Safeguarding

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Glossary of terms

Allegation – an assertion of facts that one intends to prove at trial or during an internal investigation procedure. 

Beneficiary – someone in receipt of assistance. Alternatively referred to as a member of the affected population, person we seek to assist, person affected by crisis or rights holders. 

Case management – following the appropriate policies and procedures to determine the outcome of a report of SEA. 

Child – any individual under the age of 18, irrespective of local country definitions of when a child reaches adulthood. 

Child protection – preventing and responding to violence, exploitation and abuse against children – including (but not limited to) commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labour and harmful traditional practices. 

Code of conduct – a set of standards about behaviour that staff of an organisation are obliged to adhere to. 

Complaint – specific grievance of anyone who has been negatively affected by an organisation’s action or who believes that an organisation has failed to meet a stated commitment. 

Complainant – the person making the complaint, including the alleged survivor of the sexual exploitation and abuse or another person who becomes aware of the wrongdoing. 

Complaint mechanism or procedure – processes that allow individuals to report concerns such as breaches of organisational policies or codes of conduct. Elements of a complaints mechanism may include suggestion boxes, whistleblowing policies and designated focal points. 

Confidentiality – an ethical principle that restricts access to and dissemination of information. In investigations on sexual exploitation, abuse, fraud and corruption, it requires that information is available only to a limited number of authorised people for the purpose of concluding the investigation. Confidentiality helps create an environment in which witnesses are more willing to recount their versions of events and builds trust in the system and in the organisation. 

Feedback – the information sent to an entity (individual or a group) about its prior behaviour so that the entity may adjust its current and future behaviour to achieve the desired result. 

Focal point – a person designated to receive complaints of cases of sexual exploitation and abuse. Investigation of sexual exploitation or abuse – an internal administrative procedure, in which an organisation attempts to establish whether there has been a breach of SEA policy by a staff member or members. 

PSEA (Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse) – the term used by the UN and NGO community to refer to measures taken to protect vulnerable people from sexual exploitation and abuse by their own staff and associated personnel.  

Report – where an individual or individuals report a concern regarding SEA. 

Safeguarding – the responsibility that organisations have to make sure their staff, operations, and programmes do no harm to children and vulnerable adults, and that they do not expose them to the risk of harm and abuse.  PSEA and child protection come under this umbrella term. Generally the term does not include sexual harassment of staff by staff, which is usually covered by organisation’s bullying and harassment policy. 

Sexual abuse – an actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. 

Sexual exploitation – any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power or trust for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.

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