Make A Difference (MAD) Child Protection Policy

Make A Difference (MAD) is committed to the protection of all children from all forms of harm. In particular, the safety and well-being of the children coming into contact with MAD's programs is a paramount concern. The reputation of MAD and MAD's volunteer efforts in overseas countries is also important.

MAD supports the rights and welfare of all our staff, volunteers, and program participants. MAD encourages their active involvement in ensuring safe and respectful environments during any MAD program. MAD's Child Protection Policy has four guiding principles:

  • Zero tolerance of child abuse: Child abuse is not tolerated by Make A Difference, nor is possession of or access to child pornography.

  • Recognition of children's interests: MAD is committed to upholding the rights of children and recognizes that some children, such as children with disabilities and children living in areas impacted by disasters (natural or conflict based), are particularly vulnerable.

  • Sharing responsibility for child protection: To effectively manage risks to children, MAD requires the active support and cooperation of its staff, volunteers, and program participants. MAD's staff, volunteers and program participants must comply with this policy and will be held accountable for complying with it.

  • Use of a risk management approach: Careful management can reduce the incidence of child abuse associated with aid activities. This policy introduces strategies for minimizing a range of recognized risks to children.

This policy provides guidance to staff, volunteers and program participants on the acceptable behaviors and appropriate boundaries when coming into contact with children. Although MAD's staff, volunteers, and program participants are not required to work directly with children, it is inevitable that they will be in contact with children while engaged in MAD's programs and projects. This policy is applicable to all situations when such contact is made.

MAD will review this policy every three years or earlier if warranted. MAD will remove any staff member, volunteer, or program participant from any aspect of MAD's operations when it considers that person poses an unacceptable risk to children's safety. Definition of a child: A child is regarded to be any person 18 years and under, regardless of the age of consent locally.

MAD's staff, volunteers and program participants will:

  • Treat every child with dignity and respect regardless of differences of ethnicity, religion, age, ability, gender, sexual orientation, race, color, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, disability, birth status, and economic circumstances.

  • Conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their position as a positive role model to children and as a representative of Make A Difference.

  • Immediately raise and report any concerns for the safety or well-being of a child with the director of Make A Difference in accordance with the Make A Difference In-Country Code of Conduct.

  • Be visible when working with children. Avoid being alone with children and, wherever possible, ensure that other adults are present when working in the proximity of children.

  • Comply with all relevant American and local legislation, including labor laws in relation to child labor Photography or filming involving children.

  • Volunteers should be mindful of the following if they are photographing or filming a child. Assess and endeavor to comply with local traditions or restrictions for reproducing personal images. If in doubt, queries are to be directed to the program team leader in the first instance or director. Wherever possible, obtain consent from the child and guardian of the child. The intended use of the photograph or film should be explained to the guardian of the child. Ensure photographs, films, videos and DVDs present children in a dignified and respectful manner and not in a vulnerable or submissive manner. Ensure images are honest representations of the context and the facts. Ensure photograph or film labels do not reveal private information about a child when sending images electronically unless it is to a sponsor.

MAD staff, volunteers and program participants will not:

Engage in any behavior that is intended to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade children.

  • Use language, make suggestions, offer advice or engage in any behavior that is inappropriate, offensive, harassing, sexually provocative, demeaning, culturally inappropriate or abusive.

  • Do things of a personal nature that a child can do for him/herself, such as assistance with the toilet or changing clothes.

  • Take children to their own accommodation unless they are at immediate risk of injury or in physical danger.

  • Sleep in the same room or bed as a child unless absolutely necessary, in which case, the project team leader's permission must be obtained, and another adult must be present wherever possible.

  • Physically punish or discipline any child.

  • Engage any child or children in any form of sexual activity or acts, including paying for sexual activity or acts, where under the law(s) applicable to the child.

  • Act in ways that may be abusive or place a child at risk of abuse.

  • Behave physically in a manner that is inappropriate or sexually provocative towards a child.

  • Condone, or participate in, behavior towards children which is illegal, unsafe or abusive.

  • Act in a way that shows unfair differential treatment, or favoring particular children to the exclusion of others.

  • Record or publish any child's name or any address details with photographs without consulting the child and Make A Difference.

  • Hold, kiss, cuddle or touch a child in an inappropriate, unnecessary or culturally insensitive way. Touching should only be in response to the need of the child; be only with the child's permission (except in an emergency situation); avoid the breasts, buttocks and groin; and be open and no secretive.

  • Use any computers, mobile phones, or video and digital cameras inappropriately, or access child pornography through any medium.

  • Hire children for domestic or other labor which is inappropriate given their age or developmental stage, which interferes with their time available for education and recreational activities, or which places them at significant risk of injury.

Policy dated: May 2012