“You will never understand what it means to be a parent until you have your own kids.” Those were words my mother told me time and time again growing up. Today, I found myself telling my son the exact same words (and wondering: where did I hear these words before?)
My son and I were having this conversation this morning about Ellie, my three-year-old granddaughter (who is the sweetest little girl in the whole wide world ☺). It’s amazing how things that never mattered to him a year ago, suddenly become super important and vital.
How will we keep Ellie safe at all times? How can we ensure her future, her schooling, her university, and her life? How can we be the best parents? The godliest parents? The most loving parents? We only want the best for her.
I perceive the world differently. As an anti-sexual abuse trainer and counselor, I look at matters from a safety perspective.
Ask a representative of the church or youth camp the following questions to help you identify what systems the organization has in place for preventing child/ teen sexual abuse.
I always have red flags about churches who feel offended or get defensive by our questions or queries. After all, the safety of our children and teens is our primary focus and should be theirs too.
What are some questions you need to ask yourself and the church or youth camp you will send your children or teens to?
1. Does your organization train staff about child/teen sexual abuse? How do you train them to spot grooming?
2. Does your organization have a Code of Conduct for adults working with children? Is this code made known to volunteers too? Do they sign on it?
Does the Code of Conduct outline clear expectations about boundaries:
i. Between staff and children/ teens?
ii. For volunteers?
iii. For children?
iv. For parents?
3. How are staff and volunteer interactions with children supervised? Do you train staff and volunteers to spot grooming? I know I wrote this phrase before, but want you to read it again in case you missed it the first time.
4. Do you have screening and hiring processes for staff and volunteers (e.g., rigorous interview process, background checks, etc.)? Do you have questions in the application that make you spot a predator before he/she is hired?
5. How is staff misconduct handled?
6. What is the church’s policy for reporting child abuse or staff misconduct?
7. Is the organization transparent (i.e., open to questions about child protection and outside ideas)?
If you get answers that show that the church has thought, acted upon and has a clear and documented plan concerning this matter, then it would be a reasonably safe place.
But again remember that no place is 100% safe. My father used to say, “You could never be too careful with your kids”.
And this is so true even more today.
You need to train your kids on my SKIT method: Say no, Keep private parts private, It’s not your fault and Tell someone.
If you would like to learn more, or you need training for you as parents, or for your church or for your kids’ school, you can contact us here.
If you want to know more about protecting your children, you can order my book, What Happens After #MeToo- tackling the Icerberg.