Child And Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy

GVI Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy

Last updated: October 26, 2022


GVI’s Child Protection Policy applies to our whole organisation. 

We aim to safeguard the welfare of all children associated with the organisation by: 

  • Providing a clear framework for recruitment, training, good practice and reporting.
  • Ensuring allegations of abuse or suspected abuse are dealt with promptly, consistently and confidentially by GVI and, where applicable, the appropriate authority.

We also have stances for engaging ethically with children abroad, which expands on GVI’s strict control measures to minimise and eliminate the risks associated with engaging with children abroad. 


This policy applies to all GVI personnel, including:

  • board members
  • staff employed by GVI in either paid or unpaid roles who work in all departments of GVI
  • participants who join our programs 
  • children and young adults who join programs as part of the Under 18s or groups programs
  • chaperones who accompany group programs
  • project partners and third-party operators who partner with GVI.

This policy specifically refers to the safeguarding of children; however, it also applies to the safeguarding of adults who are vulnerable and susceptible due to factors such as age, health, ability, access to education, geographical and economic factors. All GVI personnel must be vigilant to follow the principles of this policy at all times.


GVI Child Protection Policy aims to ensure that the actions of any person in the context of the work carried out by GVI are transparent. 

We safeguard and promote the welfare of all children associated with GVI. The policy provides guidelines for:

  • recruitment and screening of participants and staff
  • training for all participants and staff
  • responsibilities when working with children 
  • reporting processes
  • confidentiality.

Policy aims

The GVI Child Protection Policy aims to:

  • Provide children with safety and protection.
  • Set standards of responsible behaviour for all staff and participants both during work and leisure times.
  • Support all staff and participants to make informed and confident responses to protection issues affecting children.

Policy principles

Our policy is based on four main principles:

  • commitment to the rights of the child
  • zero-tolerance for child abuse or exploitation
  • risk management approach to child protection
  • shared responsibility.

Commitment to the rights of the child

We must recognise and protect children’s rights. GVI acknowledges The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and supports the four core principles; devotion to the best interests of the child, the right to life survival and development, non-discrimination and respect for the views of the child. GVI considers the best interests of children in any decision-making.

Zero-tolerance for child abuse or exploitation

GVI has zero tolerance for child abuse and child exploitation. We will not tolerate child exploitation and abuse by anyone who works, participates with or is associated with our organisation. We will never knowingly engage with anyone who poses a risk to children.

Risk management approach to child protection

A risk management approach is vital in protecting children’s rights. We are committed to identifying risks and implementing control measures to reduce risk in our work, programs and activities.

Shared responsibility 

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. All personnel have a duty of care to follow best practices, assess risk and take action where necessary, including following our reporting processes.


A child is defined “as a person under the age of 18”. (The Children Act 1989)

A vulnerable adult is defined “as a person who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness, and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation”. (No Secrets 2000)

Safeguarding is defined “as the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and vulnerable adults and to protect them from harm”.

Child abuse is defined “when a child is intentionally harmed by an adult or another child – it can be over a period of time but can also be a one-off action. It can be physical, sexual or emotional and it can happen in person or online. It can also be a lack of love, care and attention – this is neglect”. (NSPCC UK)

Child exploitation is defined “as the act of involving a child for economic or other reasons in criminal activities”.

Disclosure is defined “as the act of making information known”.

Recruitment and screening of staff and participants

GVI must take all reasonable steps to prevent potential offenders from working with children. 

GVI takes the following actions in the recruitment process of participants and staff.

  • We avoid using promotional materials, including text, photos and videos that suggest opportunities for offenders.
  • We refer to GVI’s Child Protection Policy at all stages of the recruitment process. 
  • All potential staff and participants must have a criminal background check, including participants in our under-18 and group programs.
  • All staff must supply contacts for two confidential references. These referees must be approached by GVI and asked direct questions about the applicant’s suitability to work with children.
  • All staff must supply evidence of their identity, such as their passport.
  • Staff and participants must agree to GVI’s terms and conditions, which include following our safety procedures, risk assessments and the GVI’s Child Protection Policy.
  • Child protection training is compulsory for all staff and participants.


In addition to pre-selection checks, the safeguarding process includes training after recruitment which supports staff and participants to:

  • Understand GVI’s Child Protection Policy and identify areas where a further explanation or additional training is required.
  • Define and clarify their responsibilities relating to children.
  • Analyse their practice against established good practices and ensure it will not result in allegations.
  • Recognise their responsibilities and report any concerns about suspected poor practice or possible abuse.
  • Respond appropriately to concerns expressed by a child.
  • Work safely and effectively with children.

