The Palestinian Circus School aims to achieving the best interest and provide a safe environment to all its stakeholders and beneficiaries. We try as much as possible to be aware and prepared to protect them from any kind of abuse or violations of their Rights. Therefore, PCS has decided to adopt a child protection policy and to actively raise awareness about the policy among all its staff members, The General Assembly, its beneficiaries, and other stakeholders.
Accordingly, PCS assigned a Child Protection Supervisor to supervise all child protection matters within the school.
Contact Information of Child Protection Supervisor: Nayef Abdallah
Phone number: +970 598598672
PCS Child Protection Policy
PCS is a non-for-profit civil society institution which was founded in 2006 and officially registered by the Palestinian National Authority since February 2007. The Israeli Occupation is still ruining our life in Palestine, whether as individuals or groups. Not to mention it is threatening and putting at risk the principles of trust, unity, dignity, and respect. However, we believe that the freedom of Palestine is attainable thanks to the people who dream of a better future and who support the positive energies within the community.
Through our work in PCS, we strive to develop the creative potentials of the Palestinian youth, support them in building their individual identities and open the constructive and positive dialogue among them to enable them to become effective members within the community. PCS provides a safe place where children can meet with the youth, without any discrimination, to collectively work and attain the best outcomes.
PCS is aimed at challenging the differences within the community by collective work everywhere alike. It conducts its trainings in several regions and travels with its presentations across the West Bank challenging all kind of boundaries imposed on us a while ago: whether political, or geographical or economic or political or social.
Moreover, PCS encourages developing a new type of cultural expression and seeks to create a new generation of artists in Palestine. It further works hard so that such type of art be renewable, experimental, challenging all traditional concepts, and interacting with other forms of art.
PCS is open for creativity of all kinds to ensure the involvement of everyone: students, trainers, volunteers, and the entire community.
The largest group on which PCS focuses its work is children, including children with mental disabilities. The school believes in the entitlement of having an administrative and monitoring system to protect the rights of children within the framework of its activities. It further believes in the need to have policies on the protection of children from any violation they might be subject to, to be applied and enforced by the personnel, volunteers, administrative staff, and the school attendees.
The child protection policy is closely related to the work of PCS. It allows personnel and volunteers to figure out where to go should there be any violation or abuse against children. This is in addition to the guidelines and ground rules to deal with children within the child protection principles and rights. It is worth mentioning the PCS receives around 250 children annually. The nature of its activities and goals require direct contact with the students.
This policy addresses the employees, volunteers, trainers, and others. They will be referred to hereinafter altogether by the (personnel).
First: Key Definitions
Child: every human who is under eighteen years old as far as he/she has not completed the age of majority in accordance with the applicable law, and as per Article 1 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child Of 1989.
Violence: the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation. (WHO).
Abuse: actions or utterances or procedures addressing the child, directly or indirectly, causing him/her physical or emotional or sexual harm, that is actual, evident and direct or underlying, with possible deferred psychological and emotional effects.
Negligence: the failure of the child’s guardian to provide the development needs of health, education, nutrition, emotional development, residence, safe living conditions, and appropriate oversight which may result in causing physical, mental, emotional, social, and ethical harm to the child.
Exploitation: to force the child or tempt or coerce him/her to carry out acts incompatible with his/her physical mental, emotional and ethical development whether, the acts are sexual or economic, jeopardizing the child’s safety, survival, and development.
Child Protection: an inclusive term that describes philosophies, standards, guidelines and procedures aimed at protection children from intentional an unintentional harm. In this framework, it particularly applies to the attitude of institutions and individuals related to PCS towards the children who are under the guardianship of these institutions and individuals.
Child Protection Advisor: the social advisor of the Ministry of Social Development MOSD who is professionally and legally designated to receive and follow up on the status of children deprived from social care and those who are living difficult circumstances in addition to the victims of community violence, negligence and exploitation.
