Physical contact

Physical contact – when is it OK

 

There is a broad range of situations where boarding supervisors may come into physical contact with a student. This is a difficult area for supervisors because they do not want their actions to be mis-interpreted, and they do not want to cross boundaries where their actions may be considered inappropriate or even illegal. Supervisors do not want to live in constant fear of being accused of inappropriate behaviour.

This is even more difficult when working with some cultural groups for whom physical contact is very natural and these students show their affection for staff by hugging or draping their arm over the supervisors shoulder. How can a supervisor avoid offending these students while maintaining boundaries? What is good practice with physical contact with students.

In thinking about good practice with touching students or physical contact with students, it is important to continually exercise great caution when coming into physical contact with a student and particularly a student of the opposite sex. Make sure that you are aware of your own organisations policies and procedures around physical contact with students and be very careful to comply with your policies and procedures, designed in your boarding context. The SA Government has produced Protective practices for staff in their interaction with children and young people, a publication which sets out clear boundaries.

 

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