Ensuring the safety of children is not something that applies only at home: children are vulnerable everywhere. In your relationship with an overseas church you need to make sure that child protection measures are in place.
If you’re part of a UK church that works with children, you should already have a child protection policy in place in order to safeguard children and manage any situations that might arise. Remember that this policy continues to apply when you travel overseas as a representative of your church. Make sure church staff who may be involved in making links with churches overseas have undergone CRB and reference checks.
Awareness of child protection issues varies from country to country. If you have a child protection policy, talk about it with your hosts, assure them that you’ll abide by it, and explore the possibility of signing an agreement on child protection with your partner overseas church.
Be sensitive to cultural practices in other countries with regard to children. The fact that you may not agree with them doesn’t mean you’re authorised to investigate or report them, but you may consider sensitively and appropriately challenging them as part of your Christian responsibility.
When you travel overseas, make sure your behaviour is consistent with a robust code of conduct which spells out appropriate ways of working with children. See the www.globalconnections.co.uk website for some helpful guidelines.
Make sure that photos and information pertaining to children safeguard their privacy, confidentiality and respect. Be careful how you take and use photos of children. Once the photo is out of your control (e.g. if you email it to someone else), it could pose a risk to the child.
When you’re supporting overseas churches’ work, consider good practice concerning working with children and their needs. For example, don’t be so focused on constructing a building for them that you lose sight of the children’s need for protection and development.
For advice on good practice, visit www.keepingchildrensafe.org.uk and www.crin.org.