Chakra Discussions

Orphanages Need Rigorous Child Protection Policy

by Hare Krsna dasi

Posted March 17, 2005

I was interested to read Jahnava Nitai's article announcing a program to care for children at numerous orphanages throughout Tamil Nadu.

Jahnava Nitai states, "We would like to expand this program to orphanages throughout Tamil Nadu, adding new activities as we develop more experience with the children. The aim is simple: to just add an element of friendship and caring. It may not seem like much to paint a picture, play a game or give a few toys, but it can bring unimagined happiness."

I read through the article twice and did not find any mention of stringent child protection policies that should be put in place in any endevour where children are involved. Donors should insist on such policies before making any contribution to a program of this type. There must be explicit child protection policies, and there must be credible and experienced persons to make sure they are enforced. Otherwise there is a great danger that the children we are trying to be help will be doubly victimized instead.

We can make an analogy. Milk is the most wonderful of foods. But the cowherd cannot let this sentiment distract him or her from taking sufficient measures to protect its wholesomeness. Exactly because milk is so nutritious it attracts numerous germs which can ruin it. Thus the cowherd takes numerous measures to protect the milk from germs -- such washing the cow's udder, sanitizing all the equipment, heating the milk, cooling the milk, or adding a preservative culture like yogurt.

Similarly, whenever there is a program which involves lots of children, pedophiles and other people who can ruin the lives of these children are instantly attracted to join and take part. Thus, no program which wants to help children should neglect to take strong measures to preserve the wholesome situation for the children.