Little Friends for Peace Child Abuse Prevention Policy
All children have the right to be safe and protected from harm in every environment―home, school, nonprofit facilities, neighborhoods, and communities. Little Friends for Peace embraces this right to safety as an essential part of its peace education mission and is dedicated to promoting and ensuring the protection of all children. It commits to doing everything in its power to create a safe environment for children and young people and to prevent their emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Children, staff members, and volunteers are expressly informed that we have a zero-tolerance policy for language and actions that compromise any child or adult’s safety or their dignity as a child of God.
I. Screening of staff and volunteers
The pre-employment evaluation of applicants for all staff positions that involve contact with children and applicants over 18 years old for all volunteer positions that involve contact with children include the following six steps:
· Applicants complete a standard application form, which requests information regarding any history of abuse.
· Applicants are asked to provide three references. These references are contacted and asked to vouch for the good character of the applicant. A record of each conversation is made on our standard reference check form.
· Each applicant is personally interviewed by the co-directors.
· A records check for prior history of abuse is made with the appropriate agencies in every state where the applicant has worked. Employment or acceptance of volunteer services is contingent upon a favorable Criminal History Record Check and background check.
· Copies of the application form, reference check form, and Criminal History Record Check are maintained for the duration of employment and for five years afterwards.
· A list of all individuals refused employment or volunteer work because of abuse concerns is maintained for five years after contact with LFFP.
II. Staff Training
The training and orientation provided to all LFFP staff members and volunteers, including counselors and junior counselors, includes a section that articulates our zero tolerance policy, the rights of victims, families, and the accused, and state reporting requirements. Children, teens, and adults are educated about the nature of abuse and its common signs and symptoms. They are encouraged to report any cause for concern affecting them or another person to one of the co-directors. They are assured that every report will be taken seriously and will lead to appropriate action.
III. Information Provided to Children and Teens
Discussions include but are not limited to the following subjects:
· Basic safety skills
· How to recognize dangerous and abusive situations
· Appropriate and inappropriate physical contact and other interpersonal boundary violations
· The right to say NO to unwanted situations
· The right to identify trusting adults with whom to speak freely
· The importance of prompt disclosure if inappropriate or unwanted actions are directed to self or others
· Recognition that abusive situations are never the fault of the child.
IV. Reporting of Concerns
If at any time an administrator or staff member of LFFP has reason to believe that a child who attends one of our programs is being abused or neglected, either within our program or outside it, a director will make a report to child welfare authorities. All staff members are provided with instructions and contact information for reporting concerns to child welfare authorities in DC, Maryland, Virginia, or other appropriate jurisdiction. Volunteers, councilors, and junior councilors are encouraged to report concerns to a staff member or one of the co-directors.
V. Care for Children Involved in Incidents or Allegations
Every effort will be made to protect the privacy and dignity of children about whom concerns arise and of their families, consistent with the duty to report concerns. We will also refer families to professional counselors and encourage them to seek out the care they need to promote healing.
VI. Protection against False Reports
Our responsibility for the well-being of all persons associated with LFFP includes the civil rights and the spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being of any individual against whom a charge of abuse is made.
While recognizing the significant trauma experienced by abuse victims, we also recognize the trauma and harm of false accusations. We will strive to minimize any personal or professional adverse consequences of unsupported allegations by making referrals to mental health services, working with the accused to restore his or her good name, and taking steps to inform the community of the outcome of the investigation.