[Linux-aus] Working with children (Education Expo)

Sridhar Dhanapalan sridhar at dhanapalan.com
Wed Jun 21 20:21:03 UTC 2006

As promised on the #slug IRC channel, I have made some enquires about what is 
recommended/required when working at a child-friendly event such as this 
weekend's Education Expo in Sydney. I have some friends who do this kind of 
thing for a living, and they have been very informative.

A police check is not necessary for an event like the Education Expo. If it 
was, I would imagine that the organisers would have made that clear. 
Nevertheless, it is highly recommended. If it cannot be done prior to the 
event, it can still be useful to have it performed afterwards. This applies 
to anyone and everyone who will be at the event, not just people who wear 
costumes and/or actively interact with children.

At all times, people wearing special suits (e.g. penguin costumes) should be 
accompanied by another person, acting as a minder. This is a precautionary 
measure, with the minder acting as a guide and witness to events. Such suits 
can impair vision and manoeuvrability, which is not ideal when you have 
children running around. Younger children can be careless and difficult to 
see. One must be careful not to accidentally knock a child over. Some older 
children can be aggressive towards people in suits, who often can't 
adequately defend themselves due to the lack of mobility.

A child can only be cuddled if a parent/guardian is present and explicitly 
allows it. Acceptable alternatives include high-fives and pats on the back.

If photographs are taken, they should be approved by the subject(s) first. A 
suitable excuse is that they are to be used for "promotional purposes". In 
our case, photos are just a fun way to get people involved. Presumably, we'll 
be doing something similar to what we did at CeBIT, where we offered to 
e-mail the photos to the subjects.

Suit wearers need to take some precautions for themselves. Firstly, they 
should drink plenty of water. Those suits can get very hot, and heavy 
perspiration is inevitable. It is recommended that nobody spends more than 
thirty consecutive minutes (or forty-five at an absolute maximum) inside a 
suit. Following their stint, they should spend an equal amount of time 
outside of the suit to allow for their body to hydrate and oxygenate.

I realise that some of these rules may seem unnecessary, but they are standard 
practice in the industry, given the unfortunate risk of litigation these 

Sridhar Dhanapalan  [Yama | http://www.pclinuxonline.com/]
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"There ought to be limits to freedom" - George W. Bush, 1999-05-21
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