When two isn’t company

A couple of people have emailed me to say that it’s now Rotary Club policy for Rotarians to always go out in twos – when they are driving an old woman to the shops, say, or leading children on a walk. Not for mutual support, but for each to ensure that the other isn’t abusing the young or old person in their care.

Child protection guidelines for sports training also insist that adults work in pairs. Oxford University, for example, advises that student coaches and volunteers must work in twos when they are supervising children in the changing rooms.

Other guidelines suggest that staff should always leave doors open when they are with students. The University of Staffordshire’s Child Protection Policy states that when lecturers are interviewing 17-year-olds, the ‘interview should be conducted in a room with an open door or visual access. Where this is not possible, the member of staff should ensure that there is another adult nearby’.

What does all this do to working relationships? Colleagues are being encouraged to spy on one another. Not to work together to bring children on, by sharing coaching techniques; nor to enjoy the company of fellow volunteers. Working environments that should be pleasant and mutually supporting are in danger of being turned into a panopticon.