We are concerned by this article from Nursery World featuring MITEY.
The attitudes in it are extremely detrimental to the parent-practitioner relationship & some of its suggestions push boundaries in an inappropriate & potentially dangerous manner.
The phrasing in this article suggests that providing intimate care to children is a right which Early Years practitioners are entitled to. It is not.
Care must be provided by those who have been deemed most appropriate to do so.
CSE & CSA statistics show that males are overwhelmingly more likely to be a risk to children than females. These statistics must be considered when taking decisions as to who is best-placed to provide intimate care to vulnerable young children. Parents’ concerns must be heeded.
Any male who does not understand why some parents may object to their involvement in their child’s intimate care is plainly unsuitable for Early Years. They are prioritising their own feelings of rejection above the needs/wants of children and their families.
We are horrified by the suggestion from Jeremy Davies of MITEY that government legislation should force parents to accept intimate care being administered by individuals who parent and/or child are not comfortable with.
Susie Owen from the DfE takes issue with ‘objections…based purely on their gender’. Sex (not gender) is a risk factor in CSA, with males statistically far more likely to be a risk to children
It is not unreasonable to suggest that the provision of intimate care to children by males should be a safeguarding consideration. In light of male CSA statistics & the access that Early Years practitioners have to children, it would be irresponsible to not consider this issue.
Susie Owen also says that ‘parents cannot pick and choose who undertakes different activities based on whether they are male or female’.
It is paramount that parents are comfortable with those caring for their children. Their wishes must be respected to establish trust.
Failure to work with parents & take their views into account will result in a lack of confidence in the childcare sector. This may force parents (namely mothers) out of the workplace & into the home in order to guarantee appropriate care of their children. This is regressive.
Susie Owen also says ‘we can bust those myths and really challenge those misconceptions where they appear‘. It is NOT a ‘myth’ or ‘misconception’ that males are statistically a danger to women & children. Acknowledging this is a crucial part of safeguarding& preventing the sexual abuse of children.
We would like to make it clear that positive male role models are essential in Early Years. Responsible consideration of CSA statistics does not negate a desire for positive male role models in Early Years.
Both must be promoted to ensure the best outcomes for children.
Rigorous safeguarding procedures must be applied to ALL staff, regardless of sex, at ALL times.
– Safer Recruitment which explores the motivation for working with children
– Reflective practice which takes into account the views of children & parents.
– Transparent logging of intimate care.
– Two members of staff present during intimate care.
– An intimate care rota. The same members of staff should not always be supervising each other.
– Regular supervisions where concerns can be shared openly & honestly.
Staff must remember key safeguarding mantras: ‘think the unthinkable’ and ‘you never know anyone well enough to say they couldn’t, wouldn’t or didn’t’. This includes colleagues and family members.