Question: In light of the new Child Safe Standards, is showing physical affection towards children still appropriate in services?
Physical affection is appropriate when children are empowered to communicate their consent.
The Child Safe Standards have been designed to improve and maintain the safety of children in our communities. Services should have clear codes of conduct and guidelines for staff on expected behaviours and responsibilities. These guidelines might explore the cultural and individual expectations regarding physical affection in the setting.
For example, some individuals might feel uncomfortable with physical touch whilst others might not – agreements can be discussed and clarified on a case-by-case basis.
A major consideration for educators should be how they teach and practice consent. Child Safe Standard 3 outlines that children and young people are informed about their rights when it comes to their safety, information and participation. Whilst this does not specify physical affection, it’s important that children are consulted and informed about
appropriate physical affection in the setting, and their right to participate or not depending on their own comfort level.
Educators should be consistent with their seeking of consent and ensure that children are empowered to communicate and maintain their wishes and needs.
Consultant, Community Child Care Association
Are you and your staff across the Child Safe Standards and Reportable Conduct Scheme? All early childhood and OSHC services are legally required to comply with the standards. Luckily, CCC offers a range of professional development in this area – find out more today!