No one can have missed the alarming news stories this week, regarding the nursery worker in Plymouth who has admitted to numerous counts of sexual abuse of children in her care at a nursery, which was recorded using a mobile phone. For all of us who are parents, and especially those of us involved in daycare, this is a really horrific story and one that is hard to believe. When I went back to work after having my first baby, I chose a nursery over care in the home, as I liked the ‘safety in numbers’ aspect of group daycare and the fact that staff were supervised. This case reminds us that there are devious and unpleasant people out there, although we must keep a sense of perspective and remember that it is still very rare.
So, what are we doing about it? Well, the first thing is to reassure parents that their children are safe with us. All staff are CRB checked, have 2 references taken up and are supervised. Mobile phones seem to be a major feature of this case, and we have always had a policy that mobile phones are banned in the rooms, and must be left in lockers or staff rooms and not used during the day. Everyone has been reminded today of why this is so important and managers will be on hand to discuss our policies with parents.
Safeguarding children is a high priority throughout the Early Years sector and the outcome of the enquiry into the ‘Baby Peter’ case earlier this year continues to remind us why it is so important. We are constantly updating and reviewing our policies to keep Safeguarding at the top of our staff meeting agendas and have also recently introduced a ‘whistleblowing’ policy to enable staff to raise any concerns that they may have at all.
The new ISA has received a battering in the press over recent months, and undoubtedly some of the case studies which have been put forward do seem rather over-the-top. However, at least it focuses the mind on how important child protection is and reminds us all of our individual responsibilities.