This Child and Youth Protection Guideline is based on the Child Protection Guideline of the National Coalition Germany – Network for the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It serves as Code of Conduct for all staff members of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – Germany e.V. and as a guideline for all Award Operators.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – Germany e.V. (“Association”) was founded in 1995 with the aim of promoting the personal development of young people.
Each year, teenagers and young adults aged 14-24 participate in the Award program. These young people are supported by adults who accompany the participants as Award Leaders.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child with its fundamental principles forms the foundation of the association’s work. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, all children are entitled to protection, promotion and participation rights. These rights cannot be separated from each other. Even though the child protection guideline places a special focus on protection from violence, the other rights must be considered as a framework.
2. Aim and addressees of the Child and Youth Protection Guideline
2.1 Children and young people
This Child and Youth Protection Policy has been developed to ensure that the rights of children and young people are respected during their participation in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Programme and that children and young people are protected from all forms of violence and abuse during their participation in the Award Programme.
2.2 Staff of the Association and Volunteers
These standards are intended to raise awareness among staff and volunteers. They provide orientation with regard to common basic values and behavioral guidelines. They are also concrete guidelines for dealing with suspected cases.
These guidelines and standards also serve to protect staff and volunteers who work with children, youth and young adults in the Award program. In the event of suspicion, a fair process should be ensured. If the suspicion is not substantiated, measures will be taken to restore the person’s reputation.
2.3 Staff of Award Operators and Volunteers
Employees and volunteers of Award Operators licensed by the Association agree to abide by these standards upon licensing their organisation and participating in the Award.
3. Violence against Children, Adolescents and Young Adults
3.1 Legal framework
The rights of children and young people, including their protection from all forms of violence, are enshrined in various conventions and laws at global, national and regional levels.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the three additional protocols (Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, concerning, firstly, the involvement of children in armed conflict, secondly, the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and thirdly, a notification procedure) form the overarching frame of reference for this Child Protection Policy. The four basic principles contained therein, which include the right to equal treatment, the primacy of the best interests of the child, the right to life and personal development, and respect for the views of the child, are a natural part of our approach.
The Convention defines in Art. 1 “every person who has not attained the age of eighteen years as a child, unless the applicable national law establishes an earlier age of majority”. Since participation in the Award program is also open to adults up to and including the age of 24, this guideline also applies to participating young adults who are particularly vulnerable, without this being explicitly mentioned.
In Germany, central elements of child and youth protection include the Federal Child Protection Act of 2012 and the right to a non-violent upbringing in § 1631 BGB from 2000.
Concept of violence
Violence violates the child’s right to physical and psychological integrity. Violence against children occurs in a wide variety of forms and situations and is usually associated with power imbalances and dependencies. It can be perpetrated by adults, but also by children against other children; it can manifest itself on the internet or in social media or be initiated via the internet; it also includes violence by children against themselves (e.g. self-harm). In many cases, children are exposed to multiple forms of violence – also simultaneously – and some groups of children, for example, unaccompanied refugee minors, girls or children with disabilities, are at increased risk.
Inadequate implementation of the prohibition of violence, lack of monitoring and lack of legal protection can lead to structural or institutional violence against children. The association’s child protection guidelines use a broad concept of violence, which is also the basis for Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
According to the World Health Organisation, physical violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, a group or community. It results in an actual or high probability of injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.
Sexual violence/sexual abuse
Sexualised violence or sexual abuse is understood here as the enticement or coercion of children to engage in sexual acts. Sexualised violence often also occurs in connection with sexual exploitation, for example in the production and dissemination of abusive images on the internet. Sexualised assault can also manifest itself through the use of words and terms that are not age-appropriate, through the actual or threatened sexually motivated touching of a child, through activities without physical contact, such as showing pornographic material or showing or touching one’s own genitals in the presence of the child.
Psychological violence includes forms of maltreatment through psychological or emotional pressure, including the humiliation of the child, name-calling, putting the child in fear, ignoring, isolating and confining, witnessing domestic violence and highly contentious custody proceedings, stalking, bullying and cyber-bullying, as well as other forms of psychological violence that manifest themselves primarily on or via the Internet, such as incitement, discrimination and grooming.
