Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Questions parents are afraid to ask, but should be...

   We live in a society where offence is easily taken, and where we don’t want to be seen as being paranoid or overly protective of the children in our care. We all want to be easy-going parents with a happy demeanour.

   We find out from other parents how things work, or only talk to the class teacher – specifically when our children go to new schools. We are happy with the pleasant answers because pleasant questions have been asked.

   We leave our children in the care of people who are employed to teach and look after them, but how certain are we really of the fact that our children are truly safe?

   These are some questions that parents and care-givers should be asking schools, crèches, day care and after care facilities, but are afraid to.

1.  Who has access to my children while they are on these premises?

2.  What age groups share playgrounds and bathrooms? Children with an age difference of minimum 4 years
      between them, should not be on the same playground and should not share bathroom facilities.

3.  Who are the staff employed to work with my children and have they received police clearance?

4.  Is there anyone employed by you who has had a conviction against them?

5.  Who are the parents who have access to my children? [helpers, volunteers, sports coaches]

6.  What is the school or facility’s protocol on safety for the children? Can I have a copy?

7.  Upon leaving school grounds, does anyone check with whom the children leave?

8.  Maintenance and Service providers – what access do they have to the children? Do you have a 
     copy of their Identity Books? [You don’t want a copy, you just want to know that someone
     responsible has taken this precaution.]

These are a couple of basic questions.

Sit down now and think of those niggling things that bother you about this.

   Be sure to know that you will get strange looks or comments when asking some of these questions. You may be diplomatically labelled as being ‘more intense than most parents’, or not so diplomatically, as “crazy or paranoid”. But also know that you’ll feel better about the safety of your children, knowing that you have checked these important issues.

   When in doubt, act on your instinct and intuition. You are responsible for the safety of your children.

Instinct and intuition is often ignored but it is one of the first lines of defence when it comes to personal safety – yours and that of your children.

By Norah Papanicolaou

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