RightsTech Women is a human rights organization and as such we take the rights of our beneficiaries very seriously. Our Child Safeguarding and Protection Policy sets forth our policies and procedures to keep children beneficiaries safe.
Child Safeguarding And Protection Policy
Section 1 – General Provisions
- RightsTech Women (RTW) works so that girls and women know, enjoy and can claim their internationally protected human rights in education and employment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). RTW is committed to implementing its programs, activities and services in a safe manner for the children with whom it interacts.
- Our Child Safeguarding and Protection Policy (‘the Policy’) helps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all children with whom RTW interacts: it promotes relevant standards, describes behavioral expectations, prevents abuse, and provides procedures for responding to any incident or concern.
- Its main purpose is to promote and protect children’s human rights, for example, their human rights to physical and mental integrity, health, education and equality as inscribed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)1.
- Protected Persons: The Policy covers each child with whom RTW and associated adults interact (hereinafter ‘Child’) in the scope of RTW programs, activities and services.
- Persons Bound by the Policy: It applies to all RTW board members, employees, consultants, trainees, and volunteers, including technical coaches, at any level; parents, accompanying adults; partners; any United Nations entity representatives or staff who partner with RTW or are interlocutors with the beneficiaries of RTW programs, activities and services2; service providers or contractors, including drivers; and, all other adults taking part in any RTW programs, activities and services, as well as all children (anyone under age 18) taking part in the same. These persons are hereinafter collectively referred to as the ‘Parties’.
- Actions Covered:
- The Policy covers all interactions between the Parties and each Child with whom they interact in the scope of RTW programs, activities and services.
- It covers any action taken in the Parties’ professional and personal lives vis-à-vis the Child.
- It covers expected behavior to safeguard and to report suspected violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect of children in all RTW-related programs, activities and services.
- Places Covered: The Policy covers interactions taking place between the Parties and the Child that occur at any location: either on-site, in person, remotely, via Social Media, and all online interactions between the Parties and the Child, whether any of these interactions occurs within or across national borders.
- Time / Duration: The Policy applies during, after and in between work hours. It covers all activities organized by RTW with the Parties. The duration of any activity includes preparation, during transportation to and from an event, during the actual event, and during any follow up. As well, the Policy continues to cover the Child (under 18) and to bind the Parties after the conclusion of any RTW activity.
1.3. Applicable Law
- RightsTech Women’s Policy is instructed by the CRC as the main standard.3 RightsTech Women is a nonprofit association headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, which country is a State Party to the CRC. Swiss federal and cantonal laws and/or laws of the jurisdiction(s) relevant to the activity govern each activity; in the event that this Policy provides greater protection, it will be applied.
- In responding to an incident, RTW will, if necessary, make referrals to the relevant law enforcement and/or child protection agencies if appropriate for the protection and safety of the Child, in application of the relevant criminal and/or civil law.
1.4. Use of Terms
Adult – refers to a human being aged 18 years or more, regardless of the applicable legal definition of the term in the relevant country.
Best Interest of the Child – broadly describes the well-being of a child. Such well-being is determined by a variety of individual circumstances (such as their gender, age, level of maturity and experiences) and other factors (such as the presence or absence of parents, quality of the relationships between the child and family/caregiver, and other risks or capacities). There are three aspects to the Best Interests concept. They are:
- A child’s basic right: children have a right to have their Best Interests assessed and taken as a primary consideration;
- A legal principle: if a legal provision is open to more than one interpretation, the interpretation which most effectively serves the child’s Best Interests should be chosen;
- A rule of procedure: whenever a decision will affect a child, a group of children or children in general, the decision-making process must (a) evaluate the possible impact of the decision on the child(ren) concerned and (b) show that the right of children to have their Best Interests assessed and taken as a primary consideration has been explicitly taken into account.4
Bullying – (including cyber-bullying) is unwanted aggressive behavior by another child or group of children who are neither siblings nor in a romantic relationship with the victim. It involves repeated physical, psychological or social harm, and often takes place in schools and other settings where children gather, and online.5
Child – refers to a human being under the age of 18 years old, regardless of the applicable legal definition of the term in the relevant country.6 It means a person under 18 years old of any gender.
