Code of Ethical Responsibility

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Code of Ethical Responsibility of St. Bernadette’s Civil Association for

the Protection of Children (Revised March, 2023)


Taking into account International Norms:

The International Code for children and teenagers considers a child, every human being from its conception until 12 years of age, and adolescents until 18 years of age.

Basic Information about the Code of ethical Responsibility of St. Bernadette´s Civil Association:

What we mean by protection of children….

It means that we offer children the necessary support structures to protect them from intentional harm, while favoring their holistic development within the programmes of St. Bernadette’s, and promoting respect for their fundamental rights in our working environment.        

This Code is for….    

This document, along with the Child Protection Policy, establishes the expectations that St. Bernadette’s Civil Association has of all its personnel and volunteers working in its programmes, in respect of their behaviour and practices towards children.

The Association needs a Code of Ethical Responsibility for the following reasons:

1. To promote knowledge of, and respect for, the fundamental rights of children and adolescents within our work environment.

2. To protect children. The vision and mission of St. Bernadette’s Civil Association establishes our commitment to promote the rights and dignity of each child. We are aware of the importance to make explicit and visible our determination that the work and activities of the Association should promote the security and protection of children. 

3. To protect the personnel and volunteers. All those who work for the Association have contact with children. With the implementation of this policy and code, all the personnel will have a clear orientation about their proper behaviour towards children, and will know what to do on having knowledge, or are advised about the inappropriate behaviour of others.

4. To protect the Association. Being an organization that works with children, the Association is aware of the necessity to demonstrate good conduct, including having a Child Protection Policy, while assuring its implementation.

On implementing the Policy and Code, the Association is assuring its commitment to ensure that the rights of children and adolescents are respected, and safeguarding the physical, psychological and sexual integrity of the children. The Policy and Code are tools which allow us to obtain better practices in this area, and dissuade those who would desire to abuse through their entrance into the organization.

As an organization we are more vulnerable, and leave ourselves open to false and malicious accusations, if we don´t have in operation systems of protection for the children. These false allegations can destroy our reputation and have serious repercussions for our on-going work with the children.

Central Declarations:                                                                                  

The Association recognises the personal dignity and fundamental rights of each child, to whom it has a special responsibility and duty to protect and respect without distinction. The Association, and its employees and volunteers, are committed to do all in our power to promote respect for the fundamental rights of children and adolescents, and to create a secure environment for the children so as to prevent physical, sexual or emotional abuse against them. The Association is committed to giving preference to the superior interest of the children, while considering the rights for the child as priorities in the face of any other interest, or right of a third party.

To meet these obligations we will do the following:

  1. Establish, implement, monitor and revise regularly procedures to protect the children. These procedures cover the practice of selection of personnel, induction and ongoing personal formation, and responsibility of management in the Association.
  2. Implement a Code of Ethical Behaviour for all the personnel and volunteers. To be revised every three years, or sooner with a change in legislation.
  3. Ensure that any allegation of abuse receives immediate and proper treatment. The victim will be supported and the perpetrator will answer to the relevant authorities.
  4. Ensure that the Association works in strict relationship with the structures set up for the Protection of Children in all levels, and with the organizations established by the local government whenever necessary. (Network with other institutions.
  5. Aim at being an example of good practice in the prevention of abuse of children.
  6. Recognizing the necessity to be as much proactive as sensitive in the dialogue with other institutions as regards the policy and practice for the protection of children. The Association will accompany and support these institutions in their development of adequate policies and procedures.

The policy of the Association will be applied to all those children and adolescents with whom the Association has contact independently of gender, religion or ethnic origin, which will be audited/ evaluated yearly.

Promotion of Good Practice:

The Association seeks to promote good practice in the protection of children, with the intention of developing a culture of protection and security in relation to the children. We will do this in the following way:

With the Personnel of the Association: 

  1. The Association will use adequate procedures for the selection of personnel through requesting references and recommendations of them personally, and of their work experience.
  2. The Association will guarantee ongoing formation for its personnel in themes related to the care and protection of children, while taking into account specific functions and specialized areas in interdisciplinary teams.

With local institutions, networks:

  1. The Association will promote the exercise of “good practices” in the protection of children in the local schools, communities, and all those who work in Programmes that attend to children.
  2. The Association will promote a process of interaction with organizations and local contacts about need for the protection of children, to ensure a mutual learning and development in “good practices”.
  3. The Association will seek to support organizations and local contacts in the development of their policies, so as to strengthen their response about concerns for the protection of children.

The Association urges organizations to:

  1. Share their points of view and experience with the personnel of the Association and learn the position of the Association about the protection of children.
  2. Commit ourselves to examine issues related to the promotion of the fundamental rights of children and adolescents, and their protection, particularly those directly linked to the organizations work.
  3. Implement a policy of Child protection through the practices of work, in planning of programmes and projects, and general awareness between the personnel and the beneficiaries.

