NCV Team Information Package

Appropriate Interaction Policy

Fundación Niños con Valor is a non-profit organization that provides loving homes to children and teens who have been orphaned, abandoned, or rescued from high-risk or abusive home situations, where we seek to integrate children with special needs and maintain a secure family atmosphere. We promote holistic healthcare, education, and the protection of children’s rights, and encourage positive emotional and social development, so that our children grow up to be engaged and productive members of society.

An important part of fostering a safe and healthy environment is guaranteeing that everyone interacting with the children do so respecting their rights and in compliance with NCV policies that have been developed to ensure that their emotional, social and physical integrity are always respected, and to protect them from any inappropriate situations. Due to the background of the children who are part of the NCV family, it is especially important to take into account the interactions that adults have in their lives. This policy also exists to protect staff and volunteers, helping them avoid the uncomfortable situation of having accusations directed at them for actions that they may have thought innocuous, yet which from a child or teen’s perspective, crossed a boundary.

This guide is for anyone, adult or teen, who works, volunteers, or comes to visit our programs. It outlines the rights of our children, and the NCV policy for those engaging with them. It is our hope that every person who is part of their lives can show them an appropriate affection, which is very important in their development.

I.    Rights of Children and Teens

Children and teens as Bolivian citizens enjoy the rights guaranteed in the constitution, national laws, and those established in this Code. It is the State’s primary obligation at all levels to guarantee the full exercise and implementation of the rights of children and teens. It is the duty and obligation of the family and society to ensure that children and teens have opportunities that guarantee their integral development, and in conditions of equality and equity.

(Article 8 – Código del Niño, Niña y Adolescente)

Our organization, its projects, staff and volunteers must comply with all the content of Law 548, known as the Código del Niño, Niña y Adolescente (Children and Adolescent’s Code), and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by Bolivia. Failure to comply with these standards puts at risk the welfare of our children, and the future of NCV.

Any action that violates the rights of one of the children will be reported the appropriate authorities.

II.    Institutional Norms

a. Emotional Integrity

i. If a child or teen confides something personal that is happening in their lives that could potentially put them or others at risk, the NCV Technical Team should be notified immediately. If there is any doubt about whether or not what was shared is something that could put them or others at risk, it is best to err on the side of caution, and inform the NCV Technical Team.

ii. It is not permitted to keep secrets with children and teens.

iii. It is important to provide positive verbal affection in the lives of the children and teens. Examples of positive and appropriate verbal affection are:

• Encouraging words for positive behavior.
• Listening to them talk about their life and anxieties.
• Have constructive conversations, motivating the child or teen in the strengths and abilities.

iv. On the other hand, inappropriate verbal affection should be avoided. Examples are:

• Giving advice on topics such as relationships, sexuality, drugs, their family or background, without the knowledge and support of the home psychologist.
• Having conversations about inappropriate topics.
• Talking alone with a child in a room with the door closed, and where there is no functioning security camera.
• Making negative comments that can have a detrimental impact on a child or teen’s self-esteem.
• Listening to and keeping the secrets of a child or teen.
• Commenting on a child’s physical appearance or his or her body’s development, for example: “You look really good / sexy in those pants”, “Your body is really developing”, “You are becoming a woman”, “You’re fat”, “If you keep eating like that you’re going to get chubby”
• Avoid comparing a child or teen with another child or teen – each person is unique.
• Avoid making false promises, saying things like, “I’m coming back to visit”, or “Someday, I’ll take you to know my country.” Even if you hope to return, be careful not to commit yourself to something you may not be able to do.

b. Social Integrity

i. The backgrounds of the children in our care are private, and confidentiality should be held at all times should you learn details of their childhood.

ii. It is permitted and even encouraged that communication is maintained with the teens of NCV outside of work/volunteer hours; however, it is not okay to engage in private communications through social networking, WhatsApp, etc., which can not be monitored by NCV staff.

iii. Photographs of our children cannot be shared digitally in any form without written authorization from NCV administration. In the case that you receive such authorization, you may only share the photos you have been authorized to share, and never publish photos where the child or teen’s face is recognizable. Real names may never accompany published photos.

iv. We seek to ensure fair and equal treatment in our homes, and avoid all types of discrimination. For this reason, we ask that favoritism is avoided, and that individual gifts are not given.

