The global NGO industry has been rocked by a series of scandals of the sexual exploitation and abuse of some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
Helping NGOs to stamp out abuse is essential, and it is of critical important that the voices of the most vulnerable are empowered to address abuses, as well as any matter pertaining to governance that impacts them. What does that mean for organisations with children and young people? It means the civic agency of the voice is upheld, celebrated and given a platform as a cultural and organisational practice. It means young people’s leadership is sought, valued, and empowered by those in power — beginning with the staff of Afrika Tikkun, the executive management and the board. It means that young people understand that by the same token, they can hold local, national and international duty-bearers accountable for safeguarding their rights.
Memeza Bazokuzwa is a campaign that empowers and equips young people as well as the adults who are responsible for their care, development and protection to speak out against abuse, and no longer tolerate any form of violence against young people. It will run throughout the year, and be part of ongoing communications. There will also be a number of key community-based events that young people, families, community members and stakeholders are invited to participate in. One of the key aims of the campaign is to ensure the spirit, values and details of the Afrika Tikkun’s Child Protection Policy is upheld at all times. We want to change the culture of tolerance of violence.
The Afrika Tikkun Child Protection Policy is based on international and national principles, articles and laws. These laws provide a comprehensive framework for the protection, care, support and participation of all children and young people, without discrimination, to ensure their well-being to the maximum extent possible. The policy informs personnel, education and training, management structure, behaviour protocols, communication guidelines, reporting and reaction protocols, and it deals with the ramifications of misconduct. The policy requires awareness raising and training, including personnel self-care support, prevention measures, monitoring, evaluation and learning.
The policy also requires Afrika Tikkun check if all existing and potential employees are listed in the National Child Protection Register and the National Register for Sexual Offences. Afrika Tikkun will also require all existing and potential staff have a Police Clearance Certificate.
Accountability and transparency is a shared undertaking informed by a social contract that has its fundamental principle of do no harm. The more this principle is shared and upheld, the brighter the hope for the children and young people we serve.