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Lifewater Adopts Child Protection Policy

Official policy makes vulnerable children safer.

 

This month Lifewater adopted an official Child Protection Policy that aims to keep vulnerable children safe. The policy, which applies to Lifewater staff and volunteers all over the world, outlines safeguards and reporting procedures to ensure all children are treated with respect and dignity.

“The Policy is a proactive measure we are taking to protect children and families who are already vulnerable to abuse and exploitation because of their social or economic status,” says Lindsay Lange, Lifewater’s Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist. “We are using strong safeguards and clear reporting procedures, similar to those adopted by peer organizations, to keep children safe.”

Worldwide, children remain vulnerable to abuse, violence, and exploitation. Nearly 70 million girls ages 15 to 19 (one in four) have been the victim of abuse since her 15th birthday. [simple_tooltip content=’UNICEF, Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children (New York: UNICEF, 2014).’]UNICEF studies[/simple_tooltip] show that children in families of lower socio-economic standing and children of parents with little or no formal education are the most vulnerable. This problem persists in areas where a lack of legislation or law enforcement tools leave children unprotected. Many of these most vulnerable children live in areas of Africa and Asia where Lifewater serves.

Lifewater’s Child Protection Policy formalizes and clarifies specific guidelines for appropriate behavior with children, appropriate capture and use of visual and personal communications, and reporting procedures that place the child’s well-being as the top priority. As Lifewater’s field offices expand and staff members spend more time in direct contact with families, the guidelines provide essential standards that apply across different cultures. It includes mandatory background checks for employees that have the potential to be in contact with children. All staff and anyone representing Lifewater as a volunteer or trip participant are required to abide by the policy as well.

Lifewater Legal Counsel Sada Andrews adds, “Lifewater’s policy is consistent with international standards for upholding the rights, dignity, and safety of children, but it also helps our organization and employees avoid situations where there is risk of exploitation or abuse. We reinforce the message of dignity and value for all people through how we treat children.”

The policy is effective immediately at headquarters and all field offices.

 

Lifewater International is a non-profit Christian water development organization dedicated to effectively serving vulnerable children and families by partnering with underserved communities to overcome water poverty. With experience in more than 40 countries since 1977, Lifewater serves people of all faiths, focusing on contextually appropriate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) development. For more information, contact Christine Zurbach (czurbach@lifewater.org) or visit www.lifewater.org. Lifewater International is based in San Luis Obispo, CA