“This is the first time I have been involved in something as Asia Pacific level.
I gained a lot of knowledge and now understand well the difference between
safeguarding and protection of children.
The group sharing was an important part of my learning.”
This is one of the comments shared with me by a participant in the Child Safeguarding workshop held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 11-15 September 2019. Organised by the GS Asia Pacific Justice and Peace Core Team, the workshop has been almost three years in the planning and finally came to birth!
Forty-three participants from all the units of Asia Pacific gathered at the Redemptorist Centre, in Minburi, Bangkok, to learn, share and plan together. (See photo.) We were blessed with presenter and facilitator, Ms Maryam Ehsani, who is the consultant to the Congregation on Child Safeguarding, and has helped to structure and write the Congregation’s Safeguarding of Children policy, which will soon be released. Maryam was an engaging, energetic and passionate facilitator. She has her own consultancy based in Dubai called Child Safe ME and is an International Child Rights Advisor. She has many years working in the area of safeguarding. Maryam’s enthusiasm was infectious and she invited all of us along for the journey of learning and discovery.
“This was a golden opportunity to meet with so many sisters and partners from the units.
It was a very engaging workshop.
We are serious about our mission and this is the most serious topic.”
Identifying the difference between Child Protection and Child Safeguarding was given serious consideration. For most people this understanding was crucial - many understood child “protection” as “safeguarding”, but we were led to see the clear difference between the two, and come to understand why the Congregation has developed a policy on safeguarding. As one participant noted,
“It was enlightening, coming to know the difference between child protection and safeguarding.
That clarity helps with alignment with mission.
It’s very clear and has given me a real push in my work with children.”
In the month following this workshop, the Congregation launched its Congregational Child Safeguarding Policy on 10 October 2019.
Click here - Congregational Child Safeguarding Policy 2019
Although not officially released at the time of the workshop, we were grateful to be able to work with Maryam to better understand the Congregation’s DRAFT Child Safeguarding Policy Guidelines. Our last session gave us the opportunity to explore this and align our own policy outline with the Congregation’s policy.
“The Congregation’s policy has given us a ‘push’!”
At the beginning of the workshop some participants courageously shared personal stories of their childhood, and we took time to reflect on our own experiences as children.
We worked in groups to identify assumptions we and our society/community holds regarding child safeguarding, and this exercise led us to exploring the barriers to effective safeguarding of children.
In Unit groups we worked to assess the programs and ministries we have for children, learning the importance of children having a voice and being at the centre of what we do. We learned the importance of mapping our programs and we identified gaps – using SWOT Analysis - in existing policies and procedures.
We were introduced to eight different scenarios which helped to clarify what needed to be done in each case.
We delved into preparing an outline for a Safeguarding policy so we could develop one or review the policies currently in place, or that focus on child protection only.
We identified the “what” and “how” of implementing our policies and learned the importance of ownership of the process within the Unit or program.
Again and again we were reminded that child safeguarding is everyone’s business!
“The workshop was well planned and very good.
Almost all Units had their own policy but were unsure how to implement this.
The workshop gave us the tools and clarity on how to begin and how to move forward.”
As we return to our Units we know we have a lot of work to do but it is not as overwhelming as it felt at the beginning, and now we have templates and a network of people across Asia Pacific to assist in developing good policies and procedures. We know we can contact each other and we plan to link up on a video link in a few weeks to “check in” and share how we are going!
“The workshop was very professional and well planned and I liked the process.
I am more confident and clear, and it is very helpful as we start the process in
our Unit now. Every single person is responsible for safeguarding of children.”
Submitted by Sr Caroline Price
Thailand, 16 September 2019
Click here - Photos GSAP Child Safeguarding Workshop Thailand
Some suggested Links to Resources/Information on Child Safeguarding: