Child protection guidelines

These are example guidelines for hosts who are schools, organisations or families with children and also for Workawayers who may be considering staying at a host with children.

Please note every country has different rules for child protection. Some countries require police background checks if people are working with children. It is the Host and Workawayer’s responsibility to ensure they comply with the rules in the country they live in or are travelling to.

Does my organisation need Child Protection Guidelines?

If you have a project that involves children, it's recommended that you establish guidelines around acceptable interaction between volunteers and the children in your care. Child protection guidelines will help to reduce the risk of any kind of child abuse occurring within your project.

Unfortunately child abuse happens in all societies around the world, and can be physical, emotional, or sexual in nature. Children living in countries where there’s a lack of enforcement of child protection laws can be particularly vulnerable to abuse. Other groups of particularly vulnerable children are those that are very young or disabled.

The risk of child abuse occurring is higher when organisations have no guidelines in place to help to prevent it.

How do I establish Child Protection Guidelines?

  1. Write guidelines for volunteers who’ll be interacting with children in your project.  The guidelines you write will differ depending on the type of project you have and the country you live in; however they should be written to ensure that all volunteers are clear about appropriate behavior, attitudes and language within your project. (Please see below for a list of general guidelines.)
  2. Tell volunteers about your guidelines. In your listing, you can say you have guidelines and put a photo of them in the photos section. You can email a copy of your guidelines to volunteers who enquire about your project. It’s a good idea to print out your guidelines and display them somewhere prominently so that anyone entering your project can see them.
  3. Screen your applicants.  Read your applicant’s profile carefully to see if they have experience working with children. You can ask applicants for references and do a phone interview asking about their motivation for wanting to work with children. You could also ask the applicant if they have a police check from their home country (this will allow you to see if the applicant has a known criminal history).
  4. Have a reporting process in place. If a volunteer witnesses or suspects inappropriate behavior, they need to know who they should report their concerns to. In some cases this may be the police, in other cases it may be a staff or family member. It's also important to let the children in your project know who they can talk to if they have any problems or concerns. You can also establish some guidelines around how your organisation will respond if inappropriate behavior is reported to you (e.g. contact the police, contact the child’s parents.)

Sample Child Protection Guidelines

Below are some general child protection guidelines that can be adapted to a variety of Workaway projects. The guidelines you write will differ depending on your project (for example, volunteers in a school setting may have different guidelines to follow than those that are helping a family.)

  • Please take care to exhibit appropriate behavior if interacting physically with children
  • Please ask for permission before displaying photos of children on social media or the internet
  • Please don’t smoke, use drugs, or consume alcohol on the organisation’s grounds
  • Always have another adult present if you are in the childrens' bedrooms
  • Always have another adult present if you are bathing the children or in the childrens' bathroom 
  • Never have children in your bedroom
  • Please don’t take children outside the organisation without permission
  • Please interact with children only in public spaces (such as classrooms and the library if the project is in a school)
  • Please don’t show favouritism to any individual child or give excessive gifts to the children
  • Please don’t give money to children
  • Always inform local staff if you witness or suspect inappropriate behaviour by other staff or children
  • Do not use any physical force (such as slapping) with the children
  • If your country requires police checks to be carried out on people working with children you must ask the workawayer to do the police check in their home country and provide evidence of this for you. Please note: Workaway is not an agency and DOES NOT do background checks so this is your responsibility based on the applicant, your family or organisation.

It is a good idea to be as specific as possible when designing your guidelines because it makes them easier to follow and implement. 

Workawayers should ensure they read any guidelines before applying to a host where the project may involve contact with children. If you have already completed a police check in your home country to be able to work with children please let your host know about this and bring it with you for them to take a copy of when you arrive.