Child Abuse – Any intentional harm or mistreatment of a child under 18, encompassing many forms of mistreatment. The main types of child abuse are physical violence, emotional abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, sexual exploitation and abuse, or other exploitation.7
Child Exploitation – The actual or attempted abuse of a position of an imbalance of power, privilege, wealth or trust to entice, manipulate, coerce or deceive a child into performing things such as labor, domestic servitude, forced criminality, soldiering, organ harvesting, benefit fraud, or sexual activity, in exchange for something the target or someone close to them needs or wants, and usually for the financial or other gain, profit, benefit, advantage, or gratification of the perpetrator. The perpetrator’s personal benefit may take different forms: physical, sexual, financial, material, social, military, or political. Exploitation may involve remuneration in cash or in kind (such as social status, political power, documentation, freedom of movement, or access to opportunities, goods or services) to the child or to a third person. This includes economic exploitation and all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child’s welfare.8 Examples include:
- Economic exploitation – slavery and slave-like practices, servitude, bonded or indentured labor.
- Harmful or hazardous labor – work that, by virtue of the child’s age or the nature of the work, is prejudicial to any aspects of the child’s welfare, among other things the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. This includes the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and children’s association with armed forces and armed groups.
- Sexual exploitation (see term below, ‘child sexual exploitation and abuse’)– use of children in prostitution, the trafficking or sale of children for sexual purposes (including forced marriage), use of children in pornography and grooming for sexual purposes – including online.
Child Marriage – refers to a formal or informal union where one or both parties are under the age of 18 regardless of the applicable laws or customs in either country of the two children involved as well as the country where such union would take place. All child marriage is considered forced, as children are not able to give full consent to marriage.
Neglect or Negligent Treatment – means the failure of a caregiver to meet a child’s physical and/or psychological needs or to protect them from actual or potential danger, either deliberately or through failure to act, when the responsible person(s) has/have the means, knowledge and access to services to do so, or, when the responsible person(s) do/does not have these, to request available assistance. It includes the failure by a caregiver to fulfill that child’s rights to survival, development, and wellbeing. An act may be categorized as neglectful whether or not the caregiver intends to harm the child.
Some examples of neglect include
- physical neglect: failure to protect a child from harm, including through lack of supervision, failure to provide the child with basic necessities including adequate food, shelter, clothing and basic medical care; or failing to provide a safe physical environment (e.g., exposure to violence, unsafe location, unsafe sleeping practices, releasing a child to an unauthorized adult, or access to weapons or harmful objects)
- psychological or emotional neglect: this includes lack of any emotional support and love, chronic inattention to the child, caregivers being ‘psychologically unavailable’ by overlooking young children’s cues and signals, and exposure to domestic violence;
- neglect of children’s physical or mental health: neglecting mental health or medical care needs, withholding essential medical care;
- educational neglect: failure to comply with laws requiring caregivers to secure their children’s education through attendance at school or otherwise neglecting educational needs.9
Child Participation – refers to the manifestation of the right of every child to express their view, to have that view given all due consideration, in accordance with the age and maturity of the child, to influence decision-making and to achieve change. It is the informed and willing involvement of all children in any matter concerning them.10
Child Protection – refers to the prevention of and response to abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence against children.
Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) – sometimes referred to as “child pornography”, is defined as any representation, by whatever means, of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes11. In line with recent developments, RTW avoids the term “child pornography” to the extent possible and uses other terms such as the “use of children in pornographic performances and materials”, “child sexual abuse material” and “child sexual exploitation material”.12
Child Safeguarding – refers to the broad obligation of organizations working with children to ensure that the design and delivery of organizational programs, activities and services are in the best interests of the child, do not expose children to deliberate or unintentional adverse impacts, including the risk of violence, abuse, exploitation, or neglect, and that any concerns about a child’s safety are appropriately reported and responded to.
Child Trafficking – includes the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation, within or across national borders.13
Child Welfare – is a continuum of services designed to ensure that children are safe and that families have the necessary support to care for their children successfully. Legitimate claims of child abuse in the wider community need to be reported to local authorities (including pursuant to local laws and norms requiring this), which claims may include familial, communal or institutional child abuse allegations.14
Cyber-bullying – is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyber-bullying can occur through SMS, text, and apps, or online in Social Media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyber-bullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyber-bullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.
