I had a friend this week take a screen shot of his youth protection training certificate and send it to me with a positive note about how comprehensive it was and how he feels he is better equipped to coach.
A different friend reached out to me this week with concerns about boundary violations she was seeing in the actions of her child’s coach. When she asked the organization that oversees the coach about the training and policies offered, she was told that there are none as “abuse doesn’t happen here.”
As both experiences played out in the same week, it served as a double reminder of the importance to equip youth serving organizations and parents with tools for prevention. Most adults want what is best for children, but the ones who don’t are drawn to communities where they will be put in positions of power and control with youth where there is no training, no standards for behavior, no monitoring, and the mistaken belief that abuse doesn’t happen here.
If you are a parent, DO ask the questions, “What does your dance company/youth leadership program/mentoring agency do to reduce the risk of child maltreatment? Do you have policies? Do you have training?”
If you are a volunteer or staff that works with kids, DO advocate for quality training to better equip your team to serve the youth in your care. When training is done well, it helps with retention and helps spread the responsibility for child safety around so that everyone is invested in positive experiences for youth.
If you are a leader or board member for a youth serving organizations, DO take prevention seriously. Do the work to explore best practices, reach out to experts, and take family concerns seriously.
I do wonder what will be the wake up call that will get everyone on board on the importance of prevention in youth serving organizations. I thought it would be abuse cases in the church. I thought it would be Penn State. I thought it would be Dr. Nassar in gymnastics. We shouldn’t have to wait for more victims for adults to take ownership and make sure that the students they serve are getting the best level of care.