PROTECTING THE MOST VULNERABLE

We believe all children should be known, loved and protected. We also believe that child protection is central to God’s heart. So we consider the love, care, and protection of children as our top priorities.

Children in poverty are at a higher risk of abuse and trafficking. As an organization working to release children from poverty in Jesus' name, Compassion is serious about keeping children safe.

Our sincere faith and the Bible motivate us to live out God'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 young girl standing in line with other women

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 preventing child 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.

“Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
— Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa

 

HOW DOES COMPASSION PROTECT CHILDREN?

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

We enact our approach through:

  • Age-appropriate child protection curriculum for every beneficiary in our programs.
  • Training for care providers in protecting children and preventing child abuse.
  • Training for staff members, leaders and volunteers at our partner churches. They are trained in child protection, safe practices, and responding quickly and appropriately to reported child abuse.
  • Training and accountability through our global Code of Conduct regarding children.
  • Child protection training for all Compassion staff.
  • Background checks for anyone who may interact with a child in our programs, including:
    • Our employees in the U.S. and our field countries.
    • Global Partner staff
    • Frontline 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.
We immediately terminate the child sponsorship of anyone found on a sex offender registry. We also terminate the sponsorships of anyone living at the same address as a registered sex offender.
Two boys behind a fence

WHAT IS A SPONSOR'S ROLE IN PROTECTING CHILDREN?

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 belong to a community of child advocates who believe in the example Jesus set.

Jesus demanded that His disciples protect children. In Matthew 18:6, the Bible is unwaveringly clear in Christ'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 trained in child protection. They know the warning signs of child abuse 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 cross-cultural sensitivities. For example, we can help you avoid unknowingly 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 out of line with the shared Christian values of our church partners and our statement of faith will not be given to the children.
  • With more social media and internet access in low- and middle-income countries, we realize that sponsors and sponsored children may be able to connect online. The convenience this offers comes with increased risks to privacy and safety. So we do not facilitate such correspondence at this time.
  • Please do not try to contact your sponsored child via social media, even if you see that he or she has an account.
  • If you are contacted by your sponsored child 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.

Sponsored children and their families are prohibited from direct communication as a condition of participation in our programs. But it does happen from time to time. By letting us know when it does, you allow us to work with your sponsored child’s family to reinforce our communication policies.

You can read this blog post to learn more about our policies and rationale for online communication.

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

VISITING YOUR SPONSORED CHILD

Planning Your Visit

You may visit your sponsored child in one of two ways:

  1. A Compassion-organized group Sponsor 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

Before traveling to visit your sponsored child (or to see the work of Compassion firsthand), you must do the following:

  • 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.

You can learn more by reading the Trips and Visits FAQs.

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.