The SOCIETY OF SOCIAL PSYCHIATRY P. SAKELLAROPOULOS, since its establishment and within the framework of its statutory objectives to safeguard and promote the mental health of the entire population, has provided and continues to provide its services, among others, to children and adolescents through the operation of Mobile Mental Health Units, Day Centres and community awareness raising activities, always with full respect for the rights of the child and the defence of their interests, in accordance with international conventions, the legislation in force, the rules of science and the principles of social psychiatry applied in the children’s sector.

Purpose, subject matter and scope

This Policy sets out in writing the child protection principles applied by SSP P. SAKELAROPOULOS and the obligations of those involved in providing services to children in order to safeguard and protect their rights when they come into contact with the services of SSP P. SAKELAROPOULOS and the demarcation of the behaviour and actions of the persons involved in the services (employees, external partners, trainees, volunteers) towards each child who receives its services, in order to make them beneficial and rewarding for the child’s psyche and personality development.

This Policy outlines the obligations that bind all employees, external collaborators, interns and volunteers of the SSP P. SAKELLAROPOULOS, is communicated to all of them and is in force alongside their respective contracts with the organisation. Acceptance and application of the Child Protection Policy is an essential condition for entering into and maintaining the respective relationship (employment, cooperation, volunteering, internship), and commits the organisation to choose partnerships with other organisations that accept and respect the basic principles presented in this document.

This Policy runs through all aspects of the activities of the SSP P. SAKELLAROPOULOS, including the recruitment, management, conduct of staff, external partners, interns and volunteers, practical implementation of programmes, data collection, processing and storage procedures, and management of the physical environment of the facilities. The Child Protection Policy applies to all those working for, with and/or on behalf of SSP P. SAKELLAROPOULOS, and this includes Board members, senior management, staff members, external consultants, partners, associates and suppliers, interns and volunteers, regardless of their contractual relationship with the organisation.

Legal framework and basic principles of protection

SSP P. SAKELLAROPOULOS applies the current Greek and European legislation and the international conventions on children and their protection, in particular with regard to the following:

  • The United Nations International Convention on the Rights of the Child (Law 2101/1992)
  • The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR, L.D. 53/1974) · Τhe Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
  • Τhe Charter of the United Nations
  • Τhe Declaration of the Rights of the Child (Geneva Declaration, 1924)
  • Τhe United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child – UNICEF (1959)
  • in relation to children with disabilities, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in particular Article 7 on children (Law 4074/2012)

SSP P. SAKELLAROPOULOS demands respect for the dignity of the child as a full subject of constitutional rights. It demonstrates zero tolerance towards any form of violence, abuse, exposure to danger or any form of harm, exploitation of children and adolescents by anyone working for, with and/or on behalf of the organisation. It shall apply the relevant legislation on the type of mental health services provided to minors, taking all necessary measures in cases of violation of children’s rights by its staff and associates and ensuring that the basic principles underlying the above-mentioned international conventions on the protection and rights of children are safeguarded, in particular:

  • respect for their dignity, survival, development, and protection of their rights –  the principle of non-discrimination
  • safeguarding the best interests of all children – confidentiality and respect for their privacy
  • their participation in the decision-making process on any matter concerning them, through the free expression of their opinion
  • the preservation of family unity

Basic definitions

Child: Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child is defined as any person below the age of 18.

Child protection: The rules and commitments that govern the operation of the agency in the provision of its services and the general development of its activities with a view to the compliance with the above basic principles.

Child abuse: Child abuse or maltreatment includes all forms of physical or emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or exploitation for commercial or other purposes, resulting in actual or potential harm involving the life, development and dignity of the child, in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust and power (for more detail see Implementation Guide for Professionals of the Protocol of Researching, Diagnosing and Managing Child Abuse and Neglect, by the Institute of Child Health – Department of Mental Health and Social Welfare, and the specific concepts of physical abuse, psychological-emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect mentioned therein

Direct contact/working with children: The physical contact and face-to-face communication, regardless of duration, of agency staff with children in the provision of services (diagnosis, treatment) and development of activities.

