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Health/safety/jewellery/religion/opinions!


qu1dzy
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Hi All,

I am in the process of an anti oppressive practice module presentation and need a bit of help. I have to choose an area of oppression, link acts, reflection etc etc etc

My chosen subject is children wearing jewellery e.g hooped earings, necklaces etc for religious reasons and the health and safety implications for the child.

My policy for the pre school states that no child will be allowed to wear jewellery due to H and S so theoretically I am being a discriminator against some religions BUT am doing so for the best interests for that child the time he/she is with me at pre school.

 

Scenario 1 - New child - Hindu - must wear small tag (sos don't know actual name) on a necklace. Child tucked it in t shirt so couldn't see. Began playing with it, another child got caught up in it, clash of heads, split lip, bump on head.

I took necklace off, put in envelope and put in childs pocket. Wrote incident down, confirmed that mum had signed pre school contract stating that she has read all policies and procedures and promises to abide by them etc.

Mum picked up, I explained everything, all mum was concerned about was had the necklace broken as it was very expensive (no it hadn't). Mum explained about the tag and I explained the H and S implications and that the time he is with me, it is MY responsibility to maitain his H and S although I understand religion etc, mum seemed fine. Next day child comes in with a longer chain.

 

May I have some of your views and opinions on this scenario and how do other settings deal with religious jewellery in settings.

 

thanks

 

Net x

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We had a similar situation with 2 children last term. We didn't want to discriminate against the children but we were concerned about the H&S issues - one had a very long chain with a pendant on and the other child had large wrist bangles. We explained our concerns to the parents and asked if it was possible for the children to remove them when at preschool. This was not an option for the parents and we ended up asking parents to sign a sort of disclaimer to say that they had read the group policies, were aware of our safety concerns and acknowledged that they and not the preschool would be held liable for injury caused to their child or any of the other children if there was an accident. Fortunately there were no incidents but it can be a tough one to deal with from an equal opps point of view.

 

Sally

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Guest MaryEMac

We have a statement in our prospectus which says that we would prefer children not to wear jewellery but that if they do then the playgroup will not be liable for any injury to the child because of wearing jewellery or for the loss or breakage of the jewellery. We have a few children from Romany backgrounds and it is part of their culture to wear gold jewellery especially hoop sstyle earrings.

 

Mary

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This is a problem, isn't it!

 

I agree that if you make sure it's covered in policies etc, then you're probably OK - until the first time it's challenged.

 

Could I possibly suggest we all put our thinking caps on and try to come up with ideas - I will offer to try to coordinate them into some kind of semblance of order.... (oo-err! more work)

 

Sue :o

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we are having the same issues in our nursery too. One boy whose mother insists that he wears his dimond studded signet ring... she keeps saying that she 'forgets' to take it off :( I was today going to ban the child from playing on the climbing frame but as our head teacher was covering his group this afternoon passed the buck and asked her to speak to said parent :( shall have to find out what was the outcome and if he is still wearing the bling tomorrow xD

 

As for the religious element to this we have politely asked parents if at all possible could the child not wear it for the 2.5 hours they are in nursery due to H&S. Everyone seems happy to oblige. My only concern would be that if they didn't, depite signing a disclaimer... what would be the outcome if some other child was injured because the one with jewellery was allowed to wear it... is this clearer than mud :o .

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I was wondering about the legalities of the disclaimer we asked our parents to sign. If another child was injured because of the child wearing jewellry, who would the parents of the injured child have a case against? I'm sure that the preschool would be liable for the H&S of children in its care and I don't know if you can 'opt out' by getting a parent to sign a bit of paper. This is a really tricky area and I will be interested to see how other settings deal with it.

 

Sally

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Sally,

 

I would say you are on to a sticky wicket here! It is up to you as the provider to ensure that the children in your care are not put at risk from injury. Having identified that the wearing of jewellery is a health and safety risk - not just for the child in question but for other children too - then you are directly contravening this by allowing a child to wear it. In the case of an accident I imagine it would be you who were liable regardless of any disclaimer. Have you checked with your insurance company?

 

As far as I am concerned, if there is a medium to high risk then measures have to be taken to minimise these. If you make it clear to parents that this is part of your policies then they can choose to either abide by them or not, in which case they would have to go elsewhere. Providing it is made clear that the policy has been taken on the grounds of health and safety and is applied across the board (i.e. children wearing any jewellery whether it be religious or not) then there should not be a problem regarding equal ops.

 

Just as a ridiculous example! If a parent turned up who stated that they were part of a little known religious group who regarded the carrying of knives to be an important symbol of their faith and who insisted that their child should do so, then I think that you would have no hesitation in stating that your policies did not allow this. :o I know that this is somewhat extreme but you get what I'm saying!

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Hi,

Well thank you, I knew I could rely on you all for opinions. I beleive there is a religion (sikh) where the adult male must where a ceromonial dagger. A fellow setting refused access to a parent of hers that was wearing one and the parent was not pleased.

