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Triratna’s model Ethical guidelines and policies for Safeguarding children and adults are published today, updated for 2019 by Triratna’s Safeguarding team, part of Triratna’s Ethics Kula.
(See ‘Who are the Ethics kula and Safeguarding team?” and ‘What is Safeguarding?” below.)
Safeguarding and ethical policies and procedures can be seen as 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.
There has been no material change to the Ethical Guidelines since 2018 but the Safeguarding polices have been substantially updated in the light of new regulations and improved understanding, and in response to requests for guidance from Triratna centres.
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.
What happens when someone brings a serious allegation?
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. (See below.) 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, we now have a publicly accountable internal ‘Panel process’ for addressing allegations of serious ethical misconduct.
Alongside developing our policies we have continued to address controversial matters in Triratna’s past, as can be seen in the Frequently Asked Questions document produced 2017-2018 by the Adhisthana kula.
Anyone with concerns or information regarding the ethical misconduct of members of Triratna in the past or present is requested to email the Safeguarding team at safeguarding [at] triratna.community - or to raise a complaint with the Charity Commission.
What is Safeguarding?
‘Safeguarding’ is a term used in England and Wales to refer to the duty of organisations to protect children and adults and adults from harm. (In Scotland it’s referred to as ‘Protection’ or Safeguarding.) While there are parallels in some other countries, there are many in which there is no such concept or requirement.
The Charity Commission for England and Wales and the Scottish Charity Regulator hold trustees responsible for Safeguarding/Protection 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 expected 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.
Who are the Ethics kula and Safeguarding team?
As Triratna’s overall Safeguarding officer, I 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 a Safeguarding concern had implications for a person’s membership of the Order.
The Kula presently comprises Saddhaloka and Ratnadharini (Chair and Deputy Chair of the College of Preceptors), Aryajaya and Lokeshvara (Order convenors), Jnanasiddhi (Triratna Restorative kula) as well as the Triratna Safeguarding Team: me and our volunteer Safeguarding adviser, Amaladipa, who is very senior in the criminal justice system in Britain.
The Kula reviews new or updated documents and ensures that matters brought to the Safeguarding team are dealt with in the most appropriate manner, whether they require formal disciplinary action or a simple referral to the Triratna Restorative kula.
Read more about Safeguarding and Ethical guidelines in Triratna.
Read more about Restorative process in Triratna.