Ideally, all children/youth should receive training and education on issues of personal safety and abuse prevention. However, not every organization is required to or responsible for providing prevention training to the children/youth who attend their programs or utilize their services. In these cases, codes of conduct, mission statements, handouts on rules and regulations, orientation meetings, and other means of communication can be used to define what it means to be safe for children/youth.
If provided by your YSO, personal safety and child sexual abuse prevention training should be age-appropriate to promote child/youth understanding of—and confidence in—your organization’s strategies to keep them safe. Both the Child Welfare Information Gateway and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center have resources available to help you select and evaluate available training programs.
If it’s within the scope of your responsibilities to provide training for children and youth, here are some elements that should be included as you select/adapt your program for this audience:
- A statement of their right to be safe and cared for.
- Basic, age-appropriate information about emotional, physical, sexual abuse, neglect, bullying, and harassment.
- Prevention strategies to help keep them safe in their home, family, community, and on the Internet.
- Where and how to report abuse, bullying, and harassment.
- How to help a friend who is being abused, bullied, or harassed.
- The characteristics of healthy versus unsafe relationships.
- Violence prevention approaches in dating and relationships for older children/youth.
- The fact that organizations like yours have a responsibility to keep children/youth safe and must report abuse (mandated reporting).
Critical child sexual abuse information may also be provided through partnerships with local schools or other organizations already providing child sexual abuse prevention training for youth, including:
- General information about child sexual abuse, including what constitutes appropriate, inappropriate, and harmful behavior from adults and other youth.
- The fact that no one, including other youth, has the right to force, trick, or coerce them or other children/youth into sexual situations, and sexual offenders—not their victims—are responsible for their offending behavior.
- How to interact appropriately with each other, and the importance of reporting sexual abuse.
- Whom they can report to when they experience or observe behaviors they believe are inappropriate or harmful.
If your YSO is interested in implementing a child personal safety program, seek information and assistance from other organizations that have already created and implemented one.
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