I hope that my previous post on awareness of the world’s “orphans” this month was helpful to you in considering a different perspective on this topic. Following up on this, I want to provide some more practical steps you may take in directing attention to child protection.
I appreciated the people who took the time to comment on the last post. I’m especially appalled at Leslie’s comment about the family “try-out” adoption program. I have never heard of such a thing and I sincerely hope that is not a wide-spread practice.
Some practical ways you can ensure that you are supporting a healthy and safe and nourishing environment for children include:
- Asking of the organization what the criteria is for accepting children into their program
- Is the organization/institution actively promoting foster or other forms of alternative home-style care for their children and what is their record on that?
- Does the organization enforce a comprehensive child protection policy for every member of their staff?
- Does the organization follow a media policy on photographs, videos and other forms of media that protect children from being exploited?
- Have you ever been required to have a background check as a volunteer? Does the organization have a system for checking their prospective volunteers?
- Is there transparency in funding sources and how funds are used?
- Being a part of a network cannot guarantee that an organization is following best practice, but it is an indication of collaboration.
- Are children offered participation and a level of autonomy in their care and living?
This list is not all inclusive. If you can think of other red flags or things to keep in mind, I invite you to post them in a comment! ChildSafe has posted seven traveler tips to help you protect children wherever you go.
There many reasons other than mal-intent for an organization not to follow best practice guidelines on child care. In fact, I think that many organizations are oblivious to the harmful affects of orphan tourism. If you know of an organization that is not following best practice, but is open to developing a safer environment for its children, you may want to offer your services as a way to constructively volunteer and serve the children that desperately need our help.