The most common places where cyber-bullying occurs are:
- Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok;
- text messaging and messaging applications on mobile or tablet devices;
- instant messaging, direct messaging, and online chatting over the Internet;
- online forums, chat rooms, and message boards, such as Reddit;
- e-mail; and,
- online gaming communities.15
Cyber-mobbing – is similar to cyber-bullying except that it generally involves more than one person or online-aggressor. Cyber-mobbing is defined as a group of people ganging up on someone using tactics of rumor, innuendo, discrediting, isolating, intimidating, and above all, making it look as if the targeted person is responsible (victim blaming).16
Cyber-stalking – is a type of online harassment that involves using electronic means to stalk a victim, and generally refers to a pattern of threatening or malicious behaviors.17
E-learning Platform or Learning Management System (LMS) – These are software and/or services designed and/or used to create, distribute and manage the delivery of educational content.
Emotional Abuse – is also sometimes called psychological abuse, mental abuse, or mental violence, and encapsulates verbal abuse, emotional neglect and emotional maltreatment. It is behavior that harms a child’s emotional, intellectual, mental, social or psychological development, or causes severe emotional harm. While a single incident may be abuse, most often emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that causes damage over time. Emotional abuse includes but is not limited to any humiliating or degrading treatment, e.g.:
- all forms of persistent harmful interactions with a child;
- scaring, terrorizing and threatening; exploiting and corrupting; spurning and rejecting; isolating, ignoring and favoritism;
- denying emotional responsiveness, i.e., withholding love and support;
- insults, name-calling, threatening, yelling, screaming or cursing at, humiliation, belittling, ridiculing, persistent shaming, constant criticism, etc;
- exposure to domestic violence;
- placement in solitary confinement, isolation or humiliating or degrading conditions of detention; or,
- psychological bullying and hazing by adults or other children, including via information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as mobile phones and the Internet (i.e., ‘cyber-bullying’)18.19
Exceeding Authorized Use – means to access a computer, computer system, phone or any password-protected application or device with authorization and to use such access to obtain or alter information in the thing accessed that the accessor is not legally entitled so to obtain or alter.
Grooming – as used in the context of sexual abuse and exploitation, the term is often used to refer to the solicitation of targeted children for sexual purposes. It refers to the process of establishing a relationship of trust with a child or their caretaker, either in person or through the use of information and communication technologies, to facilitate online or offline sexual abuse or exploitation of the child.20 The international child human rights NGO, Save the Children, further describes grooming and signs to help recognize it, as follows.
“Grooming typically occurs in phases, and it can happen online or face to face, by a stranger or by someone the child or caretaker knows. Since it is a gradual process, it can sometimes be difficult to detect. Here are a few indicators that an adult may be grooming a child or his/her caretaker:
- Favoring the child over others
- Providing the child with rewards or privileges
- Isolating the child from others
- Expressing interest in a child who is particular vulnerable or in need of support (e.g., previous abuse of the child by another)
- Befriending the parents or caretakers who are responsible to protect the child
- Providing the child with alcohol or drugs
- Building intimacy (i.e., having inside jokes or telling the child that nobody understands him/her like the groomer does)
- Threatening, blackmailing, intimidating, or scaring a child by saying the groomer will do something to the child’s family or friends.”21
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) (or Domestic Violence (DV)) – involves physical, sexual and emotional violence by an intimate partner or ex-partner. Although males can also be victims, intimate partner violence disproportionately affects females. It commonly occurs against girls within child marriages and early/forced marriages. Among romantically involved but unmarried adolescents it is sometimes called “dating violence”.22
Live-streaming Platforms – means software or systems for broadcasting via the Internet or other means video, audio, text or other content live to zero or more audience viewers, whether or not recorded, distributed, posted for playback, or saved locally. Illustrative examples include YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Twitch, wave.video, Instagram Live, StreamYard, etc.
Online Harassment – is unsolicited and abusive contact, with the goal of intimidating or frightening the target. It may also include an offline component; sometimes it starts offline and moves online, or the harassment escalates and the target begins to experience attacks offline as well.
It may involve threatening or harassing e-mails, instant messages, or posting information online. It may target a specific person either by directly contacting them or by disseminating their personal information, causing them distress, fear, or anger.23 It may involve illegal online impersonation, when a perpetrator impersonates the target to humiliate, threaten or harm them or someone else. It may be difficult for caregivers to detect if not seen or overheard by them.
