Child Protection Policy
Adopted from Plan International Child Protection Policy
Valid Nutrition (VN) considers all forms of abuse of power and exploitation to be incompatible with its fundamental belief in the human dignity of all people, regardless of age, sex, race, colour, religion, social origin, birth or other status. Valid Nutrition’s staff and people engaged by VN must never engage in any form of humiliating, degrading, abusive or exploitative behaviour under any circumstances. Furthermore, as a humanitarian company working with particularly vulnerable children in the developing world and striving to eradicate all forms of childhood malnutrition, Valid Nutrition is concerned and committed to promoting and safeguarding the rights of children, as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), including their right to be protected from any and all forms of harm, abuse, neglect and/or exploitation. Valid Nutrition hereby formally acknowledges its expectation that its employees and others who work with Valid Nutrition have children’s best interests at the heart of their involvement with Valid Nutrition at all times. This Child Protection Policy is Valid Nutrition’s statement of intent and demonstrates our commitment to safeguarding children from any harm and makes clear to all in the organisation and who come into contact with us what is required in relation to the protection of children. Child abuse (defined below) in any form is unacceptable and will lead to serious disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal and/or criminal proceedings. As per the UNCRC, our decisions and actions in response to child protection concerns will be guided by the principle of “the best interests of the child”.
1. DEFINITIONS UNDER VN’S CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
• Child Protection, within the scope of this policy, is defined as the responsibilities, measures and activities that Valid Nutrition undertakes to safeguard children from both intentional and unintentional harm.
• As per the UNCRC, A Child is defined as any person under the age of 18 years, unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.
• Child Abuse is defined as all forms of physical abuse, emotional illtreatment,sexual abuse and exploitation, neglect or negligent treatment, commercial or other exploitation of a child and includes any actions that result in actual or potential harm to a child. Child abuse may be a deliberate act or it may be failing to act to prevent harm. Child abuse consists of anything which individuals, institutions or processes do or fail to do, intentionally or unintentionally, which harms a child or damages their prospect of safe and healthy development into adulthood.
2. SCOPE OF THE CHILD PROTECTION POLICY This Child Protection Policy applies to everyone working for or associated with Valid Nutrition. It encompasses the whole of Valid Nutrition and includes without limitation:
• Staff at all levels – in the field, those working from home, at branch and subsidiary offices.
• Valid Nutrition Associates – these include board members, volunteers, community volunteers, sponsors, consultants and contractors. Also the staff and/or representatives of partner organisations and local governments who have been brought into contact with children or are party to VN child sensitive data while working for or with VN.
• VN Visitors - (e.g. donors, journalists, media, researchers, celebrities etc.) who may come into contact with children through VN are also bound by this policy.
3. RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER THE CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
Valid Nutrition Staff, Associates and Visitors must:
• Never abuse and/or exploit a child or act/behave in any way that places a child at risk of harm.
• Report any child abuse and protection concerns they have in accordance with the document Reporting and Responding to Child Protection Issues in Valid Nutrition (see Annex I below). This is a mandatory requirement for Staff. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.
• Cooperate fully and confidentially in any investigation of concerns and allegations.
• Contribute to an environment where children are respected and encouraged to discuss their concerns and rights.
• Always ask permission from children (or, in the case of young children, their parent or guardian) before taking images (e.g. photographs, videos) of them. Respect their decision to say no to an image being taken. Ensure that any images taken of children are respectful (For example: children should have adequate clothing that covers up the sexual organs. Images of children in sexually suggestive poses or that in any way impact negatively on their dignity or privacy are not acceptable). Stories and images of children should be based on the child’s best interest.
• Be aware that where concerns exist about the conduct of Staff or Associates in relation to child protection and/or where there has been a breach of the Child Protection Policy, this will be investigated under this policy either: by consideration of referral to statutory authorities for criminal investigation under the law of the country in which they work; and/or by Valid Nutrition in accordance with disciplinary procedures. This may result in disciplinary sanctions and/or dismissal for Staff.
• Be aware that, if a legitimate concern about suspected child abuse is raised, which proves to be unfounded on investigation, no action will be taken against the reporter. However, any employee/associate who knowingly makes false and malicious accusations will face disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
GUIDELINES ON THE REPORTING OF AND RESPONDING TO CHILD PROTECTION ISSUES
• Any known or suspected case of abuse, exploitation, or harassment must always be brought to the attention of your Line Manager who then informs the Administration and Human Resources Manager.
• In the event that staff members have concerns that are related to the behaviour of their Line Manager and/or the Administration and Human Resources Manager, they should raise these concerns directly with an alternative Manager and/or VN’s Chief Executive Officer or Chief Operations Officer.
• The reporting of a concern will result in a confidential, thorough and prompt investigation being conducted. Such investigations may reduce the level of concern or lead to the realisation that further action is appropriate.
• People reporting possible violations and/or involved in such investigations – including the subject of the complaint - will be protected against any form of intimidation, threats, reprisal or retaliation resulting from the alleged incident. If any member of staff is found intimidating or retaliating against a person making a complaint or assisting in an investigation, disciplinary action - up to and including dismissal - will be imposed.
• Any intentionally false, malicious or vexatious statement, misrepresentation or accusation against another staff member or third party will be considered gross misconduct.
• All information related to the case will be held in the strictest confidence, recorded and the record held in a secure location with the Country Manager and the Human Resources Manager. It will be disclosed only on a need-to know basis in order to resolve the matter.