NEMECSEK PROGRAM: child safeguarding policy

In 2017, our foundation was responsible to conduct research on child safeguarding policies and to provide evidence-based information on the relevant national legislations in the CEE region.  Furthermore, we were also involved in the policy development phase of this program and provided support for Hungarian NGOs and church-related organizations to elaborate and develop their own safeguarding policies.

We realized that other organizations (mainly schools) also need a safeguarding policy therefore we offered advice and support for schools free of charge to develop their own child protection and safeguarding policies.

In 2019, we organized an international conference on the importance and usefulness of child safeguarding policies in order to raise public awareness. The conference made it clear that raising awareness and giving a helping hand for schools, NGOs, and church-related organizations to elaborate and develop their own safeguarding policies is important for the well-being and safety of children.

Who is Ernő Nemecsek?

The name of NEMECSEK sounds familiar to every Hungarian student who can already read. Ernő Nemecsek is the main character of a youth novel, The Paul Street Boys (A Pál utcai fiúk). For decades, the book has been a required reading in Hungarian schools, several domestic and international film adaptations were made based on it, and it is also one of the most popular, most performed plays of Hungarian theatres. Several sculptures commemorate the characters and important moments of the novel, and the Hungarian office of Google stands at the central, iconic location of the story. Having recognised the importance of child safeguarding policies, the heirs of the author, Ferenc Molnár, permitted the use of the name Nemecsek pro bono.

The Paul Street Boys seems to be a story for children about children, but actually it is much more than that. The children of the novel are diverse, just like the children of our time: they are reliable, thoughtless, fair, violent, peaceable, smart, threatening, honest, faithful and varied, just like we are.

Nemecsek, who is the quietest and least honoured member of the boys’ group, becomes the hero of the novel. No superior quality or dominant physical strength is needed to be a hero. We only need to recognise that we can choose our behaviour. We need to be in a community which can hold us. The personality and acts of Nemecsek show us what it feels like to be a member of a community which is held together by real values: honesty, courage, justice, loyalty, perseverance. They also show what we can and should do in order to be in a community in which equality and safety are basic values.

Since 2020, our goal has been threefold in this field:

1. We provide online and free assistance to various organizations working with children to create their own child safeguarding policies. Our foundation is experienced in e-learning and online training development. We believe that in the 21th century we can successfully use the online platforms to educate and sensitize professionals. The Internet is a very democratic sphere: every school can easily access to the information they need even if they are located in a rural area.

We have compiled:

–              an online training material for children, parents, and professionals

–              criteria and a manual for self-monitoring from a child rights perspective

–              a guide on how to develop an organization’s own safeguarding policy

–              a template of a child safeguarding policy that can be used as a starting point for developing an own policy

2. We provide complete support for schools, NGOs, and church-related organizations to elaborate and develop their own child safeguarding policies. This close collaboration also includes trainings for children, parents, and professionals on the most relevant issues of the child safeguarding policies (protection, prevention, abuse, violence, bullying, safe and secure environment, etc.). A follow-up is also part of the joint work: the safeguarding policy has to be reviewed, monitored, and evaluated regularly by an independent organization.

3. Our long-term goal is community building. We strongly believe that the most effective way of improvement is to summarize our experiences and get to know the experiences of others. We organize meetings, discussions, professional programs so that the representatives of the various organizations can meet, learn each other and exchange experiences about child safeguarding, good practices, etc.