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Despite Triratna centres being mostly closed since March 2020 because of the pandemic, the work of the ECA’s Safeguarding team has continued. Here’s a short account of our work.
Since 2016 the Safeguarding team has provided a central place to report ethical concerns. We can be found in the Triratna section of the dropdown menu on the home page of The Buddhist Centre Online at www.thebuddhistcentre.com - or just by searching ‘safeguarding’ on TBCO.
Alongside continuing work on some historical matters relating to Order members, we have also addressed a number of concerns related to Mitras and Friends, particularly including helping Centres manage the safe inclusion in sanghas of a very small number of ex-offenders with criminal convictions for seriously harmful behaviours (currently all men) and helping, as part of a College working group, with a consultation as to the feasibility of ordaining such ex offenders. (In the UK, USA and some other countries, Buddhists including Order members are active in prisons as chaplains and therefore prisoners who have encountered Buddhism and meditation in prison may ask to continue their Dharma practice as part of a sangha at the end of their sentence.)
Alongside this Munisha has been building a mutually very beneficial partnership with those responsible for faith charities and for Safeguarding at the Charity Commission for England and Wales; significant given that all Triratna’s most central charities are registered in England and are thus regulated by the Commission and must meet its standards (for example, the Preceptors’ College Trust, Triratna Trust, FWBO Central and FutureDharma Fund).
We also continued to develop Triratna’s model Safeguarding policies and guidance documents. To ensure they meet the highest standards our 2020 model policies and documents were externally audited by Thirtyone:eight, specialists in Safeguarding for faith groups in the UK. We’re happy to say they passed with almost no corrections.
Safeguarding matters vs Matters of Order conduct
When it comes to concerns regarding the behaviour of Order members we and the Ethics Kula distinguish between matters which are Safeguarding matters and those that constitute ‘matters of Order conduct’. For more information about the difference between these two kinds of concerns you may like to visit the link below. It’s an area we and the Ethics Kula continue to clarify; some cases may require attention at College level as well as the continuing involvement of the Safeguarding team.
Risk of harm
Sometimes we have to respond where there are concerns that an OM, Mitra or Friend may pose a risk of harm to others; however we sometimes need to take action to Safeguard an Order member, Mitra or Friend because they themselves are at risk of harm from others or from themselves.
From time to time we liaise with the Abhayaratna Trust, for example where an Order member may need money for specialist therapy.
One thing common to all cases (whether or not they are Safeguarding matters) is that the privacy of those involved in a case is strictly protected by data protection law, which means that information about a case belongs to those involved and may not be shared without their permission except with those who have a justifiable need to know because they are directly involved in addressing it.
The Safeguarding team can be emailed at safeguarding [at] triratna.community