Know. See. Respond.
Statistically, we know that every organization where children are present is vulnerable to the threat of abuse. Know. See. Respond., a model originally developed by YMCA of the USA, provides a powerful framework for preventing abuse by developing multiple layers of protection across your entire organization:
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Below is a brief description of each of the elements of the Know. See. Respond. model:
It’s important that all staff and volunteers understand your organization’s child sexual abuse prevention policies and procedures. This will prepare them to know what warning signs of abuse might look like, as well as what they need to do if they spot them.
Parents and guardians should feel confident in your organization’s practices when their child is in your care. That’s why it’s important that staff and volunteers are able to convey what layers of protection your organization has put in place.
The key to preparing your teams and community members is understanding this simple fact: We rarely catch abusers abusing. We catch them breaking rules. That’s why it’s important to focus on training staff, volunteers and community members alike on red flag behaviors, and on enforcing these rules at your organization:
- No Inappropriate Touch or Language: Use only appropriate language and appropriate touch. In addition to verbal encouragement, this can include high fives, side-hugs and handshakes.
- No Alone Time: Make sure all conversations are observable and interruptible.
- No Favoritism: Treat every single child with the respect and attention they deserve.
- No Outside Contact Between Children and Staff: Keep all interactions professional and transparent. Use official channels for communication.
Once you know and understand the risk of child sexual abuse, and understand what to look for, you need to know when and how to respond. This is especially important because there may be times when a child, directly or indirectly, discloses acts of abuse to you—and it is also possible that you’ll uncover direct evidence of abuse.
If there are reasonable suspicions of actual abuse taking place, then it is often your legal duty to report such suspicions to law enforcement. When responding to or reporting disclosure, discovery or reasonable suspicions of abuse, how you respond is extremely important both for the healing of that child and for the process of investigating and uncovering the truth.