PROTECTING THE MOST VULNERABLE

We believe children should be known, loved and protected and the protection of children is central to God’s heart for them. As an expression of our beliefs, we place the love, care, and protection of children above all other considerations.

We are motivated by our sincere faith and the Bible to live out Christ's mandate to care for and protect His little ones.

"Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked" (Psalm 82:3-4, NIV).
A group of women sitting in a classroom

OUR KEY BELIEFS ON CHILD PROTECTION

Our approach to and philosophy for child protection is based on the following strongly held convictions.
  • No violence against children is justifiable, and all violence against children is preventable.
  • Children are valuable to God, are uniquely created individuals and are worthy of dignity and respect.
  • It is everyone’s job to protect children.
  • Everyone involved in the protection of children should always act in the best interests of children and be held accountable if they do not.
  • Parents and caregivers hold first and primary responsibility for the care and protection of children. However, we recognize that because of individual life circumstances, not every parent is equipped to effectively protect their children, and all parents need support in child protection.
  • Children are both vulnerable and strong. We view children as active contributors to their own protection. Children must be empowered to fully engage in the work of child protection — their own protection and the protection of their peers. At the same time, children must be protected and cared for by the adults in their lives.
  • Sponsors have a responsibility to protect children, as does anyone in a relationship with a child.
  • Government authorities have a role to play in the protection of children from maltreatment, and to respond if children are harmed. Compassion promotes local legal systems and local authorities as the most appropriate legal outlets for redress of criminal cases of child abuse, exploitation and neglect, while also recognizing that parents and partners play a critical supportive role in these efforts.
Three children looking off into the distance

HOW WE PROTECT CHILDREN

Our approach to child protection begins with preventing abuse whenever possible. When a child is abused, we intervene quickly and seek to provide restoration and healing. We also work to empower children to be active agents in their own protection.

We enact our approach through:

  • Age-appropriate child protection curriculum for all program beneficiaries
  • Training for caregivers in child protection and abuse prevention
  • Training for staff members, leaders and volunteers at the church partner in child protection, safe practices and responding quickly and appropriately to incidents of abuse
  • Training and accountability through our global "Code of Conduct" regarding children
  • Training for all Compassion staff on child protection
  • Background checks in accordance with standards we have established for: our employees in the U.S. and our 25 field countries and Global Partner staff, frontline church partner staff and volunteers, independent contractors representing Compassion, U.S.-based volunteers in specific roles, and supporters who travel to visit their children in-country
  • Regular screening of child sponsors against publicly available sex offender registry data.
We immediately terminate the child sponsorship of any individual found on a sex offender registry.
A group of children sitting on a bench

A SPONSOR'S ROLE IN PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM ABUSE

You, your child’s family, our church partners and our staff work together to form a safety net for your sponsored child.

As a sponsor, you are part of Compassion and part of a movement to protect children. You are part of a community of advocates who believe in the example set forth by Jesus.

Jesus demanded that His disciples protect children. In Matthew 18:6, the Bible is unwaveringly clear in God’s mandate to protect children.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."

If your child says something in a letter that makes you feel abuse is happening or likely to happen, please call us at (800) 336-7676 or contact us via email. Your child, and each child we serve, is surrounded by loving Christian adults who have been trained in child protection. They know the warning signs and know what to do when they see them.

Three children waving hello

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPONSORED CHILD

Being involved in the sponsor/child communication process allows us to help protect your privacy and your sponsored child's privacy.

It also allows us to help you navigate the ocean of cross-cultural sensitivities and avoid inadvertently writing something inappropriate or offensive.

Communication Guidelines

We will not deliver any letters to or from the sponsored child that contain personal contact information (e.g., address, phone, email, etc.).

Any letters, photos or materials deemed inconsistent with the shared beliefs and Christian values of our church partners and our statement of faith will not be forwarded to the children.

As social media and internet access becomes more prevalent in low- and middle-income countries we recognize that sponsors and sponsored children may be able to connect online. The convenience this offers comes with increased privacy and safety risks, and we do not facilitate such correspondence at this time.

Please do not attempt to contact your sponsored child via social media, even if you see they have an account.

If you are contacted by the child or youth you sponsor outside of our correspondence process (e.g., by phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), please don’t respond, even to say, "I’m sorry but I can’t talk with you in this manner." And please let us know about the contact by calling (800) 336-7676 or sending an email to ciinfo@us.ci.org.

Although beneficiaries and their families are prohibited from direct communication as a condition for participating in our programs, it does happen from time to time. By letting us know, we can work with your sponsored child’s family to reinforce our communication policies.

You can read more about our policies and rationale on social media and direct online communication in this blog post.

Two sponsors posing with their sponsored child. Everyone is smiling.

VISITING YOUR SPONSORED CHILD

Planning Your Visit

If you are planning to visit your sponsored child, it must be through one of two ways:

  1. A Compassion-organized group trip
  2. A Custom Visit that has been approved and arranged through our Global Ministry Center in Colorado Springs.

Please keep these important points in mind:

  • Our National Offices and child development centers DO NOT accept unapproved visitors.
  • We reserve the right to deny a visit request that would not be in the best interest of the child.
Before Your Visit

Prior to traveling to your sponsored child’s country (or seeing the work of Compassion firsthand), you must meet the following requirements:

  • Register for your visit with Compassion.
  • Submit and pass a background check. This applies to all visitors universally and must be updated on an annual basis if you travel with us.
  • Review and sign Compassion’s Code of Conduct (pdf). For an overview of our Code of Conduct, watch the following short video.
During Your Visit

While you are in-country, please adhere to these guidelines, taken from the Code of Conduct:

  • Always engage with children in open, visible areas and be sure a church or Compassion staff member is present.
  • Never take a child into a hotel room or other private area.
  • If you witness child abuse or think a child might be in danger, report it to your host/translator, your trip leader or your Custom Visit specialist.
  • Be sure that your appearance, language and behavior demonstrate respect for the children, their families and their culture.
  • Engage with children in age-appropriate ways, and refrain from any behaviors that might be considered inappropriate or flirtatious. For example, while asking/allowing a young child to sit on your lap might be appropriate, asking/allowing a teenage girl to do the same would not be appropriate.
  • You are not allowed to visit a Compassion center or a child’s home outside your set itinerary. Any attempt to visit a child and/or family on your own may result in dismissal from the trip/visit and termination of your sponsorship account.
  • Do not give cash directly to any child, family or Compassion center staff member.
  • Do not exchange any personal contact information (including email address, phone number, physical address or social media contact information) with Compassion-assisted children or their families.

Thank you for following these important guidelines. They are meant not only to protect the children we serve, but also to protect you from wrongful allegations of misconduct.

Our Commitment to Child Protection - Compassion International