v. We receive children and teens with a variety of special needs, and Bolivian law requires that their diagnoses remain confidential. This is particularly important in the cases of children living with HIV. It is never permissible to share any aspect of a child’s history, medical or otherwise.

vi. For their safety, it is important that our caregiver staff know where each child is at all times, and with whom. Thus, it is not permitted the planning of activities with a child or teen without prior authorization of NCV Administration, nor is it permitted to take a child anywhere without authorization. If authorization is given, it is important that the person in charge takes care of how the child or teen is interacting with others who are not associated with NCV.

vii. We ask that no one loan cell phones, tablets, cameras or other electronic devices to our children without authorization from NCV Administration.

viii. It is not permitted to give an individual child or teen gifts, such as bracelets, earrings, watches, etc., or loan him or her clothing, hair accessories, etc. This generates conflict and tension with the other children, and can lead other children to pursue the person who gave or loaned something to one child in the hopes of obtaining something for him or herself.

ix. We ask that cell phones and cameras not be used in the homes during work or volunteer hours, except in cases where their use is required.

x. It is not permitted to exchange gifts with the children or teens for favors.

xi. When on an outing with a child or teen, never leave them in the care of another person who is not a NCV staff or volunteer.

c. Physical Integrity

i. Appropriate physical contact with a child or teen should respond to the need of the child or teen for comfort, encouragement or affection. It should never be based on the emotional need of the adult.

ii. Affection should never be forced on a child or teen. Physical contact should always take place with the child’s consent.

iii. Forms of positive physical affection are important in a child’s life. For example:

• Short hugs.
• Pats on the shoulder, back or encouraging taps on the head.
• Shaking hands as a greeting, to say goodbye, or for congratulations
• Giving a “high-5”.
• Giving an air kiss on the cheek for women and girls.
• Short touches on the shoulders, head or hands as a form of comfort
• Holding a young child’s hand while walking.
• Sitting beside younger children.
• Kneeling down or squatting to give a short hug to a small child or to talk with him or her.

iv. Forms of physical affection that are inappropriate and should be avoided are:

• Inappropriate hugs (lingering, tight, from behind, etc.).
• Kisses on the mouth.
• Sitting with a child 4-years-old or older on one’s lap. In the case of children under 4-years-old, they should not be held against the chest, and, if possible, the child should sit further towards the knees, or across the legs so that his or her backside is not in contact with the adult’s body.
• Touching any part of a child or teen’s body that is not their head, shoulders, upper back, or hands, including the legs, knees, backside, chest or private parts. Staff and volunteers are permitted to change diapers and take the younger children to use the bathroom, and only staff are authorized to assist the younger children at bath time.
• Playing inappropriate games, snapping bras, giving wedgies, or any other activity that involves contact with a child or teen beneath their clothes and/or with their undergarments.
• Being alone with a child or teen alone in a bedroom, office, storage room, bathroom or any other space with the door closed and/or lights off, or where there is not a functioning security camera.
• Lying on a bed, couch or chair with a child or teen.
• Playing dare games.
• Tickling.
• Games that involve excessive physical contact with a child or teen (ex. “Horsey”).
• Giving massages, whether it be the adult giving the child or teen the massage, or the other way around.
• Any physical contact, including those considered “appropriate”, that a child does not want to receive – don’t insist.

III. General Recommendations

a. Avoid situations in which an adult is alone with a child or teen. If it is necessary to talk about his or her behavior, or give individual therapy, always use spaces with functioning security cameras installed, and if possible, keep curtains and/or doors open. This is for the protection of both the child and the adult.

b. Demonstration of physical affection should take place in the presence of NCV staff. This is for the protection of both the child and the adult.

c. Always request permission from NCV Administration before posting photos of children, even if their faces are not visible. Social Services investigates residential programs on a regular basis, and if they deem that a published photo is in violation of a child’s rights, it is NCV that faces potential legal action.

d. Always remember that the children in our care come from difficult and traumatic backgrounds, and what may be appropriate for one child, is not for another. We have children who are hypersexualized due to the physical and/or sexual abuse they have suffered, and how they receive verbal and/or physical affection is often not the same as a child who has grown up in a safe and healthy home environment.

e. During outings with the children, where there is interaction with people who are not affiliated with NCV, it is the responsibility of the person in charge to ensure that the children’s rights are protected, and NCV policies are respected.

f. If you observe any conduct between children, or between an adult and a child, immediately inform any member of the Technical Team or NCV Administration.

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