Help, the staff are kissing the children

Help, the staff are kissing the children

November 3, 2023

We hear this one from time to time. Not because parents have expressed concern, normally because colleagues or management have raised it with us and asked how it should be addressed.

So what do we mean by kissing?

This can be where a child plants a kiss on the cheek of the practitioner, often at lightening speed and done because the child wants to. No one would suggest that this is wrong.

It’s similar to when a child tells their key worker that they love them, “thank you that’s a lovely thing to say” would often be the response.

Having a policy

You may have decided to give the staff guidance about professional love. It’s not uncommon. In a survey by in 2018, two thirds of nursery staff reported that they were not allowed to kiss children in their care. The poll revealed that 67% of the nursery owners, managers and staff questioned said they are not allowed to kiss youngsters at their nursery.

Induction training and staff meetings where “What would you do questions” are posed for their learning opportunities are a great idea. These can be particularly beneficial for a team to consider what they would do and what it means to love the children in our care without crossing boundaries there to protect children and practitioners.

Where it can be a concern

What would be considered concerning would be staff seeking opportunities to kiss the children for themselves rather than at the request of the child. Think about that time when your parent asked you to give Adult X a kiss because they are leaving. I can still recall how uncomfortable that felt to have to kiss someone I didnt want to kiss. What message does that send a child?

Children have the right not to be kissed for the benefit of the adult. Similarly we have had issues where a practitioner sought opportunities to stroke and cuddle the child and it wasn’t to soothe a distressed child it was for the benefit of the adult. This is where often a referral of the concern will be made to LADO.

Don’t be surprised by LADO’s responses

Your LADO will have thresholds and we have to respect their advice.

I can remember one situation where a LA’s LADO was asked about a concern that a staff member had been seen kissing a child. I’ll never forget it, they weren’t concerned that it was a safeguarding matter but had concluded it was probably unhygenic to allow someone else’s child to kiss you on the lips. I can’t disagree with that!

If you have any questions about managing staff please call us on 01527 909436.

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