Physical Contact and Intervention Policy
There may be many instances where staff and volunteers with deaf children and young people use physical contact as part of their role. Some of these instances are due to the nature of communication requirements in hearing loss. There are also occasions when it is entirely appropriate for other adults to have some physical contact with the child or young person with whom they are working. However, it is crucial that in all circumstances, adults should only touch children in ways which are appropriate to their professional or agreed role and responsibilities.
Not all children and young people feel comfortable about physical contact, and adults should not make the assumption that it is acceptable practice to use touch as a means of communication. When physical contact is made with a child this should be in response to their needs at the time, of limited duration and appropriate to their age, stage of development, gender, ethnicity and background.
It is not possible to be specific about the appropriateness of each physical contact, since an action that is appropriate with one child in one set of circumstances may be inappropriate in another, or with a different child. Adults, nevertheless, should use their professional judgement at all times, observe and take note of the child's reaction or feelings and – so far as is possible - use a level of contact and/or form of communication which is acceptable to the child for the minimum time necessary.
Physical contact should never be secretive, or for the gratification of the adult, or represent a misuse of authority. If an adult believes that their actions could be misinterpreted, or if an action is observed by another as being inappropriate or possibly abusive, the incident and circumstances should be reported to the CEO and an appropriate record made. Parents/carers should also be informed in such circumstances.