This Safeguarding policy is a working document, reviewed annually and intended for use by individuals involved in Ananda Marga Pracaraka Samgha UK in any capacity or situation which involves our community. This includes trustees, members (‘margiis’) spiritual teachers (Acaryas – Dadas and Didis), visiting teachers, class leaders, event organisers, volunteers, and any person attending our events. Enshrined in the Charity’s ethos is recognition of the rights of children to be safeguarded against harm of any form. By reason of their immaturity both physical and mental, children need special safeguards and care. This includes the right of all children and young people to live in an environment where they are protected from exploitation and abuse. It also includes the right to be safe when actively participating in Ananda Marga UK programmes. Safeguarding children is the responsibility of all of us.
Ananda Marga UK provides opportunities to study and practice yoga and meditation via a varied programme of events; we mainly offer participants the opportunity to meditate with others. Sometimes this is with a qualified teacher (Dada / male and Didi/ female) and at other times alongside peers. Most of our short courses and retreats involve pre-booking. We also operate an ‘open door’ approach to some of our events. Individuals will not be able to attend our retreats if they haven’t attended anything with us before. We hold events that are also attended by young people under the age of 18. We are committed to promoting a safe and inclusive environment.
Responsibilities of AM UK around safeguarding accord with the charity’s commitment to operating in the context of ethical / moral principles defined in the ten universal principles of morality known as Yama – Niyama. These principles help in the development of an integrated personality, of the subtle perception and universal love necessary to facilitate the fullest possible manifestation of human capacity both individually and collectively.
In A Guide to Human Conduct (1959), the spiritual preceptor of Ananda Marga, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti explains:
In the Sádhaná (spiritual practice) of Ananda Marga, moral education is imparted with this ideal of oneness with Brahma, because Sádhaná is not possible without such a moral ideation. Sádhaná devoid of morality will divert people again towards material enjoyments and at any moment they may use their mental power, acquired with much hardship, to quench their thirst for meagre physical objects. There are many who have fallen from the path of Yoga or Tantra Sádhaná and are spending their days in disrepute and infamy. Whatever little progress they achieved through forcible control of their instincts, was lost in a moment’s error in pursuit of mundane pleasures. It must, therefore, be emphasized that even before beginning Sádhaná, one must follow moral principles strictly. Those who do not follow these principles should not follow the path of Sádhaná; otherwise they will bring about their own harm and that of others.
The first element of Yama is known as ahimsa. Ahimsa is defined as refraining from causing pain or harm to others by thought, word, or action. It means to guide one’s conduct carefully in the absence of any intention to cause harm to others.
The cultivation of these moral principles is regarded as an active means of mitigating harm and forms the bedrock of our safeguarding and what we seek to do as a charity.
This policy is intended to protect children and young people who attend Ananda Marga events or participate in events organised by the Charity.
The Charity believes that no child or young person should experience abuse or harm and are committed to the protection of children and young people.
We recognise the importance of every child and we value and encourage the participation of children in all activities that enhance physical, spiritual, emotional intellectual and social development.
All personnel including workers and volunteers, have a responsibility to safeguard children through promoting their welfare, health and development in a safe and caring environment that supports their best interests and prevents abuse.
This policy pertains to trustees of Ananda Marga UK legal duties towards safeguarding children. A child is anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. This policy has been compiled in accordance with key legislation for safeguarding children:
The Children’s Act of 1989 and 2004 and Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018.
Abuse: Defined as a form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused within their family or in an institution or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by others. Abuse can take place wholly on-line. Children may be abused by an adult or by another child or children.
Abuse of children in the UK is broadly speaking categorised under the following forms:
Physical Abuse: May involve hitting, shaking, throwing or suffocating a child. It may also involve a parent or carer fabricating symptoms of, or deliberately inducing, illness in a child. There are other forms of physical abuse but this is a broad definition.
Emotional Abuse: The persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only in so far as they meet the needs of another person. It may involve developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on the child. From the perspective of the child it may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another, an example of which is children living in a home where there is domestic violence/abuse.
