Here are three key questions that you – as an organization that serves children and youth – should be able to answer when parents ask them. After all, parents want their children to be in a safe and secure environment when they are learning an activity.
What is your employee and volunteer screening process?
A simple criminal background check is not an adequate screening tool. Most offenders have not been caught or convicted. In addition to the criminal background check, you should be doing in-person interviews and reference checks for all staff and volunteers. This provides a comprehensive screening process that you and your parents can have confidence in.
Do you have written standards of behavior for staff, volunteers and older youth who serve children?
It is important to have written standards of behavior that encourage athlete development and competitive spirit through methods such as praise and achievement-based rewards. These standards also prohibit risky behaviors such as isolated, one-on-one interactions and favoritism. These important standards can be enforced by both staff and parents. So that they are in plain view for staff, parents and your students, these standards should be posted in areas where each of these groups regularly congregates.
Are your staff members trained to recognize suspicious situations and behaviors and to respond appropriately if sexual abuse happens?
All staff and all volunteers must be trained to report standard of behavior violations and suspicions and any discovery of abuse. There should also be a designated reporting process for submitting these reports.
Resource: Nov-Dec 2013 USA Gymnastics Magazine
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