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Safeguarding During COVID-19

Safeguarding is defined by different organisations in different ways but refers to the prevention of harm to adults and children by humanitarian and development workers, associates and programmes.

What is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding is defined by different organisations in different ways but refers to the prevention of harm to adults and children by humanitarian and development workers, associates and programmes.

Safeguarding includes taking all reasonable steps to prevent harm from occurring in the delivery of development and humanitarian assistance to:

  • Protect people, particularly children and vulnerable adults, from harm (including violence, abuse and neglect) by organisational workers, associates or programmes
  • Respond appropriately when (alleged) harm to a child or adult is committed by an organisational worker, associate or programme

No person (child or adult) should come to harm as a result of their engagement with a humanitarian organisation or programme. This requires a zero-tolerance approach to any form of violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect by humanitarian workers or associates.

Safeguarding Challenge During COVID-19

The risk of harm to children and adults by humanitarian workers, associates and programmes has increased as a result of COVID-19. We know this from past infectious disease outbreaks. This is because overall risks and needs increase while the supply of and access to aid and support decreases. This exacerbates unequal power dynamics between humanitarian workers/associates and the children and adults that humanitarian organisations work with, thereby increasing opportunities for unacceptable behaviour.

You must be aware of the increased risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence of children and vulnerable adults by humanitarian workers and associates during COVID-19.

Are you doing all you can to keep children safe from harm during COVID-19?

Do you know:

  • Your organisational child safeguarding or/and safeguarding policies, including reporting responsibilities and procedures
  • Your personal responsibilities for safeguarding children and adults, including both prevention and response
  • How your organisational safeguarding policies safeguard children in remote programming and online communication and interaction?

You may also want to consider the following additional reading:

Safeguarding Investigations Considerations—During COVID-19, Plan International, 2020

A checklist on Safeguarding: A resource for Local and National CSOs during COVID-19 response, April 2020, Global Mentoring Initiative

Guidance Note: How to Communicate Safeguarding and PSEA Messages to Communities during COVID-19

Your Task

Watch the video above to see how an Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action member has responded to the increased risk of harm to children by humanitarian workers during COVID-19.

NOTE: This course is focused on child protection as a thematic area of work and does not cover safeguarding or child safeguarding – which is the responsibility of all actors and sectors – in detail.

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Protecting Children during COVID-19 and other Infectious Disease Outbreaks

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