Physical Violence – against children includes all corporal punishment and all other forms of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as well as physical bullying and hazing by adults or by other children. ‘Corporal’ (or ‘physical’) punishment is defined as any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light. Most involves hitting (‘smacking’, ‘slapping’, ‘spanking’) children with the hand or with an implement – a whip, stick, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc. But it can also involve, for example, kicking, shaking or throwing children, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears, caning, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion.24 It includes non-accidental physical injury.
Sexual Exploitation and Abuse – includes all forms of sexual violence, coercion, sexual solicitation, manipulation or trickery including incest, early and forced marriage (i.e., under age 18); molestation, rape, including statutory rape, involvement in or exposure to sexual audio or visual images; sexual slavery; and, sexual trafficking.
- Sexual Abuse includes any sexual activities imposed by an adult on a child25, for example, indecent touching or exposure; explicit sexual language towards or about a child; ‘grooming’ (as defined above); and, is any sexual activity with a person under the age of 18: an underage child cannot legally give informed consent. Sexual abuse does not always involve touching.
- Sexual Exploitation is any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust for sexual purposes including but not limited to profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.
- Sexual Extortion, sometimes referred to as ‘sextortion’, of children is a practice whereby a child is forced into agreeing to give sexual favours, money or other benefits under the threat of sexual material depicting the child being shared on, for example, Social Media. This practice is often linked to grooming and sexting.26
- Sexual Violence includes non-consensual completed or attempted sexual contact and acts of a sexual nature not involving contact (such as voyeurism or sexual harassment); acts of sexual trafficking; and online exploitation.27
- Sexual Activities between Children are also considered as abuse when committed against a child by another child if the offender is significantly older than the victim or uses power, threat or other means of pressure.28
Simulated Explicit Sexual Activities – includes any material, online or offline, that depicts or otherwise represents a child appearing to engage in sexually explicit conduct.29
Social Media – means interactive forms of media that allow users to interact with and publish to each other, generally by means of the Internet and/or computers and mobile communication devices. It includes the form and the content of the media and platforms for exchange of the media.
- Examples include e-mail to one or more recipients, messaging or social networking applications, platforms, websites (including interactive websites), blogs, and servers, and material posted on those; public, group, private or direct messages or chats; public or private comments or reactions to shared media; text; images, including video or audio of real or fictionalized persons; emoticons; screenshots, any networked electronic communication applications or other media shared on them. Illustrative examples include YouTube, Instagram, Discord, WhatsApp, Signal, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, telephone and mobile phone, or any groups or media shared on these.
- Also included for the purpose of this Policy are live-streaming platforms, online social gaming platforms, and augmented or virtual reality social platforms or other applications created for any business, educational, recreational or other purpose and used for communication with a Child.
Unauthorized Use of Image – is use of a Child’s image (including photograph, sound, video etc.) without written permission of their parents or legal guardians.
Video Conferencing or Collaboration Software – means a video meeting platform intended to be used for business, educational, recreational or other purposes allowing persons to communicate via video, audio, or messaging, etc. Examples include, among others, Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Hangouts, BlueJeans, Infomaniak kMeet, etc.
Violence – is understood to mean all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.30
Youth Violence – is concentrated among children and young adults aged 10–29 years, occurs most often in community settings between acquaintances and strangers, includes bullying and physical assault with or without weapons (such as guns and knives), and may involve gang violence.31
1.5. General Principles
Accountability to children and their communities – Through strengthening its internal systems, standards and practice, RTW will be more accountable to the people it aims to serve.
Awareness – Ensure that all representatives of RTW adhere to this policy.
Best interest of the child – When dealing with a Child safeguarding and protection concern, the best interest of the child will be RTW’s priority and RTW will strive to ensure their safety, health and wellbeing, including meeting their emotional, psychological and physical needs. This is applicable to any Child involved in a situation of concern.
Children’s participation – Children should be empowered to understand their rights in this area, and made aware of what is acceptable and unacceptable, and what they can do if there is a problem or a concern.
Confidentiality – All child safeguarding and protection concerns/reports/ investigations will be dealt with on a need-to-know basis and all records will be held securely. Likewise, communication will be confidential and secure.
Openness and transparency – RTW aims to create a working environment in relation to child safeguarding and protection issues, where any issues or concerns can be raised and discussed. Poor practice can be addressed, potentially abusive behavior can be challenged and best practice promoted.