Indirect contact with children: Staff access to various information and personal data relating to children (case studies, personal details, contact details, photographs, family background, etc.)

Staff and partners: All those employed by and active in the Units and services of SSP P. SAKELLAROPOULOS for, with and/or on behalf of the organisation, including members of the Board of Directors, management, external consultants, partners, associates, suppliers, employees, trainees and volunteers.

Child protection ground rules

All services provided to children and families are aimed at fulfilling the above basic principles. For this reason, all staff and associates of SSP P. SAKELLAROPOULOS, in the above sense, are bound by the Child Protection Policy, and are obliged indicatively and not restrictively:

  • To ensure and promote, to the extent of their competencies and capabilities, the provision of quality services to children, free from any risk of harm or abuse, with a view to their well-being and development.
  • To respect the personality of children and their rights and to refrain absolutely from any act of physical or verbal violence and abuse, indecent behaviour of anger, frustration, disrespect and any unnecessary physical manifestation of a physical nature which may take on an inappropriate character in accordance with decent morals and customs, and on the basis of the child’s cultural, ethnic and religious background and gender; to refrain from any action that could be construed as exploiting child labour.
  • To promote, to the extent possible, the integration of children into society and their access to appropriate education and treatment on equal terms, without any discrimination whatsoever on grounds of race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other beliefs of the child or of the child’s parents or legal representatives, or on grounds of national, ethnic or social origin, property, incapacity, disability or any other status.
  • To create the conditions that will provide the child – when receiving services and participating in the activities of the organisation – with a sense of security and care based solely on his or her best interests.
  • Not to commit themselves to the child and the family beyond their competence, be honest (always taking into account the measure of the psychosocial development and perception of each child) about the objectives and actions of the current treatment plan or action being followed, to give clear answers to the child and the family about the services that concern them, considering them as partners in the treatment and resolution of their problems, in the prevention of negative consequences and in the promotion of the child’s development.
  • To discuss and actively involve children and their families in any forthcoming decision affecting them in relation to the assessment of their needs, the treatment plan, etc.; in all cases they shall take into account the right of children to participate, depending on their age, maturity, mental capacity or emotional state, in the decision-making processes concerning them.
  • To avoid, where possible, the breaking up the family.
  • To ensure the mitigation of the consequences and the physical and psychological recovery of children who have been subjected to abuse or neglect and to take all measures, within their competence and possibilities, to avoid the emerging risk of abuse or neglect.
  • To inform the competent services of incidents of abuse, maltreatment, neglect or exploitation of children when they come to their attention in the course of their duties and according to the extent of the risk – see the Implementation Guide for Professionals of the Protocol of Researching, Diagnosing and Managing Child Abuse and Neglect of the Institute of Child Health, in particular p. 81-85
  • To ensure that any action is approved by the legally competent bodies before it is carried out. To cooperate with bodies and authorities that promote actions for the protection and well-being of children and to exclude any cooperation with any legal or natural person acting in any way against the rights or interests of children.
  • To always seek the consent of the parents of the children involved in any action before carrying it out, providing clearly the necessary information. If the child is deemed mature enough to provide their own consent, they may also obtain the child’s consent. In assessing whether the child is capable of giving consent, account shall be taken of the child’s age, education, cultural background, and any learning difficulties or disabilities, based on the rules and teachings of science and the personal judgement of each individual.
  • To ensure that any materials used in the activities are of a safe and non-toxic nature to prevent any harm to the children.
  • To complete the personal files of children and to keep the relevant records, taking into account the General Data Protection Regulation, the legislation in force in general, and the personal data protection – privacy policy of the organization.

The breach of the obligations arising from this Child Protection Policy shall, on a case-by-case basis and depending on their severity, constitute grounds for disciplinary action or termination of cooperation.