CODE OF CONDUCT CONCERNING SEXUAL VIOLENCE
At our Kita, the importance of children’s safety is paramount. Children, as well as employees, are meant to be safeguarded by the following rules of conduct. This code of conduct is an addition to the Kibesuisse guidelines.
1. Position of the Kindertagesstätte and the staff
At our Kita, acts of sexual harassment towards children by employees or between children are not tolerated in any way.
Employees of our day care centre are made aware of the gravity of violation of personal sphere and sexual abuse of children and adolescents and do everything to prevent such violations and assaults.
The staff members know the relevant articles of the Swiss Penal Code (specifically Art. 187 and 188 StGB, cf. Appendix 1).
Furthermore, they are aware that downloading, producing and forwarding/selling of child pornographic material constitute criminal offences; this also applies outside of the day care centre and when children involved are not clients of our day care centre.
Should sexual harassment occurred, the employees are to take appropriate steps to prevent further abuse and initiate support measures for the victims (see “Guide for Intervention In Case of Sexual abuse in Day Care Centres”).
The employees are made aware that any violations of the laws and this declaration of commitment will have consequences under criminal and labour law.
2. Position of the staff
The employees of the day care centre are obliged to protect and care for the wellbeing of the entrusted children.
The employees do not violate the boundaries of tolerable proximity and keep the necessary distance to children (see Chapter 4 for rules of conduct which result from this). Responsibility always lies with the adults. The children’s right to integrity and private sphere will not be harmed. The employees keep the necessary distance even when impulses come from children themselves.
In situations which require physical contact and assistance, special rules apply (see ‘Additional explanations’: 4 rules of conduct in day-to-day work’).
Private relationships between children and employees are considered interactions outside of work assignment and are therefore not consistent with professional attitude. Staff members of Kita Regenbogen are allowed to ‘babysit’ children from the Kita. Confidentiality and internal regulations are to be adhered to, this way private interests are not mixed with occupation.
3. Conduct in case of suspected sexual harassment / sexual harassment
Informing the principal/administration of the day care centre has nothing to do with denunciation; it is the commitment to uphold the rights and wellbeing of children and adolescents who have become victims of sexual harassment.
Should the principle of the day care centre be involved and/or does not react, the superior authority (Crèche Authority of the social services department) and/or a specialist unit is to be informed.
Should employees gain knowledge of sexual abuse towards or between children they must pass this information on to the principal of the day care centre. This also applies to a suspicion of abuse and independently of the fact that the perpetrator may be an employee, a child, a person from the child´s environment or even an unknown person.
In general, it is the duty of the principal to contact specialist units and authorities, as well as plan additional steps.
Direct confrontation of the accused persons and the supposed child victim is to be avoided.
Should a victim approach staff members directly, they will explain to the child that the information needs to be passed on to the management of the Kita.
4. Rules of conduct in day-to-day work
Principle: Proximity and Distance
The responsibility for proximity and distance always lies with the staff members. Apart from this principle the following rules apply for all staff members:
The day care centre emphasises a natural and caring conduct with children. Of course, physical contact and comforting of children is allowed when the children communicate the need for it verbally or non-verbally.
Sitting on the lap
The employees do not encourage sitting on their laps. Children are allowed to sit on the lap when they themselves communicate or show the need for it. When consoling a child, the initiative to sit on the lap should correspondingly initiate by the child.
Kissing of children
Kissing of children by the staff members of the ‘Verein Orte für Kinder’ is prohibited. Staff members shall communicate to the children that they do not wish to be kissed and take appropriate measures to avoid being kissed by a child.
If a kiss cannot be avoided, it must be clear that only the child initiated the kiss. Appropriate measure must be kept to avoid a kiss.
Discussions about exceptions to the rule take place within the teams of the Kita. All actions of a sexual character (touching of breast and genitalia of children, except during diaper changing, see below) as well as sexualised language are prohibited.
Should one employee look after a single child, this will always occur in agreement with other staff members. The team leader is obliged to make sure that the rules of conduct are adhered to.
