The church is committed to providing a safe environment for activities with children and young people and will adopt ways of working with children and young people that promote their safety and well-being.
Procedures to promote safe practice
There is widespread concern that the ‘Health and Safety culture’ that has become part of the modern society has got out of control. Some have become so afraid of taking risks that children and young people are prevented from taking part in activities that bring enjoyment, adventure and challenge into their lives. However, that same ‘Health and Safety culture’ has grown up because in the past we have often been careless of risk. Schools, clubs and churches have organised activities without giving due care and attention to the potential hazards that might cause harm to children and young people – hazards that could have been foreseen. Often very simple measures can be taken that enable children and young people to continue with all of the activities that they were doing, but in a way that minimizes the risk. A very simple example would be using round-ended scissors rather than scissors with a sharp point.
We are not trying to create the illusion of a risk-free world for children and young people. Indeed that would be unhealthy for children’s development. Some degree of risk in life is unavoidable. Part of a child’s development is in learning to live in a world that can sometimes be threatening and harmful. However, we should seek to minimize the occasions for unnecessary risk. The law does not expect us to eliminate all risk, but under our duty of care churches are required to protect people as far as is ‘reasonably practicable’.
“All children both need and want to take risks in order to explore limits, venture into new experiences and develop their capacities, from a very young age and from their earliest play experiences.” We need to develop a sensible culture of safety when working with children and young people. The best way to do this is to introduce procedures and practices that become ‘second nature’ to those who are working with children and young people in the church.