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Working in a child friendly manner (Part 2)

Video with Gerald Imbali and Gurvinder Singh.

In the course last week we thought about the steps of case management and who might be involved in the process. What is important to children, however, is not just how we implement the steps of case management, but the trusting, child friendly manner in which we should work with children to fulfill these steps.

In this video, we hear Gerald Mballe, who is a volunteer with the Red Cross, speaking with Gurvinder Singh, who is the Child Protection Advisor for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC). Gerald speaks about the importance of feeling trusted by a care worker he met on his journey as an unaccompanied child.

We also hear from Silvia Gomez, who is the Global Advocacy Coordinator for the International Detention Coalition (IDC). Silvia tells us about her experience meeting an unaccompanied child and the importance that child placed on being treated with kindness.

We see that issues of trust and respect, being made to feel safe and genuinely cared for, are an important aspect of the relationship children have with the people they come into contact with. This approach applies to all of us – if, for example, we are border guards, police, social workers, alternative care providers, guardians, translators, cultural mediators, doctors, teachers, judges, lawyers, or someone else with a responsibility towards a child.

Some ways we can work in a child friendly manner include:

  • Always communicate and respond in a child friendly, caring, and trusting manner – and do not communicate in ways that seem authoritarian
  • Do everything possible to avoid working with children in a way that could stigmatise, frighten, or endanger them
  • Understand, respect, and be sensitive to such aspects of a child’s life as personal history, family relations, and cultural, religious, and social background
  • Be gender sensitive
  • Be respectful of such aspects of children’s lives as sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Meet in a child friendly place or space that is comfortable, safe and private
  • Do not work with children in public places where it may attract attention of others – in particular people who would try to exploit them
  • Make sure a child knows who you are, your role, why you are meeting, and what will happen afterwards
  • Remember to provide a child with all the information they need – in a manner appropriate to their age and other capacities – about their rights and entitlements, as well as the processes and procedures they may have to go through
  • Be clear about what is not possible and give a child time to think about what you have told them
  • Sense if a child is comfortable talking to you, reassure them, and give them a feeling of control about what is happening
  • Show empathy, express positive feelings, and explore the things they want to talk about
  • Let a child know you will respect confidentiality and only share personal information about them with others who need the information in order to support and protect them
  • Allow sufficient time to meet with them
  • Truly listen to them
  • Use and adapt different methods of communication that are appropriate for the age and capacities of the child, for example talking, drawing, painting, or playing
  • Do not pressurise a child and find other ways to seek information and verification about any subjects they find difficult to speak about – use child friendly materials and tools
  • Recognise when a child shows signs of distress
  • Take time to answer any questions a child may have, and at the end of a meeting, confirm that they understand what will happen next

The ‘See Also’ section below has links to other reading material that may be of interest to you.

This article is from the free online

Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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