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Conduct Guidelines for Children’s Rights Organizations in Mainland China

· public welfare,Children’s issues,Children’s Rights


With the rapid development of public welfare in China, public welfare organizations focussed on children’s issues have also grown and as a result have matured. As the guardian of children’s rights, children’s charity groups shall guarantee the rights of every employee as well as minimize possible dangers to children involved in their programs and activities. For this purpose, Save the Children,Beijing Social Organization Development Centre, Beijing Facilitator and Beijing Leadership Matrix Network have jointly drafted the “Guidelines for the conduct of child welfare organizations” (hereafter “the Guidelines”).
The Guidelines aim to improve the governance of children’s charity groups in order to: i) maximize the interests of children; and ii) provide a mechanism by which children’s charity groups can self-regulation and grow.
The Guidelines are based on the following principles and laws: i) the United Nations “Convention on the Rights of the Child”; ii) “The Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Minors”; and iii) “Anti-domestic Violence Law of the People’s Republic of China”.

1. Definition, commitment and application

1.1 Definition
The term ‘child’ or ‘children’ in the Guidelines are defined by “The Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Minors” as persons under the age of eighteen.
The term ‘children’s charity groups’ include public welfare organizations that focus on delivering programs or aid to children only, and include but are not limited to the Fund, Social Sector, Social Service Agencies and Social Enterprises.
The term ‘violence against children’ refers to any form of abuse, exploitation and/or violence to children, including corporal punishment, sexual violence, neglect, negligent treatment, commercial exploitation, as well as any kinds of long-term and severe behaviour or treatment that results in negative emotions or emotional damage to children, and which may also negatively affect children’s emotional and physical development.
1.2 Commitment
We believe and respect the view that children deserve all rights as defined in the United Nations “Convention on the Rights of the Child” and “The Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Minors”.
We are against any kinds of abuse, exploitation and violence against children, including physical abuse, sexual violence and emotional abuse.
We pledge to minimize any possible damage to children through education, campaigns, code of conduct implementation and the establishment of a research and report mechanism. Also, we hope to appeal for the society concerns at children and avoiding any forms of violence to children.
1.3 Application
The following children’s charity group personnel shall comply with the Guidelines:
All employees (including full-time and part-time employees);
Council member/board member;
Persons who have signed short-term contracts, including interns, consultants and researchers;
Donors, reporters, cooperative partners, suppliers and any persons who have access to children as a consequence of a working relationship with an organization.

2. Code of Conduct

A children’s charity group (an organization) shall perform risk assessments when hiring (or enlisting) employees, volunteers, interns and/or professional consultants so as to guarantee no child shall be disadvantaged. Moreover, an organization shall conduct relevant induction training focusing on child protection guidelines for all newly hired or enlisted persons.
2.1 Respect for Children’s Personality Dignity
All relevant organizations and related personnel shall:
Not use abusive, aggressive and inappropriate language in any conversation involving children.
Respect children’s personal dignity and shall not judge children.
Respect the different customs of children from place to place.
Not have a preference for or neglect any children when offering services for children.
According to a child’s level of maturity, ensure opportunities for involvement in programs and issues relevant to their interests.
Not interrupt or stop children from speaking, and attempt in the strongest possible manner to understand and accept children’s opinions and requests.
Ensure that all promotional materials about children, including paper and electronic materials, are based on the principle of maximizing the interests of children and adopt age appropriate language and expressions for children.

2.2 Protecting Children’s Privacy
All relevant organizations and related personnel shall:
Ask permission from children and their guardians before taking photos or shooting video. No photos shall be publicly broadcast without permission, including posts on any form of social media platform.
Respect children’s privacy, and shall not ask for or broadcast children’s information without permission.
Ensure all information obtained about children during the course of delivering services or programs is properly safeguarded, and that said information cannot be obtained casually.
2.3 Avoidance of Improper Contact with Children.
All relevant organizations and related personnel shall:
Ensure adults avoid situations where they are alone with children.
Ensure adults avoid intimate physical contact with children, and shall not touch or make any contact with areas of a child’s body deemed sensitive and that could be construed as behaviour associated with sexual harassment of any form.
Ensure that adults do not live alone with children, including in an employee’s home, project residence or any other places of living. Persons shall obtain permission from either the director of the organization or the child’s guardian if special circumstances require such an arrangement.
2.4 Child Protection
All relevant organizations and related personnel shall:
Not allow children to participate in dangerous activities. Outdoor activities shall be supervised so as to protect and ensure children’s safety.
Not allow child labour.
Not allow children to join dangerous activities, including but not limited to drug taking or viewing pornographic and/or violent audio-visual materials.
Have a duty of care to conduct service environment security assessments to ensure the design and arrangement of service facilities contains no potential to harm children’s safety.

3. Report and Reaction, and Procedures

3.1 Report and Reaction
All relevant organizations and related personnel shall:
Establish relevant reporting and procedural mechanisms, which provide safe and effective appeal channels for children.
Ensure adequate procedures and channels for any personnel to report activity that fails to conform with the Guidelines to a relevant superior. If the activity is of a criminal nature, then personnel should report directly to the senior most person in the organization.
Ensure that after receiving information of non-compliance with the Guideline, the organization shall commence an internal investigation within 24 hours. In controversial cases, or cases in which the facts are in dispute, the principle of “maximize the interests of the child” shall always go first.
Ensure that, in a case of a child being subjected to violence, children are not blamed. Relevant personnel shall clearly state to children that it is not wrong to tell others they are being abused.
Ensure that, during the investigation of a case, children's opinions are fully respected and genuinely considered; children shall be informed that the organization will take positive actions to guarantee their safety under any circumstances.
Ensure children will be informed about the case and/or investigation as it proceeds.
Ensure information about children relevant to the case and/or is kept absolutely confidential.
Ensure that in the event of an organization dealing improperly with a case of non-compliance, the case shall be turned over to be investigated and concluded by an external organization.
Ensure that personnel found to have abused children in the home, community or school are reported to the police according to the relevant terms under “Anti-domestic Violence Law of the People’s Republic of China”.
3.2 Procedures
In the event of personnel being in non-compliance with the Guidelines, the most serious outcomes are:
As an employee: termination of the labour contract immediately.
As a volunteer: termination of the voluntary relationship.
As a consultant: termination of the advisory relationship.
As a cooperative partner: suspension or termination of the partnership.
In addition, if non-compliance is a crime, then the organization shall contact the relevant local law enforcement agency immediately to guarantee children’s safety and the criminal offender shall be punished by law.

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