Principles for safeguarding children and young people
This protocol is a draft. It has not yet been accepted as protocol and may be incorrect or poorly cited. Please do not use this in your work until it has been accepted.
Please see #protocols on Slack to discuss this protocol further.
These are the core principles QueerCare uses for safeguarding children and young people.
- Within QueerCare the term ‘young people’ refers to people aged 13-19 unless specified otherwise. ‘Adults’ refers to people aged 20+. People aged 18-19 should be considered as both young people and adults as this is a transition age between working in the two spaces.
- In QueerCare people aged 13-19 organise autonomously as QueerCare Young Folk.
- Children and young people have a right to be protected from and given appropriate support around harm they may experience.
- Safeguarding children and young people is a collective responsibility. Safeguarding principles, policy and protocol apply to everyone working within QueerCare, in all roles.
- Language around 'safeguarding children' is often weaponised to justify oppression (e.g. transmisogyny, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or ableism). QueerCare's approach to safeguarding must actively work to counter this.
- Many young people already do care and advocacy work outside of formal structures of support. This work is often isolated and risky. QueerCare Young Folk is a work-in-progress, building formalised support structures, training and resources for this work. Care work, advocacy and internal organising will always have risks of harm towards young people. Principles, policy and protocol are here to mitigate and set out systems of support around risks that cannot be fully prevented or removed.
- Young people often have different needs and experiences than those aged 20+, although this should not be assumed to always be the case.
- Young people often find it difficult and intimidating to talk to adults in organising spaces and it is important for adults to be aware of and respect this. Young people often find it difficult to talk in meetings as many are often concerned that their points will be dismissed or laughed at.
- Young people often have different boundaries than those aged 20+ and may find it difficult to express or enforce these around people older than them.
- Young people have skills, insight and leadership that those aged 20+ can learn from, and vice versa. Young people must be listened to, valued and respected.
- Young people, especially those who do care work and those who have experienced trauma, may act in ways that are viewed by adults as ‘mature’ or ‘old for their age’, or, conversely, ‘childish’ or ‘young for their age’. Adults must remember that young people are not adults and deserve to be listened to and treated with respect no matter how their behaviours or ways of communicating are viewed by those who are older than them.
- QueerCare has a strong commitment to confidentiality for people being supported and people working within the organisation. Young people must be able to feel sure that the organisation can be trusted with their personal information and that data will not be used for any purpose other than providing support.
- Structures must be put in place to support young people with the work they are doing. Adults within QueerCare have the responsibility to ensure systems of support exist and work, whether these are systems built and managed by QueerCare Young Folk or wider, full-organisation systems.
- If a young person says they have experienced harm from someone aged 20+ within QueerCare this must be taken seriously and dealt with in a way which centres support for the young person and takes concrete steps to assess what the person who has caused harm is doing within the organisation, the conditions that allowed the harm to happen and how these risks can be mitigated moving forwards.
- Power dynamics relating to age (as well as power dynamics relating to race, class, ability and gender) must be openly discussed in order to create a working environment where young people feel able to express their opinions and raise concerns.
- Principles, policy and protocol about safeguarding and anti-oppression must be reviewed and updated regularly.