This document outlines MEDA’s Child & Youth Safeguarding Policy which illustrates MEDA’s commitment to support and respect child and youth rights to be protected from violence and abuse.
This policy applies to all individuals and organizations (“personnel”) who are involved in carrying out MEDA programs directed at children and youth. These include, but are not limited to: employees, volunteers, consultants, contractors, partners and any other MEDA representatives.
The Child and Youth Safeguarding Policy reflects the definitions below:
Includes Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Abuse and Exploitation;
Physical Abuse is the deliberate application of force by any person (including Children, Youth or Other Persons) to any part of the body of the child and/or youth, which results or may result in non-accidental harm or injury to a child and/or youth. Physical Abuse may include shaking, choking, biting, kicking, burning, poisoning, holding a child and/or youth under water, or any other harmful or dangerous use of force or restraint. Sexual Abuse occurs when a person (including Children, Youth or Other Persons) uses a child and/or youth for sexual purposes.
Sexual Abuse includes fondling, intercourse, incest, sodomy, exhibitionism, and commercial exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials. Sexual Abuse may include, but is not limited to, permitting, encouraging or requiring a child and/or youth to engage in any of the following activities if they occur between a person (including Children, Youth or Other Persons) and a child and/or youth:
Emotional Abuse involves actions towards a child and/or youth that cause or could cause serious behavioural, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders in the child and/or youth. Emotional Abuse also occurs when a person (including Children, Youth or Other Persons) makes verbal threats, socially isolates a child and/or youth, intimidates, exploits, terrorizes, or routinely makes unreasonable demands on a child and/or youth.
Exploitation refers to situations whereby an abuser makes unfair profit and/or takes advantage of unequal power and/or economic status of a child and/or youth.
Neglect/failure to provide occurs when a child’s parent(s)/legal guardian(s) or caregivers do not provide the requisite attention to the child’s emotional, psychological, or physical development when they have the means, knowledge and access to services to do so; or failure to protect the child from exposure to danger.
The principle of best interests applies to all actions concerning children and youth and requires active measures to protect their rights. These measures will promote child and youth safety; physical, emotional and developmental needs; well-being of children and youth; and support and assist children and youth to realize their rights. This includes their participation to ensure that their opinions are heard in matters affecting them.
Child (or Children) is defined as any person who is under the age of 18 years, unless the national laws in which the Organization is carrying out the children’s programs prescribe a lower age of majority.
Other Person means any person who is older than youth as defined herein, i.e. “Other Person” means a person who is aged 35 years of age or older.
The responsibility, actions and measures taken to prevent and respond to Abuse, Exploitation and violence against children and youth. Youth is defined as any person who is above the age of 18 years and under the age of 35 years.
MEDA is committed to taking measures to address risk factors and prevent abuse and exploitation before it occurs. Prevention measures include organizational policies, procedures and codes of conduct for protecting children and youth; capacity building for all those who work with children and youth; awareness raising and good practice for minimizing the risks to children and youth.
MEDA will ensure that all personnel involved with child or youth programs are aware of child and youth protection risks, policies and procedures; including national laws and international instruments, as applicable.
It is the responsibility of all MEDA personnel to raise any concerns you have or any concerns which are reported to you according to this policy. It is not your responsibility to decide whether or not child abuse has occurred. It is the responsibility of all MEDA personnel to ensure the delivery of this policy and to promote it as relevant in all aspects of their work, to hold themselves and others to account and to help create a safe environment for all. All MEDA personnel are required to adhere to this Policy and MEDA’s Code of Conduct at all times.
MEDA will ensure that all policies and procedures to protect children and youth take into account gender equality, diversity, equity and inclusion. Recognizing that women and men may face different risks relating to their safety and protection and that all Children and Youth have the equal right to protection, irrespective of: race; colour; sex, gender, gender identity or expression and sexual orientation; language; disability; religion; political or other opinions; national, social or indigenous origin; property; birth or other status.
MEDA will develop the capacity of all personnel who work with and for children and youth to appropriately prevent, detect and respond to abuse and exploitation of children and youth as reflected in this policy. MEDA will ensure awareness of our corporate PSEA policy and our MEDA code of conduct on orientation for all new and existing staff. Additional training will be implemented as appropriate or as policies are updated.
MEDA personnel cannot keep confidences when they involve concerns about a child. Any information offered in confidence to MEDA personnel relating to risks or concerns about a child should be received on the basis that it will have to be shared with the relevant person or people in authority. In the first instance this will be a senior MEDA manager and MEDA’s VP, People & Culture.
