Safeguarding policy – protection of vulnerable persons
*Mature Content Warning. Some of the content on this page is not suitable minors without parental guidance.
One of the core activities of the charity is to protect and resettlement vulnerable persons. In most cases this will be children. However, this definition can be extended to a disabled person, elderly senior, person suffering domestic violence, persons suffering psychological trauma from war and persons who are unable to care for themselves.
Their protection from harm (threats, harassment, violence, sexual exploitation, etc) is paramount to Manifest Mira’s mission. If in the course of your work you anticipate the possibility that someone risks being harmed, stop. Consult with you direct leader immediately what should be done to protect vulnerable persons. Up to and including removing them from danger.
If a child or vulnerable person indicates they may have been harmed or abused, also stop. Carefully listen to their words and body language.
It can be very hard for people to speak out about abuse. Often they fear there may be negative consequences if they tell anyone what's happening to them.
It's vital that vulnerable persons can speak out and that whoever they tell takes them seriously and acts on what they've been told.
Even if they do not tell someone verbally about what’s happened to them, there may be other indicators that something is wrong. Particularly with children. People who work with children need to respond in specific ways.
Disclosure is the process by which children and young people start to share their experiences of abuse with others. This can take place over a long period of time – it is a journey, not one act or action.
Vulnerable persons may disclose directly or indirectly and sometimes they may start sharing details of abuse before they are ready to put their thoughts and feelings in order.
Not all disclosures will lead to a formal report of abuse or a case being made or a case being taken to court, but all disclosures should be taken seriously.
If disclosure of abuse takes place, the witness should document what was said and the victims body language in writing. The witness’ leader should be notified in writing by email as soon as possible. So that other MM directors, staff and volunteers can observe for additional evidence of harm. As well as begin an investigation within 48 hours.
All MM staff are to keep the disclosure of the vulnerable person confidential, until the allegations can be proven or disproven in the formal investigation.
How disclosure happens
Children and young people may disclose abuse in a variety of ways, including:
- directly– making specific verbal statements about what’s happened to them
- indirectly – making ambiguous verbal statements which suggest something is wrong
- behaviorally – displaying behavior that signals something is wrong (this may or may not be deliberate)
- non-verbally – writing letters, drawing pictures or trying to communicate in other ways.
Children and young people may not always be aware that they are disclosing abuse through their actions and behaviour.
Sometimes children and young people make partial disclosures of abuse. This means they give some details about what they’ve experienced, but not the whole picture. They may withhold some information because they:
- are afraid they will get in trouble with or upset their family
- want to deflect blame in case of family difficulties as a result of the disclosure
- feel ashamed and/or guilty
- need to protect themselves from having to relive traumatic events.
- When children do speak out it is often many years after the abuse has taken place
Barriers to disclosure
Some children and young people are reluctant to seek help because they feel they don’t have anyone to turn to for support. They may have sought help in the past and had a negative experience, which makes them unlikely to do so again. They may also:
- feel that they will not be taken seriously
- feel too embarrassed to talk to an adult about a private or personal problem
- worry about confidentiality
- lack trust in the people around them (including parents) and in the services provided to help them
- fear the consequences of asking for help
- worry they will be causing trouble and making the situation worse
- find formal procedures overwhelming
Not all children and young people realise they have experienced abuse, for example if they have been groomed.
Spotting the signs of abuse
Children and young people who have been abused may want to tell someone, but not have the exact words to do so. They may attempt to disclose abuse by giving adults clues, through their actions and by using indirect words.
Adults need to be able to notice the signs that a child or young person might be distressed and ask them appropriate questions about what might have caused this.
We encourage our directors, staff and volunteers to seek child protection training. As well as any other training to help them counsel vulnerable persons. This greatly increases their confidence in recognising the indicators of abuse and understanding the different ways a child might try to share what they have experienced.
Whistleblowing and Reporting Policy
Whistleblowing is when someone reports wrongdoing on the basis that it is in the public interest for the wrongdoing to be brought to light. Ex example of a situation of whistleblowing would be a volunteer witnessing a volunteer or staff member of MM selling humanitarian aid supplies to a private party and keeping the money for themselves. Or becoming aware that a volunteer assisting refugee children may be a convicted pedophile.
Any person wishing to speak up to allege an incident of wrongdoing may so confidentially. Their identity will not be disclosed. They are encouraged to first report to their direct leader. But if that is not possible, or if their leader may be involved, they can speak with any other leader they are comfortable with.
The whistleblower should ideally raise their concern in writing by email. Unless doing so may cause retaliation.
An investigation will immediately be conducted within 48 hours. And appropriate action will be taken by the MM leaders.