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There are many organizations across the country focused on preventing child sexual abuse. The following suggestions come from Darkness to Light (www.d2l.org), Stop It Now! (www.stopitnow.org), and Kidpower (www.kidpower.org).
1. Avoid common misconceptions made by youth organizations (www.d2l.org):
2. Screen your staff and volunteers
“Only people that we know and trust are allowed to work with our children.” 90% of children are abused by someone whom they know and trust.
- “We do background checks.” A background check is part of a child protection program, but it cannot be relied as the only method of keeping children safe.
- “We’ve never had an issue.” Organizations without child protection policies and procedures are easy targets for potential abusers.
- “That couldn’t happen here, we would know.” Statistics show that most instances of abuse go undetected.
- “We teach our children the difference between right and wrong.” While it is very important to instill strong values and virtues in children, their safety ultimately lies in the hands of adults.
3. Educate and train your staff and volunteers
4. Establish policies and procedures
“Screening” is not synonymous with “background checks.” Few cases of sexual abuse are reported, so background checks are not an end-all.
- Part of screening is selecting the best possible staff, not just avoiding predators. You should screen for people who fit with and support the mission of your organization.
5. Plan for the reporting of incidents of abuse
Many organizations prohibit one-adult/one-child situations. Consider adopting this policy. While one-on-one adult relationships can be very enriching for kids, they aren’t necessary in every situation. Parents can ensure their children have these relationships in a safe manner, but for your organization it may be best to limit one-on-one interaction.
- Define high-risk and low-risk situations for your organization. The determination of risk has to do with the extent to which a situation is observable and interruptible. (ex: low risk – practice on a field; high risk – coach and player driving to/from a game)
- Define policies for the situations relevant for your organization – i.e. overnight trips to games, driving with players, locker room time, etc.
- Download PCA's child-abuse prevention policies and procedures template
Resources for Leaders