As a parent, it is of the utmost importance to do everything we can to keep our children safe – not that we wrap them up in cotton wool or bubble wrap and not allow them to experience heartache and pain, but that we are wise in how we allow them to have these experiences.
There is a reasonable assumption that all organisations looking after children are doing everything they can to keep our children safe. However in recent times it has become clear we can no longer assume this is the case. Sadly there are many children who have experienced abuse from the very organisations that claim to serve them. I’m not saying that we never entrust our children into an organisation’s care or that we keep them home but that we ask the question: ARE THEY SAFE THERE?
Connected to this we also ask questions such as:
- Does your organisation have a child safe policy and code of conduct?
- Have your leaders had background checks and are they child safe trained?
- What will you do if there is an incident with my child?
- What is your bullying policy?
Why are these types of questions important? Because the answers will determine what type of culture the organisation has in place in regards to looking after your children and whether the organisation is accountable for the legal requirements under which it operates.
The other day I was enrolling my son into a school and before signing the forms I asked these types of questions. After the administrator had answered my questions I apologised for grilling him. I asked, “Do you often get parents asking these questions?” to which he replied, “No, but I am surprised I don’t.”
Our #aretheysafe campaign is about empowering parents with the right questions to ask organisations. This gives parents peace of mind about leaving their children and the organisation knows this is important to you and might even become more intentional in its practices.
I want to encourage you to be wise and to ask questions of an organisation before you rush out the door to go where you need to go or to do what you need to do. Be diligent, be kind and continue to keep your child’s protection as of the utmost importance in your parenting role. After all, what a privilege it is to have children in the first place!
National Child Protection Week is 2-8 September 2018.
ChildSafe, a Partner Organisation with MOPS Australia, is a not-for-profit harm prevention charity working with organisations to prevent harm and abuse of children. ChildSafe enables trusted environments for the children in an organisation’s care. childsafe.org.au