What Would You Do?

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Imagine this scenario: You are a volunteer at an after-school program. The children are gathered around outside a local middle school to listen to a police officer in the canine unit. It is quite a large group, and there is only one other adult, the director, watching the presentation. A child comes up to you and asks to use the restroom. You don’t want to send the child unaccompanied inside to an unfamiliar school, but you also don’t want to bother the director for this request. You quietly take the child out of the group and into the school. Was this the right thing to do?

The answer is NO. Abuse prevention policies, including the Safe Gatherings program, say that an adult should not be alone with a child in any situation, including restroom situations. This is for the child’s protection as well as your protection as a volunteer. The right thing to do in this scenario is to have another adult accompany you and the child. However, this creates a situation where there are no adults left in the group (other than the speaker). In this case, have another child accompany you to the restroom so you aren’t alone with one child. In addition, when the child is using the restroom, stand outside in the hallway. This transparency in behavior is a best practice for keeping children and youth safe.