OJEN Volunteer Code of Conduct
Updated September 28, 2022
This Code of Conduct (Code) applies to all individuals who volunteer with the Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN) in any capacity.
OJEN is a charitable, not-for-profit, public legal education organization. We develop innovative educational tools and programs that share legal information and build the skills and connections young people need to manage the legal issues they face now, and in the future. We advance access to justice in Ontario by helping young people develop their legal capability and by fostering connections between the justice sector and the wider community.
With the support of 1600+ active volunteers, OJEN reaches thousands of young people each year through our public legal education programs and resources. While volunteers offer youth the benefit of their legal knowledge and expertise, they benefit equally from the insights they gain into the lived experiences of young people and the communities they serve. Recognition of the reciprocal nature of the learning experience is central to our public legal education philosophy.
OJEN’s programs are youth-focused, practical, and honest. We connect with young people where they are, and on their terms. We respect their autonomy and their capacity to impact the world. We believe young people deserve to understand the law and the ways it affects their lives. We share information about the legal system as it is in practice, without minimizing or misrepresenting its challenges, problems, and issues.
The foundation of this Code is our commitment to providing a safe and respectful environment for young people, volunteers, program partners and staff.
- As a volunteer with OJEN, you represent us in the eyes of the community. We count on you to conduct yourself in a manner that is professional and ethical.
- OJEN programs are designed to provide legal information. Volunteers must not offer legal advice to anyone participating in an OJEN activity.
- OJEN volunteers are expected to come prepared to their program. This includes reviewing any program agendas, facilitation notes, and training resources shared in advance.
- We ask that volunteers be timely in their communications with staff and program partners.
- We ask all OJEN volunteers to be open to giving and receiving honest and constructive feedback. This allows us to assess what aspects of our programs work well and what can be improved.
- At the earliest opportunity, volunteers must declare any conflict between their personal interests and that of OJEN.
- Intellectual property developed by a volunteer through their role with OJEN, (e.g., program agendas, facilitation notes, teaching resources, etc.) is the property of OJEN, although credit may be recognized, as appropriate. This does not include presentation materials developed solely by a volunteer for a Law Institute or an OJEN webinar where OJEN staff have not co-created these materials with the volunteer.
Cultural safety and inclusion
- We want young people to feel respected and safe when they participate in an OJEN program. We ask that all volunteers work towards developing strong cultural safety and inclusive practices. This involves paying attention to how social and historical contexts shape the legal system and young people’s experiences with it. It also means engaging in critical self-reflection and being honest about your own power and privilege.
- Harassment, discrimination or the use of oppressive language or behaviour will not be tolerated.
Confidentiality and privacy
- Volunteers must not use for their own purposes (including personal gain) any information obtained through their volunteer activities with OJEN, nor may they disclose this information to others.
- Volunteers must not take or distribute their own photographs at an OJEN program when these photos include people other than themselves, including on social media. Not all youth participants sign OJEN’s media release form, and we must be careful about photographing and distributing images of young people without their (or a parent/guardian’s) consent.
- Any requests for information about OJEN or access to our programs (from the media or external organizations) must be directed to an OJEN staff member.
- Volunteers must maintain and respect the confidentiality of youth participants, program partners, other volunteers and OJEN staff. In all cases, assume that what a young person shares with you is confidential.
- Exception: If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, you must contact the Children’s Aid Society (CAS). You must do this if the child is or seems to be under 16. If the child is 16 or 17, you can choose to report your concerns to CAS, but you do not have to. To learn more about the duty to report, please visit the Steps to Justice website.
- Volunteers must not have contact with youth participants from an OJEN program, outside of the OJEN program. Please do not meet one-on-one with these youth. Our programs take place in classrooms and community centres where we expect teachers and youth workers to be present when the program takes place.
- If a disagreement or verbal conflict occurs in the delivery of a program, volunteers are expected to listen to other people’s perspectives before calmly and respectfully responding. We invite debate and discussion and want to ensure that people feel comfortable voicing their opinions.
- If you witness harmful behaviours or conflict between youth, or between a youth and staff, or you and a young person, please do not try to advise or discipline. Instead, alert the teacher, community partner, or an OJEN staff member.
- If you have a problem with anyone you encounter through your volunteer activities with OJEN, or if you notice another volunteer, teacher, community partner or staff member acting in a way that contravenes this Code, please alert an OJEN staff member.
This Code outlines minimum standards and does not cover every contingency. All OJEN volunteers are expected to comply with this Code. Failure to do so may result in the termination of the volunteer’s involvement with OJEN, or other remedies as necessary to protect OJEN, our partners, other volunteers and our youth audience.