I agree that some parents will understand our side of the situation and will take off the jewellery for the session but then you have some parents who believe that we are discriminating against them.

Anonther one of my children who for religious reasons does not eat pork or any pork products but understands the H+S for the jewellery and obliges by taking off jewellery.

Another area I hadn't thought of was the insurance side. When I return to work I will investigate further.

 

Net x

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I don't think that you can allow any children to wear jewellery for Health and Safety reasons- you are not just thinking of the H&S of that child but also other children in the setting. Any disclaimer for one child wouldn't cover the other children and we are also responsible for their safety. I think that I would insist. If they don't like it them they will have to go elswhere. To prove discrimination I think that they would have to prove that you were being unreasonable. Let them do a test case if they wish. This seems to be a new problem as I have worked with children from many ethnic groups, and never come across any of this at all. With older children there do start to be issues with dress codes, but those have always been respected as they have never been H&S issues- like wearing leggings for PE and footless tights for swimming with older muslim girls.

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Are there any official statistics which cover the number of children who have accidents each year which are caused or exacerbated by wearing jewellery?

 

I think with regard to discrimination parents would have to prove that the setting was singling out a particular child on the grounds of his/her religion or cultural background. Presumably if the policy states a total ban on wearing jewellery this would be hard to prove. There would need to be a test case - similar to those high profile ones where children have taken their local authority to court over interpretation of uniform dress codes etc. However I would imagine that being the focus of such a court case would be highly uncomfortable to both setting and family - far better to be able to settle the matter amicably.

 

For those of you with policies banning the wearing of jewellery - does this cover the grown ups too? We don't have this policy (and reading your posts I have been pondering as to whether I should make one), but does that mean that practitioners would need to remove earrings, rings etc when at work?

 

Just thinking things through to the natural conclusion - I need to know all the implications of a policy before introducing it.

 

Maz

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I have wondered about staff as well. My wedding ring won't come off at all I'd have to have it cut! Children are doing things like cliimbing, swinging, and bumping heads together and staff are not, hopefully. Years ago I have seen children with earings caught, not a pretty sight. There is also an issue with staff replacing earings which fall out. I have known young children share each others jewellery and then it goes missing- enter an hysterical parent demanding to know where it is as it is a family heirloom. Why on earth do young children need it anyway?

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There is also an issue with staff replacing earings which fall out. I have known young children share each others jewellery and then it goes missing- enter an hysterical parent demanding to know where it is as it is a family heirloom. Why on earth do young children need it anyway?

So if I do have a policy there are a couple of excellent things to cover: staff will not replace earrings if they 'become removed' from children's ears and the setting cannot accept liability for lost jewellery under any circumstances!

 

As for why children need it, I think we can safely say that it says more about the parents' needs than the children's. I feel so sorry for those little mites who sit in the window of Claire's Accessories having their ears pierced while their parents look on.

 

Mind you, I seem to remember a friend of mine telling me years ago that in Spain they routinely pierce girls' ears at birth before they leave hospital! Or was that just a dream..?

 

Maz

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not just Spain..

worked on a maternity ward in a large London hospital where this often occurred... usually depended on the culture - at that time it was Indian and Caribbean mothers who were doing this.... (many moons ago when mothers stayed 5 days after birth)

 

We don't have a no jewelery practice, but recommend that it is not worn with reasons why, also stating not our responsibility if it gets lost.....

 

we get quite a few children wearing waist chains as part of their culture..... hidden under clothes until you take them to the toilet, and if they need no help would we actually know it was there?

 

Not had any problems over the years...perhaps we were just lucky, but do not plan to change our policies..... If we had a policy for children being not allowed to wear jewelery we would ask staff not to as well.. (same as when in garden if children wear hats so do the staff... acting as good role models for the children.)

 

 

Inge

Edited by Inge
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no we do not have a policy either but do ask in newsletters etc for children to refrain from weraing for H & S reasons and it getting broken or lost. We too (touch wood) have had no problems over the years ..... :o

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Many moons ago my son was sent home from secondary school for wearing a stud earing. He returned with a letter from me asking them about their equal ops policy because all girls were allowed to wear earings.

 

I am aware that some schools cover jewelry, rings and earings with micropore tape whilst children participate in sport/PE. This practice is also used in hospitals when undergoing an operation. Could be one way to reduce risks and allow parents freedom of choice with regards to how their children 'display' their cultural / religious heritage.

 

Peggy

 

p.s. I do now have a picture in my head of all the children wrapped up in micropore tape. :o

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I do now have a picture in my head of all the children wrapped up in micropore tape.

 

in my experience of applying the stuff it will be me ending up wrapped in it and not the child!!.

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Hi,

Been doing lots of research and basically there is no set policy or guidance for early years. The equality act 2006 part 2 is a guidance for schools for the discrimination on grounds of religion and belief but early years is not included.

I spoke to my CDO and she advised that this was a grey area and should look into a disclaimer for parents to sign.

 

Ah well, I plan to keep on researching.

 

net x

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