1.0 Policy statement
At YSK, we believe all children under the age of 18 have a right to protection from abuse or exploitation. Whilst different cultures may have different levels of tolerance, YSK will not tolerate any child abuse or exploitation as it goes against the very beliefs, values and aims of our organization. We have a responsibility to ensure that all employees, volunteers, consultants and partners are given clear guidance about the standards of behaviour and practice required of them at all times when they are in contact with children
Child protection is used to describe a set of services designed to protect children and young people who are under the age of 18 years. For example according to Kenyan Law of the Child, 2009, a child has a right to do light work and a right to be paid remuneration equal to the value of the work done. The Law of the Child, 2009 requires that no person is allowed to employ or engage a child in any exploitative labour or any work or trade that exposes the child to activities of sexual nature whether paid or not. Further more the law requires that all children should be protected against any discrimination or acts that may have negative effect on them taking into consideration their age and evolving capacities. In addition the law states that no person shall employ or engage a child in a contract of service performance which requires the child to work at night. In order to safeguard the child it is prohibited to employ or engage a child in any hazardous work. These requirements of will also apply to YSK staff partners, consultants, contractors and any other person working for or on behalf of YSK.
3.0 Scope and Importance
This policy will be used by YSK employees, volunteers and all other who work for and on behalf of YSK including partners, contractors and consultants. The policy set out provisions pertaining to expected behaviour of YSK employees, volunteers, etc., when in contact with children. The policy further details the complaint mechanism, child protection reporting procedures, dealing with disclosure, suspicion and accusation, good practice when working with children, prevention of abuse and raising awareness of the policy etc..
Increased awareness of the extent of child exploitation and abuse around the world means that YSK must have robust policies and practices to protect children. For the purpose of this policy, child abuse means contravention of the rights of the child that causes physical, moral or emotional harm including beatings, insults, discrimination, neglect, sexual abuse and exploitative labour.
4.0 Employment of a Child
Pursuant to the Kenyan Law of the Child of 2009, the following are some of the main issues that need to be considered by any one regarding employment of a child.
4.1. A child’s right to work
A child has the right to do light work. Light work is work which is not likely to be harmful to the health or development of the child and does not prevent or affect the child’s attendance at school or other training. According to the same law a child is any person below the age of eighteen years.
4.2. Prohibition of exploitative labour
It is illegal for a person to employ or engage a child in any kind of exploitative labour. Taking into account the requirements of the law, YSK shall ensure that every child lawfully employed or engaged by it or its partners or contractors or consultants is protected against any discrimination which may have negative effect on them taking into consideration their age and evolving capacities. Labour shall be construed as exploitative if:
- it deprives the child of his/her health or development. Child development in relation to the welfare of the child, means the process of change during which a child is able to reach his physical, mental, emotional and social potential, the development of each of such dimensions is simultaneously achieved through continued life time interaction with the environment;
- it exceeds six hour a day;
- it is inappropriate to his/her age e.g. working in a bar or pub, mining and quarrying, porterage of heavy loads etc.;
- the child receives inadequate remuneration not equal to the value of the work done
4.3. Prohibition of night labour
The child shall not be employed or engaged in a contract of service performance of which shall require a child to work at night. Night work shall be construed to constitute work between the hours of 20.00 and 06.00.
4.4. Prohibition of forced labour
It is illegal to induce, procure, demand or impose forced child labour. According to the law forced labour includes bonded labour or any other work exacted from a person under the threat of a penalty. Forced labour does not however include work that forms part of the normal civic obligation, minor communal services performed by the members of a community in the direct interest of that community.
4.5. Prohibition of hazardous employment
It is unlawful to employ or engage a child in any hazardous work, which places a child at risk to suffer physical or mental injury. For the purposes of this policy work shall be construed as or considered to be hazardous when it poses a danger to the health, safety or morals of a person. Hazardous work may include the following: going to sea; mining and quarrying; porterage of heavy loads; manufacturing industries where chemicals are produced or used; work in place where machines are used; work in places such as bars, hotels and places of entertainment
4.6. Prohibition of sexual exploitation
It is unlawful to employ or engage a child in any work or trade that exposes the child to activities of sexual nature, whether paid or not.
4.7. Prohibition of discrimination
A child shall have a right to live free from any discrimination. Accordingly no YSK employee shall discriminate against a child on the grounds of gender, race, age, religion, language, political opinion, disability, health status, custom, ethnic origin, rural or urban background, birth, socio-economic status, being a refugee or of other status.
5.0 Behaviour / rules when working with children
Taking into account the requirements of law as well as YSK’s beliefs and values, it is important to regulate YSK employees’ behaviour when working with children in order to avoid abuse or exploitation of children.
5.1. Prohibited behaviour
Any one working with or on behalf of YSK must not at any time:
- Hit or otherwise physically assault or physically abuse children;
- Have sexual intercourse, or engage in any sexual activity, with anyone under 18 years of age, regardless of the age of consent locally. Mistaken belief in the age of the child is not a defence;
- Act in ways that may be abusive or may place a child at risk of abuse or exploitation;
- Have child/children with whom they are working to stay overnight at their home, unsupervised, or spend excessive time alone with children;
Condone, or participate in, behaviour of children that is illegal, unsafe, exploitative or abusive;
- Act in ways intended to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade children, or otherwise perpetrate any form of emotional abuse.
