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New resource helps organisations keep child abusers at bay


New resource helps organisations keep child abusers at bay

Leading child advocate organisation, Child Matters, today launched a publication that it hopes will be used by every organisation in New Zealand that has staff coming into contact with children.

The book, entitled Safe Not Sorry, was developed for groups and organisations that hire staff who have contact with children. It provides assistance and ideas on steps to take to avoid hiring people who are likely to abuse.

Safe Not Sorry is the only resource in New Zealand that marries child protection based information and principles with best practice recruitment policy.

Child Matters CEO, Anthea Simcock, says, “If organisations use Safe Not Sorry to its fullest potential, they will significantly reduce the risk of abuse to children by their staff.

“Every parent, grandparent and caregiver in New Zealand needs to ask themselves how safe the adults are that they entrust with their children.

“No matter where your children are – with teachers, health professionals, coaches, church carers or others – you need to be reassured every measure has been taken by those organisations to keep your children safe from potential abusers. That goes for paid staff and volunteers.”

Mrs Simcock explains the single most effective point at which an organisation can minimise the possibility of abuse to children in its care is the appointment of new staff.

Child Matters published the first edition of Safe Not Sorry in 2002. The second edition has undergone a major revision and Mrs Simcock says the recent case of the sex offender being hired by several different schools in Auckland prompted the organisation to include further, more specific processes.
Child Matters is planning to contact hundreds of leaders in a range of organisations over the next few months to encourage them to adopt Safe Not Sorry into their hiring practices and policies.

“Every organisation with staff who has contact with children needs a robust hiring process to screen applicants for their potential to be abusive. Many organisations undergo a police check and think that is enough, but it’s not. The fact is, most child abusers do not have criminal records and won’t be caught through a police screen,” she explains.

Safe Not Sorry provides advice on how to undertake additional, thorough checks – always with the permission of the interviewee - to ensure an exhaustive background assessment is carried out.

“While no system is foolproof, using Safe Not Sorry will make it extremely difficult for child abusers to infiltrate your organisation and gain access to children,” says Mrs Simcock.

Mrs Simcock says purchasing Safe Not Sorry is a small investment that will reap huge rewards for its users and the children in their care.

“The costs of not screening can be enormous for an organisation and can extend to huge financial loss and irreparably damaged reputation. Recent cases highlighted in the news over the last few months prove this point.”

Child Matters is available to provide consultation to organisations purchasing Safe Not Sorry about the issues addressed and practices recommended in it.

Child Matters’ Safe Not Sorry book can be purchased at www.childmatters.org.nz for $19.95 or by phoning 07 838 3370.


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