People working with children have a responsibility and duty to provide a safe environment for them. They can have a big impact on children’s lives and development, so it is important to consider and uphold the children’s needs and rights and adapt these to the workplace. Being child-focused is based around the belief that ‘every child or young person has the right to a safe passage through childhood and the right to grow in an environment free from harm.’ It also means that ‘the child’s needs and welfare are the primary concern and the primary focus of practice. Professional knowledge and practice need to be examined in terms of the potential for furthering the best interests of children and young people.’
Source: https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/proflearn/cpat/documents/cpat_sec3.pdf. Accessed on 18/10/2016.
Child-focused practice includes:
- Listening to the child or young person
- Being understanding with them and trying to see things from their point of view
- Showing that you believe the child or young person and take them seriously
- Respecting them and their wishes
- Communicating with them on their level
- Treating them as an individual with rights
- Having realistic expectations
- Showing empathy and being patient
- Focusing on the child’s or young person’s needs
- Making sure they participate in decision making
- Maintaining appropriate boundaries
- Accommodating special needs and different cultures
- Promoting positive experiences and outcomes
- Making sure services are relevant, accessible and child-friendly.
Modified from source: https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/proflearn/cpat/documents/cpat_sec3.pdf. Accessed on 18/10/2016.
Children have the same human rights as adults, and they also have the right to additional special protection due to their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse. The main international human rights treaty on children’s rights is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which Australia ratified in 1990. This means that Australia and other countries worldwide have a duty to ensure that all children enjoy these rights. The convention sets out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all children are entitled to.
The core principles in the CRC, as stated by the Australian Human Rights Commission, are:
- Respect for the best interests of the child as a primary consideration
- The right to survival and development
- The right of all children to express their views freely on all matters affecting them
- The right of all children to enjoy the rights of the CRC without discrimination.
The Convention ensures that all children and young people are viewed as being entitled to the same human rights as adults with additional special protection. It also encourages children’s participation and allows their voices to be heard, so they have the right to form and express their own opinions.
Sources: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/childrens-rights/about-childrens-rights and http://www.unicef.org.uk/UNICEFs-Work/UN-Convention/. Accessed on 18/10/2016.
It is important that children and young people are given the opportunity to participate in age-appropriate decision-making to help them develop new skills and to give them a sense of responsibility. It is also important to be able toshow them that they are taken seriously and have the same human rights as an adult. This will encourage them to form their own opinions and express how they feel.
Below are some ways you can encourage decision-making:
- Offer them choices in everyday scenarios
- Ask them for help in choosing things
- Allow them to make decisions whenever possible
- Encourage them to interact with other children
- Teach them problem-solving skills
- Talk to them and ask what their interests are.