’s Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct includes guidance on appropriate behaviour of adults towards children and of children towards children (see attached).
Communications about Children
All publications and the website that include images and text related to children will not contain the following:
Manipulated or sensationalised text and/or images
Discriminatory and degrading language
Images in which children are inappropriately clothed
Information that could be used to identify the location of the child and cause them to be put at risk
Photos of children that will be included on the website or any of our publications must be taken with the child’s verbal permission. In addition, all information relating to children is limited to those members of staff who need to know and will be treated as confidential.
All witnessed, suspected or alleged violations of the Child Protection Policy will be immediately reported to Chair of the board, who will record and act on these in a confidential manner. Surfers Not Street Children UK will take appropriate action to protect the child/children in question from further harm and others in the organisation during and following an incident or allegation. The relevant contact details for child protection services, local social services department, police, emergency medical help and help lines (e.g. NSPCC) will also be readily available and easily accessible.
Ramifications of Misconduct
We will immediately suspend any employee, adviser, consultant, trustee, intern or volunteer who is alleged to have violated the Child Protection Policy, pending the outcome of an investigation. Surfers Not Street Children UK reserves the right to take any disciplinary action against any of the above who have been proven guilty in an investigation, which may include reporting the incident to the police.