By Gillian Hugo of the Jesuit Institute
Every day, in every country around the world, there are children that are exposed to abuse and violence in some form: sexual, rape, physical, emotional, mental, and even death. Many of the perpetrators of this violence are known to the victim. In 2016, a UBS Optimus study found that about 42% of children had experienced some form of maltreatment and a further 82% had experienced some form of victimisation. In many organisations that are meant to help or protect children, there are those who abuse children. They exploit the child safeguarding gaps within the organisation.
Safeguarding is a term used to denote measures to protect the health, well-being and human rights of individuals, which allow people — especially children, young people and vulnerable adults — to live free from abuse, harm and neglect. (Wikipedia) Child safeguarding is about making an organisation in which children are involved, safe for them. There is a set of policies, procedures and practices that are put in place to ensure that the organisation is safe for all involved, specifically children. Safeguarding means that we seek to protect children but also identify and end abuse that may already be happening.
Child safeguarding should not be confused with child welfare which refers to making the community safe for children and child protectionwhich is about making the world safe for children.
Every organisation that works with children needs to consider the risks to the child. Children need to be kept safe. It also involves making sure that staff are aware of the risks of harm and abuse, that operations and programmes within an organisation do not expose children to harm or any abuse.
The staff at every level of an organisation should be trained and be empowered to protect children and address and report violations. Organisations also have a role and duty within their immediate communities to raise concerns about children’s safety and to ensure awareness around child abuse and violence against children. Safeguarding ensures that the rights and well-being of children always take centre stage.
The Jesuit Institute takes child safeguarding very seriously. We aim to educate and train all those involved with children in some way, in schools, parishes, hospitals, places of safety and homes. We seek to assist organisations, parents, teachers, social workers et al to protect, nurture, and journey with children to protect them from any harm.
You can make a difference. You can help to stop abuse in your organisation today. Be the person to stand up for children, be the loudest voice when it is taboo to speak about something that does irreparable damage. Be prophetic when many others are silent.
For more interesting content, visit the Jesuit Institute of South Africa – http://www.jesuitinstitute.org.za