Child Protection Officers undergo additional training to ensure they are clear on their roles and responsibilities.

All staff and participants must sign a code of conduct document agreeing to abide by GVI’s Child Protection Policy.


All personnel should demonstrate exemplary behaviour to promote the welfare of children and reduce the possibility of harm and abuse. 

This policy outlines responsibilities for:

  • child protection risk assessments
  • good practice when working with children
  • children outside of project environments
  • using images and other media
  • project partners
  • online safety
  • child protection officers
  • managing disclosures
  • confidentiality.

Child protection risk assessments

A risk management approach is vital in protecting children’s rights. We are committed to identifying risks and implementing control measures to reduce risk in our work, programs and activities.

Child protection risk assessments are conducted at the planning and design stage for any project. They must be subject to ongoing review and assessment, including quarterly formal reviews. 

Risk assessments at each hub and workplace must be communicated to and signed off by all staff and participants. 

Working with children 

Risk assessment control measures include appropriate practices when working with children. These control measures will include but not be limited to:

  • Working in an open environment and remaining visible when working with children.
  • Treating all children equally and with respect and dignity.
  • Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust, which empower children to share in the decision-making process.
  • Giving constructive, supportive feedback rather than negative criticism.
  • Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance (e.g. not initiating hugs or having children sit on your lap).

GVI’s Code of Conduct and Child Protection training outlines expectations and standards for working with children. Expectations are also covered as part of the risk management process.

Children outside of project environments

GVI recognises that staff and participants will have some interaction with children when travelling and living in communities. It is expected that all personnel will apply GVI’s Child Protection principles in all aspects of their travels, for example never taking photos of children without permission. These expectations are outlined in risk assessments and GVI’s Code of Conduct.

Using images, and other media

Images and other media must be aligned with GVI’s ethical approach and branding guidelines, including protecting identity and portraying individuals and communities with respect and dignity.

GVI will ensure: 

  • We gain consent from the child and parent or guardian of the child before photographing or filming a child. Informed consent includes an explanation of how the photograph or video will be used.
  • We follow local traditions or restrictions for reproducing personal images. 
  • Children are fully dressed in any video or photograph.
  • Images are honest representations of the context and the facts. 
  • File labels, metadata or text descriptions do not reveal identifying information about a child when sending images electronically or publishing images in any form.

These are further explained in the GVI social media guidelines, in best practice guidelines and in GVI training.

Project partners

Memoranda of understanding and other agreements with partners and third-party operators include clauses that state a partner’s commitment to complying with GVI’s Child Protection Policy.

Partners must be clear on GVI’s expectations and standards. In the case of under-18 and school group programs, a GVI staff member must be present at all times when working with partners and third-party operators.

Online safety

GVI acknowledges the importance of safe online environments for the safety and well-being of all personnel including children. As part of their risk management process, each department must ensure that there are guidelines in place to mitigate any risk to children or adults.

All child protection policy standards apply to the online environment as well as face-to-face interactions.

We provide e-safety guidelines to all participants of our online courses.

Child Protection Officers

GVI has nominated Child Protection Officers in each department and each country where we work. Our Child Protection Officers have a specific role statement and engage in specific training for their role.

In each country where we work, our teams have identified an in-country organisation that can provide support in the case of an incident.

Managing disclosures

In the case of a disclosure, the person being reported to must: 

  • remain calm
  • ensure the reporter is safe 
  • listen carefully without interruption or bias
  • ask questions for clarification only
  • not make promises to keep it secret; there is an obligation to report to the Child Protection Officer
  • inform the reporter of the next steps.

In the case of disclosure in a public forum such as a classroom discussion, protective interruption must be used, and can be followed up later. Protective interruption is covered in our Child Protection training.


Reporting processes are communicated to all personnel as part of the training process.

What needs to be reported

Staff and participants must report: 

  • breaches in protocols or non-compliance to risk assessments, policies, and terms and conditions
  • any behaviour that is suspected of being child exploitation or abuse.

A concern that leads to a report may be the result of:

  • directly observing something that leads to concerns 
  • being told about incident or situation from someone else
  • having someone disclose that they have been abused
  • hearing the abuser disclose what they have done.

Four-step reporting process

GVI has a four-step reporting process to be followed.

1. An incident or issue is observed or reported.

2. Alert manager.

3. Manager communicates with the Child Protection Officer.

4. Next steps are decided upon and action is taken.

Responding to breaches of protocol

All personnel have a duty of care to support and protect children. A duty of care is breached if a person: 

  • fails to follow our risk assessment control measures, terms and conditions, and the best practice guidelines outlined in our training
  • acts in a way that harms someone.