Child Protection Network: a group of government and non-government institutions working with children seeking to coordinate efforts and services rendered to children living difficult circumstances according to an agreed upon and workable transfer system among the institutions working in the field of social protection and care.
Child Protection Policy: a declaration of intent that demonstrates a commitment of safeguarding children and protecting them from harm. It clarifies what child protection requires, and contributes to securing a safe and positive environment to children, not to mention that it indicates that the school is assuming its care-related duties and responsibilities seriously.
Second: Principles of Fundamental Rights of the Child
Third: General Principles of PCS Child Protection Policy
Guidelines on reducing abuse at school and taking into consideration sensitivity:
Fourth: the Objective of Child Protection Policy and its Impact on PCS Personnel
The child protection policy is aimed at protecting children from any abuse by developing the appropriate conduct standards to be enforced within PCS by its personnel, volunteers, children, visitors and partners. This Policy also protects individuals in contact with children from any unfounded accusations. Furthermore, it demonstrates the unacceptable forms of conduct which may lead to official investigation, and then disciplinary measures, and even sometimes initiating a criminal case under the formal child protection system. Additionally, having a code of conduct will provide guidance on the expected standards of conduct of personnel towards children and the children’s behaviors towards other children.
The Child Protection Policy creates a framework of principles and guidelines on which the individual and institutional practice is build as follows:
Fifth: Key Elements of Child Protection Policy
All personnel and volunteers, whether paid or not, full-time or part-time, worked for a specific or unspecific time or long-term, and whether they directly contact the child or not, shall undergo a comprehensive recruitment process based on specific criteria:
(Note: Once an individual leaves the school, all of his/her confidential documents (i.e. police records and criminal sentences) shall be destroyed, either torn or burned. Form No. (3) of the Declaration of Criminal Sentences is attached).
PCS introduces and trains the employees, volunteers and children on its child protection policy. To this end, the following must be taken into consideration:
To create a safe and protective environment for children, a clear structure has to be developed for the protection system, not to mention communication lines have to be open, and a supportive atmosphere has to be secured in addition to encouraging the process of reporting any abuse or violence, spread an inclusive and conscious culture, so personnel and children may feel comfort when they express their thoughts and enforce the protection measures. In order for the administrative structure to facilitate enforcing the protection policy, the following must be done:
These protocols are basically written guidelines that all personnel, partners and visitors must adhere to, detailing and specifying the appropriate behavior that must be followed with children, and the inappropriate behavior that must not be shown with children, as well as directions about the behavior of children towards each other.
4.1 Examples on some guidelines for handling children: (you may add more through your daily experiences)
DO and DON’T DO
|Respect the desires, choices, rights and dignity of children.||Do not assault or place physical or mental violence or abuse on the child.|
|Listen to the child and do not decide on their behalf, engage the child, listen to their views taking into account the child’s age, and maturity.||Do not spend a lot of time alone with the child away from others.|
|Respect the privacy of children; maintain the confidentiality of their stories, unless it involves abuse and violence. In this case, the information must be shared with the child supervisor with the knowledge of the child.||Do not sleep in the same mattress or room with the child under supervision.|
|Do not stay alone with the child: in a car, throughout the entire night, in your house, in the child’s house.|
|Do not share the information related to the victimized children and their secrets with others, except with the concerned parties.||Do not share the children stories with others, except with the concerned parties.|
|Do not stigmatize the child when exposed to abuse or violence or sexual assault, and never expose or mock them.|
|Act appropriately and taken into account the child’s culture and age, as well as the child’s sex, and whether he/she has any disability.||Do not use inappropriate words with the child or in front of him/her. Do not use a language that may harm the child emotionally or psychologically.|
|You must be trusted by the child. You have to control your reactions towards any situation the child shows. Exchange information with the child in a manner he/she understands.||Do not assign any additional works or punitive measures to the child inconsistently with his/her age.|
