Program Quality Code – A guideline to keep the scouts safe from harm
Since 2002 all the leaders of the association have to sign a Program Quality Code before they go to summer camp.
This Code refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the national regulations but it also list 8 focus fields and engagements:
- animation based on trust, respect and brotherhood
- physical safety of everyone
- healthy lifestyle
- regulation of alcohol consumption
- keeping the parents informed
- friendly relationship with other youth movements
- respectful relationship with the neighbours
- respect of the privacy in the use of data and photography’s
The content of this Code is also a part of the training programme of the leaders and the purpose of the training session is to make then reflect on the Code itself but also on the prevention which can take place in their animation to keep the scouts safe from harm.
Since a couple of year the Code has to be signed at the beginning of each scout year.
Since 2019 the Code has to be signed electronically and the leader who hasn’t signed the Code before camp will not be allowed to participate.
The elaboration of the 8 focus fields is founded on the most frequent, serious or damaging complaints from intern or extern partners. An explicit message about those fields before the camp (and then before the beginning of the year) seemed to be a good way to prevent any infringement.
The Code was a way to increase the awareness of the leaders & improve the training quality and the quality of the program.
The main target of this Code were the leaders but the diffusion had indirect impacts:
- on the scouts by the adaptation of the program by the leaders to cover some issues (for instance alcohol consumption and reflection on dependences and social pressure, first aid training or healthy nutrition) and
- on the external audience which had access to this Code, could see the rules chosen by the NSA and discuss then with the leaders.
The follow up of the signatures of the Code occurs with the help of the people in charge of supporting the local level, the people in charge of supporting the regional level and the national level.
The formal training to the content of the Code is in the hands of the local levels and the trainers.
The discussion about the content of the Code can occur between all the adults in scouting and with the external partners.
The first obvious result of the Code and the process around it is to be sure that every leader (following the formal training or not) is aware of the elements which it contents.
It was also a very useful tool to deal with incidents and be able to apply disciplinary sanctions when needed.
The diffusion of the Code has have a cultural impact and created a discourse around the focus fields.
After the redaction of the Code, some of the focus fields were taken into account for the redaction or the update of new training tools for the leaders.
The introduction of the compulsory electronic signature with a single sign on system will guarantee a broader diffusion of the Code and we hope it will maintain the impact for the new leaders.
It was not easy at the beginning to make sure of the signing of all the leaders but a step by step approach leads to good outcomes now.
The Code was a tool to change the practices. Some traditions had to be challenged and it’s always a long process. The formal signing procedure was the door to enter into a discussion with the leaders and to try to create an evolution in the practices where they could be improved. The discussion of the Code in the local groups and the references to it in the formal training process of leaders did not made an immediate effect and it took and still take several years to adapt the habits of the groups in some cases.
Our NSA is actually in a process revisiting the Safe from Harm policy on basis on the WOSM guidelines. There will be recommendations issued by a working group which will be taken into account to further develop the tools and practices.
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