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  • Writer's pictureHelen Haydock

Why is a code of conduct important?

We had a great discussion in a recent Public Webinar about the importance of the Code of Conduct. A participant asked "how can a piece of paper stop children getting harmed".

It’s a great question and really highlights the importance of all staff, volunteers and service users understanding the Code of Conduct. Let’s break it down a bit further to understand how a Code of Conduct can work to keep children safe.

The Code of Conduct sets out what is and is not appropriate behaviour between staff/volunteers and children.

This means that

-Staff know what is expected of them

-Other staff are better able to recognise if a staff member is grooming a child or creating an inappropriate relationship

-Families and (depending on age) children know what to expect

Let’s consider a case example.

Mr Jones volunteers at a local youth centre who do not have a code of conduct. One of the kids who attends, Miles, tells Mr Jones he won’t be able to keep coming as his Mum isn’t able to bring him to the centre. Mr Jones speaks to Miles’ mum and offers to take him and drop him back home.

Mr Jones gives Miles his phone number so they can arrange when are where he will pick Miles up. Mr Jones then adds Miles on Facebook and regularly sends him messages and memes. Mr Jones tells Miles not to tell the other kids that they are friends.

One of the other volunteers at the centre questions Mr Jones about his relationship with Miles, as he seems to favour him. Mr Jones tells him he is “just trying to support a vulnerable kid.”

In this case Mr Jones could be grooming Miles with an intention of facilitating Sexual Abuse. He is creating a relationship with Miles that is different to the other young people at the centre.

Miles and his Mum agree to Mr Jones transporting him but Mr Jones then pushes the contact further by exchanging phone numbers with Miles and adding him as a friend on Facebook. Miles’ Mum doesn’t know whether this behaviour is ok as there is not an accessible code of conduct.

A code of conduct would clearly set out what behaviour is and is not appropriate and reduce the risk of staff and volunteers grooming children. It also increases the likelihood that other staff or the children/families themselves will 1) question the behaviour and 2)know when and how to escalate concerns.

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