Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Respecting a child's right to confidentiality is a must for child care professionals

African Child: Image by Africa 

There is a code of conduct that Child Care workers are expected to follow that is supposed to insure the children in their care are respected.  One of the areas of this code is centered on keeping a child's personal information and developmental information private. 

When a member of the Early Childhood community violates this aspect of the conduct code it causes me professional angst because the child's and the child's family has a negative experience from an unauthorized exposure of information. It is not a good look for our profession.

Imagine that you are a parent who has your child enrolled in a center.  You are looking on Instagram and see your son in a picture with the following comment from a member of the staff.
"He is thinking cuz sure can't talk,"
This is not an imaginary incident. This happened at Heavenly Haven in Virginia. Two year old Ethan's photo was posted on Instagram and discovered by his mother Melissa Jordan. 

Ethan was not the only child whose photo was posted with inappropriate remarks made by staff. Another child's photo was also posted with inappropriate comments regarding his teeth. 

The center operator fired two workers over this incident. A move that I fully support because this type of conduct is not acceptable within the child care professional community.  It is our job to work with children who are developmentally delayed and realize that it is our responsibility to help that child as much as possible in all areas of their development.

Social Media Policies are necessary in the workplace

This incident can be used as a teachable moment for center directors/operators regarding staff usage of social media. 

It is good business to have a written Social Media Policy for the members of any educational or business staff.  A written set of guidelines about what is acceptable usage of work related social media needs to be established to help avoid these types of incidents from occurring.  I did not read anything in the posts regarding this incident that indicates a Social Media policy of this nature was in place at the center.

The two workers involved in the incident were fired for failing to adhere to the center's privacy policy regarding children.  A valid reason for dismissal in this particular case and it would stand universally in any child care setting. However the operator of this center really needs to draw up a written social media policy that can be used at the center.

It is also obvious to me that the operator of this site is going to need to invest in staff development training. The lack of true sensitivity to any form of developmental delay is an indication that the staff person lacks a real foundation in the area of child development.  I am not even going to address the type of writing used in the comment regarding Ethan because what you see speaks its own brand of truth about her skills.  Believe me, I am really restraining from going in on this woman because it would be unprofessional for me to do so.

You can read the entire story about this incident on CNN.

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