1. Policy Statement
Child Safeguarding (hereinafter CS) is the responsibility that organizations have to ensure that their staff, operations and programs "do no harm" to children and that any concern the organization has about children's safety within the communities in which they work are reported to the appropriate authorities1.
Association for Aid and Relief, Japan [AAR], as a humanitarian and development organization with its mission to assist those affected by hardships such as conflicts, natural disasters and impoverishments, recognizes that all children have equal rights to protection from all forms of violence or abuse irrespective of ability, ethnicity, faith, gender, sexuality and culture. AAR also acknowledges that children are more vulnerable to abuse, violence, and exploitation due to various factors including poverty, inequality, negative cultural practices, and humanitarian crises and that every actor who is responsible for protecting children may also cause harm to them.
Therefore, AAR is committed to putting robust CS systems in place to ensure that all children whom AAR comes into contact with or have an impact on, will be safeguarded and not be put at risk of harm.
This CS Global Policy outlines both expectations and requirements for AAR employees, its partners and any individuals associated with its work.
This Policy is applicable to all individuals and organizations related to AAR, either having any formal or informal contractual relationship with AAR. This includes directly employed staff, directors, volunteers, interns, consultants, contractors, suppliers, vendors, visitors (e.g., journalists, researchers), and any other relevant individuals and organizations not included in the above-mentioned categories. The Policy applies both during and outside working hours.
Any individual under the age of 18, irrespective of local country definitions of when a child reaches adulthood.
3.2 Child Safeguarding3:
The responsibility that organizations have to ensure their staff, operations and programs "do no harm" children and that any concerns the organizations has about children's safety within the communities in which they work are reported to the appropriate authorities.
3.3 Child Abuse4:
Child abuse, sometimes also referred to as child maltreatment, is defined as all forms of intentional or unintentional acts resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. It includes physical, sexual, emotional abuse and any sexual or commercial exploitation of children. They may be abused in a family, an institution, community or faith setting, or via social media/internet. They may be harmed by an adult or adults or other child or children.
a. Physical Abuse:
Actual or potential physical harm perpetrated by another person, adult or child. It may involve, but is not limited to, hitting, shaking, poisoning, drowning and burning.
b. Sexual Abuse:
Forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities that he or she does not fully understand and has little choice in consenting to. This may include, but is not limited to, rape, oral sex, penetration, or non- penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching. It may also include involving children in looking at, or producing sexual images, watching sexual activities and encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
c. Sexual Exploitation of a Child:
A form of sexual abuse that involves children being engaged in any sexual activity in exchange for money, gifts, food, accommodation, affection, status, or anything else that they or their family needs. It usually involves a child being manipulated or coerced, which may involve befriending children, gaining their trust, and subjecting them to drugs and alcohol. The abusive relationship between child survivor and perpetrator involves an imbalance of power where the child survivor's options are limited.
d. Neglect/ Negligent Treatment:
A persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, which is likely to result in serious impairment of a child's healthy physical, spiritual, moral and mental development. It includes the failure to properly supervise and protect children from harm and provide for nutrition, shelter and safe living/working conditions. It may also involve maternal neglect during pregnancy as a result of drug or alcohol misuse and the neglect and ill treatment of a child with disability.
e. Emotional Abuse:
Persistent emotional maltreatment that impacts on a child's emotional development. Emotionally abusive acts include restriction of movement, degrading, humiliating, bullying (including cyber bullying), and threatening, scaring, discriminating, ridiculing or other non-physical forms of hostile or rejecting treatment.
f. Commercial Exploitation:
Exploiting a child in work or other activities for the benefit of others and to the detriment of the child's physical or mental health, education, moral or social-emotional development. It includes, but is not limited to, child labor.
All types of child abuse defined above will be referred to as child abuse and all types of child exploitation as child exploitation hereinafter in the context of this Policy.
4. Basic Principles
In order to protect children from any form of violence, abuse, or exploitation and to ensure the integrity of AAR activities, the following principles must be adhered to:
4.1 Child abuse and exploitation constitute acts of serious misconduct and are therefore grounds for disciplinary measures5.
4.2 Sexual activity with children (persons under the age of 18) is prohibited regardless of the age of consent locally under the applicable national legislation. Mistaken belief in the age of the child is not a defense.
4.3 AAR staff and associates must uphold the highest standards of behavior towards children both in their private and professional lives. AAR staff and associates have a responsibility to understand, abide by, 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.
4.4 Children are part of CS processes. AAR ensures that children understand their rights and are made aware of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior towards them and what they can do if there is a problem or a concern.
4.5 Where an AAR staff or associate has concerns or suspicions regarding child abuse or exploitation by a fellow staff6, he or she is obliged to report such concerns or suspicions to AAR through the established reporting mechanisms;
4.6 AAR staff and associates are expected to create and maintain an environment that prevents child abuse and exploitation. Senior Management has a particular responsibility to support and develop systems that prevent and respond to child abuse and exploitation, which maintain a safe environment by promoting a culture of open discussion and dialogue among members.
5. Approach to CS
AAR is committed to preventing and combating child abuse and exploitation through prevention, reporting, and responding detailed in the following clauses. Examples of detailed procedures are attached as Annex (Procedural Guidelines) to be tailored according to the needs and capacity of each office.
AAR ensures that all AAR staff and associates are aware of the high standards of behavior and adopt exemplary behavior to create, strengthen, and maintain healthy environments and minimize the risks of child abuse and exploitation. This includes, but is not limited to, promoting awareness among AAR staff and associates and people in the communities, conducting safe staff recruitment, building safe projects and programs and ensuring good practice when using media.
7.1 All AAR staff and associates are obliged to report immediately any actual or possible child abuse or exploitation by AAR staff or associates and have a duty to cooperate in investigation process. One who has witnessed any actual or possible child abuse or exploitation must report, consult or file complaint in accordance with the procedural Guidelines. It is strongly advised that he or she prepares detailed written records of all incidents when reporting.
7.2 AAR will not allow any deliberate reporting of false or malicious allegations. False or malicious reporting shall be grounds for severe disciplinary action.
8.1 When any actual or possible child abuse or exploitation is reported, immediate action must be taken to address the incident in accordance with the Procedural Guidelines while ensuring confidentiality of all parties.
8.2 When allegations of child abuse or exploitation are substantiated, strict measures including disciplinary actions will be imposed in accordance with the work regulations and other relevant policies and measures to prevent recurrence.
8.3 AAR will not allow any disadvantageous treatment of staff or others as a reprisal for consulting or reporting CS concerns, or cooperating in investigation process.
9. Related Documents
- AAR Vision, Mission and Code of Conduct
- Human Rights Policy
Approved Date: 29 October 2021
Approved by: Yoshiteru Horie
1 Keeping Children Safe, Understanding Child Safeguarding, 2014, pp.28.
2 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989
3 Keeping Children Safe, 2014. Understanding Child Safeguarding, pp.28.
4 Keeping Children Safe, 2014. Understanding Child Safeguarding, pp.24-25.
5 Disciplinary measures, for their nature, apply to contracted staff. In the event that child abuse is committed by those associated with AAR with no employment relationship, i.e., directors, visitors, suppliers, partner organizations; they shall be subject to other actions relevant to the nature of their relationship with AAR, such as termination of appointment as director, immediate cancellation of and future ban of visits to AAR's project sites, termination of supplier contracts and partnership, etc.
6 Regarding child abuse/exploitation allegations by personnel outside AAR, AAR staff and associates are encouraged to report to relevant complaints handling bodies through external reporting mechanism.