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Talking to young people and parents about safety

FS120338 (Published July 2021)

Why is safety important ?

Keeping everyone safe in scouting is everyone’s responsibility, creating a culture of safety within Scouts will help to do this, We do this by making safety part of everything we do and not just when we think something is high risk.  Being safe is a fundamental skill for life for everyone.

Why do we do it?

Nobody wants anyone, their friends or others to get hurt.  Neither do they want their things to get damaged. We focus on working together with all involved in an activity, reflecting our Scout values, particularly Care and Co-operation. The trust and expectation of young people and their families and carers is that Scouts is seen as a safe place to develop and have fun.

How do we go about it?

It’s not about spoiling people’s fun but about adapting what we do to control any risks to ensure that all involved enjoy their adventure.

Not considering those risks could lead to people being harmed and it’s important to help all involved, young people or adults, to understand risks and what to do to avoid and manage the risk.  

Explain the activity and identify possible risks and what you can do to avoid the risk – make it fun – make it part of the activity.

Discuss with your young people what the activity involves, then ask them what dangers there might be from doing it.  Who could be hurt or how?  For example: an active game with Cubs might get them thinking about running, tripping, falling over; Scouts might be cycling and will think about the terrain or about how to brake safely.  This promotes a culture of reasoned understanding and buy-in to the controls needed to stay safe.

You'll talk about safety without realising it, your section code of conduct will outline certain behaviours which are important to keep everyone safe. Make sure that these are developed in discussion with young people and that they understand why they are being asked to behave in this way. Be sure to review these regularly and explain them to new members.

Reviewing how an activity went helps us know how we might run it next time. Taking time to reflect on the activity with the young people and adults together is an ideal opportunity for all to appreciate what they have achieved and learnt through the activity. These reflection sessions will also provide the opportunity to introduce thoughts about ‘how safe were people?’, ‘did anything get damaged?’, developing the young peoples understanding of safety.  This promotes the conversation about what they can improve for the next time (reviewing the controls).

Explain the activities / camp. Identify potential risks and reassure parents. Things like having contact telephone numbers, planned activities – who will be leading – sharing risk assessments.

Explaining how we keep young people safe to a parent will start early on in the journey of a new member joining, be open with parents about the kind of activities on offer and how these are managed, be sure to explain key information such as how the arrival and departure at your meetings is kept safe, how you have guidelines for behaviour to keep everyone safe and what happens if an incident does occur. Some parents may be more inquisitive than others, so don't be concerned if they ask for information on the training leaders undertake or if you've had incidents occur. Its also fine to have parents stay and observe the meeting so they can see how you put this into practice, a short observation can be really reassuring to a parent in the early stages of a young persons involvement with us.

Sharing your programmes with parents will keep them informed of what you are up to and also give an opportunity to share relevant information, like what footwear is needed on a certain night, how an activity is being managed if its a bit more unusual. If you have larger events or nights away you are likely to be providing a bit more information than the usual section meeting and so parents meetings or briefing sessions can be a great way to share more information. Remember not to just focus on the menu and what to pack, talk about how you will be managing safety whilst on the trip too.

What do we include?

Everyone can contribute to managing risk. Adults will bring experience based on maturity but young people also add to the understanding by including their expectations of the activity to be considered in the way it is run.

Talk out loud to other leaders and young people your planning, this helps in sharing knowledge and building young people’s future life skills, talk through who is involved, what they will be doing, where they do it, what training or instruction they need and what equipment they should have.