The recruitment of suitably qualified and experienced personnel is a vital aspect of the Church’s child safeguarding policy. However, in order to maintain a high level of child protection awareness and safe care, codes of behaviour are equally important. A code of behaviour is a clear and concise guide to what is and is not acceptable behaviour and practice when working with children.
Adults working with children have a duty of care to children. Church personnel who work with children will sign a code of behaviour to indicate that they have seen the code and agree to follow it in full from commencement of their work within the Church.
It is very important that everyone in the diocese is clear about what is and is not acceptable behaviour when working with children. It is also important to involve children and parents/guardians in the process of developing a code of behaviour. When considering what sorts of behaviour are appropriate in dealing with children, it is important to bear in mind that the intentions of adults are less important than the impact of their behaviours on children. For this reason, a key aspect of any code of behaviour is the creation of an environment where it is safe for children to ask questions and express their concerns, confident in the knowledge that what they say will be heard, taken seriously and acted upon.
In general, codes of behaviour should contain:
- Positive statements indicating what sorts of behaviours are appropriate, e.g. listening;
- An awareness of the scope of bullying and how to cope with the problem, as it may occur in any group context;
- Prohibitions indicating behaviours that are never acceptable, e.g. hitting a child;
- Good practice guidelines that indicate what is generally acceptable or unacceptable, but that also allow for exceptions, e.g. in a medical emergency; taking a child in your car without a second member of staff/adult if there is no one else around.
- Where it becomes necessary to depart from the code of behaviour, the reasons for doing so should be carefully recorded, and steps should be taken to avoid the recurrence of such a situation in the future.
The Code of Behaviour for all Church personnel working with children is available at (S4.7) Church personnel must sign a statement indicating that they have received a copy of the code and agree to follow it on taking up their position. The Code includes reference to a disciplinary procedure (2.17) which will be invoked if the code is not followed.