Why child safeguarding?

Every five minutes a child dies from violence. Every day, in every country, children are abused, beaten, raped and more.

Tragically, the perpetrator is usually someone the child knows and trusts. Too often, they work for an organisation that’s meant to help children. A sports club, school, faith institution, not for profit organisation or peacekeeping force. But they abuse their power and the child’s trust.

The most vulnerable children are most at risk – and least likely to have someone to turn to if they are abused. Children escaping conflicts or crises, experiencing discrimination or marginalisation, or separated from their family and community. Disabled children are almost four times more likely to be subjected to violence and neglect.

Close the gaps

All organisations have the responsibility to protect children and while the majority do everything they can to keep them safe, too many have critical gaps in child safeguarding which put them at risk.

If you are concerned about children in your organisation, our International Child Safeguarding Standards will help you recognise the risks of child abuse, close child safeguarding gaps and put children first in everything you do. Download them now and start preventing child abuse. You could be the only person who speaks out on behalf of a child when others are silent.

Abusers can and will exploit any gaps in child safeguarding to harm children. Here is how it can happen:

Abusers infiltrate organisations

Abusers gain positions of trust because no proper background checks are conducted. In some cases, perpetrators actually set up organisations, or work to infiltrate trusted institutions, in order to target children to abuse. In other cases they simply take advantage of the situation and the extreme imbalance of power.

Children have no way to report abuse

Often children do not understand their right to be safe and what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour from staff. If abuse occurs, they have no way of reporting it or reporting mechanisms are not child-friendly. For example, a five-year-old who has no access to the internet, and is unable to read or write, will not be able to call for help via an email address on a website. In many organisations, victims and survivors are ignored, blamed, shamed, intimidated or revictimised.

People are frightened to report concerns

In some organisations, there are no safe ways to report abuse. Staff are not trained on how to safeguard children and their obligation to report concerns. Or people are frightened to report because of bullying, discrimination, corruption, the fear of being fired or losing desperately needed support from the organisation.

Leaders protect organisations, not children

Powerful people and organisations are regarded as ‘untouchable’ and allowed to abuse, or fail to respond appropriately to abuse, with impunity. Organisations fail to act on concerns, or even actively cover up abuse, in some cases for decades. Senior leaders do not recognise that their organisation may be putting children at risk and, then when abuse does occur, act to protect the organisation – not the child.

If you would like to understand more about how to safeguard children in your organisation, contact our team for support.

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