Safety: The Most Critical Conversation
It’s essential that your staff can easily discern inappropriate behavior and harmful actions. That’s why your leadership should always model appropriate interactions. During staff meetings and individual and group supervision, you should provide frequent feedback, both positive and constructive, so your staff is motivated to maintain a safe environment. Your staff will look to your leaders to set the tone and demonstrate that communication about behaviors is a normal part of doing business—not a taboo. If you set this example, you can build and maintain a culture of open communication about matters related to child and youth safety.
A Checklist For Monitoring Behavior
There are multiple monitoring methods you should consider to get a clear picture of how individuals within your organization are interacting, and to monitor inappropriate or harmful behaviors.
Your leaders (administrators, managers,and supervisors) should take an active role in observing and monitoring interactions among staff and between staff and children/youth, by:
- Maintaining a presence in your workplace where staff, volunteers, children, and youth interact.
- Using informal supervision, including regular and random observation (e.g., roving and checking interactions throughout an activity period), and maintaining frequent contact with employees/volunteers and children/youth who interact off-site.
- Acknowledging, praising, rewarding, reinforcing, encouraging, and modeling appropriate behaviors. This includes formal supervision, including regular evaluations, and requires leaders to encourage continued vigilance on the part of all staff and volunteers.
- Understanding the behavioral boundaries you’ve established, identifying when someone is approaching or has crossed the line, and addressing such behaviors immediately. If the behavior was inadvertent, it should be correctable through supervision and continued monitoring. If the behavior continues, it may indicate a situation that should be reported.
Your entire staff should refer to your Code of Conduct to understand what you’ve defined as inappropriate or harmful behavior, and to your Mission Statement/Code of Ethics for guidance in situations not covered in your Code of Conduct.
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