MEDA personnel must adhere to MEDA’s Privacy Policies. All information stored by MEDA about children and youth must be processed in accordance with MEDA’s privacy policies. Research with children and youth must be in line with MEDA’s Child & Youth Safeguarding Policy. MEDA personnel must consider how to protect a child’s identity, how to share and store such content and how to achieve “informed consent”. Disputes about the use of child images must be raised to the Chief Marketing & Development Officer. MEDA will retain written records of all reports of Abuse of a child or youth. All such records will be kept within MEDA files in accordance with MEDA’s Privacy Policies.
MEDA will provide children and youth with all necessary details to make an informed decision regarding their participation in programs and activities, including any voice recordings, video or photographs of children and/or youth that may result from their participation. Children and youth will understand how their images maybe used and be supported to identify and evaluate any associated risks. Personal information and/or images of children and youth will only be used after informed consent has been obtained in writing from the child, youth, and/or their parent(s) / legal guardian(s) (if applicable).
Anyone working with or on behalf of MEDA must adhere to MEDA’s guidelines to protect children engaging with MEDA through social media. Social media and technology are evolving rapidly and it is the responsibility of managers to consider the full range of risks and safeguards required to protect children in the activities that they oversee.
The above is neither an exhaustive nor exclusive list and MEDAwill consider all related actions and behaviour which may compromise the rights and protection of children and youth.
MEDA encourages all personnel to first speak to their manager or local human resources representative when they have concerns about a policy violation or misconduct, as this is typically the best method for addressing problems and allows the appropriate management to take action.
For suspected or alleged abuse of any kind, MEDA personnel are required to report to the local HC Manager or/and the Country Director. All managers who receive such a complaint must notify the HQ VP, People & Culture as soon as possible for guidance and next steps.
In exceptional cases where a person has been discouraged from reporting to their local manager or may fear for his or her job or well-being, the email@example.com email is available to bypass those normal channels in a confidential manner. All emails sent to this address will be processed by the VP, People & Culture at our Corporate Headquarters in Waterloo, ON.
Those who work with or for MEDA (including MEDA’s clients) can also raise a concern without fear of retribution to MEDA’s Whistleblowing Service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the person reporting to you is at risk of immediate harm, danger or threat as a result of MEDA personnel or programs, you should work to find an immediate safety solution for the person reporting and contact the Country Director and/or Security immediately. As soon as possible, this information must be reported to the HQ VP, People & Culture.
MEDA is committed to responding to all complaints and concerns of abuse. MEDA recognizes that disclosures and suspicion should always be acted upon swiftly, and if there is an urgent child protection situation, for example if a child is in imminent danger of abuse, then immediate protective action must be taken. What to do if You Have Concerns About a Child’s Wellbeing
When a complaint or concern has been raised, it must be referred within 24 hours to MEDA’s VP, People & Culture. This can be done on behalf of somebody else and may only involve a suspicion.
Within 72 hours of receiving a complaint or concern, an email should be sent to the complainant acknowledging the complaint as soon as possible. MEDA must refer suspected cases of child abuse to local statutory authorities where possible.
Confidentiality must be maintained throughout the complaints process by all staff and witnesses. MEDA personnel who breach confidentiality will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. In some cases, such breaches constitute breaking the law.
MEDA will take action against any personnel, whether they are the subject of a complaint or not, who seek or carry out retaliatory action against complainants, victims or other witnesses. Personnel who are found to do this will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
Personnel who are found to contravene this policy will be subject to disciplinary action that may result in dismissal. Where possible, MEDA will refer suspected cases of child abuse to local statutory authorities and the process and outcome will be handled by said authority. Volunteers, contractors and other representatives will have their relationship with MEDA terminated.
It is extremely rare that staff or other stakeholders are found to have raised allegations which they knew to be false. If a member of staff from MEDA is found to have made an allegation that they knew to be false they will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
If MEDA receives a complaint about a partner organization, MEDA will expect the partner to respond quickly and appropriately. MEDA should assist the partner to ascertain its obligations under local law to refer the matter to the police or other statutory authorities for criminal investigation.
Where appropriate, MEDA should work with the partner to address the issue through an appropriate independent investigation. If the outcome is that child abuse has occurred, ongoing work with the partner cannot involve the individual(s) concerned.
If there is reason to believe that an allegation of child abuse has been dealt with inappropriately by a partner then they risk withdrawal of funding or ending the relationship (including networks and consortia).
Complaints raised from outside the organization should be referred to MEDA’s email@example.com and must adhere to MEDA’s policy and procedures as outlined in this document.
MEDA has a comprehensive list of Corporate and Safeguarding Policies that coincide with this policy.