A guest post from Maryam Ehsani of Keeping Children Safe
Keeping Children Safe, KCS
Every day, in every country, children are abused, beaten, raped, and more. Too often, the abuser is someone the child knows and trusts. They may even work for an organisation that’s meant to help children, but they abuse their power and the child’s trust. Tragically, it’s children in already desperate situations who are most at risk. As recent reports have shown, no sector is immune; children have been abused by NGO workers, by peacekeeping personnel, teachers, sports coaches, religious leaders, and staff in the corporate sector.
Keeping Children Safe is an international network of organisations across the world working to implement tough International Child Safeguarding Standards to protect the children they come into contact with. These standards call for organisations of all types and sizes to implement rigorous policies, processes and tests to protect children from abuse. That could mean training staff to understand appropriate language and behaviour. Encouraging teams to run background checks on new recruits. And helping families and communities to understand what they can do to support young people.
Until recently our 70-strong network of organisations was composed of entirely of NGOs, but in summer this year, Keeping Children Safe welcomed Oxford Policy Management (OPM) as our first ever corporate member. This means that OPM has committed to implement international standards on child safeguarding across all its business activities.
All organisations have a responsibility to protect children from harm and this includes corporates. Consideration of child safeguarding should be central to any corporate social responsibility strategy and the Committee on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 16 (2013) states that all businesses must meet their responsibilities regarding children's rights, and states must ensure they do so.
As OPM sets the standard for corporates around the world, here are five main reasons why others should follow their lead:
- It demonstrates their commitment to the rights and protection of children.
- It ensures they are doing all they can to be certain that their staff, operations, and partners do no harm to children.
- It abuse does occur, it ensures that reporting and response mechanisms are of the highest possible quality.
- It minimises the risk to an organisation’s reputation, particularly when staff are on placements, or are volunteering.
- It ensures the protection and safety of children is at the heart of business activities and programmes.
You can read more about OPM becoming Keeping Children Safe’s first corporate client in a news item at their website.
Maryam Ehsani is the Child Safeguarding Network Manager at Keeping Children Safe. She supports all types of organisations to implement and strengthen International Child Safeguarding Standards; develops an international child safeguarding community of practice; provides ongoing technical advice and coaching to members and undertakes certification and auditing for all full members. Maryam has an MA in International Children’s Rights.
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