Safeguarding Training For Summer Camp Staff
Safeguarding training for summer camp staff is essential to keep children safe while at camp, but it isn’t just there to protect the kids. Safeguarding training is just as crucial for the camp staff to make sure they protect themselves as well as the children in their care.
In the UK, the law states that people who work with children have a duty of care to keep them safe. These laws are referred to as ‘safeguarding legislation’ and are defined and explained in The Children Act (1989) and (2004). Safeguarding legislation is in place to set out the rights of children to be free from abuse and as such the government also provides statutory guidance to help ensure those working with children are abiding by the law.
What Is Safeguarding?
Safeguarding is defined in the Department for Education’s Keeping Children Safe In Education guidelines as “the action we take to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm.” This means:
- protecting children from maltreatment
- preventing impairment of children’s health or development
- ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
- taking action to enable all children have the best outcomes
Statutory guidance is issued by law, which means any organisation providing child care or education services to children and young people MUST follow it unless there’s a very good reason not to. While summer camps are not strictly bound by the same rules as schools and colleges (as they are private companies and therefore non-statutory providers) the principles of safeguarding are still the same.
Why Should You Have Safeguarding Policies And Procedures?
Ensuring that your summer camp has policies and procedures in place to handle safeguarding issues is extremely important. According to research published in 2011 into child abuse and neglect in the UK, approximately one in five children today has experienced serious physical abuse, sexual abuse or severe physical or emotional neglect at some point in their lifetime. To put that into context, if your summer camp has 100 places a week for six weeks, totalling 600 children provided for over the course of the summer, potentially 120 of those kids may experience abuse at some point in their childhood.
Your recruitment processes should ensure that these children won’t experience abuse at the hands of your staff. However, a major consideration for summer camps should be the fact that a lot of your staff will undoubtedly be young and inexperienced. That is not to say that having young staff is a bad thing, far from it, but it is important that your staff understand the complexity of working with children and the potential ramifications of not taking safeguarding seriously.
Having safeguarding policies and procedures in place, alongside the completion of safeguarding training, will help enable your staff to spot the signs of abuse and equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to handle the situation correctly. This in turn protects the children and young people in your care from harm and shows that your organisation is responsible.
For more in depth information and guidance on writing safeguarding policies and procedures, check out Safe Network’s templates to help develop your safeguarding policies and procedures.
What Does Safeguarding Training Teach?
For your younger staff, the training you provide could well be the first time they have been exposed to the topic of safeguarding and child abuse, so it’s important that you get it right. Striking a balance between stressing the importance of the issue but not scaring or intimidating them can be a challenge. Regardless of the age of your staff, all standard safeguarding training should encompass the same key elements.
Recognise, Report and Record
“Recognise” is about recognising the signs of abuse. Abuse will usually fall into four main categories; emotional, physical, sexual and neglect. Training your staff in the recognition of abuse is about enabling them to recognise the physical and behavioural indicators of these types of abuse.
“Report” is about making staff aware of your camps policies and procedures with regards to reporting suspicions of abuse or actual disclosures from children or other staff. This includes making sure staff are aware of the importance of confidentiality throughout the reporting process. For example, this could be reporting the information directly to the correct person in line with camp procedure, i.e. in many cases this will not be their immediate manager or supervisor.
“Record” is about making sure your staff know what the camp recording procedures are should they suspect abuse or receive a disclosure. It will help them to understand the importance of recording information quickly and confidentially in order to protect the children in their care, and themselves.
Feeding Into The Bigger Picture
Another key consideration of “Report” and “Record” is the importance of feeding into the bigger picture. Something that may seem like a small or insignificant thing to them may actually be an indicator of long-term patterns of abuse or neglect. For example, one of your camp leaders may have seen just one bruise, but a social worker or teacher elsewhere may have observed another possible indicator of abuse that when put together over a period of time could have serious implications for the welfare of the child. High profile examples in the media, such as the Baby P case, can be used to stress the importance of feeding into the bigger picture.
How To Handle Receiving A Disclosure
Especially for young, new or inexperienced staff, the idea of receiving a disclosure can be quite frightening. It is therefore important to include some basic do’s and don'ts for handling disclosures of abuse during your safeguarding training as this will help staff to feel more prepared should the situation arise. It is a good idea, however, to reinforce that disclosures are rare and your staff should not expect them to be a prerequisite of working with children.