Child safety is Kaleidoscope’s number one priority. Before children can feel heard, valued, and loved, they must not only be safe but also feel safe. Since we have the privilege of working with children, it is our responsibility to make sure that they are safe from emotional, mental, sexual, and physical threats. Watch this video and read the notes below to learn more about Kaleidoscopes Child Safety policies:
Our five rules for working with kids to keep them safe, to stay together, use your words to encourage others, use physical touch appropriately, respect each other and the kids with your behavior, and stay accountable for your actions.
1. Stay together
Best case scenario: more than one leader + more than one child
Second best: one leader + more than one child
Less ideal: One leader + one child in a public place
Never: One leader + one child in a closed room (bathroom policy: girls help kiddos, keep main bathroom door propped open and stall doors ajar)
Always aim to have a window, open door, or public, visible space where others could easily drop in
Make sure to have a walkie-talkie handy if accompanying a child alone or a group of children outdoors.
2. Be encouraging with your words
All of your words should respect the children and make them feel valued, heard, loved, and safe.
Never shame, belittle, yell at, threaten, curse at, call names, tell inappropriate jokes to, or make inappropriate comments about children.
Try to use the word “surprise” instead of “secret;” keeping a secret with a child exclusively is very problematic, even if it seems innocent; i.e. “we have a surprise guest visiting this afternoon!”
In a discipline situation, use encouraging words that focus on the desired positive outcomes in the future, rather than on the negative ones that you want to avoid.
3. Be appropriate with physical touch
Touch should meet the needs of the child, not of the adult.
Never push, hit, shove, shake, or pinch children.
Never touch a child inappropriately–in “bathing suit areas.”
All touch must respect children, so let them initiate most contact.
Show affection with gestures such as verbal praise, side hugs, pats on the shoulder, and high fives.
4. Respect others with your behavior
Don’t play favorites with children or your teammates–we know this can be hard!
Respect children’s boundaries and their personal comfort levels. Every child is different and we don’t know their stories. It’s important for children to exercise their right to say “no” from a young age.
Monitor child-to-child behavior for bullying, singling out, inappropriate touch or language, and physical violence.
In a discipline situation, get down to eye level to speak with children.
5. Stay accountable for your actions
Have a conversation with the conference coordinator you trust if you see something concerning or suspect someone of a crime against child safety.
Always keep your walkie-talkie with you and turned on.
Don’t put someone you work with in an uncomfortable situation by asking them to trust you to do something that violates one of these policies.
Report to a US law enforcement officer any clear signs of neglect or abuse.
The appropriate line of communication regarding child safety is: Kaleider –> conference coordinator –> director/assistant director. Don’t hesitate to go directly to a director if you’re uncomfortable speaking with the coordinator.
A few tips on discipline:
Discipline should only ever instruct, not punish, children.
Always help them understand why they are being disciplined.
Use positive language to talk about each other’s feelings and how they might improve next time.
Use discipline methods that are safe, nonphysical, motivating, and constructive
Never hit, push, grab, or be rough with children–unless their immediate safety is threatened.