Guidelines for “Good Practices”:

Personal relations between the workers and the children, as beneficiaries, will respect their personal freedom, rights, while deserving of good treatment. For this we will promote:

  1. The children to be treated with respect while recognizing their rights.
  2. Foment self esteem and a positive self image in the children which is the basis for self respect which encourages the possibility of maintaining personal limits.
  3. Encourage in the children the freedom to express what they feel or think while respecting the rights of others.
  4. Guarantee spaces where the children will be listened to.
  5. Create a climate where the children can develop a sense of humor, the ability ot laugh and enjoy their childhood despite having.
  6. Avoid whatever kind of discriminatory behaviour or language towards the children.
  7. Avoid the use of improper adjectives and disqualifying a child in the attempt to correct him/her.
  8. Avoid showing favouritism for any child
  9. Healthy affective relationships between adults and children.
  10. Avoid jokes, comments or gossip about the appearance or sexual orientation of a child, or adolescent.
  11. Avoid the use of rumours to defame any child.
  12. Avoid criticisms of the private life of a child.
  13. Secure the appropriate use of computers and images so that children may be protected from unsuitable web sites.
  14. Inform the children periodically of the Child Protection Policy we have in the Centres.

Signs of care and affection of the personnel towards the children will be regulated by respect for personal space, which should be understood as the limit that respects their physical and psychological space, while guaranteeing the privacy, individuality and security of the children. For this we should avoid:

  1. Prolonged body contact, suffocating embraces, exaggerated kisses, holding a child on the lap, or between the legs in an unnecessary manner.
  2. Unnecessarily carrying a child in the arms or over the back.
  3. Allowing the children to hang from your neck, or any other part of the body, whether it is playful, or a showing of exaggerated affection.
  4. Being involved in rough or violent games with the children.
  5. Checking grazes or cuts on a child which implies taking off part of the clothing, unless it is with a specialized person.
  6. In the case of the children in the Home, the employee shouldn’t enter the bed of a child.
  7. Respect the privacy of the children when using the washrooms. Only the responsible personnel can enter these spaces guaranteeing the protection of the children.

The Personnel should avoid conducts or situations that put in risk their reputation and honour, therefore they should take into account:

  1. Don’t enter the toilets whenever the children are using them.
  2. Don’t enter the rooms of the children without previously advising them.
  3.  Avoid being alone with a child unnecessarily.
  4. Don’t take to the side, or take out a child, without the necessary permission and justification.
  5. Don’t dress or undress the child without this being part of your functions.
  6. Don’t express an excess of confidence towards the child suggesting that s/he has special privileges with the employee.
  7. Avoid confidentiality, of holding secrets with the child.
  8. Avoid swopping personal information, e.g. electronic address, telephone numbers, etc. or giving them presents, or money in secret.
  9. Avoid showing openly, and notoriously affection for another work mate.
  10. Avoid unnecessary touching or pinching.
  11. Avoid unnecessary physical closeness.
  12. Don´t receive or offer written invitations to the children
  13. Don´t spread rumors of defame a child victim.
  14. Don’t give letters or notes to a child.
  15. Don’t accept, or request friendship with the children.
  16. Don’t seek contact with a child through social media.

Definition of Chile Abuse:

It is defined as the action, omission, or non accidental negligent treatment that takes away the child’s rights and well-being, that threatens and interferes with their physical, psychological and social development, and whose authors could be people, institutions, or society itself.

There are four principal types of abuse:

Physical Abuse:

Can be defined as intentional hurt towards a child, realised by the parent, guardian or other, using a variety of measures, non accidental, as in a punch with the fist, or with other diverse objects, causing lacerations, fractures, burns, wounds and organic harm capable of producing dangerous demonstrable results.

Emotional Abuse:

Chronic verbal hostility in the form of an insult, critique, or threat of abandonment, locked up, isolated, as in not giving care and affection, and causing adverse effects in the behaviour and integral development of the child.

Abuse of Negligence or Abandonment:

 Is the harm caused by not covering the basic necessities, like food, medical attention, security, clothing, and education, just as not responding to the affective needs of the child, with love, attention and protection.

Sexual Abuse:

Is every sexual activity an adult, taking advantage of his power and age as an adult, imposes, whether through deceit, blackmail or force, on a child that hasn’t reached mental or physical maturity so as to understand and give consent. Sexual abuse can also be committed by a person under the age of 18 years when s/he is significantly older than the child.

Sexual activity can include rape, touching, forcing a child to touch inappropriately adults, and those activities that don’t imply physical contact such as exhibitionism, exposure to sexual activities of others, directly or through the internet, looking at pornography, verbal seduction, indecent proposals, child sexual exploitation, and child prostitution.

Those who commit these abuses generally are people close to, and known by the child.

There are some groups of children that are particularly vulnerable. These are:

  1. Children with incapacities:
  2. Children from minority ethnical communities which are discriminated against:
  3. Children who refugees, or who search for asylum.
  4. Children who live in residential homes.
  5. Children within families where there is alcohol or drug abuse, domestic violence or mental health problems.
  6. Children who are orphans through Aids.

Even though the protection established by the lay defines children and adolescents as persons under the age of 18, also it must care for and protect vulnerable adults due to their incapacity or other factors.