Partnership and collaboration – RTW will work together with partner entities to promote child safeguarding within organizations and child protection within the wider community. RTW requires the commitment, support and cooperation of partner organizations and individuals collaborating to deliver programs, activities and services administered by RTW.
Personal responsibility – All representatives of RTW at any level must demonstrate the highest standards of behavior towards children both in their private and professional lives. They have a responsibility to understand and promote the Policy. They must do all that they can to prevent, report and respond appropriately to any concerns or potential breaches of the Policy.
Prevention – Work to ensure that child protection measures are implemented by all Parties.
Protection – Parties exert all efforts, through raising awareness and various practices, to reduce the risks to children and taking positive steps to protect children exposed to abuse.
Procedural fairness – RTW will apply procedural fairness when making decisions that affect a person’s rights or interests. Parties are expected to adhere to this principle when responding to concerns or allegations of violations of the terms of this Policy.
Reporting – Ensures that all Parties are aware of the steps to be taken in case of doubts/concerns about the safety and security of the child.
Response – RTW works to ensure that appropriate action is taken to support and protect children in cases raised about potential violence against children, abuse, exploitation or neglect. This includes effective investigations, support where appropriate, and accountability of people.
Rights – Parties recognize each child as a rights holder.
Sanctions – Violations of the Policy will be investigated in accordance with RTW procedures. Alternatively, a case of concern may be investigated by a national authority according to the law of the country where RTW operates. Violations of the Policy can lead to sanctions including disciplinary action and subsequent termination of contract. For example, if, after investigation, abuse of a Child by a Party is found to have occurred, this is considered misconduct and forms a basis for termination of any working relationship, including employment. Legitimate concerns of suspected abuse that turn out to be unfounded will not be subject to action or sanctions against the notifier by RTW.
Support – RTW works to support and protect children whose safety has raised doubts, support those who have raised such doubts, cooperate with them at any stage of the investigation and take the appropriate reaction.
Timeliness – Given the potential for increased or repeated abuse, timely responses are essential and the accompanying procedures establish mandatory time limits on reporting and responding to concerns.
Universality – The Policy includes mandatory requirements that apply to everyone in all aspects of RTW’s work regardless of how and where they work.
Section 2 – Conduct
2.1. Prohibited conduct
- Parties agree not to do or to attempt to do anything constituting violence against children, child abuse, exploitation or violence, vis-à-vis a Child. Included in prohibited conduct are the following behavior, as defined above in the section, ‘Use of Terms’:
- child abuse, child neglect or negligent treatment, emotional abuse, physical abuse, violence or youth violence;
- child exploitation, child trafficking, child marriage;
- unauthorized use of image;
- bullying, cyber-bullying, cyber-mobbing, cyber-mobbing, cyber-stalking, online harassment, involving or exposing to child sexual abuse material, exposure to or involvement in any simulated explicit sexual activities, grooming, sexual exploitation and abuse, or expose to intimate partner violence or domestic violence.
- Such behavior mentioned in paragraph 1 is prohibited whether in person or via:
- any means of spoken, gestured, written or electronic communication;
- Social Media;
- e-learning platform or learning management system;
- video-conferencing or remote collaboration platform, software or service;
- online or via the Internet;
- or any other channel.
- Parties who are not authorized may not Exceed Authorized Use (as defined in this Policy) of a Child’s computer, computer system, phone, or other password-protected device or application.
2.2. Examples of prohibited conduct
To help clarify our safeguarding approach, listed here are some specific examples of prohibited behaviors. The examples are not an exhaustive list.
- Engaging in any sexual activity or having a sexual relationship with a Child regardless of the age of majority/consent or custom locally. Mistaken belief in the age of a Child is not a defense.
- Marrying or becoming involved in an informal union with a Child, regardless of the allowable age of marriage in the country.
- Developing a relationship with a Child which could be deemed violent, abusive or exploitative.
- Hitting or otherwise physically assaulting or physically abusing a Child.
- Hiring a Child for labor that is dangerous, exploitative, or does not meet local and international child labor laws.
- Using language or behavior towards a Child, in-person or online, that is reasonably perceived to be inappropriate, harassing, abusive, exploitative, sexually provocative, demeaning, discriminatory, or culturally inappropriate.
- Acting in ways intended or reasonably likely to shame, humiliate, belittle, or degrade a Child, or otherwise perpetrate any form of psychological abuse.
