Volunteers of the Baha’i Community of Canada are required to exercise care and wisdom in all of their efforts in service to others. The following guidelines are among those with which volunteers working with children and junior youth will be expected to be familiar, and abide by:
- When possible, activities should be held in public places, open to inspection. If activities take place in homes, volunteers should ensure that the private space is treated as a public space in which parents of the children and junior youth should feel welcome to be present.
- Volunteers should work with others whenever possible, to prevent the likelihood of abuse or allegations thereof. When working in isolation, judgment can become skewed, boundaries may be crossed, and abuse may be more likely occur.
- Non-screened assistants (such as parents, assistant youth and other adults) will not be placed in positions of responsibility or charge for children and junior youth during program meetings and activities, and should always be in the presence of a screened animator or teacher.
- Adults should not spend extended time alone with children and junior youth without consent of the child’s parent or guardian.
- If animators or teachers wish to hold activities in a public or rental facility, they will consult with the institute coordinator (cluster or regional) to obtain the necessary insurance coverage.
- Children and junior youth should not be taken in any vehicle without parent/guardian permission.
- In extracurricular events and activities such as overnight camps or field trips, every effort must be made to protect their privacy. Girls and boys must not change together and adults must change separately from the children and junior youth. Adults should not sleep in close proximity to children or junior youth. Under no circumstances should a single adult take a group of children or junior youth on an overnight trip.
- Parents/guardians of children and youth should be encouraged to ask questions and stay abreast of the nature of the adult/child interaction. They should be encouraged to talk with their children about the programs and the volunteers they encounter.
- It is mandatory to report known or suspected child abuse immediately or as soon as practically possible to local authorities or social services, as well as to program coordinators or supervising entity. (Baha’i Community of Canada, Code of Conduct for Volunteers and Staff working with Children and Junior Youth)
Code Of Conduct For Coordinators And Supervisors
Institute coordinators and supervisors of events and activities are to abide by the above code of conduct for volunteers, as well as to assist volunteers to familiarize themselves with and uphold these requirements and to exercise care and wisdom in all aspects of their service. (Baha’i Community of Canada, Code of Conduct for Volunteers and Staff working with Children and Junior Youth)
In addition to the above code of conduct, coordinators and supervising entities will abide by the following:
- Coordinators and supervisors will instruct volunteers on the organization’s internal process and chain of command for reporting observed or suspected abuse of children and junior youth. A copy of the National Assembly’s policy on reporting abuse is attached or can be requested from the National Office.
- Coordinators and supervisors will ensure that any incidents involving local authorities, including how they were handled and any outcomes will be reported to the Institute Board or supervising agency, and forwarded to the National Spiritual Assembly as a routine measure for their records.
- Incidents (eg. damage, injury, breach of conduct, etc.) that occur during the use of the facility will be reported to the facility manager, in accordance with relevant guidelines. An incident report will be filed by the coordinator with the Institute Board for its records, forwarded to the National Spiritual Assembly.
- Coordinators and supervisors will ensure that any incidents resulting in the loss of use of a facility due to damages or breach of conduct will be reported to the Institute Board or supervising agency, forwarded to the National Spiritual Assembly, as a routine measure for their records. (Baha’i Community of Canada, Code of Conduct for Volunteers and Staff working with Children and Junior Youth)
Code Of Conduct For Institutes And Overseeing Agencies
Any agency or institution overseeing events and activities for children and youth will orient themselves with this policy and review it on an ongoing basis, at minimum at the beginning of each term of service. Should any questions arise, they will contact the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada for clarification. These agencies and institutions will ensure that this policy and its implications are reviewed in detail by coordinators and supervisors of volunteers, and that coordinators and supervisors are assisted to ensure that it is conveyed to volunteers and implemented in all of its facets. (Baha’i Community of Canada, Code of Conduct for Volunteers and Staff working with Children and Junior Youth)
Confidentiality And Privacy
Every institution in the Faith has certain matters which it considers should be kept confidential,” the Universal House of Justice states, “and any member who is privy to such confidential information is obliged to preserve the confidentiality within the institution where he learned it:
The National Assembly is committed to safeguarding all confidential information that it or its agencies receive, in accordance with Bahá’í principles: “Every institution in the Faith has certain matters which it considers should be kept confidential,” the Universal House of Justice states, “and any member who is privy to such confidential information is obliged to preserve the confidentiality within the institution where he learned it.” This commitment requires the wholehearted support of all institutions and agencies of the Bahá’í community in Canada to the Confidentiality Policy of the National Assembly. A copy of this policy is attached, or can be requested from the National Assembly. (NSA of the Bahá’ís of Canada, Framework and Guidelines for the Implementation of Child Protection Policies, July, 2012)
Where no confidentiality is involved the institutions must strive to avoid the stifling atmosphere of secrecy:
Circumstances in which privacy and confidentiality are not required, on the other hand, such as information regarding the progress of the Cause and contact information of agencies and institutions, should be shared in a spirit of openness, as the Universal House of Justice encourages: “Where no confidentiality is involved the institutions must strive to avoid the stifling atmosphere of secrecy.” Such a spirit of openness is intended to further encourage transparency in the dealings and affairs of agencies and individuals, and promote collaboration. (NSA of the Bahá’ís of Canada, Framework and Guidelines for the Implementation of Child Protection Policies, July, 2012)
In general, it is important that Local Assemblies observe confidentiality in disclosing any information. Records should be kept separately from the Assembly’s general minutes:
It is important that Local Assemblies observe confidentiality in disclosing any information, particularly in the field of mental illness or family conflicts, beyond what is needed as stated above. This includes not only the substance or fact of consultation with or about the person but also any document in which references are made to diagnosis or treatment. All such records should be protected, preferably separately from the Assembly’s general minutes. Moreover, in discussing the mental state or behavioral disorder of an individual, friends should avoid careless use of labels such as diagnosis (whether perceived or reported from a professional). This will avoid spread of rumor outside of the Assembly which may have legal consequences or would stigmatize such individuals in the community. (USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 23)
When safety issues are a concern, conveying confidential information to duly authorized personnel should not be considered a violation of confidentiality:
Conveying confidential information to duly authorized personnel when safety issues are a concern should not be considered a violation of confidentiality. (USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 23)
Records And Document Management
- Records about any volunteer’s private or confidential information, including all police records and Bahá’í background checks, are to be stored securely.
- Individuals’ screening records should be stored indefinitely for future reference, and should not be destroyed.
- Physical records are to be stored in the agency’s confidential files in a locked filing cabinet
- Electronic files should be stored on a password-protected computer within password-protected documents.
- Any other confidential information that is entrusted to an entity or individual for the purposes of fulfilling their service – for example, membership lists of the Bahá’í community, lists of contact information and personal information of program participants, meeting minutes and institutional correspondence, information about salaries, benefits, deputization provided to any personnel, etc. – will be kept confidential during and after any individual’s service to that entity, and deleted from their personal electronic files as soon as possible following their conclusion of service. (NSA of the Bahá’ís of Canada, Framework and Guidelines for the Implementation of Child Protection Policies, July, 2012)