1Who is considered a child?

A child is any person who is under the age of 18. An adult is any person who is 18+ years old. You will find the term ‘child’ used in many CISV forms, policies, and procedures. For more information on this please see our Child Protection Policies and Procedures.

2Who is considered a participant?

The Programme Basic Rules (Info File C-03) define participants as each invited person who is not a leader or staff.  Junior Counsellors and Junior Leaders are considered leaders, just as Junior Staff are considered staff.

3Does it apply to Junior Branch activities?

Yes. The Behaviour Policy includes behaviours that are not tolerated in any part of CISV. All CISV members are expected to follow CISV policies and behave appropriately. Where that is not the case, it is specifically indicated in the document (for example some rules may apply only to international programmes).

4What are the implications for Junior Branch events where there is a mix of adults and children?

Adults at such events are to be mindful that they are always a role model to younger Junior Branch members and children. They should behave appropriately and lead by example when it comes to issues around smoking, drinking alcohol and other general behaviours. Adults at Junior Branch events should not smoke or drink alcohol where it can be seen by children.

5If a behaviour is not included in the Behaviour Policy, is that behaviour acceptable?

No, the Behaviour Policy does not include all unacceptable behaviours. The absence of an action or behaviour in the policy does not make that behaviour acceptable. We expect all CISV members to use good judgment to determine what behaviour is appropriate and to act in ways that support the mission of CISV.  We should ensure that we are creating safe spaces for all people on our programmes.

There are other CISV policies and guidelines that include rules for behaviour, including:

6What activities or games are inappropriate in CISV?

You should always use your best judgment when deciding if an activity is appropriate for CISV. We want everyone to come home with wonderful experiences from their CISV programmes.  It is important to have a culture at our programmes in which all participants feel like they are choosing to participate (not forced) and feel safe. The culture of our programmes is that participants are ‘opting in’ to an awesome experience.

Here are some questions and guidelines to help decide if an activity is appropriate:

  • How old are the participants? Are they the same age or is there a range of ages? When a range of ages is present, the activity should be designed to be appropriate for the lowest age.
  • Does the activity involve strong physical touch? Could it be considered violent? Violence is forbidden at CISV programmes. Activities that could become violent should be avoided or altered to ensure the protection of all participants.
  • Does this activity involve any practical jokes? How will you debrief or help to deal with hurt feelings?
  • It is understood that many people come to CISV programmes after having been filled with stories of how fun pranks and practical jokes are at CISV programmes, but the stories you may not have heard are the ones about how these pranks and/or practical jokes were at the expense of someone else’s feelings or safety.
  • How well do you know the participants? How well do they know one another? Would this activity be better for a different time during the programme?
7Are activities that involve kissing allowed? Would this mean that no one can kiss?

There should be no forced affection, or the feeling that affection is being forced/required, at CISV programmes. Forced affection is unacceptable. Adults may not plan activities that require or suggest kissing for participants. Adults may not participate in activities requiring or suggesting kissing with participants.

Whether to kiss or give affection to another person is the choice of a participant. Participants should never feel pressured to give affection. It should also be remembered that kisses on the cheeks are used by many cultures as a greeting or as a sign of friendly affection.

8Why is tobacco use forbidden?

CISV is an organization that works with children.  In almost all countries where CISV is present, it is illegal for people under 18 to have and/or buy tobacco products. Forbidding children to use tobacco, and protecting children from exposure to tobacco smoke, creates supportive social and physical environments and is a best practice for youth-serving organizations and reflects worldwide convention.

Although some of our programmes have 18-year-old participants in them, it would be more confusing and exclusionary to allow only some participants to use tobacco products, which is why no participants in Seminar Camps and Youth Meetings (16-18) are allowed to use tobacco products.

9What if countries, NAs, Chapters or campsites have more stringent rules regarding tobacco or alcohol use?

Some countries, or camp locations (e.g. schools) have more restrictive legislation or policies. These rules must be fully respected and upheld. Hosts should communicate these requirements clearly and often to participants, parents, staff and leaders, well in advance

10Does the policy prohibiting tobacco use apply to e-cigarettes?

Yes. E-cigarettes are included in the definition of tobacco products and may not be used by children at any CISV programmes. This also applies to participants of Youth Meetings (16-18) and Seminar Camps.

11Does the policy prohibiting tobacco use extend to Junior Counsellors (JCs)?

Yes. Junior Counsellors are 16 or 17 years old, however, they may turn 18 during the programme. The term ‘child’ or ‘children’ is used to refer to any person or persons under the age of 18.  For the same reasons as Seminar Camp and Youth Meeting (16-18) above, even if a JC turns 18, they are not allowed to smoke.

12Does the policy prohibiting tobacco use extend to staff/leaders?

No. Currently, smoking by adult staff or leaders (with the exception of JCs) is permitted. Smoking by adult staff or leaders should be in a designated area, away from participants.  Adult staff or leaders should ensure that children are not present when tobacco products are being used.

13 Does the policy prohibiting tobacco use apply to Interchange families?

Exposure to tobacco smoke is recognized as a serious health issue. Children should not be placed in households where smoking is allowed inside the home during the time period of their participation in the Interchange programme.

14What does the Behaviour Policy mean in terms of selecting some participants?