Neglect includes the withholding of services to meet the needs of children and adolescents (physical, psychological, emotional, social).
Other forms of violence and contexts of violence, such as “harmful practices”, child trafficking, structural violence or the gender dimension of violence, are necessary for a holistic view of violence. The present child protection guideline focuses on the above-mentioned forms of violence.
4. Preventive measures
4.1 Code of Conduct
All persons working for the association sign the association’s code of conduct when they are employed. They thus undertake to contribute to a protected environment for children and other vulnerable persons. This applies in particular to employed staff, external experts or project staff as well as volunteers. The Code of Conduct aims to ensure a professional and personal standard of protection. By signing the Code of Conduct, the signatory undertakes to actively contribute to building and maintaining an environment that is safe for children. All employees of the office are responsible for observing, publicising and disseminating the Code of Conduct.
Signing the Code of Conduct is a prerequisite for working at the office or in an honorary capacity. → Code of Conduct, see appendix
Award Operators licensed by the Association undertake to comply with this Code of Conduct by signing the Licence Agreement. All persons working for an Award Operator implementing the Award program are required to sign the Association’s Code of Conduct. This is the responsibility of the individual Award Operator.
All full-time and voluntary staff, representatives and those working for the Association on a short-term contract basis will be carefully selected and vetted. Advertisements for positions and contracts for work or fees contain a reference to the association’s child protection standards.
In the course of the recruitment or selection process, child protection issues are discussed in the selection interview. The child protection guideline is already pointed out to people during the job interview. Identification with the Child Protection Policy and a commitment to comply with the Code of Conduct are prerequisites for employment.
The attitude towards violence against children is discussed when staff is recruited and when agreements are made with volunteers and freelancers. An extended certificate of good conduct from the police must be provided if the work involves direct contact with children. All employees are informed about the Child Protection Policy in a personal interview.
4.3 Awareness-raising measures and further training
The association ensures that all staff members have basic knowledge about the rights of children and adolescents, especially with regard to the fundamental principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, about violence prevention and non-violent handling including sexualised violence and recognising signals, and that they can take advantage of further training on the topic of violence prevention and intervention. For this purpose, information events and trainings of the National Coalition or the Children’s Rights Network are disseminated and participation is supported. In addition, the association will develop a strategy together with the Children’s Rights Forum on how children and young people can complain about rights violations. This will be developed with the involvement of the Youth Advisory Council.
4.4 Contact persons in case of rights violations
The office appoints the Executive Director as Child Protection Officer. In addition, a person is appointed at the Children’s Rights Forum as a direct contact person for children, adolescents and young adults who do not wish to report to the association. For this purpose, the association will set up various channels for a direct and confidentially treated complaint to the Children’s Rights Forum, which children, adolescents and young adults can use to get help with child rights in case of violations of their rights also independently of the association. These channels are announced on the website of the association.
4.5 Standards for communication with the media
In order to protect children and young people from dangers such as violence or stigmatisation, the office ensures that the standards of the Convention on the Rights of the Child are taken into account in the production and dissemination of media content and that the dignity of children is respected and their identity protected. The office informs media representatives about the guidelines for reporting, including the protective measures for particularly vulnerable children.
The office undertakes to handle the taking and publication of photos of children and young people with care. The reporting guidelines serve as a guide. For example, if photos are to be published on Facebook or on the website as part of project documentation, the children and young people must give their consent. Care should be taken to change locations and other identifying information that could lead to the whereabouts of children. The issue of photo rights is regularly addressed in the office in order to adequately protect the privacy of children and young people.
4.6 Consent and assent forms
In the case of events, especially expeditions, lasting several days, regulations concerning the duty of supervision and youth protection laws of the respective venues must be observed. Within this framework, agreements are made with young people and their legal guardians.
Data protection and the right to one’s own image
With regard to photos, videos and other personal information about the lives of children and young people used in materials of the association or whose data is otherwise processed, the standards of the General Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO) must be observed.