Early shift / Late shift
EIt may occur that one employee alone will conduct early or late shifts. The doors to the classrooms are to remain open. The principal and parents are to be informed.
When diapers are changed, a staff member is informed.
The children only have their diapers changed by a caregiver of the staff (not by guests). The door to the diaper changing room in the classroom shall remain opened (the glass door of the bathroom may be closed). When a caregiver changes a diaper whilst alone in the room, another staff member will be notified beforehand. Applying diaper cream to the genital area is part of diaper changing, when necessary.
Going to the toilet
The child is only accompanied if it needs help. This will be communicated with the parents.
Temperature is usually measured in the ear. Should a rectal thermometer be necessary for accuracy, the team leader with a second person present will perform the task.
Whilst the children are falling asleep, a staff member shall always be present in the nap room. Another staff member can spontaneously check on staff members. The classes establish random checks to ensure no liability for unchecked times in the nap room. The children are only touched on their head, chest, stomach, back or hand (not caressed) and only when the child explicitly wishes this or it is necessary for consolation/regulation. The parents are informed about this. Children are on their own mattresses; caregivers are next to the mattresses.
Children wear bathing suits or (swim) diapers when bathing or playing outside in summer. Should a child have to undress in public, the caregivers shall provide adequate cover. In exceptional situations, a shower/bath might be necessary to take place. Should it be deemed necessary, this shall only occur after discussing with the team leader and perhaps the parents and with a second person present.
‘Playing doctor’ / Discovering their own body
Discovering their own body is part of the natural development of children. The game is permitted and is supposed to happen in a defined and secure place without the children feeling like they are being sent away. It is a game between children. Adults do not participate in the children’s’ actions. The game is discreetly observed. Interference only happens when there is a difference in power or imminent threat of injury by foreign objects or acts of children. The participating children should be roughly of the same age.
When a child enters this phase, their parents will be informed to ensure open, natural and professional conduct with this topic.
Genitals will be named anatomically correct and uniformely by the caregivers. The Kita agrees to the following terms: “Penis” and “Vagina”, “between the labia”, “Anus”, “Fudi/Füdli”
Sexual education is not the duty of staff members. Should the children ask specific questions, they will be answered age-appropriately and the parents will be informed afterwards.
Administering of medication
Should children need medication, parents will fill out the internal medication form. Only fully qualified early year practitioner or, if by an apprentice, in the presence of the principal, administers the medication. Suppositories are only given as an exception and only administered by a fully qualified early years practitioner.
Pictures of children are only taken for professional purposes (e.g. documentation of files). No pictures are taken with private cameras and only the cameras of Kita Regenbogen are used (see Media regulations). The parents are informed about this use and give their permission when they sign a contract with the Kita. Of course, parents can also opt-out from this.
Appendix 1: Swiss Penal Code
Title Five: Criminal acts against sexual integrity
Art. 187 1. Threat to the development of underage persons. Sexual acts with children.
1. Whoever commits a sexual act with a person below the age of 16, induces them to perform such an act or involves them in a sexual act will be penalized with imprisonment of up to five years or a fine.
2. The act is not punishable when the age difference between parties is no more than three years
3. Should the offender not have completed the 20th year of their life and special circumstances exist or the violated person has entered marriage or registered partnership with them, the competent authority can refrain from prosecution, referral to court or penalty.
4. Should the offender have acted under the wrongful impression that the child was 16 years old but could have, with due diligence, avoided the misconception, the penalty is imprisonment of up to three years or a fine.
Sexual acts with dependents
1. Whoever commits a sexual act with an underage person older than 16 years who is dependent on them through educational, supervisory or work relationship or is in another way dependent, and misuses this dependence, whoever misuses this person´s dependence for a sexual act will be penalised with imprisonment of up to three years or a fine.
2. If the violated person has entered marriage or registered partnership with the offender, the competent authority can refrain from prosecution, referral to court or penalty.