All applicants to CISV programmes (including leaders and staff) should be informed of, and agree to follow, CISV’s Behaviour Policy before they are selected. They should also have a clear understanding of the intensive learning and development environment and process that occurs during programmes. If applicants who use tobacco products are not prepared to stop, or use a nicotine replacement therapy during the programme, it is their choice not to participate.

15What is the advice to staff on how to prepare for this policy?

Communicate, communicate, communicate …. with leaders, staff, participants and parents before the programme. Be clear about behaviour expectations and reinforce that children will not be allowed to use tobacco products. Explain this in the Pre-Camps and other programme communication. .

Make sure all staff members are familiar with CISV’s Behaviour Policy, local laws, and site rules regarding tobacco use.

16Some resources to help staff with smoking policy
17How can staff and leaders help participants who are dependent on nicotine but will not be permitted to use tobacco products (children, as well as adult JCs, Seminar Camp and 16-18 Youth Meeting participants)?

Remember that tobacco use is an addiction. Identify who are tobacco users in advance, and communicate with them to let them know that you understand that stopping tobacco use and learning new ways to do things without tobacco can be tough. Encourage them to plan ahead, e.g. quit smoking, or ask their medical practitioner to prescribe nicotine replacement therapies (patch or gum) before the programme.

Reinforce that the camp can be a source of support and encouragement to start a tobacco-free lifestyle.

Staff could offer ‘quit kits’ (this could include gum, toothpicks, and mints – anything they might use instead of tobacco) as a gesture of support.

Make sure that programme participants are aware of how difficult it can be to quit smoking and offer support to fellow participants.

Although adult tobacco use is not prohibited, be conscious that the urge to smoke can be triggered by seeing smoking or smelling smoke (e.g. on clothing). If leaders or staff use tobacco they should do in a designated area, away from participants where possible. At the beginning of the programme, collect any tobacco products that participants (not adult leaders) may have brought with them.

Where it may be most difficult is with older participants. Help them to understand what it would be like if a programme had a rule that applied to only some participants (those under 18).

18Does ‘possession or use of tobacco products’ include smoking-cessation products such as nicotine patches or gum?

No. Smoking-cessation products are not considered tobacco products. They are considered “nicotine replacement therapies”. Children must have a prescription if they are trying to stop smoking with the help of nicotine-replacement products.

Any participant who is using nicotine replacement products must have this noted on the Health Form (Section E: Additional comments/relevant examination findings). Participants must bring sufficient quantity of the product or medication with them.

19What if staff and/or leaders do not agree with the rules, or do not feel the rules are enforceable?

CISV policy requires that staff and leaders receive training in a variety of areas, including CISV policies. It is part of the leadership role and responsibility to uphold the rules and make it clear that the rules must be followed.

20What right does CISV have to ask participants to quit smoking?

Organizations, as a question of necessity and good practice, have a responsibility to determine what standards of behaviour to uphold in their activities.

21How does the no smoking, no drinking rule for children (under age 18) apply to multi-age international Junior Branch events, and national or local programmes?

Remember that all local laws must be followed, including minimum ages for drinking and smoking. CISV operates in around 70 countries, almost all of these countries have a legal drinking age of at least 18. The majority of these countries have also signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a trans-national health treaty that had been ratified by more than 164 countries. The FCTC sets 18 years as a minimum age to purchase tobacco.

Tobacco use is not a right or a privilege, it is a deadly and addictive substance. This policy is one that seeks to provide a safe and healthy environment for children in our educational programmes.

Organizers of these events are encouraged to ensure the safety of participants who are children and restrict exposure to these behaviours. Additionally, when some participants are treated differently than others (e.g. older JBs who can hang out together and smoke), feelings of exclusion by some participants may create an environment that is contrary to the objectives of the programme or event.

22Is drinking coffee not allowed in CISV?

Our Behaviour Policy (R-07) forbids the use or possession of psychoactive drugs and caffeine is technically considered a psychoactive drug. However, we have made a general exclusion of caffeine for the purpose of the R-07 as long as the caffeinated substance is locally legal and does not present significant health risks.

23Is alcohol consumption forbidden in CISV?

Alcohol is technically considered a psychoactive drug, however, CISV does not include it in that definition for the purposes of the Behaviour Policy (R-07). We cover alcohol specifically in the following bullet points from “Forbidden behaviour section of the policy”:

  • Drinking of alcohol by Seminar Camp and Youth Meeting (16-18 years) participants or Staff during the programme
  • Exception: Programmes where all participants are 19 + years old (where the forbidden behaviour of the excessive consumption and abuse of alcohol by adults would apply)
  • Excessive consumption and abuse of alcohol by adults
  • Drinking of alcohol by children, including Junior Counsellors, in all CISV programmes or events

  • While this does in some programmes and events allows adults to consume a small amount of alcohol we also stress that all adults must be responsible for the children in their care at all times during the programme – including family stays, travel days, days off, etc.

    24More questions?

    If you have another question about Info File R-07 Behaviour Policy, please send the question to your Chapter Risk Manager. Chapter Risk Managers are trained and can also reach out to CISV’s Risk Management Community for support.

    If you have suggestions for additional questions to this document, please email them to behaviour.policy.faq@cisv.org.

    Members of the Risk Management Community will consider all suggested additional questions and this FAQs page will be reviewed on at least an annual basis.