Thousand hands of Avalokiteshvara

Triratna Model Safeguarding Policies and Ethical Guidelines 2021

On Wed, 10 March, 2021 - 13:24
ECA Safeguarding's picture
ECA Safeguarding

Here are Triratna’s model Ethical guidelines and policies for Safeguarding children and adults, updated for 2021 by Triratna’s ECA Safeguarding team.

(See below for more information on Safeguarding, the Safeguarding team, the Ethics Kula and the difference between Safeguarding matters and Matters of Order conduct.)

Safeguarding and ethical policies and procedures are a practical expression of ahimsa, non-harming, the value underlying Buddhist precepts and the Bodhisattva activity of protecting living beings from harm.

The model Ethical guidelines (first published in 2015 on the initiative of Triratna’s International Council) are an internal statement of values for those teaching in Triratna centres, groups and retreat centres. Based on the five precepts, they complement our model Safeguarding documents, which follow external legal and regulatory requirements of charities in England and Wales, home to half our Order worldwide.

The 2020 Safeguarding policies have been audited by our external Safeguarding consultants Thirtyone:eight. Though they made few comments and almost no corrections I felt greater clarity was needed in some places and that they needed to cover new concerns raised by Triratna centres during 2020.

Who uses these documents?
These model documents are made available to Triratna charities and other enterprises, to use as the basis for their own documents, or to adapt, translate or replace with other documents better suited to their local cultural, regulatory and legal requirements. They’re intended to provide guidance on in the prevention of harm in various situations, and how to respond when harm is reported.

If you work for a Triratna charity, group or other enterprise and would like these documents in Word, please email the Safeguarding team at safeguarding [at] triratna.community.

What happens when someone raises a serious concern?
All Triratna centres in the UK now have Safeguarding policies and Safeguarding officers to whom local concerns can be reported, or reports can be made directly to the Triratna Safeguarding team via secure email at safeguarding [at] triratna.community. Triratna centres in other countries are encouraged to have the same, or to do whatever is required locally.

Where an allegation is made of a criminal nature it is the Safeguarding team’s policy that it be reported to the police, without exception. However, where for any reason an allegation cannot be pursued by the police and yet is too serious to ignore, there is now a publicly accountable internal ‘Panel process’ for addressing allegations of serious ethical misconduct.

See below for more information about how we address concerns more generally.

Anyone with concerns about ethical misconduct in Triratna, past or present, is requested to email the Safeguarding team at safeguarding [at] triratna.community.

***

What is Safeguarding?
Is every allegation of misconduct or harm automatically a Safeguarding matter?
‘Safeguarding’ is a term used in England and Wales to refer to the duty of an organisation to protect children and adults from harm in the course of that organisation’s activities. (In Scotland it’s referred to as ‘Protection’ or Safeguarding.) There are parallels in some other countries but the terminology used may be different.

The Charity Commission for England and Wales and the Scottish Charity Regulator hold trustees responsible for the Safeguarding/Protection of all adults and children in the course of their charity’s activities. If concerns are reported to the Commission or Regulator about misconduct connected with a charity, they will immediately ask to see its policies.

However, Safeguarding is not merely a matter of meeting external requirements. All Triratna charities are asked to have Safeguarding policies and officers because these are recognised as among the best means of avoiding or addressing the suffering caused by failures in Safeguarding.

In relation to concerns about the behaviour of Order members we distinguish between Safeguarding matters and Matters of Order conduct.

Safeguarding can be said to refer to unethical behaviour which is also unlawful; for example: murder, physical violence, rape and sexual assault, sexual abuse of children (including viewing sexual abuse images of children online), stalking and bullying.

It also covers discrimination against, or other harm to, adults who may be particularly at risk, for example because of mental health problems, race, disability or gender identity.

Matters of Order conduct are things which, while not against the law, need to be addressed because they cause harm; concerns that an Order member, for example:

  • appears to have a problem with addiction, or
  • persistently flirts with and attempts to date newcomers, and is not receptive to feedback if there is a complaint.

The way to report a concern is either to your local Centre’s Safeguarding officer, or to the overall Safeguarding team via our secure email: safeguarding [at] triratna.community. This is shown in red at the top of every page in the Triratna section of The Buddhist Centre Online website.

Most Safeguarding matters are likely also to be matters of Order conduct but not all matters of Order conduct are Safeguarding matters.

Who are the Ethics kula and Safeguarding team?
As the Safeguarding officer to Triratna’s European Chairs’ Assembly, Munisha set up Triratna’s Ethics Kula in January 2017 to ensure that serious ethical questions could be addressed at a more senior level where they went beyond the remit of the Safeguarding team; for example where an ethical concern had implications for a person’s membership of the Order. In 2017 she was joined by Amaladipa as volunteer Safeguarding adviser. After 30 years working in the probation service, Amaladipa is a specialist in Safeguarding and Public protection.

Initially the Safeguarding team were part of the Ethics Kula. However, in May 2020 it was decided it would be better if the Safeguarding team and Ethics Kula were separate, enabling the Safeguarding team to better serve its function as independent and advisory.

Today the Ethics Kula is chaired by Punyamala (a deputy Chair of the College) and comprises Ratnadharini (Chair of the College of Public Preceptors), Jnanavaca ( a deputy Chair of the College), Saddhaloka (former Chair of the College) and Subhadassi, Aryajaya and Lokeshvara (International Order Convenors) with Jnanasiddhi (Triratna Restorative Working Group).

Subhadassi began work in December 2020 as the new International Order Convenor with special responsibility for ethics and harmony in the Order. Matters brought to the Safeguarding team are triaged in weekly meetings with Subhadassi who provides the link to the Ethics Kula. Thus whether relating to Safeguarding or Order conduct or a combination, we ensure matters are addressed in the most appropriate manner, ranging from some form of disciplinary action to a referral to the Triratna Restorative Kula.

Read more about Safeguarding and Ethical guidelines in Triratna.
Read more about Restorative process in Triratna.