Every member of staff of Kita Regenbogen has signed the following statement:
Declaration of commitment to compliance with the code of conduct regarding sexual violence
First name: ____________________
Date of Birth: ____________________
hereby confirms that he/she
has never committed sexual acts with children or adolescents and will never do this
has no pedosexual tendencies
is not involved in current criminal proceedings.
I share the stated principles and commit to adhering to them.
I also commit to inform the principal of the Kindertagesstätte if I have knowledge or suspicion of sexual harassment of children who are cared for in the Kindertagesstätte.
Place and date Signature
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR THE PREVENTION OF PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE
The children we care for are meant to be safe in the Kindertagesstätte. By the following rules of conduct children as well as staff members are meant to be protected.These rules of conduct are an addition to the Kibesuisse-guidelines.
1. Definition of physical and psychological violence.
1.1 Physical violence
Physical violence refers not only to hitting but also to shaking, pushing, forcefully feeding, pulling at ears, pulling on arms, pushing a child onto a chair, forcing to sit still or pushing onto a mattress. Forcing to eat or withholding food is also a form of violence.
Physical violence is by definition the intentional violation of the integrity of a human body by one or more people.
1.2 Psychological violence
Psychological violence is probably the more common form of violence towards children, which is much harder to detect. It is often downplayed as ‘a normal method of education’. Parents as well as caregivers intentionally or unintentionally, without meaning to or even realising it, resort to this form of violence often in everyday life (look up homepage Kinderschutz Schweiz/Swiss child protection).
This entails verbally abusing, rejecting, exposing, or blaming children, punishing them by depriving them of attention, threatening them or intentionally scaring them. Psychological violence also includes neglect of children’s needs or overbearing attention.
Psychological violence also means intentional or unintentional ‘educational’ behaviour, which can through punishment or degradation, hinder or harm children in their development.
Psychological violence accompanies any physical violence as any physical violence means humiliation for the child.
2. Position and principles of conduct
The formulations of fundamental attitudes are pillars, which have been worked on by the involved persons and connect them.
2.1 The day care centre as an institution
The day care centre is a non-violent environment without physical or psychological violence. We have a zero-tolerance policy. This fundamental attitude is mirrored in the pedagogic principles and rules. These are communicated internally and externally. Staff members, parents and children are informed about this.
- Information and decision-making processes are defined and transparent. The employees’ and parents’ co-determination and participation rights are regulated.
- The Kita is aware that different sets of values may exist among parents / children / employees as a result of the population’s cultural diversity. Persons from different cultural backgrounds will be made particularly aware of the existing rules.
- Employees, parents and children are aware that violating existing rules will have consequences.
- The Kita cultivates an environment of open communication between parents, children and employees.
- We encourage and live a culture of asking questions and giving feedback.
- We practice an accessible and transparent feedback and complaint management.
- The principal is responsible for receiving notifications / taking care of concrete incidents.
2.2 Parental participation
- Parents are informed of the Kita’s basic attitude and rules of conduct before commencement of care.
- We communicate actively and openly with the parents. Parents know whom to contact when questions arise.
- Parents and children know whom to contact when they have knowledge of abuse or violence.
The Kita chooses employees carefully (by obtaining references, verifying job references and checking applicants’ attitudes).
- Before signing the contract, a recent extract of the judicial record is obtained. Employees cannot have a conviction for a crime on their record that, due to its nature or severity, calls their ability to care for children into question.
- The applicant will be informed about the basic pedagogic principles and rules of conduct. When new employees start working, they sign the existing code of conduct. Hereby we assure they are aware that in case of incompliance they may be held liable according to civil, penal or labour law, depending on the severity of the offense.
- Internalisation of the fundamental attitude is a process in which the employees are aided (by training, team meetings and self reflection). Employees reflect their role and their actions themselves and within the team. The employer provides resources (time and financial means) for this.
- If needed, employees will be trained in strengthening their communication skills.
