Disclosure and consent to participate for children and young people
Children under 16 need a caregiver's consent to participate in an activity or evaluation. There are also some specific legal requirements around disclosure.
Consent to participate
When working with preschool and young children, you'll need to obtain informed consent from both the children (where possible) and their caregivers.
It's generally recommended to get the consent of parents and caregivers for children aged 16 or under — but some sexual violence prevention initiatives prefer to seek consent from younger teens themselves (eg ages 12–16) assuming that children who are experiencing sexual violence from a parent or caregiver won't be given permission to participate.
When seeking consent from parents or caregivers, note that:
- children and caregivers may feel obligated to participate, particularly if activities are presented as part of everyday schoolwork
- children may only participate because their parents give consent, and children who would like to participate may not be able to if their parents refuse consent
- if you choose an opt-in approach to participation, at-risk children may not return consent forms, or may even be refused consent to participate in case abuse is exposed.
Dealing with disclosure
Before running a prevention activity in a school, make sure there's a policy in place to deal with any disclosure of sexual abuse during implementation and evaluation.
There are also some legal requirements that may affect handling disclosure with children.
Mandatory child protection policies
Child protection policies are required under the Vulnerable Children's Act 2014 for:
- District Health Boards
- state services (the Ministries of Education, Health, Justice, and Social Development, NZ Police, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and Te Puni Kōkiri)
- funded or contracted partners of these state services.
Voluntary child protection policies
Schools and early childhood centres will often have their own policies on dealing with disclosure of abuse or neglect. The Ministry of Education has a set of protocols to guide schools and partner organisations in responding to child abuse and neglect. The guidelines emphasise prioritising the child's safety and taking a consultative approach.