Abuse Prevention Information for Parents
As much as we would like to believe otherwise, this world is not necessarily safe for kids. Child abuse is constantly occurring, sometimes even within the safe haven of your association’s community. Although you work diligently to combat the problem, you still need help. Critical partners in your fight are the parents, who, when well informed about your child safety protocols, can greatly assist your constant vigilance of all who have potential access to kids. Enlisting parental aid by communicating standards and providing a way to report variance from standards can greatly enhance your feedback and supervision mechanism.
The following should be established zero-tolerance policies that are regularly communicated with parents. Parents should be regularly encouraged to report any deviation from these policies immediately.
- A child should never be alone with a staff member (but may be separate, if in full view of others).
- Children should not be contacted by staff except for issues relating directly to currently ongoing activities (i.e., no letters, email, telephone calls, visits, non-association-based excursions, etc.).
- Children should never receive gifts of any kind from individual staff members.
- Children should always be transported in association-identified vehicles (or appropriately identified vendor-operated vehicles), never in a staff member's personal vehicle, and never alone.
- Staff members should not baby-sit members or program participants. If the baby-sitting relationship pre-existed the relationship through your organization, your CEO could make an exception, but a specific acknowledgement and waiver (i.e., the Unsanctioned Childcare Waiver form on our web- site) should be signed by the parents and the babysitting staff member and retained by your facility.
- Parents who become aware of hazing, bullying, or similar behavior should report the incident to facility administrators. Such behavior is often the precursor of peer-to-peer abuse and must be addressed.
- Children should be treated equally with respect to gender, race, religion, culture, or ability. This is policy is upheld for both peers as well as staff members.
- Children should be encouraged to discuss their experiences with their parents and to identify any behavior or activity that made them uncomfortable. Parents need to be aware that programs like gymnastics and aquatics require some physical contact between adult and child by to provide the necessary instruction, coaching, and spotting. A single touch in a normally inappropriate place may not be an inappropriate touch if it occurred while trying to prevent an injury, etc.
- Staff members and authorized volunteers should have organization-issued identification, preferably with photograph. The identification should be visible whenever they are working with children.
- Children must sign into and out-of programs each day. Children in programs requiring adult drop-off and pick-up (e.g., childcare) will only be released to pre-authorized individuals.
- Parents should be provided with the names of at least two separate individuals employed by the association whom they may contact if they believe there is an issue of any kind that needs to be addressed.
- Participants and/or their parents should be polled at each program's end both to identify strengths and potential problems and to evaluate the relationship between expectations and experiences.
- Statutes in most states require your facility to report cases of suspected abuse to the authorities.
Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.