A code of conduct for your youth club’s staff and volunteers – your youth workers – is essential to safeguarding. You should make sure that your code of conduct is in line with local laws, regulations and best practices. However, for interest, we have included one developed by one of the organisations involved in Project GROW. 

It’s important to remember that this code of conduct doesn’t just apply to youth workers. It also applies to watchmen, maintenance staff and other support staff – the people who often disappear into the background and we forget about. These staff can also pose risks to children. 

[Youth Organisation’s Name]’s Safeguarding Code of Conduct

[Youth Organisation’s Name]’s capacity to achieve its vision and mission depends upon the individual and collaborative efforts of all [Youth Organisation’s Name] Employees and Related Personnel. To this end, all [Youth Organisation’s Name] Employees and Related Personnel must uphold and promote the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct and abide by [Youth Organisation’s Name]’s policies.

This Safeguarding Code of Conduct is intended to provide an illustrative guide for [Youth Organisation’s Name] Employees and Related Personnel to make decisions that exemplify [Youth Organisation’s Name]’s broader Code of Conduct and core values in their professional and personal lives. Any violation of this Safeguarding Code of Conduct is a serious concern and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. All [Youth Organisation’s Name] Employees and Related Personnel must read and sign this Safeguarding Code of Conduct.

As a [Youth Organisation’s Name] Employee or Related Personnel, I will –

1.                     create and maintain a safe and equitable organisational culture that prevents and opposes emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation.

2.                         treat everyone with dignity and respect and challenge attitudes and behaviours that contravene the [Youth Organisation’s Name] Safeguarding Code of Conduct.

3.                         immediately report any concerns I have regarding possible violations of the [Youth Organisation’s Name] International Safeguarding Policy or Safeguarding Code of Conduct, whether by a [Youth Organisation’s Name] Employee or by Related Personnel. I understand that failure to report any concerns may lead to disciplinary action. I will ensure I am aware of the options available to me to report and that when I report a concern or allegation, I will do so confidentially.

4.                         share sensitive information I may be aware of that relates to concerns of emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation, whether involving staff, program participants or others in the communities where [Youth Organisation’s Name] works, through the reporting options available to me. I understand that for respect, dignity and safety of everyone involved, it is essential that I maintain confidentiality about any concerns or information I am aware of and only share information with staff of the appropriate function who need to know such information. I am aware that breach of this policy may put others at risk and will therefore result in disciplinary procedures.

5.                     disclose to [Youth Organisation’s Name] any civil judgment or criminal conviction that relates to allegations made against me of emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation.

6.                     always make sure I have another adult present when working with children.

7.                     always ensure that for work-related purposes when I photograph or film a child, I:

  • comply with local traditions or restrictions for reproducing personal images,
  • obtain informed consent from the parent or guardian of the child, before photographing or filming a child, explaining how the photograph or film will be used,
  • ensure photographs, films, videos and DVDs present children in a dignified and respectful manner and not in a vulnerable or submissive manner,
  • ensure children are adequately clothed and not in poses that could be seen as sexually suggestive,
  • ensure images are honest representations of the context and the facts, and
  • ensure file labels do not reveal identifying information about a child, for example, name and exact location; and
  • protect, manage and utilise [Youth Organisation’s Name] human, financial and material resources appropriately and will never use [Youth Organisation’s Name] resources, including the use of computers, cameras, mobile phones or social media, to exploit, groom or harass participants of [Youth Organisation’s Name] programs, children or others in the communities in which [Youth Organisation’s Name] works. I am aware that this means that it is prohibited for staff to access, display or transmit offensive and/or pornographic material on any [Youth Organisation’s Name]-provided or subsidized electronic device (e.g. computer, tablet, phone) at any time, or on any personal electronic device on a [Youth Organisation’s Name] network in the workplace.

As a [Youth Organisation’s Name] Employee or Related Personnel, I will not –

1    emotionally abuse, physically abuse, sexually abuse or exploit anyone and understand that these    behaviours constitute acts of gross misconduct and are therefore grounds for disciplinary       action,         up to and including dismissal and being reported to the police and Government authorities.

1.                     engage in any form of sexual activity or develop physical/sexual relationships with children (persons under the age of 18) regardless of the age of consent locally. I understand that ignorance or mistaken belief in the age of a child is not a defence.

2.                     exchange money, employment, goods, or services for sex, including sexual favours or other forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behaviour. I understand this means I must not buy sex from anyone at any time, or exchange assistance that is due to programme participants/ beneficiaries for sex.

3.                     engage in any sexual activity or sexual relationship with program participants/ beneficiaries. I am aware that such relationships are prohibited. I understand that such relationships are based on an improper use of my position and inherently unequal power dynamics and may undermine the credibility and integrity of [Youth Organisation’s Name]’s work. I understand I must declare any previously existing relationships with programme participants/ beneficiaries to my line manager. I will seek guidance on this prohibition from appropriate management.

4.                     request any service or sexual favour from participants of [Youth Organisation’s Name] programs, children or others in the communities in which [Youth Organisation’s Name] works, and will not engage in emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or exploitation.

5.                     support or take part in any form of abusive activities, including, for example, child pornography, trafficking of human beings or child marriage.

6.                     hire children for domestic or other labour, which is inappropriate given their age or developmental stage, which interferes with their time available for education and recreational activities or which places them at significant risk of injury or exploitation.

7.                     use language or behaviour towards children that is inappropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative, demeaning or culturally inappropriate.

Reflection Questions:

  • Is there anything in this code of conduct that you find surprising or that you feel would be inappropriate for your organisation?
  • Is there anything missing from this code of conduct?
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