Safer Behaviour

The church has a code of behaviour for all those working with children and/or adults at risk so that everyone is shown the respect that is due to them:

  • Treat everyone with dignity and respect.
  • Use age and ability appropriate language and tone of voice. Be aware of your body language and the effect you are having on the child or adult at risk.
  • Listen well to everyone. Be careful not to assume you know what a child or adult at risk is thinking or feeling. Listen to what is being spoken and how it is said. At the same time, observe the individual’s body language to better understand what is being said.
  • Be aware of any physical contact you may have with a child or adult at risk and record it when necessary. For instance, if you need to stop a fight, administer First Aid, give a hug to someone in distress, or protect yourself or others from danger.
  • Do not make sexually suggestive comments about or to a child or adult at risk, even in ‘fun’.
  • Do not scapegoat, belittle, ridicule or reject a child or adult at risk.
  • Keep a record of any significant incidents or concerns on a Safeguarding Incident Form (see Appendix 3). Enter the names of all those present and anything of note which you observe, e.g. details of any fights broken up by the workers, allegations made, etc. All workers who witnessed the incident, overheard it or responded in any way should record the details and sign and date the form.

Specific considerations when working with children:

  • Do not invade the privacy of children when they are using the toilet or showering.
  • The level of assistance with personal care (e.g. toileting) must be appropriate and related to the age of the child, whilst also accepting that some children have special needs.
  • Avoid rough games involving physical contact between a worker and a child.
  • Avoid sexually provocative games.
  • When it is necessary to discipline children, this should be done without using physical punishment. There may, however, on the rare occasion be circumstances where a child needs to be restrained in order to protect them or a third person.
  • Only invite children and young people to your home or on trips in groups and always make sure that another worker is present.
  • Notify the DPS of any children’s trips which take place in the name of the church. Parental permission must always be sought.
  • Do not give lifts to children or young people on your own. Ensure that if transporting children as part of your church role, you have the correct insurance cover in place as well as parental permission.
  • No person under 18 years of age should be left in sole charge of any children of any age. Nor should children or young people attending a group be left alone at any time.

No one should normally be left working alone with children, young people or adults at risk, but should instead work as part of a team. If there are insufficient leaders for groups:

  • Internal doors should be left open.
  • At least two people should be present before external doors are opened for an event.
  • Consider whether you could combine groups together or rearrange planned activities.
  • Reconsider whether you can run the group safely, carrying out a Risk Assessment to record your findings.

If workers do find themselves on their own with children or adults at risk, they should:

  • Assess the risk of sending the child or adult at risk home.
  • Phone another team member and let them know the situation.
  • Train additional leaders as soon as possible.

If a child or adult at risk wants to talk on a one-to-one basis you should make sure that:

  • You try to hold the conversation in a corner of a room where other people are present.
  • You leave the door open if you are in a room on your own.
  • Another team member knows where you are.

Consideration should be given to how many workers should be involved with the group and whether they should be male or female workers, or both. See section 3.11 for recommended ratios. A married couple, or two members of the same family should be considered to count as only one person when considering the distribution of workers through different groups. If a married couple want to work together then a third person will need to be assigned to that group.

The only adults allowed to participate in children’s and adult at risk activities are those safely appointed and appropriately trained. The leader of the activity should be aware of any other adults who are in the building whilst the activity is running.