Q: Is it appropriate to sack (fire) a youth worker for a relationship with a youth in the group?
A: Why, yes. Yes it is.
Easiest Q & A ever! OK, so maybe not.
You may also want to consider these three things:
1. Laws – You need to research the local laws where you live. You might not only need to fire them, you may also need to call the police and/or social services. If you are a youth worker where there aren’t clearly defined laws about adult and youth/child relationships, you may want to become a champion or advocate for the safety of the young people in your city or country.
2. Organizational Rules – You’ll also need to know the child protection procedures in your organization, as they may have actions that need to be taken in addition to any local laws.
3. Demographics – Even if your worker is, say, 24 and the ‘youth’ in your college group is 19 so over the age of consent and therefore an adult, most organizations still have guidelines (written or unwritten, but clearly understood) that you don’t get involved with your ‘clients’.
This is of particular concern if those clients are considered at all vulnerable. That can be as obvious as having intellectual disabilities, but it can also be less obvious. For example, an incoming college freshman who doesn’t know anyone and is lonely is – in my opinion – vulnerable on some level.
While a rare exception may be made regarding suspension or probationary periods, most youth work organizations, agencies and governments have strict rules about getting involved with ‘youth’ and therefore you should fully expect to have to fire someone who is found to be in that situation.
Question: Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do? What are your organization’s policies? Let us know in the comments below.
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