It is inappropriate to:
- Take children to the employees own home, especially where the child is expected to be alone with the employee.
- Develop relationships with children, which could in any way be deemed as exploitative or abusive.
- Use language, make suggestions or offer advice which is inappropriate, offensive or abusive.
- Behave physically in a manner that is inappropriate or sexually provocative.
Sleep in the same room or bed as a child with whom the employee is working.
- Do things of a personal nature for children, which they can do for themselves.
- Discriminate against, show different treatment to, or favour particular children to the exclusion of others.
5.2. Good practice when working with children
Expected behaviour when in contact with children under the age of 18:
- Be aware of situations, which may present risks and manage these.
Plan and organize the work and the workplace so as to minimize risks.
- Be visible to others when working with children whenever possible.
- Be open. Create and maintain a non-defensive attitude and an open culture in which to discuss any issues or concerns.
- Foster a culture of mutual accountability so that any potentially abusive or exploitative behaviour can be challenged.
- Develop a culture where the children can talk about their contacts with staff and others openly.
- Respect each child’s boundaries and help them to develop their own sense of their rights as well as helping them to know what they can do if they feel there is a problem
6.0 Child protection reporting procedures
Child protection requires that everyone is vigilant and takes responsibility where there is evidence or strong suspicion that children are in danger. If there is an urgent child protection situation, for example if a child is in imminent danger of exploitation or abuse, then immediate protective action is recommended. The first priority of anyone who works with YSK to whom child protection concerns are reported must be the immediate safety and welfare of the child.
6.1. Internal Reporting
It is the responsibility of all who represents YSK, in whatever capacity, to raise their concerns appropriately. Any person working for YSK who has concerns regarding possible issues of abuse or exploitation in projects managed or supported by YSK, or is aware that an individual working for YSK is committing abuse or exploitation, must raise these immediately through their line management, CEO or Project Manager using the following procedure:
- Raise the matter verbally or in writing with line manager.The line manager, will elevate the complaint within 24 hours to the appropriate level of management to investigate the matter.
- Individual’s manager will notify them once matter has been resolved.
- If the YSK employee is not satisfied, they should contact the next line manager or CEO or Project Manager as the case may be.
- For other persons working for or on behalf of YSK they should report the matter to the CEO or Project Manager who should investigate the matter as soon as possible.
Responding to complaints made within YSK affiliates in Kenya
YSK Project Manager is responsible for responding to complaints. Raise the matter verbally or in writing with them. If a concern is raised verbally to anyone who works for YSK, that person must put it in writing to their manager within 24 hours, or as soon as they are physically able to do so.
If the complaint is about the YSK Project Manager, complaints should be directed to the The Executive Director as appropriate.
Any concerns raised will be treated with the absolute confidentiality and without delay.
If there appears to be a situation of abuse in a partner organization, the Project Manager should report the issue to the Board of the partner organisation and ask for a follow up report. Failure by the partner organisation to address allegations of child abuse should lead to a withdrawal or funding and a termination of the partnering relationship.
6.2. External Reporting
Complaints of this nature raised from outside the organization should be resolved using the formal complaints procedures:
7.0 Dealing with disclosure
YSK recognizes that disclosure (i.e. when a specific allegation of abuse or exploitation is made against a named individual) and suspicion (i.e. when concern is expressed about abuse or exploitation that may have taken place or be in prospect) should always be investigated and acted upon swiftly. In this, the welfare of children is the paramount consideration. Any information offered in confidence by a YSK member of staff or volunteer should be received on the basis that it will be shared with the relevant person in authority: this will in the first instance be the Project Manager, but may include other statutory agencies such as the police, depending on the circumstances. If the Project Manager considers that the matter needs to be reported to the police, legal or health authorities and is not sure of how to proceed they should seek legal advice from YSK’s solicitor/advocate on how to proceed.
7.1. What to do if you suspect that a child is being abused physically, sexually or emotionally
- Keep calm. Do not say or show that you are shocked and try to act normally.
- Do not investigate and do not question the child. If a child reports exploitation or abuse directly to you, you should only ask questions in order to get just enough information to frame the complaint.
- Do not challenge parents, carers or teachers about their concerns.
- Record all the details that support their suspicion. You should report the issues as soon as possible to your line manager, sign, date and keep a copy of the report submitted to the line manager,Project Manager.
- Agree with the line manager, Project Manager what action should be taken.
- Never ever agree to keep a secret with regard to cases of child abuse. You must inform your line manager,Project Manager.
7.2. What to do if an allegation of child abuse is made against you
Inform your line manager, Project Manager immediately.
Record all the details as you know them. Sign, date and keep a copy of a report submitted to your line manager, Project Manager.
