Scouts South Africa’s Safe from Harm framework advances child protection
Scouts South Africa is making huge strides in creating safer environments for children, youth, and adults in Scouting with a trailblazing Safe from Harm framework that underpins the National Scout Organization’s (NSOs) commitment to make wellbeing and protection a top priority.
The framework, due to be officially launched later this year, comprises a range of pro-active measures that lay out clear policies and guidelines on how to prevent and respond quickly and efficiently in situations that could affect the development, wellbeing, and safety of its Scouts and volunteers.
Central to the framework is a Child Protection Policy that identifies abuse and reporting mechanisms and an Adult Support Policy that enhances checks on adults against police and government databases. For Scouting activities, a Safe Scouting Policy provides guidance everything from meetings and camps to water activities and hiking in the mountains. Transgressions are addressed in the Member Code of Conduct.
Scouts are also encouraged to educate themselves through programmes that support learning on the rights of the child and how to seek help.
“We strive to create and maintain a safe environment for the development of children and young people in South Africa,” said Natasha Kayle, Scouts South Africa’s National PR Manager. “These safe environments allow our Scouting members to learn by doing, grow and develop into the best version of themselves, so they can practice good citizenship and ensure positive change within their local communities.”
Outside Scouting, the country’s youth and adult volunteers often face daunting prospects. From vast wealth disparities and extreme poverty to lack of access to quality education, gender-based violence and substance abuse. Making matters worse are record levels of unemployment that are hitting young job seekers the hardest. Of the more than 35% out-of-work South Africans, roughly two-thirds are aged between 15 and 24.
It is against this bleak backdrop that the value of leadership, life skills, and vocational skills that can be gained through Scouting give the Movement its potential to become life changing. Scouts South Africa’s takes this responsibility seriously, and its commitment to act in the best interests of young people supports a World Scout Conference Resolution that promotes NSO compliance to the standards set in the World Safe from Harm Policy.
To ensure that the NSO’s messages reach the country’s large youth population, South Africa Scouts turned to social media to promote its Safe from Harm online and has run a few online safety campaigns using materials developed by the World Organization of the Scout Movement. A short film is also in the works to introduce the Safe from Harm framework to the NSO’s members. To reach a wider audience, the NSO wants to translate its film into different languages to cater to the country’s diverse linguistic landscape.
With a multicultural mix of people from different ethnic, linguistic, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds, the NSO acknowledges its responsibility to promote materials that children and young people from different backgrounds have equal rights and access to, and that challenge discrimination and social stigmas.
This also meant developing and reviewing materials that could be packaged in a way that was simple, easy to understand, and appealed to various audiences. They also harnessed different mediums, such as infographics and videos, which it hopes to be included in training, events, programmes, and other activities. Further shoring up stakeholder buy-in, members were given the opportunity to comment on draft policies.
Scouts South Africa hopes that these efforts will enable its new framework to become better understood, widely shared, and implemented nationwide by children, parents, youth, and adult volunteers. Its successes offer an exciting example for other NSOs to follow on their own Safe from Harm journey, as the Movement continues to take the lead on creating environments free from harm and abuse.