- Employees know the different forms of psychological and physical violence. They are aware of the problem of using violence and its negative effects. We practice non-violent methods of education. Employees are aware that in stressful situations the use of violence is avoided. They are actively supported and, if necessary, trained in this.
- Employees know their own strengths and weaknesses and realise when they reach their limits. They know where to ask questions and get help. Asking questions and getting help is seen as a sign of strength and professionalism.
- Employees know the relevant civil and penal laws regarding the use of violence.
- The child is seen as an autonomous individual and a person with his/her own needs. They are treated with appreciation.
- According to their age, children can take part in Kita/after school care centre life and act autonomously.Participation is an important part of education, but there are clear boundaries between children and educators.
- Boys and girls are treated equally. The same rules apply to both
- Rules give children support and orientation and create a space in which they can move securely. If a child does not abide by the rules, child and age-appropriate measures are taken according to current pedagogic knowledge.
- Rules are clear, direct and concrete and grow with the children.
- Employees in Kitas are role models and act credibly.
3. . Prevention through rules of conduct in everyday work
Rules of conduct serve to de-escalate situations in which physical or psychological violence could develop. This creates safety and transparency for all involved parties and is an important part of prevention.
3.1 Meal times
The children are regularly served sufficient, varied and healthy food and fluids in age-appropriate form.
- The children have enough time to eat and drink.
- Little children get assistance whilst eating.
- There is no pressure to eat. Every child decides if and what of the offered food it wants to eat and when it is satisfied.
- The children have access to unsweetened beverages at all times.
- With small children, the caregivers watch out for body language signs indicating that they are satisfied.
- The Kita respects the dietary habits of other cultures.
- Food is not an instrument of power. Food deprivation as punishment is not allowed. Food items as a reward are not suitable either.
3.2 Physical well being
The Kita ensures a diverse, age-adapted routine. The rooms are appropriately big, light, clean, well ventilated and equipped according to the children’s age. Should a child be indisposed, the employees will take appropriate measures.
- Hygiene is observed. Diapers of little children are changed frequently enough and the skin is cared for. Dirty or wet clothing is changed.
- Children can decide if he/she wants to be active or is in need of quiet time. With little children, the employees watch out for body language signs of tiredness. Little children are supported in learning sleep-wake rhythm.
- Children who sleep in the Kita have a suitable, quiet sleeping place. They are not forced to sleep.
- Children can play inside group rooms or outside. Employees observe the alternating need of children for quiet time and movement and create adequate possibilities for the children to meet these needs.
- Children have clothing suitable for different weather conditions. The individual perception of cold and warm of the child is respected. Employees watch out for signs indicating that a child is overheating or freezing.
- When it is very hot, the children can cool themselves down with water games and drinks. Appropriate protection from the sun (shade, hats, avoiding of mid-day heat) is assured.
3.3 Psychological wellbeing
- The child is gently settled in to the Kita. The parents accompany the children during the acclimatisation period and allow them the time they need.
- The individual need of children for proximity and distance is respected.
- The child decides if it wants to play alone or with other children.
- The individual personality of every child is respected. Children are supported and strengthened in developing a self-confident personality. It is allowed to say ‘NO’.
- Children are supported in their psychological, physical and social development, but they command the pace. They are encouraged in taking developmental steps but they decide if and when they want to take them.
3.4 Communication and interaction with each other
- Children are treated with appreciation. They learn by good example. Hence, a respectful and appreciative conduct is practiced between the adults as well.
- We use a positive and cultivated language in the Kita. Derogatory, racist language and swear words are taboo for adults. We clarify to children words that are not tolerated in the Kita and explain their meanings in an age-appropriate manner.
- The Kita provides consistency in caregiving and supports building of bonds with employees and other children.
- We communicate with children in an age-appropriate language. Rules are explained and justified where possible.
3.5 Protection against dangers in everyday Kita life
The Kita has a safety concept. It contains the following subjects: sickness/injury, emergencies/first aid, safety when dropping-off/picking up children, safety during playing, poisons/hazardous substances, fire safety, dangers from electricity.
