Several years ago, Amy Travis went overseas to work at an US-based organization, which was assuming administrative management of an orphanage and school, they had previously only funded. The orphanage had been wracked by a child abuse scandal. Two different foreign administrators had been abusing children – one physically and one sexually. The US-based nonprofit was shocked and appalled when they found out and quickly stepped in as the perpetrators fled the country. She was part of a team newly hired to rebuild, strengthen, and heal after such a terrible event. Among her many hats, Amy was the child protection officer and spent a considerable amount of her time on these tasks. She learned mostly on-the-job, using any assistance she could get through the government and local child protection networks and scouring the internet for information and tools. Amy found that the organization was not alone in discovering child abuse yet most did not directly deal with the structural problems so as to prevent future abuse.
After leaving this position, Amy found this situation similarly repeated in many places around the world and began working to help organizations strengthen their child protection “safeguarding” policies. The more she learned, the more the enormity of the problem overwhelmed her. Helping organizations one-by-one is too slow; children are being traumatized and physically scarred for life. She wanted a way to provide international nonprofits with the tools they needed to prevent and address abuse – all the information that took years for Amy to find and learn.
From there the Child Protection Toolkit idea was born: an online platform for nonprofits to access the information they need to create a culturally-appropriate, context-specific child protection program for their organization. It would need to be more than just “how to write a policy” but address how to teach local staff the skills they need to do more than just protect children but help them thrive. Discipline and group management skills to replace the severe corporal punishment with which they themselves were raised are essential. There must also be information on child development, sexual health, and trauma coping methods so that employees can better work with children and understand how to help them. The toolkit must be supportive, empowering, collaborative, and self-sufficient; it must be able to stand alone as holistic and comprehensive support for organizations.
CPT is a work in progress. We began in 2015 and have only run through crowd-funding donations and pro-bono/volunteer work. We look forward to building, growing, and working with new people and organizations to support grassroots INGOs. Please contact us if you are interested in partnering, volunteering, or sharing best practices or feedback.
The crowd funding page has expired but support is always welcome. Current funding priorities are:
Translation of videos and materials into Kiswahili, Thai, Arabic, Russian, Hindi, Tamil, and Senegalese
Testing (Monitoring & Evaluation) of the current videos
Creation of new videos on topics such as: investigating abuse; general guidelines for protection, child-appropriate abuse training, child development, and positive discipline.
Child Protection Toolkit (CPT) creates safer environments for children & adults by strengthening child safeguarding policies and child protection programming in grassroots nonprofits and INGOs through resources, education, connections, advocacy, and collaboration.
The Child Protection Toolkit envisions effective international aid and development organizations where all stakeholders, especially children, are safe and can thrive.
Respect – respect of inherent human dignity of all individuals, ideas, and cultures, allowing for differences and celebrating the best within.
Collaboration – inclusively working together as partners, each bringing talents, skills, and knowledge. True collaboration requires communication and patience for successful partnerships and results.
Learning – continually working to understand and utilize new methods, skills, and theories in a positive, encouraging environment, acknowledging and accepting failures and setbacks, while persevering to master skills and knowledge.
Honesty – a necessary component for collaboration and learning so that there may be forward movement.
Create people-centered systems that empower all stakeholders, from donors to staff to beneficiaries, to build safe, positive environments for all, especially children, to thrive.
Train individuals with skills to mitigate risk, protect children, recognize maltreatment, positively hand discipline and challenging behaviors, and foster resiliency.
Share resources, information, and contacts among organizations to improve child safeguarding and protection.
Connect individuals, organizations, agencies, and businesses working with children in international aid and development.