The Safeguarding Office of the Archdiocese of Sydney have collaborated with us in building appropriate guidelines for engaging with children and young people online (under 18’s). The safety and well-being of young people should always be our primary concern when ministering to our young people.
If you’re a youth leader who is now running your youth group online, especially via video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet.
The following safeguarding measures must be taken:
- Set Expectations: Expected behaviours to be announced at the start of the communication by youth leaders. Consequences of inappropriate behaviour should also be explained.
- Appropriate hours: Communication with children and young people should be held in appropriate hours that have been approved by the supervisor and parent/guardian.
- Appropriate location: Communication with children and young people must be conducted from an appropriate location. Appropriate locations are living rooms, kitchens and home office areas. Inappropriate locations are private places like bedrooms and bathrooms. Young people are to be informed that they can only participate in group communication from an appropriate location.
- Appropriate clothing must be worn by all during communication.
- Monitor inappropriate content: Participants must not share any inappropriate text, images, videos, backgrounds or other inappropriate content. Any content that could be considered pornographic, bullying, derogatory, defamatory or in any way inappropriate will not be tolerated, this includes what participants say verbally.
- Parent/guardian communication and consent: Parent and/or guardians should be informed of the communication details between youth leaders and child or young person prior to taking place. Written parental/guardian consent needs to be obtained prior to communication. Download the Template Consent Form.
- Approval of your supervisor: Online communication with children and young people must be initiated by youth leaders and with the approval of their supervisor (usually the Parish Priest).
- Appropriate background: Youth leaders must ensure that the background during video calls is appropriate. Where ever possible use a virtual background as this will ensure participants can’t see what is happening in the workers home.
- Enable waiting room: If the communication service has a waiting room like feature, it should be enabled. Youth leaders should only admit children and young people into the chat who have permission from their parent/guardian.
- No private communication: No youth leader is to communicate with a child or young person on a 1 to 1 basis.
- Keep it in the calendar: All communication with children and young people should be noted in the youth leader’s and supervisor’s calendar.
- Two adult youth leaders must be present at all times when communicating with children and young people.
- Parent supervision: A parent or guardian should be in line of sight of young person when they are communicating in a group.
- Private chats must be disabled. This will prevent inappropriate conversations.
- File transfers must be disabled. This will prevent inappropriate content being posted.
- Screen sharing must be disabled. Only the host should be allowed to share screens.
- Communication is not to be recorded.
DOWNLOAD FACT SHEETS & TEMPLATE CONSENT FORM
- Template Consent Form
- Fact sheet: Information for Archdiocesan employees and volunteers (workers) engaging in face-to-face communication with children and young people
- Fact sheet Information for Children about Online Safety
- Fact sheet: Information for Young People about Online Safety
- Fact sheet: Information for parents and guardians on keeping children and young people safe online