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As the New Year approaches, many of us begin thinking about resolutions and creating new habits or strengthening existing ones. The spirit of resolution-making is an ideal time to commit to safety at your Youth- Serving Organization (YSO). Pledge to prioritize child sexual abuse prevention in the New Year and with the following suggestions:
Conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your prevention efforts. Analyze your child safety and abuse prevention framework. Measure progress and ensure your child sexual abuse prevention plans are achieving desired outcomes.
Promote a culture focused on the shared responsibility of all staff to keep kids safe. Guide staff and volunteers to hold each other accountable for appropriate behaviors and report inappropriate behaviors. Encourage open communication and transparency to build trust and create a sense of agency in prioritizing safety.
Provide staff trainings on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse. Begin the New Year with refresher training and provide additional training throughout the year. Your training program should heighten awareness of your commitment to safety and help create a culture of zero-tolerance for abuse.
Ensure all staff acknowledge their role in preventing abuse and protecting kids. Verify all current staff and volunteers understand, agree, and sign the Code of Conduct. Outline a Code of Ethics that includes guiding principles and standards for all interactions with children and adults.
Reinforce appropriate behaviors, redirect inappropriate behaviors, and report harmful behaviors. Remind staff of child abuse reporting laws and your YSO’s reporting protocols. Discuss expected behaviors during staff meetings, supervision, and in ongoing communication with staff and volunteers.
The New Year is an optimal time to re-commit to keeping kids safe at your YSO. Take this time to explore all the Elements of Prevention. Make child abuse prevention a priority this year!