In order to have fair investigation, if an employee is the subject of an allegation of child abuse or exploitation, that person will be asked to take leave from their duties on full pay until an investigation has been completed. If a YSK volunteer is the subject of an allegation of child abuse, that volunteer will be asked to withdraw from their work until an investigation has been completed. In both cases, it should be made clear that suspension does not imply guilt but rather protects all parties while an investigation is undertaken.
8.0 Prevention of Abuse and Raising Awareness of the Policy
8.1 Working with Children
All YSK staff are expected to adhere to YSK Recruitment Policy when recruiting people to work with children. In order to ensure staff adheres to this policy all employees must sign a Code of Conduct with their contract of employment which states that “I will respect all peoples’ rights, including children’s rights, and will not engage in any form of abuse or sexual. With beneficiaries, I will not exchange money, offers of employment, employment, goods or services for sex nor for any forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behaviour. I will use my best endeavours to report any such behaviours or malpractice in the workplace by others to my line management or through recognised confidential reporting systems”.
Employee should be made aware that breaches of this policy or the Code of Conduct will be dealt with under the Disciplinary Procedures.
8.2 Entering into commercial sex transactions or engaging in sexual behaviour
Any employee who enters into commercial sex transactions or engages in sexual behaviour with anyone under the age of 18, regardless of local custom, will be considered as having committed a disciplinary offence and will be dealt with under the Disciplinary Procedures. In addition, since it is a criminal matter in the Kenyan legal context to enter into commercial sex transactions or engaging in sexual behaviour, the issue would normally be reported to external authorities, including the police.
8.3 Committing criminal offence
If a YSK employee is found to have committed acts in relation to children and young people which are criminal or which contravenes the principles and standards set out in this policy, YSK will take disciplinary action and or any other action that may be appropriate to the circumstances. The Law of the Child of 2009 will be taken into account when applying the disciplinary procedure to staff in breach of this policy.
If volunteers or consultants, contractors or any other persons working for or on behalf of YSK are found to have committed such acts, the volunteering or consultancy or contracting relationship will be ended.
8.4 Guidelines for Incorporating Child Protection into Programme Work
In order to incorporate child protection mechanism into YSK programme work all YSK Management staff, consultants, employees and representatives should aim to:
- Plan and organize the work and the workplace so as to minimize risk of abuse, exploitation or harm coming to a child;
- In a program involving children, YSK staff should appoint a child protection focal point whose role includes child safeguarding over other program commitments:
- Promote a culture of openness in relation to child safeguarding issues, where any issues or concerns can be raised and discussed;
- Ensure that a sense of accountability exists between staff so that poor practice or potentially abusive or exploitative behaviour can be challenged;
- Talk to children about their contact with staff or others and encourage them to raise any concerns;
- Empower child beneficiaries and communicate to them their rights, what is acceptable and unacceptable, and what they can do if there is a problem;
- Communicate to child beneficiaries what standards of professional practice they can expect from YSK staff and what to do if they feel that anyone who works with YSK is falling short of these standards.
8.5 Guidelines for Management who receive Reports of Child Abuse or Exploitation.
In order to fully abide by this policy managers who receive reports of child abuse or exploitation are advised to follow the following guideline
- Act without delay. Always take complaints of this nature seriously
- Respect confidentiality. Only pass information on to a person who needs to know, either for the purposes of protecting a child, or investigating the complaint.
- Discuss with the CEO or Project Manager responsible person whether it’s appropriate to approach the parents of the child. Also consider whether to ask the child’s consent to approach their parents. While doing these managers should note that the child’s welfare is the priority.
- Evaluate the allegation. Many (but not all) will need a formal investigation. If necessary undertake initial fact finding before conducting a formal investigation
- If the manager decides to investigate, they should inform the CEO or Project Manager.
- Normal practice is to suspend an employee during such an investigation.
- Protect those involved: witnesses, complainant, and subject of complaint.
- The CEO or Project Manager or any other senior manager in the location should be the decision maker. They can access support from HR responsible person in the respective affiliate
- Follow up. If the allegations are proved beyond reasonable doubt the manager should take appropriate action, for example reporting the matter to local police, dismissing the employee or ending the relationship if the allegation is proven against a volunteer or consultant, or contractor or any other person working for or on behalf of YSK. While taking action take local legal advice so that all requirements of the local law are taken into account.
- Follow up with complainant if possible.
If the complaint is about a partner organization, CEO or Project Manager should work with them to identify a 3rd party to conduct the investigation. If the outcome is that child abuse or exploitation has occurred, ongoing work with the partner organization cannot go ahead including the individual concerned has been removed from their position and measures have been taken to prevent further exploitation. The CEO or Project Manager should discuss with the Board of the partner organisation and consider referral to the police or other statutory authorities for a criminal investigation and prosecution under the law of the child of 2009.
9. MONITORING AND REVIEW
This policy will be reviewed regularly from the date of implementation. Review process will be initiated by the CEO or Project Manager. Where changes in child protection legislation occur that directly affect this policy the HR responsible person in.