|Ask for the approval of the child and his/her parents to take the child’s photograph, after giving him/her the information on how such photograph would be used, and respect the child if refuses so.||Do not treat the child in humiliation, provocative or insulting manner.|
|Take the procedures which ensure that the rights of the child to security, and ongoing development are not vitiated.||Avoid putting yourself in a sensitive or suspicious situation.|
|Maintain sufficient distance between you and the child. Draw boundaries between you and the child. Do not remove the barriers between you and the child and do not get physical in joking.||Do not act inappropriately or sexually.|
|Engage the parents in the event they are not the assailant or not involved in the assault.||In the event the parent is the assailant, he/she must not be informed of the abuse/violence disclosed by the child.|
|In the event the child was abused, and it is decided to refer him/her to the official authorities: Get the informed consent for the child and/or his/her parent before referral to the child protection adviser of MOSD, in case the child is exposed to serious abuse. (The informed consent is the voluntary consent of the eligible person based on correct and complete information).||Do not handle sexual abuse and assault by yourself. The competent authorities have to be informed in some case (the child protection adviser or the family protection police).|
|Changing to prepare for the training shall take place in the dressing room or the ladies’ or men’s room only.||Do not change your clothing in front of others or outside before everyone’s eyes.|
|Physical contact between the child and the trainer is restricted to the extent required to implement the circus activity, and only as far as necessary.|
|It is important that the child clothing need to be safe and does not cause the child any harm while carrying out the activities or training.||Do not use offensive words or cursing with the students or when calling them.|
|Train the child on independency and not to rely on you in the matters he/she can handle alone.||Do not get involved in any personal matters that children can manage by themselves.|
|Be a positive example for children to follow.||Do not show any discrimination or different treatment towards specific children. Do not be biased with specific children and exclude others.|
|Play a positive role in the protection, safeguarding, and enhancing the safety of children.||Do not cause any psychological or emotional abuse to the child.|
|Be careful of any possible peer-to-peer abuse (among children themselves). Avoid dragging children to situations of high peer-to-peer risk (the mixing of older age children with younger children without any supervision). The rule is that children must be separated as much as possible, taking into account the available resources at School. In any case, it is important to focus on supervision by the trainer if there are children of different ages in the same group.||Encourage the child to talk to an adult in case he/she has experienced bullying from other children. Encourage the child to create friendships with other children.|
|Do not allow children to get engaged in sexual games.|
|Do not disregard the abusive or insecure behavior of the child or get involve in the same.|
|Look at the child with disability as a human being entitled to all rights, and focus on the child him/herself.||Do not treat the child as incomplete in terms of the rights and do not give great attention to the disability.|
|Treat the child with disability as any other human being with feelings, instincts, thoughts, and dreams.||Do not treat the child with disability as a stranger with no feelings or thoughts or dreams.|
|Strengthen the concept that the child’s body belongs to him/her only.|
|Do not give information about children enrolled to the School to anyone else other than their parents. Do not give information about children to other institutions without the approval of parents, after clarifying the purpose of information required and approve it.|
|Enhance the concepts of boundaries and privacy.||Do not consider that there is no need for child privacy.|
4.2 Guidelines on photography and handling the social media in relation to children:
A set of directives that control the process and prevent posting offensive and abusive images of children to PCS social media or its website as well as its activities and advertising materials:
The below rules shall apply to children-related social media networks:
These protocols and principles may be defined as the conditions which have to be available for the physical protection of children from violence, abuse, negligence and exploitation. This is in addition to the procedures and mechanisms to be followed in the cases of physical injuries or suspecting the occurrence of violence or abuse against a child.
5.1 Responding to the Children Physical Incidents and Injuries:
PCS has assigned a Technician and Safety Office to ensure security and safety. His/her role is to ensure meeting the standards and conditions of safety required to carry out the activities and training courses safely, provided the physical environment has to include all necessary equipment for this purpose. This is in addition to ensuring the halls preparations, the equipment, and the location of children.
