Child Protection

The Small Things was recently questioned on Facebook about its attitude to child protection. This was a timely reminder for us that we needed to clarify our Child Protection Policy and make it clear and public, so that everyone can see that we take the protection of the children we work with very seriously. This isn’t going to be the most light hearted blog, but as it addresses a very important issue I would encourage as many readers as I can to keep going to the end.

We have always tried not use pictures of the children in an inappropriate way. For example, as board members we feel strongly that the image we give of the orphanage should be accurate. We have always wanted to portray the children laughing and happy because they so often are; we have never wanted to use pictures of the children when they are distressed or unhappy or to misrepresent the high quality of the care they receive in order to solicit donations. However, prompted by the fact that our social media presence has been expanding and volunteers have started to travel to the orphanage on placements arranged through us, it is time for us to openly address child protection. We want to clarify what we consider appropriate for our staff and volunteers on the ground in Tanzania, and how we aim to present our work on sites like Facebook in an acceptable and positive way.

Child protection is very important to us. Our reason for existing as an organisation is to benefit these children and naturally we want to be as sure as possible that no harm comes to them through our relationship with them. For this  reason, our Child Welfare Committee have written a child protection policy to lay out the way the Small Things approaches child protection and how it will respond to any issues. This policy is now available and can be viewed on the Media tab of our website.

It will also be available on our new website when that is up and running.

For those who might be interested, the policy is also briefly summarised below:

Child Protection Policy

The Small Things realizes and takes seriously its responsibility to protect the rights and welfare of the children it works with. We are aware that inappropriate and damaging behaviour towards children can take many different forms. Therefore, we are fully committed to protecting the security, welfare and dignity of the children with whom we work.
This policy aims to create a safe environment for both children and those who work alongside them by providing clear guidelines about what child protection is and how to behave in accordance with it.

Who does the policy apply to?

The policy applies to The Small Things’ board, staff, volunteers, committee members and anyone who represents the organisation.

Who is responsible for dealing with any child protection issues?
Our Child Protection Officer Patty Harris, our ‘on the ground’ director Bekka Ross Russell and our Child Welfare Committee will all work to make sure that our child protection policy is upheld and applied.

What is considered important for good practice?

Volunteers and staff are not responsible for making judgements about whether or not abuse is taking place. However, they must take the responsibility for identifying poor practice and potential abuse, and take appropriate action if they have any concerns about the welfare of a child or children.

Volunteers should work with children in an open environment, treat children with respect and dignity and aim to be positive role models.

What should you do if you have a concern about child protection?

If you have a concern about a child protection issue and are unsure about whether to mention it, our policy is that you should always raise your concern as soon as possible, with either Bekka Ross Russell or by emailing our child protection officer, Patty Harris at [email protected]. They will be able to listen and advise you on how to proceed.

What is the policy on photos and videos?

The Small Things realizes the danger of the taking and use of inappropriate photographs of the children. Children should always be appropriately dressed in photos and videos and photos and videos of children in compromised positions should not be taken.

Where photographs or videos are distributed or used online, we have set up the following four-tier approach:
[No photos distributed in any medium should be accompanied by the child’s full name. First names alone may be used.] 

1. No photos/videos should be exploitative or potentially exploitative.
2. Personal photos shared with email/text or on a closed network (e.g. Snapfish) should fit within our guidelines and include a comment about no redistribution.
3. Photos/video for distribution via social media that could be seen by any outside viewer (Facebook etc.) should be cleared by a board member.
4. Photos/video used for any for profit or fundraising efforts should have explicit written permission from the board and a proportion of profits or funds raised should go to the benefit of the children of Nkoaranga through The Small Things.

We would encourage all usage of photos/video be accompanied by a link to the Small Things web site with a message encouraging donations.

What else?

In addition, The Small Things is committed to ensuring that the lives of the children, their families, members of their community, the staff who work and the orphanage and any volunteers should be portrayed truthfully and sensitively. Nobody we work with is someone to be looked down upon or pitied; rather, everyone is held as equal partners in the aim to learn, develop and increase welfare. This should always be respected in the use of photos and videos.
We hope that this blog has cleared up any confusion and clarified The Small Things’ position on child protection. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
All that remains now is to say another Happy Birthday to Pendo and Isaac, who have turned 7 and 1 respectively over the last week.
I’m not sure if, at the grand old age of 1, Isaac actually knows about his birthday, but he certainly seems excited about something!
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