The Importance of Your Board in Abuse Prevention

Board members are a key component of delivering on your mission and ensuring the safety of your members and program participants. That’s why it is critical that your leadership and your board work together in order to prevent abuse from happening at your organization, and to make sure you have robust policies and practices in place.

The Role of the Board in Abuse Prevention  
While the board cannot get involved in every single detail of operations, it is a critical component of abuse prevention within your organization. Below are some ways that board members can support leadership in abuse prevention:

  • Strategy and oversight: As a diverse group of talented individuals, boards can be powerful thought partners in making sure abuse prevention is being integrated into all aspects of operations.
  • Securing resources: Like any important work, abuse prevention takes resources and it takes time. Board members can help make sure you have the resources you need to effectively implement your vision—including funding for staff, training, or physical interventions like cameras or environmental design.
  • Networking: No organization is safe unless the community around it is also safe. Boards can be actively encouraged to recruit partners and allies within the community—sharing knowledge and best practices, and raising awareness of your own organization’s work.
  • Being prepared: Given what we know about the prevalence of child sexual abuse, any organization that has served youth for a long time has most likely experienced some form of abuse during its history. Too often, when allegations emerge, it can be tempting to circle the wagons. However, a survivor-centered response focused on empathy and healing is both the best way to be consistent with your organizational values and put the needs and well-being of survivors at the heart of your decision-making.

As part of our efforts to help organizations educate their boards, we created a video focused on the topic of child sexual abuse, and what boards can do to both prevent and respond to it. We encourage you to share it with your boards, and to proactively initiate a discussion on the topic so that you can make sure that you are prepared.