Sexual Abuse: Involves forcing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact or non- contact activities such as looking at or being involved in the production of sexual images. Sexual abuse can take place on line and technology can be used to facilitate off-line abuse. It may involve grooming a child for involvement in sexual activity.
Neglect: Is the persistent failure to meet a child’s physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Protecting a child from physical and emotional harm or danger is included and failure to provide adequate supervision and not ensuring access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
Grooming: Is when someone builds a relationship of trust and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them. Groomers may also build a relationship with the young person’s family or friends to make them seem trustworthy or authoritative. Grooming can take many forms e.g. making the victim feel special, giving them attention to make them feel wanted and valued. The victim, family members, friends and associates may not recognise the activity as grooming, thinking instead that the person is being nice and kind. Once the relationship of trust is established the Groomer or perpetrator will introduce activity which is not appropriate but which is presented to the victim as an element of their “friendship/relationship”. The abuse that follows can go on for a period of time, even over years with the victim feeling disempowered to do anything about it. When leaders or teachers in religious/spiritual groups perpetrate abuse on children it frequently follows a period of grooming by the perpetrator who, by the nature of their role is in a position of trust.
Grooming is illegal in Britain under the Sexual Offences Act 2003
AM UK has a designated Safeguarding Committee and Safeguarding Link Trustee, who are responsible for ensuring safeguarding is taken seriously, that the appropriate documentation is in place and that safeguarding remains on the agenda at Trustee meetings.
Our current Link Trustee for Safeguarding is Didi Anandaprama and Nirmala is the Link Committee Member. Members of the Safeguarding Committee are: Didi Anandaprama, Nirmala, Lavonii, Lakshmi, Radha and Manorainjan
The Charity Commission expects that anyone working for a charity, paid or volunteering, including trustees, will be DBS checked wherever they are eligible.
Legislation in England requires that all adults, anybody 18 years or over, working with children/young people will be have a DBS check. When a children’s/young person’s event is taking place where children are attending without their parents or other responsible Guardian or carer, leaders and volunteers at these events will need to have a DBS check. Where a volunteer does not have a DBS check they will need to be supervised appropriately by an adult who has a DBS check. The best policy is for all volunteers involved to have a DBS check.
Best practise is that two adults should always be present with children/young people during these events. This applies when a child/young person is alone, there should be two adults present. This offers protection and safety to all parties.
When there is a safeguarding concern members should contact the Link Ananda Marga UK Board Member for Safeguarding Children, Didi Anandaprama. If she is not available contact the Link Committee Member, Nirmala
The aim should be to respond to the concern/incident as soon as possible, this should be on the same day if physically feasible, otherwise the following day. The urgency of response will depend on the seriousness of the concern/incident.
The Link person will need to assess the seriousness of the concern. They will inform the Committee members about the concern/incident. A face to face or telephone/zoom conversation may be needed to decide on the appropriate course of action.
Depending on the concern/incident, members need be aware that a referral may be needed to the appropriate Safeguarding Children agencies in the local area e.g. Children’s Social Services, the NSPCC or in the event of a serious situation the Police. Where the Link workers know, or have reasonable cause to suspect, that a child has been a victim of child abuse, they shall immediately report this as required by law directly to the local agency for Children’s Safeguarding.
Note: Should an investigation be conducted by Children’s Social Services the Ananda Marga Board, Link Workers and members will cooperate with this investigation.
Hackney Council Children and Families Services on 020 8356 5500, this phone line is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays. Outside of these hours, please contact the Emergency Duty Team on 020 8356 2710
Manchester City Council Children and Families Services on 0161 234 5001
Birmingham City Council – The Children’s Advice and Support Service (CASS). Contact Details: Monday to Thursday 8:45am to 5:15, Friday: 8:45 to 4:15, 0121 303 1888. Emergency out-of-hours, Telephone: 0121675 4806
In an Emergency Dial 999
Published 07.06.21 by Ananda Marga UK Regional Board