Safeguarding children

At the heart of our work is the conviction that every child has the right to a caring, supportive and safe family-like environment in which to thrive. Creating a safe environment for children, young people and families—within our programs and in the wider community and society—is an integral part of everything we do.

SOS Children's Vilages is committed to making sure children are kept safe from both deliberate and accidental harm and abuse and that our staff and other representatives never exploit their position of trust.

Child abuse is widespread and persistent, exacerbated by poverty and, in some cases, legitimized through harmful cultural practices such as corporal punishment. Child abuse is a taboo subject in many cultures and is underreported.

SOS Children's Villages does not tolerate any form of child abuse, exploitation, neglect or violation of a child’s privacy and rights. We are committed to creating and maintaining a caring and protective environment for all children, young people and staff.

We work in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, which outline the fundamental rights of children, including the right to be protected. We strongly condemn all forms of child abuse and exploitation and require our staff to always act in the best interest of children.

Along with our NGO peers, we are also participating in sector-wide efforts to develop common standards and systems related to improving the safety of children around the world.

Read our CEO's response to the Independent Child Safeguarding Review

Child protection policy and procedures

The SOS Children's Villages Child Protection Policy defines the different kinds of child abuse that exist and how to safely report concerns. The policy also spells out the obligation of every SOS Children's Villages employee and associate to report any concern, suspicion or allegation of any child abuse. 

Our Child Protection Policy focuses on four key action areas: awareness, prevention, reporting and responding. We place special emphasis on awareness and prevention to safeguard children and improve the quality of the care they receive. In case of a reported child safeguarding concern, it is taken seriously and addressed without delay. This means that:

     • We build the capacities of staff, children, young people and families to recognize signs of abuse—and how to prevent it.

     • We teach the use of tools such as positive discipline.

     • We work to eliminate harmful cultural practices.

     • Any reported child safeguarding incident or concern is carefully assessed and concrete actions are decided and put in place.

The SOS Children's Villages Code of Conduct, which is binding for every employee, additionally defines appropriate and expected standards of behavior towards children for all adults in our organization. We take swift and determined action if staff members fail to adhere to our policies and expectations for child safeguarding.

The regulation on prevention and protection against sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse is based on our Code of Conduct, Child Protection Policy, Gender Equality Policy and other parts of our integrity approach. It defines our focus on prevention to create and maintain a safe environment for all involved in the work of the federation. The regulation outlines our response mechanism to cases of suspected sexual misconduct towards any person, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, disability, religion or ethnic origin.   

Every concern regarding child safeguarding, sexual harassment, exploitation or abuse is assessed thoroughly, taken seriously and treated with respect. Based on the findings of the assessment, further steps are decided. One of these measures can be conducting a child safeguarding investigation. We strive to create an environment in which victims feel free to come forward to raise concerns and allegations. We follow up on concerns and allegations and ensure that the rights of victims, as well as those accused, shall be respected. The guiding principle when dealing with any reported concern is that the safety and welfare of the child always comes first.

SOS Children's Villages member associations are accountable for responding to child safeguarding incidents within the frame of our Child Protection Policy and their national laws. More information about child safeguarding reporting and responding procedures in member associations can be found here. The roles and responsibilities of the GSC in the reporting and responding process are further outlined in the Working Together To Protect Children policy support document.

How to report misconduct

If you have a safeguarding concern related to SOS Children’s Villages, our staff or representatives, or are concerned about a child’s safety, please click here to report it.

If you are employed by SOS Children’s Villages, we encourage you to consider alternative reporting options as outlined in our Child Protection Policy and related policy support documents.

Important resources

SOS Care Promise

Child Safeguarding annual reports:

   → 2020/2021

   → 2019/2020

   → 2018/2019

Independent Child Safeguarding Review Global Report

March 2022 - February 2023 Safeguarding Action Plan


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