My son (2) recently started creche and it was my first time hearing the term “incident report”.
While playing with some classmates on the playground, one of the children bit him. A few minutes after the incident, the school principal sent me a text message about what happened. She also shared pictures of the marks on my sons belly and informed the other parents.
At that moment I was so impressed by the swift response from the ECD centre. Some parents, however, do not share my fortune.
‘They neglected my son’
Lerato Nkwe from Soweto tells Health For Mzansi that this was not the case when her son was injured at his daycare centre in December.
Practitioners responsible for her son’s care, neglected to tell the family that he had suffered burns.
“I received a call from my mom informing me that my son has been injured at daycare,” she says. “I drove to the school to get clarification on what had happened, but when I got there, the owner had taken my son to the nearest clinic because he was burnt. I asked the teacher if she did not check the water temperature before she put him in a bath and she told me it was a mistake and that was it.”
Nkwe laments that the matter was not communicated effectively.
Nkwe has since removed her son from that ECD. “It is pure negligence. I feel like if I was informed on time, he wouldn’t have gone through so much pain and trauma.”
Teachers need to communicate effectively with parents, she believes. “They are dealing with children with different behaviours and they are raised differently. So to understand my child, you need to be in constant communication with me, the parent.”
ECDs should act in favour of children
According to Gauteng social worker and author, Joey Dlamini, Early Childhood Development centres are required to adhere to a code of conduct to help deal with incidents where your child is physically harmed.
“Practitioners should talk to families about anything that happened to the child during the day. They should create a relationship that allows the family to raise their concerns,” she says.
Every parent wants to be reassured that their child is in safe hands. “By reporting small incidents parents are more likely to believe that teachers will report big incidents. It makes them believe that the teachers care for their kids. Most parents believe that they are the only people who can take care of their kids so taking them to daycare is a decision they reluctantly make due to circumstances beyond their control. So, teachers need to earn their trust and they do that through sharing information with them whether it’s small or big.”
Transparency builds trust
Ntombiyethu Mtambo from Gauteng says her daughter’s daycare informs them and is transparent about any incidents.
She believes that minor incidents, however, should be reported when a child returns home from the ECD. “I feel that for minor issues the communication can wait because it causes one to be anxious. I cannot focus on anything else but on the report I could’ve received at that [ later] time.”
For Dlamini, one of the few disadvantages of not communicating is that it breeds mistrust between parents and teachers.
“It is in worst-case scenarios where the little scratches turn into big ones. When parents discover that it was not the first incident, it is easy for them to blame the teachers or not trust their motives. Parents can blame themselves for not protecting their kids when they find out.”
Whilst we understand that there is a high rate of unemployment, Nkwe believes that some jobs are not for everyone. “If your job requires you to work with children, you must have a passion to be around them and not be driven by money because it is their lives at risk.”