When working with youth, we each have the responsibility to protect those we serve from abuse, neglect and exploitation. This resource will provide skate ministry leaders and volunteers with an overview of child protection. We will explore the risks and strategies for your local skate ministry and tips to strengthen your policies and the systems within your ministry structure.
What is Child Protection?
By definition, Chi;d Protection is, "the prevention of and response to abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence against children” (Source: Child Protection Working Group). Eglantyne Jebb wrote a document called the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. This was adopted by the League of Nations in 1924 and in 1959 by the United Nations. It states:
- A child must be given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually.
- A child that is hungry must be fed, the child that is sick must be nursed, the child that is backward must be helped, the delinquent child must be reclaimed, and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succoured.
- A child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress.
- A child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood, and must be protected against every form of exploitation.
- A child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of its fellow men.
As ministries working with children this declaration is also our responsibility. We must always consider what are the best interests of the children we are serving.
Why is Child Protection Important?
Every ministry working with children has a responsibility to put safeguarding measures in place. Our main goal should always be to keep children safe, but it's also important to remember that the reputation and success of your ministry also depends on how well we protect those we serve.
When working with skaters, we often are also working with youth that come from difficult backgrounds. As a ministry, this can present extra challenges and responsibilities.
What is a Child Protection Policy?
A child protection policy provides guidelines for organizations and their staff to create safe environments for children. Also called a CPP, this policy is a tool that protects both children and staff by clearly defining what action is required in order to keep children safe. The CPP ensures consistency and clear guidelines so that all staff follow the same process. This policy is the responsibility of ALL staff and volunteers in a ministry.
A CPP will be slightly different for each ministry or organization but should contain common elements, such as defining key terms relating to child protection, policies for background check for staff and volunteer recruitment, behavior protocols for everyone involved in the ministry, visitor and media guidelines, policies regarding partnerships, and incident reporting procedures.
The following are the common requirements for ALL Christian Skaters partners who have a local ministry:
- Establish a staff and volunteer pledge: Require all staff/volunteers must sign a Child Protection agreement before beginning work within your ministry.
- Train new staff and volunteers: Every staff or volunteer should receive child protection training that working in accordance with you local governmental laws so they understand the laws, ministry policies and course of action for every possible situation. Everyone involved in your ministry must know this policy, even those not in direct contact with children.
- Review Your Policies Annually: An annual review of the child protection protocols, any changes in local laws and ministry protocol for incident reporting is important. Set an annual date to meet with key leaders to review this.
- Integrate Your Child Protection Policies into ALL Areas of Ministry: Consider Child Protection policies when communicating with others, when partnering from other organization and groups, and when hiring staff or bringing on new volunteers. All staff and volunteers should undergo a locally recognized background check, have references on file and go through proper channels before working with youth in your ministry.
- Partnership Policies: Potential partners must share a copy of their child protection policy or protocols. Partner should also receive a current copy of your ministry's CPP. It is always a best practice to have partners sign and date your CPP agreement before any collaboration begins.
- Visitor and Media Policies: With European laws tightening on minors in media, it is important that every person who is part of a media outlet, be present with your media and CPP policies. Before taking photos or video, these outlets should sign and date these policies. The policies should include the following stipulations:
- Only take photos that show children in a positive light, not singling out individual children, not using real names, ensuring parent consent before taking photos.
- Every guardian of a minor must also be approached in their native language and give their own permission before having their child's photo or video taken by any media personnel. When each student registers for your program, parents and/or guardians should be asked to sign consent for their child to appear in both externally- and internally-produced media. This should be kept on file at the ministry.
- Safety While Skateboarding: We must also consider safety policies as children skate. Safety gear should be provided and helmets should be worn by teachers and leaders as an example to the youth. Ministries must have a good leader/youth ration (ideally 8-10 skaters per leader). When possible, skaters should be broken up by ability. And, all staff should have annual first aid training and be equipped with a complete first aid kit.
If you don’t have one yet, create your own Child Protection Policy, and ensure your organization has relevant supporting documents like a Code of Conduct and Media Agreement.
Examples and Resources: