Necessity for policies
Every organization that serves youth has an obligation to have very thorough child protection policies and protocols and to train their staff to insure each person who works with children understands and complies with the policies and procedures.
Parents and caregivers also have a responsibility; to be sure the organization they entrust their children to have put in place policies and procedures designed to give each child a safe environment. You must also have the courage to walk away from any organization that has not invested the time and energy (and even the care) to do all it can to provide the best possible experience for children.
The first thing a parent should do when considering any youth-serving organization or church is to ask if there is a policy or code of conduct AND ask to see it!
Don’t assume. Ask! If you ask, most organizations will say “yes.” But if you ask to see it and they can show you either a policy or a code of conduct you can have more assurance the organization has done the work to create a safer environment for the children. By contrast, if an organization can’t produce either a policy or code of conduct for you chances are they have filed it away somewhere. At that point you can’t be sure how current that policy is, how well trained their staff is and if they actually follow the policy at all. In fact, you can’t be sure they actually have any policy or have trained their staff.
You must be willing to walk away for an organization that has not taken the time or made the effort to have the safest possible environment for your child. Why would you entrust your child to an organization that has not put forth this effort? Find another organization that values children enough to do the work that is required to be considered a safe place for kids.
A thorough policy requires the organization to do background checks, screen all employees and volunteers and provides guidelines when the policy is violated by an adults. It should also require ongoing training is how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. And it should have clear reporting protocols in the event of a violation or discovery of abuse. It also serves as a deterrent to anyone who is considering working for or volunteering for an organization in order to gain access to children.
When parents insist on policies and organizations care enough to invest the time to write, implement and train staff and volunteers, together they have just raised the level of protection for each child, your child.