A habit is an acquired pattern or routine behavior that when repeated consistently becomes almost involuntary. We are all creatures of habit. Perhaps you’ve never considered that most of what you do in a day consists of habits.
Much like good habits, which keep us focused, productive, and closer to our goals, bad habits can disrupt, waste time, and jeopardize the health and safety of your organization. The questions are, why do we continue to engage in bad habits? What can we do about them?
For organizations focused on improving child safety, bad habits are typically caused by two factors – false assumptions and pressure. Bad safety habits are often attributed to feeling overwhelmed, understaffed, and pressured to make a good impression or keep people happy by not inconveniencing them. Recognizing the cause of bad safety habits is essential to overcoming or replacing them with better ones.
Here are some of the worst child safety habits and how to change them.
Inconsistency in Following Established Guidelines– Inconsistency creates confusion, especially regarding child safety standards. Consistency, on the other hand, is a fundamental building block for developing trust and stability. People want clarity. They don’t want to wonder what rules apply to them or when and if they should be followed.
Replace the habit by always following your safety guidelines and requiring others to do the same. Make no exceptions, even for those with whom you are familiar. What is expected of one must be expected from all, even if it is inconvenient.
Making False Assumptions– False assumptions like the “It will never happen here mentality,” are passive behavior and will cause you to put your guard down and increase the chance of becoming a target for offenders. For example, thinking abuse could never happen in your organization, it only happens in places like X, or I know everyone – they’re friends, family, and people I see daily; all offer a false sense of security. You may know about people, but you don’t always know what goes on behind closed doors in people’s lives.
Replace the habit by proactively protecting the organization and consistently communicating your commitment to child safety. Again, be consistent no matter how well you think you know someone.
Not Screening Candidates– This can be attributed to the absence of resources, such as volunteers, money, time, or know-how. However, screeningprevents bad behavior and provides a layer of protection that eliminates easy access to kids. Without screening, it’s tough to know if someone should have contact with kids or if they have a criminal past.
Replace the habit by investing resources to get to know those applying to work directly with kids. Establish a comprehensive screening process, work to get leadership buy-off, and ask families, volunteers, and peers to help raise the visibility and importance of the issue.
Providing Minimal Education and Training– There is often a lack of trainingand education because of resource commitment, coordination of schedules, and a lack of information sharing. However, training and education are directly correlated to your organization’s success, volunteer longevity, and engagement with families.
Replace the habit by incorporating information sharing into weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings, get-togethers, or executive sessions. If you can, form a training committee. They can help ensure policies and procedures are followed and everyone is on the same page.
Operating without a Child Protection Policy– The purpose of a CPPis to define how an organization intends to protect and care for the children it serves. Whether your organization is small or large, it is never a good idea to function without one. A CPP helps ensure everyone coming into contact with kids has been screened and has a defined set of working principles that minimize the grey area for interacting.
Replace the habit by updating an outdated policy or investing the resources to create a new one. No single policy works well in every situation. Each policy is unique and considers factors such as your organizational mission, size, facility design, priorities, values, and goals.
Not Establishing a Check-In or Out Process– Secure children’s check-inis about more than just attendance tracking. Check-in equips you with tools that improve child safety, increase data accessibility, and connect you with families. Whether you use pen and paper or an electronic solution, specific tracking measures are necessary.
Replace the habit by instituting a check-in and out process that reduces risk and liability, provides health and safety information, and lets you know who should and shouldn’t be picking up the children. Learn more about using secure children’s check-in.
It’s easy to get caught up in bad safety habits, but being aware of them and working to replace them with better practices over time is the goal. You don’t have to tackle every habit simultaneously. Instead, start by thinking about the processes in a new way. By changing your thinking, you can change your environment, which ultimately will help change your habits.
This article was submitted by KidCheck.
This article was first published as a blog on the KidCheck website.
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