Child Protection is Our Highest Priority - Compassion International

Child Protection: Our Highest Priority

Compassion International believes that children should be known, loved and protected. We believe the protection of children is central to God’s heart for them.

As an expression of that belief, Compassion places the love, care, and protection of children above all other considerations. Because children living in extreme poverty are among the most vulnerable in the world, Compassion International, its board of directors, global partners and implementing church partners have established clear policies that are designed to promote the safety and protection of every child in our program.

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).

Key Beliefs

Compassion’s 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.
How Compassion Protects 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 to children impacted by abuse. Finally, Compassion believes in empowering children to be active agents in their own protection and advocacy.

To accomplish these goals, Compassion provides:

  • Age-appropriate child protection curriculum for all 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 Compassion’s global “Code of Conduct” regarding children
  • Training for all Compassion staff on child protection
  • Background checks in accordance with Compassion standards for:
    • Compassion International employees in the U.S. and our 25 field countries and Global Partner staff
    • Church partner staff and volunteers
    • Independent contractors representing Compassion
    • U.S.-based volunteers in specific roles
    • Supporters who travel to visit their children in-country
  • Regular screening of child sponsors against publicly available sex offender registry data. Compassion will immediately terminate the child sponsorship of any individual found through this screening process to be on a sex offender registry.
Your Role as a Sponsor in Protecting Children from Abuse

As a sponsor, you are part of Compassion’s movement of protecting 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.” God takes the protection of children seriously!

If your child says something in a letter that makes you feel abuse is happening or likely to happen, we encourage you to talk to one of our customer service representatives 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.

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

Communicating with Your Sponsored Child

We cannot help protect a sponsor's or child's privacy if we are not involved in the correspondence. Being involved in the correspondence process also allows us to help navigate the ocean of cross-cultural sensitivities and avoid inadvertently writing something inappropriate or offensive.

As part of our correspondence process, we will not deliver any letters to or from the child, which contain personal contact information (e.g., address, phone, email, etc.). Any sponsor communications, photos or materials deemed inconsistent with the shared beliefs and Christian values of our church partners and our statement of faith are not forwarded to the children.

As social media and internet access becomes more prevalent in developing countries we recognize that sponsors and children may have the opportunity to connect online. The convenience that online communication offers comes with increased privacy and safety risks; we do not facilitate such correspondence at this time.

If you are contacted by the child or youth you sponsor outside of Compassion’s portals (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 emailing us or calling to talk to a customer service representative at (800) 336-7676. Although beneficiaries and their families are prohibited from direct communication as a condition of the program, it does happen from time to time. By letting us know, we can work with your child’s family to reinforce our communication policies.

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

You can also read more about Compassion’s policies and rationale on contacting your child on social media in this blog post.

Visiting Your Sponsored Child

We believe the vast majority of our sponsors and donors share our values of respecting and caring for children. But it's possible that some people may seek to use our Child Sponsorship Program to gain access to children for inappropriate reasons, which is why we require a background check for everyone 18 and older who interacts with any Compassion-assisted beneficiary, specifically on trips to visit their children.

To further address this reality, our child protection policy guides interactions between sponsors and children occurring on our group trips or individual custom visits. Any visitor who will interact with Compassion-assisted children must have approved arrangements through Compassion’s headquarters in Colorado Springs, as country offices and child centers will not accept unapproved visitors.

It is meant to protect the children in our child development centers from abuse as well as protect visitors from any wrongful allegations.

Please note that anyone visiting Compassion centers and Compassion-assisted children must have a background check done. This applies to all visitors universally, including donors, sponsors, artists and speakers — even if you’ve gone on a trip before.

Our child protection policy must be agreed to before a custom visit can be arranged, or when participating in a group trip. Compassion reserves the right to deny a visit request that would not be in the best interest of the child.

Sponsors who meet their sponsored children on a trip or visit are in the unique position of directly communicating with their children.

In this situation it's normal to want to share personal contact information, or to request such information from the child or the child's family. However, any direct communication not facilitated by us could potentially expose the children or sponsors to unnecessary risk. As a result, personal contact information cannot be exchanged.