The safety of children is paramount and to maintain this in all work settings and contexts, it’s important for adults who work with children to have advice about suitable, safe behaviour. There is plenty of information available here in the UK.
Department for Education
Information about safe practices for adults working in a range of educational settings can currently be found on the DFE website. At the time of updating this article, the information is still held here but at the end of March 2014 all information for schools and children’s services professionals will be moved to the main GOV.UK website here
Government advice aims to:
- Encourage safer recruitment practices
- Reduce the number of false allegations made against adults who work with children
- Help adults work with children in a safe manner
- Monitor methods of working and best practice
- Set standards of behaviour and practice
- Give the public confidence in adults who work with children
- Prevent the abuse of positions of trust
- Keep children safe
The DFE principles underpin the purpose of the advice. Apart from stressing the overriding need to secure the welfare of children and to apply a duty of care, these principles state that:
- Adults must carry out their work with children in an open manner
- Employers and workers must use the same professional standards under all circumstances
- Adults must be responsible for their own behaviour and act reasonably
- Employers must review practices regularly and follow government guidance
The following is a summary of some of the main points.
Duty of Care
Adults who work with children have a duty of care. They must safeguard children from emotional, sexual and physical harm. Adults should therefore act in childrens best interests. They must show proper judgement, a mature attitude and integrity.
While working with children, adults may have access to private details. Adults should treat all such information in a confidential way. They should also know when its appropriate to share this information. If in doubt about the use of information, workers should seek the advice of senior staff.
Adults should record and be prepared to discuss their judgements. They must also be ready to explain why they take a certain course of action.
Positions of Trust
Adults working with children must respect the fact that they are in a position of trust. They must not use their position and status for their own, or someone elses, benefit.
Adults must behave in a way that would not cause a reasonable person to doubt their suitability for work with children. They must not make unprofessional comments. They must also dress in a manner thats suitable for their work.
Adults must maintain their personal privacy. They should not normally invite a child into their home. The exceptions are registered childminders and foster carers.
Adults should communicate with children by using clear boundaries. They should consult their organisations communications policy. This may, for instance, forbid communication with children by text or emails.
For trips with children, adults should not be alone. Another adult should be present unless agreed otherwise by an organisations management. Parents must also be fully aware of a trip and its purpose.
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) – formerly the CRB
Anybody applying to work with children and young adults (in a voluntary or paid capacity) has to be checked by the Disclosure and Barring Services (formerly the CRB and the Independent Safeguarding Authority) before being allowed to do so.
Additional information can by found at various charitable organisations and websites:
- Safe Network
- BBC working with children guidance
- Your local authority – each authority will have its own information on safeguarding and working with children.You can find your local authority here
- The UK government Disclosure and Barring Service