- Discriminating against a Child based on factors such as gender, sex, disability, Indigenous heritage, sexual identity, religion or caste.
- Failing to take reasonable actions to provide referrals for appropriate services to a Child who reports or who has someone else report, or has signs of, experiencing violence, abuse, exploitation, or neglect.
- Using any computers, mobile phones, video cameras, cameras or Social Media involving children in any way that harms a Child, including accessing, downloading, viewing, soliciting or sharing child exploitation material such as child sexual abuse material or pornography through any medium at any time, regardless of whether it is during working hours and/or on RTW-issued electronic equipment.
- Not asking permission of the Child’s guardian or checking with relevant RTW staff to determine whether consent has been given by a parent or legal guardian before taking a photo or video of a Child.
- Sharing or posting a Child’s image without the necessary permissions.
- Depicting a Child in ways that are not dignified or when a Child is not fully clothed.
- Undertaking activities or programs with a Child without the express permission of their parents/guardians, or relevant authorities for street/separated/unaccompanied or other children who are alone.
- Working alone with a Child somewhere that is secluded or where they cannot be observed by another person.
- Inviting unaccompanied children into the Party’s home, unless they are at immediate risk of injury or in physical danger and, in this case, the Party involved should advise their supervisor of the need for such action immediately.
- Sleeping in the same bed or same room as a Child or having one or more Child/Children with whom one is working stay overnight at a home unsupervised and without permission of the Child or Children’s parents / guardians and the RTW program manager.
- Leaving a Child alone in a room or at an event when a Child or their guardian or parent has expressed reservations about potential risks from a Party.
- All of RTW activities are alcohol and drug free: Parties may not give alcohol or drugs to a Child.
Section 3 – Policy Implementation Procedures
3.1. Awareness and training
RTW builds child safeguarding and protection awareness of relevant standards, its Policy, and conduct prohibited or required by its Policy. RTW conducts rigorous recruitment and screening, education and training for all RTW staff, upon onboarding and at regular intervals. Parties are aware of their obligations and respond appropriately to issues of child abuse.
3.2. Roles and responsibilities
- All Parties must actively create a safe environment for the Child. They must act appropriately towards each Child and never abuse the position of trust that comes from being associated with RTW.
- Parties entering into relationships with RTW must read the Policy and sign the consent form provided indicating that they have read, understood and consented to compliance with the Policy, and to apply its provisions.
- RTW board members, management and staff are responsible for promoting children’s rights and championing the protection of children and will comply with the Policy.
- RTW board members, management and staff are responsible for promoting child-safe messages in their work including appropriate child‐safe communications on websites, brochures, recruitment materials and publications including fundraising materials.
- RTW management and board are responsible for conducting careful child-safe recruitment and screening procedures and providing child-focused management, in order to help RTW to identify, mitigate, manage or reduce the risks to children that may be associated with RTW programs, activities and services.
- The RTW board, in collaboration with RTW management, is responsible for the regular review, updating and dissemination of this Policy to Parties through RTW management and the RTW website.
- RTW management, with the support of the RTW board, is responsible for providing Parties with a version of this Policy translated into a local language in each country of operation. The English original version is the official version of the Policy and will be applied in case of discrepancy between language versions.
- RTW management is responsible for implementation of the Policy and its procedures.
- Managers at all levels have particular responsibilities to support and develop systems that maintain this environment.
- Management is responsible for ensuring that all Parties entering into relationships with RTW have read, understood and consented to compliance with the Policy by signing the Policy consent form.
3.3. Risk and impact assessment
RTW conducts regular risk assessments in the field of Child safety in the context of activities, operations and programs. The risk assessment shall contain the following:
- identification of the potential impact on or contact with Children;
- identification and analysis of potential risks of such impact or contact;
- assessment of risks in terms of their likelihood of occurrence and the severity of their impact on Children;
- implementation of strategies for mitigation risk prevention and prevention;
- review and audit of risks and preventive measures; and,
- communication and consultation on those risks.
3.4. Reporting Procedure
- All Parties are institutionally mandated to report child safeguarding and child welfare concerns to the RTW Safeguarding Focal Point at safeguarding (at) rightstech.org. Child welfare or protection concerns must be reported through the local/state mandated system.
