Recent events in New Zealand have put everyone on high alert. Most of the country is more concerned about safety and security than we have ever been before.
The trouble is, recent history tells us there are some dangers you cannot hope to predict. So, you must be prepared if the unthinkable happens.
Planning for violent situations is incredibly important for early childhood centres. This is especially true when you are responsible for the safety of young children. In this update, we take a look at planning for violence from or among children, and crisis-lockdown situations.
Violence From Children
Violence of any kind is not welcomed in an early childhood education environment. Threfore, the issue of violence from children in early childhood care has been getting a lot of attention over the last couple of years.
In 2017 it was reported that teachers had been struggling to cope with aggression and violence from very young children. At an NZ Educational Institute conference that year, two-thirds of the 380 teachers in attendance raised their hand when asked if they had been hit or assaulted by a child recently. The same issue has also been reported in primary schools.
Most recently, a 4 year old was expelled from an Auckland day-care centre to protect the safety of other children and staff.
What Can You Do About It?
As this is becoming a more prevalent problem, appropriate planning needs to be in place. Depending on the severity and frequency of incidents, they do need to be managed on a somewhat case-by-case basis.
Early intervention teaching is available through the Ministry of Education for children with complex behavioural needs. You should familiarise yourself with this service so you know when and how it can be used.
When a violent incident occurs, the first priority is the safety of the other children and staff. The violent child should be supervised away from the rest of the group until their parent or contact person arrives. The Ministry of Education can offer more detailed advice and relevant safety regulations.
After the recent terrorist acts in Christchurch, there has been a lot of discussion about the lockdown guidelines for New Zealand schools. It has subsequently been announced that there will be a review of these policies and procedures.
The basics of a lockdown plan include:
Ceasing all activity and moving into secure internal areas
Helping those who need assistance and guidance
Locking or barricading all internal doors (external doors should not be locked as emergency services will need access)
Closing curtains and blinds if it can be done safely
Cell phones turned to silent
Take a class register, account for everybody as best you can
Stay out of sight and maintain silence
Do not confront any offenders
It is a scary and confronting thought that our children might be involved in lockdowns, and it can be incredibly unsettling for them. New Zealand does not have a history of extremist violence, which is why many people are unfamiliar with best practice in these events. Communicating to children and parents about lockdown procedures and drills is important.
If you are not familiar with current guidance for these events or you want extra help, you can get in touch with your local Ministry of Education office.
Parents, staff and children expect you to be prepared to handle any situation that arises. But sometimes it can be hard to think of every eventuality. That is where SafetyNest can help. It is Health and Safety software designed specifically for New Zealand childcare centres. It helps you to be prepared for any and all eventualities that might occur.