By Leigh Golden, Deputy Director, Global Technical Services
As Nutrition International grows and evolves its programming to include a greater focus on maternal health, nutrition education and child and adolescent health, it is critical to ensure that staff and partners are aware of, and actively minimizing, possible risks to children caused by our programs—and that proper reporting mechanisms are in place so that any child safeguarding concerns that arise can be appropriately acted on in a timely fashion.
Nutrition International is very proud to have taken significant steps in its Child Safeguarding Policy implementation. Originally launched in 2017 as the Child Protection Policy, the appropriately renamed Child Safeguarding Policy has now been rolled out globally. With the majority of global staff trained—including our President and CEO, executive management team, headquarters and regional staff—Nutrition International is one of the first non-child-focused agencies to carry out a Child Safeguarding Policy.
While both child protection and child safeguarding policies include reporting mechanisms, referral pathways and a policy of do no harm, child protection is mostly fixed around the work done externally by agencies, government and communities to prevent and respond to abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence. Nutrition International has adopted a child safeguarding policy because it focuses on internal controls to protect children from intentional and unintentional harm caused by conduct of staff or the way we work. This will ensure that Nutrition International is doing all that is within its control in order to make programs safe for children. Child safeguarding cuts across all departments and obligates all staff.
Nutrition International follows a Child Safeguarding Focal Point model, where various levels of staff act as focal points for mandatory reporting and handling of cases. All staff and partners are trained to be aware of appropriate conduct and behaviour and to work safely by assessing/reducing risk to children within our programs. This commitment is achieved through a four-pronged approach—raising awareness, minimizing and preventing risk, putting a reporting mechanism in place, and responding to poor practice and addressing it.
We were proud to work with leading consultant experts in child protection and child safeguarding to develop the policy, roll out training and to build capacity—notably with Joanna Wedge and Christine Lipohar. We thank them for their hard work and dedication and look forward to future collaboration on these issues.
Anything that intentionally or unintentionally puts children at risk, or undermines children’s rights in any way, is a child safeguarding issue. Harm caused by the way we program is potentially as serious to children as harm caused by the conduct of our staff. Child safe programs are quality programs, and quality programs are child safe programs.
With this Child Safeguarding Policy rolled out globally, more than ever Nutrition International is proactively protecting and promoting the welfare of the children and young people we come into contact with through our programs.
Read our Child Safeguarding Policy.