- Staff selected for leadership, managerial, or supervisory positions are responsible for identifying preventive measures to mitigate risks that occur within RTW programs, activities and services and must report any concerns that arise.
- RTW maintains the confidentiality of sensitive information in a respectful and professional manner in accordance with applicable law. All RTW board and representatives must keep all information about any suspected or reported incidents strictly confidential. Information may only be divulged to the RTW Child Safeguarding Focal Point, except as may be required by law.
- RTW management is committed to taking all appropriate corrective actions. Disciplinary, legal or other applicable actions in response to any violation of this Policy will be taken against any individual who has committed a child safeguarding violation and/or anyone who knew of such a violation and failed to act or report.
- RTW’s response to allegations of child abuse must be guided by the highest standards and practices to promote healthy reactions to the affected Child and reduce the probability of creating or compounding harm. The best interests and safety of the Child and witnesses must be paramount to any response to protect their safety, physical and psychological health and welfare, and to respect their rights to confidentiality, equality and access to justice.
- Investigations are survivor-centered and promote a child-driven and equitable process. Aware of the importance of timeliness in response to concerns, RTW acts swiftly and effectively to an allegation and/or cooperating with any subsequent, external process of investigation.
- Although a report may be made at any time, all Parties are required to report immediately to the RTW Safeguarding Focal Point if they have reasonable suspicion of any of the prohibited conduct occurring or being likely to occur, knowledge about an incident that occurred, or a concern regarding the safety or welfare of a Child. In the event that an immediate report is not made, it should still be made within 72 hours. Knowing failure to report an incident subjects a Party to disciplinary action.
- Parties are required to cooperate and participate in any internal or external investigation and maintain the appropriate levels of confidentiality. Failure to avail oneself, destruction or withholding evidence, or refusal to cooperate with the investigation, will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination. The obligation to cooperate survives past the termination of any working relationship.
- Various options at the disposal of RTW include, and are not limited to:
- Employees – disciplinary action / dismissal with immediate effect
- Partners – termination of partnership with immediate effect
- Contractors – termination of contract with immediate effect
- Clients – termination of contract with immediate effect
- Referring the case to the relevant authorities for investigation (including law enforcement, where applicable).
- RTW may retain the services of an external investigator to manage an incident. Investigation reports include remedial steps and personnel actions to address the concern, and any long-term actions required to safeguard children and improve systems.
Section 4 – Contacts
- RTW’s Safeguarding Focal Point is Ellen Walker, Executive Director.
- E-mail: Any concern about a potential violation of this Policy can be reported to safeguarding (at) rightstech.org.
UN General Assembly, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1577, p. 3
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, to which Switzerland is also a State Party. UN General Assembly, 25 May 2000, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 2171, p. 227.
UN General Assembly, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 15 November 2000
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General comment No. 13 (2011): The right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, 18 April 2011, CRC/C/GC/13
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Guidelines regarding the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, 10 September 2019, UN Doc. CRC/C/156
United Nations Children’s Fund, Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children, UNICEF, New York, 2014
UN Secretary-General (UNSG), Secretary-General’s Bulletin: Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, 9 October 2003, ST/SGB/2003/13
World Health Organization, Fact sheet, ‘Violence against children’, 8 June 2020, available at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-children
Child Rights Connect, Child Safeguarding Policy and Procedure, January 2019
Plan International, Global Policy on Safeguarding Children and Young People, 27 June 2019
Save the Children, Policy on Child Safeguarding, 1 July 2022
Entry into force
Date of approval by the board: 7 September 2022
Date of entry into force: 7 September 2022
Date of first review:
Date of second review:
1 See articles 19, 24, 28 and 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. UN General Assembly, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1577, p. 3.
2 See UN Secretary-General (UNSG), Secretary-General’s Bulletin: Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, 9 October 2003, ST/SGB/2003/13.
3 As well, RTW applies the relevant standards in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, to which Switzerland is also a State Party. UN General Assembly, 25 May 2000, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 2171, p. 227.
4 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General comment No. 14 (2013) on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration (art. 3, para. 1), 29 May 2013, CRC /C/GC/14, para. 6.
5 World Health Organization, Fact sheet, ‘Violence against children’, 8 June 2020, available at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-children.
6 Art. 1 CRC. In Switzerland, as in the CRC article 1, the age of majority is 18. See art. 14 of the Swiss Civil Code (AS 24 233), as amended by No I 2 of the FA of 19 Dec. 2008 (Adult Protection Law, Law of Persons and Law of Children), with effect from 1 Jan. 2013 (AS 2011 725).
