Why Collect Data?
“Mathematics” and “measurement” are words that send many of us scurrying for cover, but in the world of organizational change, numbers play an important part in helping you gauge progress toward your goal of keeping children/youth safe. Consider, for example, beginning a weight loss or fitness program. Without periodically collecting numbers like weight, inches, heart rate, and blood pressure, how would you determine if you were making progress toward the goal of better health? Numbers collected over time can tell us if we’re heading in the right direction and, once we (hopefully) reach the desired goal weight, waist size, or heart rate, sustaining the accomplishment into the future likely depends on continued, periodic measurement. The same can be said for the programs, changes, and goals that you set in place to keep children/youth safe.
The overall goal of Safe Kids Thrive is primary prevention: to create an environment that prevents child sexual abuse before it occurs. A second goal is that if a child/youth in your care becomes the target of sexual abuse, human trafficking, or sexual exploitation, they would know how to distinguish safe from unsafe touching and relationships, and what to do—including how to seek assistance from a trusted adult and report the abuse. A final goal is that, should child abuse or neglect be suspected, observed, or disclosed to any administrator, supervisor, staff member, employee, or volunteer, that individual would have the knowledge, information, and resources to report it to the appropriate organizational and civil authorities, according to the law.
Metrics: Questions to Ask
With these goals in mind, as you invest time and effort to put a safety framework together, and seek to provide feedback to the organization, certain questions will naturally come up. We’ve included sample questions below that are “qualitative,” seeking answers that are more subjective, and “quantitative,” seeking objective information like numbers, percentages, and quantities that can help to gauge progress.
Qualitative Questions to Ask:
- How do we know if it’s working?
- Are children and youth in our organization any safer now than they were before these new programs and structures were put into place?
- Is our organization more capable of keeping children safe?
- If they are safer, what were the primary factors that had the greatest effect?
- If they are not safer, what factors lead to this conclusion and what needs to be changed, corrected, strengthened, or eliminated?
- How effective are our existing compliance and audit efforts?
Quantitative Questions to Ask:
- How many people are there in your organization who require safety training?
- How many have received the required training?
- How many are left to train?
- Have the safety materials been distributed?
- Has everyone also received a background and criminal history check?
- Are the safety curricula (if appropriate) being taught to your children/youth?
- Have all staff, employees, and volunteers received and signed the Code of Conduct?
- How many reports of suspected or alleged abuse and neglect have been filed?
- Have the reports been handled correctly (i.e., within the required timeframes)?
- How many prevention trainings does your organization provide, both introductory and ongoing annual learning?
Types of Data
Data is the key to answering these questions, and to developing, implementing, and sustaining a successful child sexual abuse prevention framework. Data provide insights about the ongoing programs, how they are being integrated into your organizations, what is working, what is not working, and what needs to be improved.
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