Safeguarding and Police Checks
Society is changing, and increasingly, care is being given to the risks to welfare of young and vulnerable people. As a meditation teacher, you will undoubtedly have come across this in relation to vulnerable adults. However, this becomes all the more important when dealing with young children.
Firstly, this page cannot constitute legal advice. If anything, it constitutes advice to seek legal advice relevant to your country.
In the UK, there are two relevant processes: Police Checks and Safeguarding.
I thought that, given I was teaching with lots of kids around, I would find it easy to get a police check for this purpose. However, because I was never left with any of the children in my sole care, the organisations here in the UK that can arrange police checks weren’t willing to do it for me.
I will note that I do have a clean police check via a different route, it is just that I was unable to acquire one for this specific purpose.
In this case, it becomes important to make this clear to the parents. They remain in charge of their children. I have no childcare qualifications, and they are responsible for the welfare of their children.
So at this point, we have diverged into what, in the UK at least, is called Safeguarding. You will likely want to prepare for yourself a Safeguarding Policy, or extend your existing one. This could simply state things like the fact that you don’t take responsibility for children, that parents remain responsible, and that you are not to be left alone with a child, ever. This last point is as much to protect you as it is to protect the child. It would be a great shame if you were alone for 5 minutes with a child while a parent goes to the bathroom, only to return to a legal battle and accusations of abuse. Make it clear in your safeguarding policy what interventions you might take during a meditation session. For example, if you see a child about to hurt another, you may intervene, but you will immediately return the child to their parent. etc/etc.
It is probably wise to share a copy of your safeguarding policy with attendees before they arrive, and ask them to sign recognition of having read it before the class starts.
If you have the ability, have two of you present during your classes. This offers a level of safeguarding safety. But still, avoid the two of you being alone with someone else’s child.