7 ‘See CRC art. 19 and UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General comment No. 13 (2011): The right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, 18 April 2011, CRC/C/GC/13.
8 See CRC arts. 32 and 36.
9 See art. 19 CRC; see also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General comment No. 13 (2011): The right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, 18 April 2011, CRC/C/GC/13, para 20; and see, ‘mental violence’ at p. 4 of United Nations Children’s Fund, Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children, UNICEF, New York, 2014.
10 See art. 12 CRC.
11 Art. 2 (c), Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
12 CRC/C/156, para. 60.
13 See art. 3(c), UN General Assembly, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 15 November 2000.
14 See CRC art. 19(2).
15 ‘cyberbullying’, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, StopBullying.org, 5 November, 2021, available at https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it. See video, ‘Is it Cyberbullying?’ available at https://youtu.be/vtfMzmkYp9E.
16 Cyber-Mobbing: A New Form of Cyberbullying Affecting Teens, Stomp Out Bullying, available at https://www.stompoutbullying.org/blog/cyber-mobbing (includes ‘Tips for parents on starting the conversation’, e.g., cyber-mobbing can be difficult for caregivers to detect if not seen or overheard and how to address that).
17 For more information, see ‘Definition of Cyberstalking’, in ‘Cyberstalking’ by Sameer Hinduja, Cyberbullying Research Center, available at https://cyberbullying.org/cyberstalking.
18 See definition of ‘Violence through information and communication technologies’ in UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General comment No. 13 (2011): The right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, 18 April 2011, CRC/C/GC/13, para 31:
“31. Violence through information and communication technologies. Child protection risks in relation to ICT comprise the following overlapping areas:
- Sexual abuse of children to produce both visual and audio child abuse images facilitated by the Internet and other ICT;
- The process of taking, making, permitting to take, distributing, showing, possessing or advertising indecent photographs or pseudophotographs (“morphing”) and videos of children and those making a mockery of an individual child or categories of children;
- Children as users of ICT:
- As recipients of information, children may be exposed to actually or potentially harmful advertisements, spam, sponsorship, personal information and content which is aggressive, violent, hateful, biased, racist, pornographic, unwelcome and/or misleading;
- As children in contact with others through ICT, children may be bullied, harassed or stalked (child “luring”) and/or coerced, tricked or persuaded into meeting strangers off-line, being “groomed” for involvement in sexual activities and/or providing personal information;
- As actors, children may become involved in bullying or harassing others, playing games that negatively influence their psychological development, creating and uploading inappropriate sexual material, providing misleading information or advice, and/or illegal downloading, hacking, gambling, financial scams and/or terrorism.” (Footnotes omitted.)
19 See art. 19 CRC as well as ‘mental violence’ at p. 4 of United Nations Children’s Fund, Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children, UNICEF, New York, 2014.
20 See CRC/C/156, para. 68.
21 Save the Children Policy on Child Safeguarding, 1 July 2022.
22 ‘Intimate partner violence (or domestic violence’, World Health Organization, Fact sheet, ‘Violence against children’, 8 June 2020, available at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-children.
23 Privacy Rights, ‘Online Harassment & Cyberstalking’, rev. 25 October 2018, available at https://privacyrights.org/consumer-guides/online-harassment-cyberstalking.
24 United Nations Children’s Fund, Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children, UNICEF, New York, 2014, p. 4, citing UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General comment No. 13 (2011): The right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, 18 April 2011, CRC/C/GC/13. See CRC/C/GC/13, para. 22.
25 ‘sexual violence’, United Nations Children’s Fund, Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children, UNICEF, New York, 2014, p. 4.
26 CRC/C/156, para. 69.
27 ‘Sexual violence’, World Health Organization, Fact sheet, ‘Violence against children’, 8 June 2020, available at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-children.
28 United Nations Children’s Fund, Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children, UNICEF, New York, 2014, p. 4.
29 CRC/C/156, para. 62.
30 Art. 19(1) CRC. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General comment No. 13 (2011): The right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, 18 April 2011, CRC/C/GC/13, para. 4.
31 ‘Youth violence’, World Health Organization, Fact sheet, ‘Violence against children’, 8 June 2020, available at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-children.