We will investigate breaches with a fair, unbiased and supportive approach. 

Responding to suspicions or allegations of abuse

It is not the responsibility of GVI staff, participants or partners to decide whether a person is being abused or exploited. 

The process is to report the incident so that the Child Protection Officer and managers can follow reporting guidelines and take action. 


Incidents and reports will be managed with strict confidence. The names of the people involved are confidential. Details will only be disclosed on a “need to know” basis, where relevant laws require it or when the local police or other authorities must be notified.

All documentation will be stored safely and confidentially in line with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Associated Policies and guidelines

GVI Staff Code of Conduct

Social Media Guidelines 

In-country Contacts Document 

Online Guidelines

Child Protection Officer Role Statement 

Child Protection – Professional behaviours and good practice

Child Protection Risk Assessments


The Global Volunteering Standard (2021)

Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection (2015)

Appendix A – Best practice guidelines

Our best practice guidelines safeguard children and protect our staff and participants from false accusations.

Our risk assessments and training sessions provide additional support for staff and participants in understanding acceptable behaviour.

We expect the following from all personnel. Personnel includes; staff, participants and partners.

Interacting with children and young adults


  • Treat all children with respect.
  • Ensure children and young people know they have a right to feel safe at all times and that they can say no if they don’t feel comfortable doing something.
  • Work in an open environment and never be alone with a child out of view of other adults.
  • Be a professional role model at all times.
  • Be patient, encouraging and positive in all interactions with children and young people.
  • Be aware that forming attachments with children can lead to emotional distress when you leave. Therefore all relationships should be positive but have professional boundaries.

Do not

  • Repeatedly single out a particular child for attention, either positively (favouritism) or negatively.
  • Give gifts. Any resources and supplies provided must be in the context of the GVI programs and after discussion with GVI staff.
  • Cause emotional harm, including acting in ways intended to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade.
  • Use language or behaviour towards children that is harassing, abusive, sexually provocative, demeaning or culturally inappropriate.
  • Do physical tasks for children that they can do independently. This can be disempowering and interfere with their development.
  • Make any promises you can not keep, for example, promising to return next year or to do a particular activity with children.
  • Spend any time outside specified programme hours with a child we work with.
  • Pursue interactions or relationships with any child or young person beyond your official role.

Physical contact


  • Maintain a physical distance from children for example not having children sitting on your lap.
  • Refrain from initiating hugs. If a child goes to hug you, turn to make it a quick side hug.
  • Allow children to do things they are capable of for themselves, e.g. if a child can walk, we don’t need to carry them. 

Do not

  •  Restrain a child or young person unless it is necessary to ensure their immediate safety.
  •  Engage in any physical contact that is unnecessary and does not meet the needs of the child. For example, culturally-appropriate clapping games or holding a child’s hand to cross the road can be acceptable, whereas tickling games and piggybacks are inappropriate.
  • Engage in rough, physical games, including horseplay.
  • Cause direct physical harm, including purposely hitting, hurting or physically assaulting a child.
  • Engage in any form of corporal punishment.

Social media and other digital communications


  • Always have a witness to digital communications eg if you need to email anyone under 18 years old always copy in a parent or other adult.
  • Ensure local traditions or restrictions for reproducing personal images are adhered to. 
  • Ensure children are adequately dressed in any image, for example, they must have a top on, regardless of the context.
  •  Obtain informed consent from the child and parent/guardian of the child before photographing or filming a child.

Do not

  •  Use more than one identifying factor when posting a photo, writing a blog, or using any other form of media. Consider using a pseudonym or whether a name is necessary at all.
  • Post a photo with the full face of a child unless we have explicit consent (eg on our Under 18s programs).
  • Keep images of a child or young person on your personal device.
  • Record online activities and meetings where under 18s are present.
  • Befriend or interact with children on a personal social media account or by individual text message. Group chats such as on WhatsApp are a more acceptable option; however we must ensure permission has been granted from parents/guardians.



  • Be aware of GVI’s reporting process.
  • Report any suspicions, allegations or incidents of abuse.
  • Report any incidents or concerns to your line manager, e.g. if you accidentally injure a child or they misinterpret something you have said or done.
  • Report any issue where GVI’s protocols and procedures have not been followed.

Do not

  • Hesitate to report any concerns to your line manager or a Child Protection Officer.
  • Investigate suspicions yourself.
  • Ask leading questions if a person is reporting information, just listen.
  • Make promises you will not be able to keep, e.g. saying that you will not tell anyone.
  • Ignore signs of abuse. 
  • Ignore suspicions of misconduct.