Should children wear high-vis vests on excursions?

Question: Should children wear high-vis vests on excursions?

It depends on your ‘why’

Many educators feel more comfortable using high-vis on excursions, and that’s okay. But when it comes to child safety, vests are only one tiny piece of the puzzle.

For all excursions – vests or not – educators need to consider risk. Vests become a problem when educators over-rely on them to keep children safe. There is no substitute for risk assessment, safe ratios and active supervision.

If you’re deciding whether to buy vests, ask yourself why you feel you need them:

  • Are they necessary for a local trip to the park? Or the Melbourne Zoo?
  • Are they a Band-Aid solution for higher ratios?
  • Will they (consciously or not) encourage educators to become less vigilant?
  • Could displaying a service’s name or contact number on the vests become a child protection issue?

There’s also a deeper issue about the messages we send children. Excursions are an opportunity for children to learn about risk. Children know that people usually wear high-vis when they are doing things that may be dangerous (roadworks, construction, etc.) By putting children in high-vis, are we telling them that going to the park is dangerous for them? On the other hand, could we be making children more complacent when identifying and assessing risk?

Sandy Bevan
Service Delivery & Development Manager, Community Child Care Association

iStock - Boy in reflective jacket