During the training or presentation, children may be physically injured. In this case, it is the responsibility of trainer and PCS to take the below steps should there be any injury of a child during the training:
Furthermore, PCS shall:
5.2 Response in the event of suspecting abuse or violence:
If we had any concern involving direct abuse against a child, we must immediately act to avoid exposing the child to more risks. If we found any information on the child’s abuse, it is our responsibility to share such information with someone.
5.2.1 Abuse or violence by family members or surrounding environment (outside the School):
In the event of suspecting abuse against a child by any of the family members, the following must be taken in accordance with the law:
It is important that PCS seeks to participate in the membership of the child protection network and establish a coordinative and networking relationship with the Child Protection Adviser in the area.
5.2.2 Abuse or Violence inside PCS:
In the event of abuse or violence, or suspected violence or abuse against a child within the school, a set of procedures must be taken as well as the following steps:
5.3 Intervention Procedures and Principles:
It is important to identify the steps, behavior and procedures required to respond to alleged child abuse incidents, or concerns about children. Furthermore, the school’s reporting procedures should be developed as follows:
5.3.1 If you find out about any child abuse through one of the following means:
– A child or member of the staff may come to you to inform you that a child has been harmed or there is high likelihood that a child will be harmed.
– You witness yourself an incident of child abuse.
– Noticed signs of abuse from outside the school (family, teacher, friends, etc.)
– If the abuse is by the family, the latter must not be informed, because this falls within the responsibilities of the Protection Adviser of MOSD.
5.3.2 Useful advice to direct your response:
– Follow your sense of logic in addition to good practice of child protection.
– Allow child best interests to direct your response at all times.
– Should there be any doubt, ask for an advice from the Child Protection Supervisor at School.
– If the alleged abuse affected a specific individual, we have to seek a more appropriate person.
The below chart demonstrates response and intervention guidelines
6- Internal Administrative Intervention Procedures:
The phase in which the protection adviser of PCS carries out the initial examination procedures and assesses the level of risk. Then he/she takes administrative steps as a result of any questioning taking place regarding any claim of breach of policies or guidelines or principles or practices of Child Protection within the School. As follows:
PCS shall determine the type of necessary disciplinary measures for the different levels of abuse. For example, in the event one of the personnel insulated a child verbally (whether it is the first time or not), dismissal may not be the action taken by the School. However, it may give verbal warning, followed by monitoring the personnel for a specific period of time. The disciplinary measure may be subjecting the breaching individual to the Protection Policy or practicing the same within the institution towards developing more training courses, as it may deem appropriate.
Sixth: Protection of Children with Disabilities
Human rights and rights set forth in this Policy shall apply to children with disabilities just as they apply to other children without disabilities. However, they should get special treatment, not to mention the below matters have to be stressed:
6.1 Guidelines for working with children with disabilities (the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities):
6.2 Matters to be taken into consideration with children with disabilities:
Since the child cannot sometimes tell that he/she has been exposed to abuse, below are some matters to be given attention, taking into account that these indicators do not necessarily mean that the child was exposed to abuse, you may have to verify more than once:
6.3 Measures to be taken for the protection of children with disabilities:
(For more information: we recommend PCS to have access to the Professionals and Educators Manual on Handling Violence and Abuse against Children and Children with Disabilities issued by Qader for Community & Development. PCS can also contact Qader for further detailed discussions on children with disabilities received in the School).
Admission of Students:
Admission to PCS is supposed to be available to everyone. Should the School be able to offer varied services in consistent with the physical and mental structure of the child and trainers, then there shall be no impediment to admission. PCS is open for everyone.
Seventh: the System of Complaints and monitoring the implementation of Child Protection Policy
PCS develops mechanisms for the complaints and to monitor the implementation of the Child Protection Policy provided they must involve periodic review and evaluation of the policy and its effectiveness.
