Making Youth-Serving Organizations Safer

Community representatives of youth-serving organizations recently came together to discuss the prevention strategies their organizations have in place to protect children/youth from the possibility of abuse; challenges their organization face in developing or implementing these strategies; and how to respond to allegations of child abuse.

The National Children’s Advocacy Center (NCAC) hosted a training for community service providers, “Prevention Child Sexual Abuse in Youth-Serving Organizations,” to address these issues. Over 40 representatives from non-profit agencies, daycares, sports organizations, schools and religious groups learned about mandated reporting of suspected abuse and the importance of prevention policies.

The key components that were covered included screening and selection of employees/ volunteers, guidelines related to interactions between individuals, monitoring of behavior, space design, responding to inappropriate behavior and training staff members.

Every year 35 million adults come in contact with more than 70 million children and teens through youth-serving organizations (Sauls & Audage, 2007). This usually is in the context of a positive and nurturing environment, but it can be provide opportunities for sexual misconduct and abuse to occur.

Presenters on mandated reporting were Gabrielle Helix and Jason Scully-Clemmons, Assistant District Attorneys, Madison County District Attorney’s Office, and December Guzzo, Forensic Interviewer, NCAC. The prevention information was covered by Deborah Callins, Prevention Director, NCAC, and Beth Jackson, Community Education Program Manager, NCAC.

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