It’s essential for your organization to create a culture that supports speaking up if inappropriate, harmful, or reportable behaviors take place.
Your staff and volunteers must be prepared and need to know, clearly and unambiguously, who they should be contacting and speaking to when they observe behaviors that are inappropriate, harmful, or violate your organization’s Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics.
What is a Reporting Structure?
A reporting structure should define the “chain” of people to whom reports are to be made when staff and volunteers observe inappropriate or harmful behaviors. It’s also important that they know they can use the reporting structure to question confusing or uncertain behaviors and practices. If your staff and volunteers see the individuals in your reporting structure as a source of information, clarification, and support—not simply as a reporting authority—it can be easier for staff to initiate contact with them. Encouraging staff to ask questions, in addition to reporting inappropriate or harmful situations and behaviors, can help build trust and establish a communication flow that results in a safer environment for all.
It’s a best practice to also have in place a “back-up” reporting option in case a report involves the behavior of an immediate supervisor or someone in direct-line authority to the person reporting, to ensure that the situation comes forward.
Consider publishing and distributing a one-page flow chart of reporting responsibilities that clearly shows the steps to follow, people to contact, and phone numbers to use if abuse is suspected. The chart should be posted in all public spaces.
Documenting each time monitoring checks occur emphasizes to staff and volunteers that the Code of Conduct is taken seriously and is an essential part of your child sexual abuse prevention efforts. You should record the periods during which informal workplace monitoring has occurred, along with the number and types of incidents observed or reported. Documentation in performance appraisals shows that more formal monitoring is taking place and promotes a personal and professional stake in helping to maintain a safe environment. These strategies help to ensure accountability, provide opportunities for group and individual recognition, and show that those who have come forward have had their concerns taken seriously. You can also use the data generated without attribution in internal audits and in updates to your organization’s stakeholders.
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