2.4 Child Safety & Protecting Yourself

When working with children, it’s important to prioritize their safety and well-being at all times. One key safety measure is to ensure that no adult is ever alone with a child. This is important for several reasons:

  1. Preventing abuse: Unfortunately, there are some adults who may be inclined to abuse children, and being alone with a child can create an opportunity for abuse to occur. By ensuring that there are always at least two adults present when working with children, it becomes much more difficult for abuse to occur.
  2. Avoiding misunderstandings: Even when no abuse is intended, misunderstandings can happen when an adult is alone with a child. For example, a child might say something that is misinterpreted by the adult, or the adult might accidentally say something that makes the child uncomfortable. Having another adult present can help to prevent misunderstandings and ensure that interactions are appropriate and professional.
  3. Protecting the adult: In addition to protecting the child, ensuring that no adult is alone with a child can also protect the adult. If a child were to make false allegations of abuse, for example, having another adult present can provide a witness to refute the allegations and protect the accused adult from harm.

Because of the reasons above, it is imperative that all interactions are appropriate, professional, and free from the risk of abuse or misunderstandings. Please ensure that you are never alone with a child when running the BusReady program.

Taylor’s Tips: Normal Practice in Youth Work

No need to worry! It’s a common safety practice in many organizations in Canada and British Columbia to have at least two adults present during all interactions with youth. This helps to protect both the child and the adult, and minimize the risk of abuse or misunderstandings. Even if an adult has no harmful intentions, having another adult present is always the best choice.

You may be thinking – in what circumstance could this happen?

Example scenario: You are on the bus and your Co-Ambassador is leading the tour for the children. A child tugs on your sleeve, and quietly lets you know that they have to use the washroom. You, being a nice, kind and caring human, offer to take them to the washroom so you do not interrupt your Co-Ambassador, and so they do not need to walk there alone. You get off the bus and start walking the child back into the school to use the washroom. From inside the washroom, the child asks you for help with something (this could be an untied shoe, washing their hands, reaching the sink, etc). You enter the washroom to help the child. Now, you find yourself alone with a child in a room where there are no witnesses. Suddenly, you are at risk of a misunderstanding occuring between you and the child.

This scenario has happened too many times for me to count in normal youth practice. Telling a teacher about the child who has to use the washroom instead of taking them yourself would eliminate any risk to yourself or the child in the above scenario.

So, don’t worry – it’s normal! Ensuring that no adult is ever alone with a child is a common practice and a normal safety measure when working with youth. It is an important way to protect the safety and well-being of children, as well as to protect the adults who work with them. 🙂