- Trained personnel/staff is constantly present and available (also during drop-off and pick up times).
- Dangerous places within the care facility are secured according to pedagogical standard regulations (such as staircases, cooking plates, sharp edges, slopes etc.)
- Cleaning detergents, medication and other dangerous items are stored in a place inaccessible to children.
- Excursions outside of the care facility are planned ahead of time and are only conducted with a sufficient number of accompanying early care practitioners.
- Activities with higher hazard potential (bicycle riding, roller skating) are only conducted with appropriate safety measures (such as helmet, knee and arm pads).
- The Kita’s employees are familiar with the most important rules of first aid and the procedures in case of fire.
- Emergency numbers for fire brigade, police and ambulance are attached in plain sight for all employees.
- The employees age-appropriately inform children about hazards in their surroundings.
- The Council for Accident Prevention (BFU) also supplies tips for the prevention of dangers in several publications.
4. . Recognising and taking action in case of transgressions
Transgressions are not always easily recognisable. Sometimes, one does not witness them oneself but “hears” of them. It is also possible that a caregiver has a suspicion that a child is experiencing violence within its family. Looking closely and recognizing signs can be learned. Working with this subject already sensitises and helps recognise misconduct.
4.1 What to do when you have knowledge of a child´s abuse?
If you have knowledge of abuse of children or suspect that a child is being abused, take your suspicion seriously and do not ignore your gut feeling. It is better to act too early once than to act too late or not to act at all.
Take it seriously when a child talks about violence. Deliver the important message: it is not your fault!
Fulfil your role as an early years practitioner responsibly. Observe and gather all the information you have. Save the information in written form.
Contact the Kita principal immediately when you have suspicion or knowledge of a wrongdoing. A plan of action will then be decided together. If the principal does not react, contact the next higher authority (for example the responsible body for the care centre). If there is no direct higher authority, contact a specialty unit. Depending on the form of violence, different paths of action should be taken.
- In case of neglect and physical punishment, the abusive person should be approached and talked to first as early as possible. The goal is not to find culprits or punish, but to find out how the persons can be helped in order not to use violence again in future.
- Should the abusive persons be employees of the Kita, they have acted against the rules (as they are informed of the position of the Kita and the zero-tolerance policy, see 3.1). Clear goals must be agreed on and control measures must be installed. Should another case of misconduct happen, legal sanctions would follow.
- In case of abusive parents, the goal is to support them sufficiently enough to refrain from using violence in future.
- In case of sexual violence direct confrontation of the suspected abusive person is to be avoided (see guide for intervention in case of sexual abuse) and a specialty unit should be consulted.
If violence is severe or there is acute danger (massive pressure on the child or danger of escalation), a specialty unit should be contacted.
It is important to act transparently, also with the involved children (depending on age), so a ‘new’ breach of trust does not happen. For example, the child should be informed what the next steps are and what they mean.
Further action can be discussed with specialty personnel (specialty units). One option is to inform the responsible authority (National Authority for the Protection of Children and Adult’s Rights). This authority has the responsibility of starting investigations and initiating measures to curb any hazardous situation whenever a child’s welfare appears to be in danger.
The Kita has a list of specialty units which can be contacted and asked for help, should the need arise.
5.1 Declaration of commitment
According to the suggestion of Kibesuisse, the guidelines for the prevention of physical and psychological violence are handed in with and are an integral part of the employment contract.
By signing, the employees confirm they have read the guidelines and commit to comply with the outlined principles.
First Name: ____________________
Date of Birth: ____________________
hereby confirms that he/she has read the present guidelines for the prevention of physical and psychological violence.
II have not been convicted of a crime that, due to its severity or nature, calls my ability to care for children into question.
I share the pedagogical and operational principles stated in item 3 and commit to comply with them. I am aware that steps according to penal, civil or labour law will be initiated in case of violation.
I also commit to inform the principal of the institution if I have knowledge of or suspect physical or psychological violence towards children who are cared for in the day care centre or the after-school care facility.
Place and date Signature