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We Stopped Sharing Sponsored Children’s Full Names. Here’s Why.

An update about how we’re protecting your sponsored child.


Compassion child protection

If you sponsor a child, you’ll start to notice some updates from this new year onwards. As part of our ongoing efforts to protect child privacy in a digital world, Compassion has stopped sharing children’s full names. 

Why?

We’re living in the Information Age: more connected than ever before thanks to technology. While so much good has come from new digital resources and opportunities, we all know that information in the wrong hands can be used to harm others.

The technology of the digital age – the internet, social media, computers, mobile devices – is changing and enhancing the lives of children in developing countries, just as it is ours.

children with cameras in Colombia

In the communities where we work, we have seen more and more people using smartphones as necessities for day-to-day life and work, and even in small towns it’s not uncommon to see internet cafés. This infrastructure has been invaluable to our frontline church partners during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they’ve been able to reach many of the children with digital resources for study, play, and spiritual development, even while projects have been forced to stay closed.

The increased connections brought about by technology also create new opportunities for people in poverty to gain knowledge and steady employment. Many young people in Compassion’s programme are learning computer skills to help them access a wider range of jobs in the future.

But as we all know, the Information Age has also created new risks. People who seek to exploit and abuse will always find ways to do so — and technology is one of those ways. Such people could use children’s full names to identify and find them.

So Compassion is making every effort to protect children’s names and locations — and, therefore, their privacy and safety.

What will change?

Instead of seeing sponsored children’s ‘official’ full names — their first and last names and anything in between — sponsors and the public now will see the name each child goes by in everyday life.

These names are not made up or “assigned” by Compassion. They are the preferred names told to us by the children, or by their parents if the children are too young to say. It’s the name they’re called by their friends, their family and those who know them best.

A girl holding a letter

We’ve called your sponsored child by this preferred name previously in some of our messages to you, so we hope it’s familiar to you. From now on this will be the only name we use across all our communications.

In most cases, your sponsored child’s preferred name will be the same as their first name, or an easily recognisable nickname (like “Ricky” for Ricardo).

In other cases , there may be small differences in how your sponsored child’s name appears. In a few cases, a child’s preferred name differs completely from their full name – for instance, when children are known by nicknames like ‘Ángel’ or ‘Junior’.

As a sponsor you may have come across this already, as we’ve used children’s preferred names in some places but not others – we hope this more consistent approach will keep things clear!

You can expect to see your child’s preferred name on:

•  the letter stationery your sponsored child uses to write to you;
•  the letter templates you send to your sponsored child;
•  sponsorship packs;
•  your myCompassion account;
•  the Compassion UK App;
•  communications to sponsors and the public about Compassion-sponsored children.

There are likely to be some older pieces of letter stationery that have already been printed for use which still have children’s full names on, so it may be a little while before you see this change take effect fully.

What are we asking of you?

We are asking for your understanding. The easy access to information through the internet and the different comfort level with the amount of information shared means we must be increasingly vigilant about privacy and protection both for the precious children we serve and for you, our valued supporters and partners.

Mum and toddler in Peru

Protecting and safeguarding children is foundational to our ministry. If you’re a parent, grandparent or godparent, you probably think twice before revealing personal information about the children in your life online. Our decision to stop sharing Compassion-assisted children’s full names is just our way of giving them the same level of protection. Safeguarding children cannot be overemphasised.

We’re so honoured to have partners like you standing beside us to protect the most vulnerable. We know how much you care about the child or children you sponsor, and we promise to stay vigilant in protecting them in every way we can!

 

A version of this blog was originally published by our friends at Compassion International. 



WORDS : Compassion International, Nick Boalch, Agnes Wilson

PHOTOS : Compassion International


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