On The Road Blog
Community Leaders Gather to Learn More about Child Protection
The Central Asia GFC Knowledge Exchange took place in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, from June 3 to June 6. Thirteen GFC grassroots partners from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan attended the workshop, along with a special guest, Domnica Ginu, from the Lumos Foundation.
During a typical Knowledge Exchange, GFC staff conduct some of the sessions, while the majority of the sessions are shaped by the input of the participants, the facilitator, and GFC.
One of the new GFC-facilitated sessions is a presentation on child rights and protection that GFC originally piloted as a webinar in 2014. This was the first time that I had presented it and the first time that this group of grassroots leaders had seen it.
Although all GFC grassroots partners work with children and youth, less than a third of the GFC partners represented at the Knowledge Exchange have instituted official child rights and protection policies in their own organizations.
The Child Rights and Protection session turned out to be one of the most lively and interesting for the participants. During the session, participants were given scenarios at a made-up organization to discuss, and after both scenarios were presented, the participants gave their own examples from their organizations about cases of abuse or inappropriate behavior by children, staff, and volunteers.
In many cases, the participants noted, a child rights and protection policy needs to be in place to fairly discipline children who are abusing or acting inappropriately with other children.
In another case, one of the grassroots leaders at the Knowledge Exchange shared that she had had to deal with one of the organization’s taxi drivers who was touching children inappropriately. She explained how she disciplined that driver in front of other drivers, which was effective but also not the recommended method for addressing such concerns.
The director agreed with the other Knowledge Exchange participants that if her organization had had a child protection policy in place, the procedures for discipline and punishment would have been clearly and legally stated.
All the participants seemed to be in agreement that these kind of incidents can and do occur at their organizations, and that having a child rights and protection policy and a staff and volunteer behavior policy will better protect the children and the organization.
One of the grassroots leaders of a GFC partner that does have a child protection policy in place noted that the policy, especially the part regarding staff and volunteer hiring and training, had helped weed out staff and volunteers who were not behaving appropriately and who were not a good fit for an organization that works with kids.
The Child Rights and Protection session at the Knowledge Exchange is a good example of how GFC builds the internal capacity of its grassroots partners. After watching the presentation—and discussing child protection issues with other grassroots leaders—many of the participants are now interested in adopting child rights and protection policies at their organizations.