Commandment 9 of Rights-Based Communication with Children: Respect Confidentiality

Welcome to this series again. I have been hindered by the recent events of our great nation from continuing with this series I love so much. Thank God I am back and I think I back for good. I do not intend to look back again except we have an emergency to deal with. Also note that on Fridays, I will take a break from any topic I am addressing to dedicate time to my new column: ‘A Vote for U.N. Global Education First Initiative.’
Having said that, please permit me to share with us today Commandment 9 of Rights-Based Communication with Children: Respect Confidentiality.

Confidentiality breeds confidence and trust in our communication with children. It is a rule we must respect if we must get the best in our discussion with our children. What does confidentiality mean in communication with children? It means that when children discuss matters with us whether we consider it sensitive or otherwise, we do not discuss with the third party except as the third party is concerned in the matter either as an interested party or as a point of solution.
It is not everybody, who can handle information in respect of children.

One of the reasons, why children may not be comfortable in taking to their peers is that they may not be sure what their peers will do with the information. Such information when it gets into the public domain may become the child’s worst nightmare. Many children have become objects of bulling and ridicule because of an information about them, which is carelessly leaked to the public domain.

As primary and secondary custodians, we must learn to be discreet with our discussion with the children under our care. Many are too flippant to be confided in by the children under them. For example as a class teacher, the medical issues of a child in your class room are a confidential matter. The family issues, discussed with you are confidential. Many have turned matters of life and death to a child into a joking matter with their colleagues.

Many children do not talk to their caregivers today because the caregivers have not been disciplined in handling information willingly given to them by the child. I will like to share with you the story of a 12 year old girl in a boarding school. The girl has stopped wetting her bed since age four or so. One day she found herself in the pool of her urine on her bed in the middle of the night in the boarding house. She quietly woke up and took care of herself. None of her friends or hall mates found out. Concerned about the baffling incident, she confided in the hostel matron and sought counselling. Before she knew it the news of the ugly incident was in the public domain. The girl became an object of serious embarrassment. How did the matter become a subject of public domain? The unprofessional matron said she was trying to investigate the matter. The first question is that what is she trying to investigate? Secondly, why did she not seek her consent, even if there is something to investigate? The girl had to leave the school when the embarrassment and bulling was becoming too much for her to bear.

Lastly on the issue of confidentiality, it is important to note that if we are to use any information we obtain from a child in the process of our discussion with them either as a primary or secondary caregivers, we must seek their consent. Please note that where consent is not given, it will amount a breach of the child’s rights to go ahead and use such information. Kindly note that we must also seek the child’s consent or the consent of the primary or secondary caregivers, if we desire to get information with from them.
Please we need to be careful with this confidendial issue. Once our children cannot trust us, they stop talking to us and once they stop talking to us, we have lost them.
I think I should sign out here.

Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE.

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