As an international, child-centred community development organisation, Plan International is fully committed to promoting the realisation of children's rights, including their right to protection from violence and abuse. That means we have particular responsibilities to children that we come into contact with.
Plan International believes that in a world where children face so many threats of harm, it is our duty to ensure that we, as an organisation, do everything we can to keep children safe. We must not contribute in any way to harming or placing children at risk.
Our Child Protection Policy (CPP), 'Say Yes! to Keeping Children Safe', provides the framework for the organisation’s responsibility to keep children safe, ensuring that no child comes to harm as a result of their engagement with us, whether that be via their interaction with staff and those who represent us, or their participation in our programmes, sponsorship, activities and fundraising or advocacy campaigns.
In addition, it details our responsibility to ensure that we minimise risks to children in everything we do and places an obligation on us to report concerns we have over a child’s safety. It commits us to ensuring that our activities and programmes do not impact negatively on children, whether associated with us or not, and that the best interest of a child remains a priority.
Through our CPP implementation framework, we aim to provide safe environments for children in all aspects of our work, where children are respected, treated without discrimination and supported to realise their potential.
The policy governs the behaviours of Plan International staff, associates and visitors, ensures we minimise risks to children and report any concerns about a child’s welfare appropriately.
Plan International programmes globally address the problem of violence against children in wider society. These programme activities are linked to, but distinct from our efforts to ensure that we as an organisation ‘do no harm’ to children.
To reduce the risks for children we have developed measures and mechanisms designed to prevent harm:
1. Policy and guidance: We have in place a strong child protection policy and associated procedures and guidance - including guidelines on the behaviour staff and those associated with us should adopt when interacting with children, how to report and deal with breaches of the child protection policy and standards for implementation that are used to measure how well the policy is being put into practice.
2. Awareness and prevention: We work on creating a culture of awareness where:
- everyone within Plan International is aware of and understands the problem of child abuse, what is expected in their behaviour with children, and their responsibilities to prevent harm and protect children
- those associated with Plan International understand their responsibilities to prevent harm and protect children
- children and communities we work with are aware of our policy, so that they know what behaviours to expect from us and how to report any concerns.
3. Reporting and responding: We ensure that our staff and associates are clear on what steps to take where concerns arise and that Plan International can respond effectively to these concerns.
4. Staff and partner development: We provide comprehensive in-house training to ensure that our staff and managers are appropriately skilled, confident and supported in meeting their child protection responsibilities. This training is also cascaded down to partner organisations and other associates as appropriate.
5. Child protection in risk management: We include child protection in risk management thus ensuring that child protection risks are identified and controls put in place.
6. Monitoring, reporting and accountability: We monitor the extent to which child protection measures are in place, evaluating their effectiveness through annual checks across the organisation and undertake child protection audits in countries.
7. Clear responsibilities and designated staff: The Boards of Plan International are ultimately accountable for the child protection policy. The prime responsibility for the implementation of the policy lies with the director of each Plan International office. Managers have very clear responsibilities for making sure that child protection measures are in place and operating effectively and are held to account via performance management and appraisal. Each country also has a lead child protection policy focal point who coordinates the implementation of the policy.
8. Safe engagement and sanctions: We take action to prevent those who abuse or may be a risk to children from becoming involved with Plan International and take stringent measures against any Plan staff, associates or visitors who abuse a child.
The Keeping Children Safe Coalition, which sets industry standards in child protection, has described Plan International as being "at the forefront of child safeguarding", not only meeting but exceeding the requirements for Level 1 certification.
The coalition assessed Plan International's framework for implementing the Child Protection Policy – Say Yes! to Keeping Children Safe – which exists to ensure that no child comes to any harm as a result of their involvement with Plan International or its representatives.
Level 1 certification depends on the framework clearly outlining where there are risks to children's safety and identifying the steps that need to be taken to minimise those risks. The coalition found Plan International's framework to be robust, ensuring that we put children's safety at the heart of everything we do.
The coalition also praised the advice, training and guidelines that Plan International also supplies to other organisations, cementing Plan International 's position as a leader in this field.
If you have questions or concerns about child protection at Plan International, contact our Head of Child Protection Policy:
Read about our child protection programme work