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

If you sponsor a child, you’ve probably noticed some updates this fall. The most obvious one: Compassion has stopped sharing children’s full names. It’s part of our ongoing efforts to protect child privacy in a digital world.

We’re living in the Information Age, and we all know that information can be used for bad or good purposes. To heal or to harm.

A boy wearing a red and gray jacket with a number patch on the sleeve smiles as he sits in front of a computer. Other children sit at computers nearby.
These kids in Compassion’s program are learning at their child development center’s new computer lab in Bolivia.

The internet, social media, computers, mobile devices — all this technology has enhanced our lives undeniably. On my trips to impoverished communities around the world, I have seen more and more people on the street using smartphones. Even in small towns, it’s not uncommon to pass internet cafes. This increased connection creates new opportunities for people in poverty to gain knowledge and steady employment. Many young people in Compassion’s program are learning computer skills to help them compete for high-paying jobs someday.

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 ever-greater efforts to protect children’s names and locations — and, therefore, their privacy and safety.

A Shift to Preferred Names

Instead of seeing Compassion-assisted children’s 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.

Help Families Affected BY COVID-19

Families in poverty have no safety net in times of crisis. Help provide food, medical care and support during this pandemic.

It’s the name they’re called by their friends, their family and those who know them best.

In most cases, your sponsored child’s preferred name will be the same as their first name, or an easily recognizable nickname (like “Ricky” for Ricardo). No big shock there.

In my case, I’ve seen a small difference in how my sponsored child’s name appears in recent email updates from Compassion. She actually has two first names, like many people in Spanish-speaking countries. I was always unsure of what to call her in my letters, so I’ve been greeting her with both first names, which feels a little formal. I just learned that her preferred name is Valeria — the second of her two first names. Makes sense! I’m glad to find out what she goes by in her everyday life in Mexico.

The use of unfamiliar nicknames creates another scenario in which a child’s preferred name differs from their full name. Some kids go by nicknames like Ángel or Junior — even if their given names sound totally different. So you might see your “Alejandro” become “Junior” and wonder what’s going on. Just a cultural difference in nicknames!

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

Protecting Children … Together

A smiling father in Thailand has a protective arm around his young daughter, who is wearing a pink shirt and smiling.

If you’re a parent or grandparent, you probably think twice before revealing personal information about the kids 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 overemphasized. In the words of Megan Kelly, Senior Child Protection Advisor for Compassion:

“For us, safeguarding is foundational to our ministry.”

We’re so honored 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!

9 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Avatar
    Paul Mukisa November 9, 2020

    This information is very important in regards to child protection. Thank you.

  2. Avatar
    Jane Ruth Wanyama November 5, 2020

    Thank you for sharing this information regarding child protection.

  3. Avatar
    Susan Stack November 1, 2020

    Thank you for protecting these precious children.
    In God’s world we have to be one step ahead of these predators.
    Susan Stack

  4. Avatar
    Allen Heimbold October 31, 2020

    I’m so sorry we cannot designate certain gifts such as a well or goats to a certain person o family. It was explained that it is to attempt to not have someone/family from receiving more that another.

  5. Avatar
    Missy Voigts October 31, 2020

    I think it’s a great idea. There’s no reason for us sponsors to know the child’s full name. The article mentioned hiding locations, too. I hope we at least have an idea of where they live so that if there is a natural or political disaster we can know if our child’s area was affected.

    1. Christina
      Christina November 2, 2020

      Missy, there is no plan to remove child location information at the moment. Information that may be removed or altered in the future would only be around what would allow someone to physically locate a child. For example, community name may be removed in the future. However, this is an ongoing and evolving project, and we have not yet reached that phase. Updating children’s names is phase one of a much larger project, and please rest assured that we will inform everyone of what information is being altered as we go along. Thank you for your care and concern!

  6. Avatar
    Lisa Sherrill October 31, 2020

    This is helpful info! Thank you

  7. Avatar
    Fritt October 31, 2020

    Are children also only going to receive sponsor first names? They could easily pull up information about us online and even see pictures of our homes.

    1. Christina
      Christina November 2, 2020

      Fritt, since this is an ongoing and evolving project, you will see incremental changes. At this time, we are focusing on the children’s names, but there will be future communication regarding sponsor names. Please know that we care deeply about protecting both the children and the sponsor’s privacy. If you have any additional questions, you are welcome to email us at socialmedia@compassion.com. Have a blessed day!

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