7.1 Complaints Mechanism:
It must be clarified to children, personnel and others that the complaints on child protection may be filed to the school child protection supervisor. Furthermore, a complaints box may be placed for the students or parents or visitors or others in an easily visible place at PCS.
7.2 Mechanism of Monitoring the Implementation of Child Protection Policy:
7.2 The Success Indicators of Child Protection Policy at PCS
The Child Protection Policy has to be reviewed for the first time after one year. Then, every three years.
Eighth: discipline of children when showing unwanted behaviors:
Children at PCS may show some practices which constitute unwanted behaviors. Such behaviors may lead to children hurting themselves or others. This requires taking a disciplinary procedure against the child, taking into consideration that the child’s existence at PCS is voluntary not systematic. The below listed procedures are consistent with PCS privacy so that any procedure taken for disciplinary reasons may be motivating to the child. In other words, the disciplinary actions are taken for the purpose of teaching children rather than punishing them.
8.1 Prevent the Occurrence of the Unwanted Behavior by:
8.2 Discipline Specifications:
The disciplinary procedure taken by the trainer against the child who shows unwanted behavior shall meet the below standards and specifications:
8.3 Disciplinary Procedures
Ninth: some forms to be incorporated with PCS Child Protection Policy
Form No. (1): PCS Code of Conduct
PCS working team shall comply by the Child Protection Policy and the Code of Conduct. It should be noted that the working team of PCS consists of: the managers, the administrative staff, the personnel whether under a fixed-term or temporary contract, the trainers, the volunteers, and the partners.
PCS, registered under license No. …………………………, hereby undertakes to create an environment that shall strengthen the values and principles of the rights of the child and maintains the same. It also focuses on the prevention of child abuse, negligence and exploitation. Furthermore, PCS strongly condemns any form of child abuse, whether inside or outside the school. It also confirms its readiness to respond to any case of abuse or negligence or violence, in accordance with the Palestinian Child Protection System, and the Palestinian amended Child Law No. 4 Of 2004.
PCS also undertakes to take the necessary measures to comply by the Child Protection Policy through: giving attention to human resources such as training, consulting and counseling, taking the proper measures against anyone who breaches the Policy, including: subjecting the person to the appropriate training, or warning or alarm or suspension from work for a specific period, or dismissal or any other legal or administrative procedural measures according to the intensity and seriousness of the violation.
Form No. (2): Code of Conduct enclosed with the functional/voluntary contract:
I, the undersigned …………………….., having viewed the Child Protection Policy approved by PCS, hereby declare my consent to its contents, commitment to abide by it, and assume my responsibilities thereof. Accordingly, I undertake to respect the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Palestinian amended Child Law Of 2004, and the Child Protection System in force in Palestine. I particularly undertake to comply by: respect the rights of the child, the child best interest, the child’s right to involvement and respect of his/her views, the non-use of violence of all forms, the non-exploitation of children in any way, maintain the safety and security of children, permanently and equally oversight children without any discrimination whatsoever, either sex, disability, religion, social origin, and others.
In witness hereof, I undertake that should I breach any of these items or the content of the Child Protection Policy, its principles and exercise, I will be subject to all punitive procedures which will be taken against me as a result of this breach or violation.
Date: / /2019 Signature of Employee
This Code of Conduct is an integral part of the official job or voluntary contract.
It will be kept in the employee’s personal file.
Form No. (3): Acknowledgment of Criminal Convictions
Are you involved in any pending case, or have you ever been convicted, and awarded a punitive sentence/punishment for any abused you have committed in the past?
Yes ………………………………… / No ………………………………………
If the answer is yes, we appreciate it if you could give more details, including the trials and convictions, and declare any previous claims or investigations against you.
(The Child Protection Adviser at PCS shall maintain such information confidential, and shall assess whether any such information poses a threat or not on child protection).
I hereby acknowledge that the information I have incorporated is complete and correct. Thus, making a false declaration may result in terminating every contract signed between me and PCS.
References & Resources