Plan International Belgium aims to build a fairer world where all children, girls and boys, flourish in their communities, in accordance with the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Our organisation is committed to respecting and enforcing the right of children to protection from all forms of abuse (CRC, Art. 19). The purpose of this policy is to protect the children involved in our activities. This document:
- helps our staff, donors and partners to fulfil their responsibility to protect children by adopting appropriate behaviour and reporting questionable behaviour;
- prevents malicious people from being associated with the work of Plan International Belgium;
- provides for rigorous action against those who abuse children.
- A child is any person under the age of 18 years. (CRC, Art 1)
- Child abuse: any form of physical or emotional maltreatment, sexual abuse and exploitation, neglect, commercial or other exploitation of a child. It includes any act or failure to act, whether intentional or unintentional, by an individual, an institution or as a result of a process, which results in actual or potential harm to a child's well-being and dignity or which impairs the child's prospects for safe and healthy development into adulthood.
- Child protection: the preventive and reactive responsibilities and measures taken by Plan International Belgium to protect children from harm as a result of their association with Plan International Belgium, their contact with Plan International Belgium staff, associates and visitors, and/or their participation in Plan International Belgium activities.
WHO IS AFFECTED?
Plan International Belgium's child protection policy applies to all staff (international, country and regional offices), all associates (Board and General Assembly members, volunteers, Plan International Belgium sponsors and donors, workers, consultants, suppliers and representatives of partner organisations or local authorities), visitors (journalists, media, researchers, celebrities, etc.) who may come into contact with children through Plan International Belgium, and managers (staff members with specific child protection responsibilities).
All must sign our policy and respect its conditions. This policy is a minimum requirement: if national laws or the practices of the local Plan International Belgium office are stricter than our internal policy, these prevail.
Our child protection policy is based on a series of principles derived from the CRC, including:
- All children have the same rights to protection from abuse and exploitation (CRC, Art. 19); to life, survival and development (CRC, Art. 6); to realise their potential (CRC, Art. 27); and to express their views freely, which will be considered in accordance with their age and maturity (CRC, Art. 12 and 13).
- Inequalities and discrimination must be combated: the child shall be treated with respect regardless of sex, national or ethnic origin, religious or political beliefs, age, mental or physical health, sexual preference or identity, family, socio-economic and cultural status, or conflict with the law (CRC, Art. 2).
- Everyone has a responsibility to support the care and protection of children. (CRC, Art. 3).
Our child protection policy is also based on a principle of special responsibilities of Plan International Belgium towards the children involved in its activities.
No child should be harmed as a result of their involvement with Plan International Belgium as a Sponsored Child, participant in a Plan International Belgium programme, fundraising campaign or advocacy action.
These particular responsibilities extend to all individuals or organisations associated with Plan International Belgium. Anyone working with Plan International Belgium or associated with the work of Plan International Belgium must therefore be aware of and comply with the provisions of this policy.
Everyone who works and interacts with Plan International Belgium is responsible for the protection of children. The responsibilities described below are mandatory for those covered by this policy.
Plan International Belgium staff, associates, visitors and managers are committed to:
- Never abuse a child or put a child at risk of harm.
- Respond to suspected abuse in accordance with this policy and local Plan International Belgium office procedures.
- Report any child abuse or child protection issues in accordance with this policy and local Plan International Belgium procedures.
- Co-operate fully and confidentially in the investigation of suspected abuse.
- Contribute to creating an environment where children are respected and encouraged to talk about their problems and rights.
- Always respect children's rights, integrity and dignity, consider their best interests and never put them at risk of harm. For example: when photographing, filming, communicating with or about children, ensure that this is done in accordance with Plan International Belgium's rules on this matter.
- Never ask for or accept contact details (including postal address, email, phone numbers, social media, Skype, etc.) of a child or family associated (or previously associated) with Plan International Belgium's work, or give them your own contact details. Plan International Belgium makes exceptions for its staff and partner organisations for professional purposes only, in accordance with Plan International Belgium's local procedures and policies, with the consent of the child's parents or guardian and with appropriate line management supervision.
- Never disclose, or encourage the disclosure of, information that identifies Plan International Belgium families or Sponsored children by any means (including print, photos and social media), unless such disclosures are in accordance with Plan International Belgium's policies and procedures and/or with Plan International Belgium's explicit consent.
- Never make contact (e.g. visits, emails, letters, social media) with a child or members of a family associated with Plan International Belgium's work, without the supervision of a Plan International Belgium staff member.
In addition, Plan International Belgium staff are committed to
- Comply with the behaviour described in the Plan International Belgium Code of Conduct.
- Organise visits by Plan International Belgium's Child sponsors/press/visitors with Plan International Belgium's Sponsored children in a protected space, chosen by the local Plan International Belgium office. This can be the child's home, with the consent of the family and with the advice of the local office staff, who will be present throughout the visit.
- Only pass on contact details of Plan International Belgium Child Sponsors to former Plan International Belgium Sponsored Children (and not vice versa) if they are 18 years or older, to enable them to make direct contact when the Plan International Belgium Sponsorship ends, subject to prior approval by the Plan International Belgium Sponsor, the former Plan International Belgium Sponsored Child and a favourable risk assessment, compiled and approved by the country office.
Plan International Belgium's managers further commit to
- Ensure that Plan International Belgium associates sign up to and comply with the child protection policy throughout their engagement with Plan International Belgium.
- All directors and managers of Plan International Belgium should ensure that each of the Plan International Belgium entities has local procedures in line with the global child protection policy and the document clarifying reporting and response procedures in order to be able to respond to cases of child abuse. Local procedures should be developed in accordance with local legislation with the assistance of the local Plan International Belgium child protection focal point. It should also be ensured that this policy and local procedures are translated into local languages and child-friendly formats.
- Ensure that Plan International Belgium staff who have reported a child protection concern or are accused of child abuse receive appropriate care, support and protection when dealing with all aspects of the case, including security concerns and potential reprisals.
OUTSIDE INTERACTIONS WITH PLAN INTERNATIONAL BELGIUM
Plan International Belgium does not intend to dictate the value systems of its employees, associates, visitors and managers in their personal lives. However, their actions outside of interactions with Plan International Belgium that are deemed inconsistent with our child protection policy will be considered a violation of this policy.
IMPLEMENTATION, MONITORING AND SANCTIONS
The ultimate responsibility for the respect of our child protection policy lies with the managers, directors and Board of Directors of Plan International Belgium International. Each country has a child protection officer. We regularly check that the rules are being followed.
Failure to comply with this policy or these responsibilities may result in the following sanctions:
- For Plan International Belgium staff or managers: disciplinary sanctions which may include dismissal.
- For associates or visitors of Plan International Belgium: sanctions up to and including termination of all relationships, including contractual and partnership agreements with Plan International Belgium.
If there is any doubt about the conduct of a member of staff, associate, visitor or manager and/or if there is a breach of the child protection policy, an investigation will be initiated in accordance with this policy and there are two possibilities:
- Either the person concerned will be brought before the statutory authorities for criminal investigation according to the law of the country where the alleged offence takes place;
- Or Plan International Belgium will take the matter in hand according to the disciplinary procedures. This may result in disciplinary sanctions for the Plan International Belgium employee or manager concerned.
It is important to know that if a case of alleged child abuse is legitimately reported, and after investigation it is found to be unfounded, no action will be taken against the reporter.
On the other hand, appropriate sanctions will be applied in cases of false and malicious accusations.