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Safeguarding Children & Young People

Introduction

Plan International Ireland recognises that violence against children and young people is prevalent throughout the world and in all societies. Violence against children includes physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment, and sexual abuse and exploitation. Furthermore, children and young people may be more vulnerable and at risk due to gender identity, sexuality, ethnic origin, class, disability, age, or illness.

Plan International Ireland is fully committed to ending violence against children and young people and acknowledge that we have a duty to promote gender responsive safeguarding of children and young people and particularly those with whom we work or with whom we are in contact.

Purpose of National Safeguarding Policy

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that:

  • all who work for and engage with us are skilled, confident, competent, and are well supported in meeting their responsibilities to safeguard children and young people from violence and engage positively with them in ways that enhance the achievement of our Purpose;
  • procedures are in place to prevent and deal with the actions/behaviour of our Staff, Associates, Visitors or us as an organisation that result in violence against a child or young person and/or places them at risk of same; and
  • children and young people we work with are aware of our responsibilities to prevent and respond to any harm against them arising from actions and behaviours of our Staff, Associates and Visitors, and the routes for reporting such incidents.

Policy Statement

Plan International Ireland recognises the rights of all children within our care to be protected from harm in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Our Child Protection Mission is to: 

“Create ‘child safe’ environments – internally and externally – where children are respected, protected, empowered and active in their own protection, and where staff are skilled, confident, competent, and well supported in meeting their protection responsibilities through clear policies, procedures, and good practice”. 

We are fully committed to the gender responsive safeguarding of all children and young people from all forms of violence. We take very seriously our responsibility and duty to ensure that we, as an organisation, and anyone who represents us does not in any way harm, abuse or commit any other act of violence against children and young people or place them at risk of the same.

  • We promote child and youth safe practices, approaches, interventions and environments which respects, recognises and responds to the specific safeguarding needs and addresses the protection risks of the differing gender and other identities.
  • We will challenge and do not tolerate inequality, discrimination or exclusion.
  • We respond to a child or young person who may be in need of protection and or psycho-social support and intend that their welfare and best interests will at all times be of paramount consideration.
  • We ensure all who work with and engage with us understand and are supported in their meeting safeguarding roles and responsibilities.
  • We take positive action to prevent anyone who might be a risk to children and young people from becoming involved with us and take stringent measures against any Staff, Associate or Visitor who perpetrates an act of violence against a child.
  • We promote the active involvement of children and young people in their own protection.

Responsibility

While safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility, the Safeguarding Focal Point (SFP) is the key contact for Safeguarding queries and concerns. Any concerns, however minor, should be brought to their attention immediately. In the absence of the SFP, the CEO or the Global Safeguarding Manager at Plan International Global Hub should be contacted. A designated member of Plan International Ireland’s Board is responsible for considering Safeguarding in all board decisions.

Procedures

All staff members, Board members, interns and volunteers are required to have a good understanding of the basic procedures. 

Anyone connected with Plan International Ireland and/or travelling overseas to visit a project is obliged to sign and abide by the policy and procedures in place, including but not limited to staff, board members, child sponsors, journalists, donors, etc. Implementation of the policy is monitored through an annual Safeguarding Audit, risk assessments, and a policy review every two years. All new staff members, interns, Board members and relevant suppliers receive a Safeguarding Induction within one week of joining Plan.

 Plan International Ireland adheres to Irish child protection standards, as outlined in ‘Children First Act’ – and as such, this national policy has been enhanced to include considerations of the Irish Children First Act 2015, in line with the TULSA guide, Child Safeguarding; A Guide for Policy, Procedure and Practice.

  1. All Staff, Associates, and Visitors shall:
    • commit and contribute to an environment where children and young people feel respected, supported, safe and protected;
    • never act or behave in a manner that results in violence against a child or young person or places a child or young person at risk of violence;
    • be aware of and adhere to the provisions of this Policy.
  2. All Staff shall:
    • comply with this Policy, including the Safeguarding Code of Conduct;
    • report and respond to safeguarding concerns and breaches of the policy in line with the applicable procedures of Plan International Ireland or, when travelling with Plan International, the applicable Plan International Entity.
    • have a responsibility to consider and help minimise child safeguarding risks within their own areas of responsibility;
    • communicate Plan International Ireland’s safeguarding commitments with relevant stakeholders, including but not limited to partners, donors, sponsors and public engagement/communications.
  3. Plan International Ireland staff members, volunteers and associates may occasionally work directly with children in Ireland and overseas. In anticipation of this the following measures are in place:
    • Candidates for this work are subject to enhanced background checks.
    • Staff members, who will conduct programming in Ireland must obtain Garda Vetting.
    • Parental consent will be required for all children involved in a Plan International activity. This consent will be documented and filed.
    • Children will be accompanied by a Plan International Staff member or Plan International volunteer at all times;
    • If accommodation is required, it will be appropriate to the age and gender of the children and separate to the adults.

Data Protection, Information, and Images

The nature of our work means we hold details of children and their families. We are solely responsible for ensuring that the information is not abused and is used for the intended purpose.

We will only use children’s images or personal information in our marketing, advocacy, fundraising, communication, and programme work in ways that will safeguard their dignity and protect their rights. Permission is always obtained for these images and information.

All information and images are held securely, databases are password protected and access to information is given on the basis of role.

 Suppliers and agencies working on our behalf are made aware of our safeguarding policy and must ensure that their operations offer the same degree of protection.

Plan International Ireland monitor all internet traffic and web usage for inappropriate content.

Plan International Supporters

Plan International supporters include all donors who make financial contributions individually and/or as a group, company, or organisation. Supporters also include others who donate their time, public standing, expertise, and enthusiasm to further our work. To ensure that we do not put children at risk through contact with supporters, we have the following safeguards in place:

  • We retain the right to turn down requests to support Plan International at our discretion.
  • We screen all communications from sponsors to sponsored children for any inappropriate, written, or visual material and contact details. This is to protect both sponsor and child from unregulated and possibly inappropriate contact. To ensure this we use the medium of reference numbers for both parties.
  • Zero tolerance on unsupervised direct/indirect contact (such contact may include but is not limited to visits and any form of communication via social media, emails, letters etc.) that is intended to establish personal relationships with any child associated with Plan International.

Identifying Risk & Taking Action

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, and it is everyone’s responsibility to report any potential or actual risk to a child or young person’s wellbeing and safety. An incident report form should be used to record any abuse, attempted abuse or suspected abuse of a young person and shared with the Safeguarding Focal Point. The Safeguarding Focal Point will follow up with staff, Board members, local Plan International offices and external bodies as relevant and appropriate.

For any questions, concerns or for more information, please contact Emily Lyon, our Safeguarding Officer or email Safeguarding.Ireland@plan-international.org.