If the minor is under 14 years of age, the consent of the person with custody is mandatory. If the minor is older than 14, the written consent of the young person is sufficient.
In principle, the written consent of the child should also be obtained for children under 14 years of age. Children or adolescents must be informed in an understandable way about how the information, the picture, and the film will be used and that they have the right to refuse consent or to revoke it later. They must be asked whether they consent to their first name being shared with the information, image or film.
5. Case management
5.1 Applicable principles
Should a suspected case come to the attention of the office, the following basics will be applied:
- the action plan for suspected cases or crises → overview of reporting and case management, see appendix
- Responsibility of the child protection officer and/or the contact person at the Children’s Rights Forum
- Reporting form, → Reporting form, see appendix
- Complaint management, → Helpando/Child Rights Forum, see website
5.2 General standards
The association investigates every reported suspected case. Appropriate crisis guidelines are developed for professional handling. The case management procedure provides a frame of reference and is intended to ensure the flow of information. All decisions within the case management system are based on the welfare and protection of the child, young person or young adult. Rapid access to help must be ensured in order to prevent further harm.
The case management system is known to all staff members as well as external professionals and service providers. Furthermore, all cooperation partners are informed about the procedures of this system. Children and young people are informed about the complaint management system and the contact persons in an appropriate form and in comprehensible language. This applies in particular when the office itself implements projects that involve direct contact with children.
In the case of all tips, it is first of all of central importance to remain calm and to never directly question both the victim and the suspected person about the incident. Victim protection is the highest priority; this involves a sensitive approach. The aim of the case management system is to enable an adequate and quick investigation of the respective situation in case of indications and to identify cases of abuse and maltreatment at an early stage.
The child protection officer or the contact person at the Children’s Rights Forum decides on further cooperation with the person until clarification has been made; if necessary, cooperation can be suspended in particularly serious cases. The clarifications are to be carried out in accordance with data protection guidelines and on the basis of a fair procedure. The respective procedures are necessarily differentiated according to persons internal and external to the association and can be found in detailed form in the appendix.
5.3 Guidelines for crisis situations and procedures in the event of a notification
The central point of contact is the association’s child protection officer. A second person from the Children’s Rights Forum is also communicated as the contact person.
The child protection officer carries out the initial clarification and decides on further steps. The persons concerned are informed about the procedure in compliance with applicable data protection regulations and confidentiality obligations.
Basically, three different case constellations can be distinguished with which the office can be confronted:
a) The information concerns a person from among the staff of the office or persons who have gained access to children and young people through an activity or assignment for the office.
b) The information concerns a person from among the Award Operators of the Association or persons who have access to children through the member organisations.
c) In the course of carrying out activities, staff members of the association become aware of violence against children with reference to persons, organisations or institutions that are outside the direct competence or responsibility of the office, for example within the family.
While the present child protection guideline provides certainty of action for the first case constellation, for the second and third case constellations the child protection officer is primarily responsible for initiating further steps.
6. Documentation and further development
The association’s office regularly reviews the implementation of the Child and Youth Protection Guidelines. The Child Protection Officer reports once a year on activities related to child protection to the General Assembly.
The staff of the office inform each other and plan necessary further training. The aim is to achieve a process of continuous internal organisational learning to improve the child and youth protection system. Every single tip is finally documented according to the prescribed forms and filed in accordance with data protection regulations for sensitive data.
Incidents and complaints are not only handled professionally, they also serve the learning process of the association and contribute to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Germany. The child protection officer is responsible for the documentation and the annual status report at the general meeting. The report includes empirical values from the ongoing work and suggestions for changes in the handling of future cases. Transparency is ensured through documentation and reporting.
Every three years, the Child and Youth Protection Guideline is subjected to an internal review and – if necessary – revised.
7. Publicising the child and youth protection guideline (safeguarding policy)
The association will publish the Child and Youth Protection Policy on its website and include it in its internal knowledge management. The Child Protection Policy will be presented to the members during the 2022 General Assembly.
The Child Protection Officer will initiate further steps for communication and further development.
Berlin, May 2022