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What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding refers to the prevention of, and response to, harm to adults and children by an organisations workers and/or programmes.

Safeguarding is defined by different organisations in different ways, but refers to the prevention of, and response to, harm to adults and children by an organisations workers, associates and/or programmes.

Safeguarding is different from child protection, in that it refers to both adults and children and applies only to the prevention of and response to harm by an organization and their workers and associates.

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.

Increased risk of harm

The risk of harm to children and adults by humanitarian workers, associates and programmes increases during infectious disease outbreaks (IDOs). We know this from past IDOs. 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.

Your responsibility

You must be aware of the increased risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence against 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 or other IDO?

Did you know?

  • Your organisational child 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?
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Protecting Children during COVID-19 and other Infectious Disease Outbreaks

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