Sethule Orphans Trust is an organization whose purpose is to support and nurture vulnerable children in Zimbabwe. Central to its mission is belief that each child deserves a chance to compete in the world on equal terms with other children. Sethule Trust develops programs and works with children and families to reach that goal.
Child abuse and neglect have long term negative implications for the health and well-being of children. It is for this reason that Sethule Orphans Trust takes its mission to protect children very seriously. Sethule Trust is committed to preventing and protecting children from abuse, and responding in the unfortunate case that abuse does occur.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a legally binding international agreement of which Zimbabwe is a signatory. It asserts that every child has basic rights that allows him/her to grow and strive to meet their full potential. Article 19 abuse and neglect Article 34 sexual abuse and exploitation.
The laws of Zimbabwe also protect children from abuse. Site laws
In order to properly prevent, protect children and respond to child maltreatment, we must ensure we share a common understanding of what constitutes abuse and neglect.
The World health Organization defines child maltreatment as:
... the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years of age. It includes all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or other exploitation, which results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival,development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.
The Association of International Schools in Africa has developed a comprehensive child protection handbook that provides helpful definitions of four areas of potential abuse/neglect and the signs that may indicate a child is in danger.
Physical abuse may involve hitting, punching, shaking, throwing, poisoning, biting, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing intentional physical harm to a child.(These symptoms could also indicate harm to self, such as, cutting and suicide ideation).
Signs of physical abuse:
- Bruises, burns, sprains, dislocations, bites, cuts
- Improbable excuses given to explain injuries
- Injuries which have not received medical attention
- Injuries that occur to the body in places that are not normally exposed to falls, roughgames
- Repeated urinary infections or unexplained stomach pains— Refusal to discuss injuries
- Withdrawal from physical contact
- Arms and legs kept covered in hot weather
- Fear of returning home or of parents being contacted— Showing wariness or distrust of adults
- Self-destructive tendencies
- Being aggressive towards others
- Being very passive and compliant— Chronic running away
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child so as to cause severe and adverse effects on a child’s emotional development. It may involve: conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved; that they are inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person; age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children; causing children frequently to feel frightened; or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill-treatment of a child, though it may also occur alone.
Signs of emotional abuse:
- Physical, mental and emotional development is delayed
- Highly anxious
- Showing delayed speech or sudden speech disorder
- Fear of new situations
- Low self-esteem
- Inappropriate emotional responses to painful situations— Extremes of passivity or aggression
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Chronic running away
- Compulsive stealing
- Obsessions or phobias
- Sudden under-achievement or lack of concentration
- Attention-seeking behaviour
- Persistent tiredness
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact,including penetrative (i.e. rape) or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in the production or viewing of pornographic material or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Children involved in commercial sex work are victims of sexual abuse, whether they perceive themselves as victims or not.
Signs of sexual abuse:
- Pain or irritation to the genital area— Vaginal or penile discharge
- Difficulty with urination
- Infection, bleeding
- Fear of people or places
- Regressive behaviours, bed wetting or stranger anxiety
- Excessive masturbation/Sexually provocative
- Stomach pains or discomfort walking or sitting
- Being unusually quiet and withdrawn or unusually aggressive
- Suffering from what seem physical ailments that can’t be explained medically
- Showing fear or distrust of a particular adult
- Mentioning receiving special attention from an adult or a new “secret” friendship with an adult or young person
- Refusal to continue with school or usual social activities
- Age inappropriate sexualized behaviour or language
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical or physiological needs, likely to result in serious impairment of the child’s health or development.
Some indicators of neglect:
- Medical needs unattended— Lack of supervision
- Consistent hunger
- Inappropriate dress
- Poor hygiene
- Inadequate nutrition
- Fatigue or listlessness
- Extreme loneliness
- Extreme need for affection
- Failure to grow
- Poor personal hygiene
- Frequent lateness or non-attendance at school
- Low self-esteem
- Poor social relationships
- Compulsive stealing
- Drug or alcohol abuse
Sethule Orphans Trust recognizes that poverty and lack of resources can be confused for neglect. We make a distinction between not being able to provide adequate resources (food,shelter) is different from purposefully ignoring the needs of children when there is the ability to provide for or obtain help in providing for those needs.
How Sethule Trust Prevents, Protects and Responds to Abuse
At Sethule Orphans Trust, we believe that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. We know that abuse can and does occur in our community and are committed to addressing it.
Sethule Orphans Trust has implemented several systems within the organization to prevent,protect and respond to child maltreatment.
Designated Safeguarding Lead. While child safeguarding is the responsibility of everyone in the organization, the DSL is the primary person who is responsible for overseeing safeguarding efforts at Sethule. She/he is responsible for the following:
- Any child safeguarding concern is investigated and reported in a timely manner following the general procedures outlined below.
- All staff and volunteers have the appropriate background checks and training prior to working alone with children.
- Be responsible for keeping safeguarding records including files on interventions with children, training schedules and safer recruitment information.
- Liaising and reporting to the Child Line and/or the Zimbabwe Child Welfare Department
The safeguarding committee is responsible for moving safeguarding plans and programs forward. It meets on a regular basis to do the following:
- Write and update safeguarding policies and procedures
- Plan community programs that deal with safeguarding issues
- Ensure child safeguarding is at the forefront of all Sethule activities
All staff, volunteers and board members receives child safeguarding training upon hire and on an annual basis. Training includes identifying abuse and neglect, reporting structures, codes of conduct. Every new member of staff, including part-timers, temporary, visiting and contract staff working at Sethule receives appropriate induction training on their responsibilities in being alert to the signs of abuse and bullying, of Prevent awareness and on the procedures for recording and referring any concerns to the DSL.
Code of conduct
Every adult working for or in conjunction with Sethule Orphans Trust is expected to adhere to a code of conduct. Employees will review this on an annual basis and sign that they have agreed to these guidelines in working.
- It is never appropriate to have a sexual relationship with a child.
- Staff must avoid meeting alone with children. If this must occur, it should be visible by other staff members
- Staff must avoid giving children special attention, special treatment or individual gifts
- Staff should not engage with children on personal social media accounts. Any social
media contact with children must be part of a larger Sethule program.
- Staff and volunteers cannot be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while working with children or on Sethule business
Sethule Orphans Trust considers it a highest priority to employ people who are appropriate and skilled in working with children and young adults. Sethule takes the following steps to meet these standards:
- An interview process with specific questions around child protection
- A disclosure form asking whether a candidate has a history of offenses against
children or whether there is any reason
- Reference checks that include safeguarding questions
- A criminal background check
If staff have any concerns about a child they should first, where possible, raise their concerns with the DSL or with the Deputy DSL.
Sethule staff members can make a direct referral to the Child & Welfare Social services. 7 Other options could also include referral to specialist services Such as ChildLine.
Definition of safeguarding
Safeguarding is the way we describe all of the actions we take to help children grow and thrive. Responding to child abuse is one such action. Others include education about healthy relationships, anti-bullying programs, safe hiring practices and child protection trainings.
This policy will set out the way in which the agency commits to preventing and protecting children from abuse, and responding in the unfortunate case that abuse does occur.