April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and our Y is joining with YMCAs all across the country to take action and raise awareness about how to prevent child sexual abuse. From April 16-20, our Y will be participating in the Five Days of Action for Child Abuse Prevention to encourage adults in our community to STEP UP & SPEAK OUT. Here are just a few ways you can take action to help protect the children in our community.
Learn more about the Y’s Child Protection Policies & Practices
At the Attleboro YMCA, we believe it is our duty and obligation to protect every child who walks through our doors or participates in one of our programs. To ensure your child’s safety, our staff must adhere to the Y’s Code of Conduct and Child Protection Policies that includes:
- Staff & volunteer screening and hiring policies: Background checks (CORI and SORI) and reference checks are conducted on every Attleboro Y staff and volunteer.
- Staff & volunteer training and education: All Y staff and volunteers are required to take a Child Abuse Prevention training at the time of hire. We also require staff to take Child Abuse Prevention refresher trainings every year.
- Member screening: The Y conducts a regular check of our membership, program participants, and visitors to ensure there are no Level II or Level III sex offenders using our facilities.
- Program supervision and operation: At no time is a child alone with a staff person where they cannot be observed by others. All Y programs abide by the “Rule of Three,” where staff and children are in groups of at least three—one staff with two children, or two staff with one child—whether working on a project, transitioning to another activity area, or going to the restrooms.
- Restrictions around babysitting and outside contact: Staff and volunteers must refrain from interactions with YMCA program participants under 18 years of age when they’re outside of the YMCA program activities. YMCA staff may not babysit, provide care or instruction, or maintain relationships outside the YMCA with any children or families they meet through YMCA programs.
- Responding to allegations of child abuse: All staff members have been trained in reporting child abuse/neglect and are considered mandated reporters. This means that when a child comes to a staff member with a report of abuse or if a staff member suspects that a child is the victim of abuse, that staff member must forward that information on to a supervisor, who if deemed necessary, will place a call to the Department of Child and Family Services. If it is believed that a staff member is abusive or neglectful, that person will be removed from working with children. Pending the outcome of an investigation, it will be decided whether to reinstate, suspend or terminate the staff member.
Child protection is a community initiative that requires teamwork and cooperation from all sides. In order to keep children safe at the Y and in the Y’s programs, we need your help. We ask that you review these policies and follow the YMCA’s guidelines.
If you have questions about our policies or our child protection initiatives, please contact Senior Child Care Director Carol Mahoney at firstname.lastname@example.org or (508) 409-0774.
Take the Pledge to Step Up & Speak Out to Protect Children
We’re encouraging all adults in our community to take the Pledge to Protect Children. Stop by the Y’s Welcome Center this week to add your name to the list of caring adults who pledge to:
- Step up to protect children from sexual abuse
- Speak out to let other adults know protection is our responsibility
- Step up and be a trusted adult to children
- Speak out with other adults about making protection a priority
- Step up to change our culture to one that protects children and puts them first
- Speak out and tell children that they should tell an adult if they ever feel uncomfortable
- Step up to insist that the organizations in my community do everything they can to end child sexual abuse
- Speak out to support the people and institutions working to end child sexual abuse and encourage others to do so as well.
5 tips you can use now
You’ve already signed the commitment card to protect kids. Now what? Below are small actions you can take that will make our community a safer place for children and families.
- Ask a friend to sign a commitment card and join you for the Five Days of Action.
- Discuss the importance of body safety and boundaries with your family
- Think about times when your child is in one-on-one situations with other adults or larger youth. How can you make these interactions observable and interruptible?
- Tell your kids to trust their gut feelings and to speak up when someone makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Ask your kids about their online experiences and learn about the sites they use.
Become a Steward of Children
Join us on Tuesday, April 24th, to take part in Darkness to Light’s two-hour Stewards of Children Training and learn how you can be part of a nationwide initiative to help create a safer environment for all children.
The Darkness to Light Stewards of Children® is an evidence-informed prevention solution that drives awareness, increases knowledge, improves attitudes, and changes child protective behaviors. It offers practical prevention training with a conversational, real-world approach. The 5 Steps to Protecting our Children can be used by families, communities, recreation facilities, faith centers, educational institutions, and a wide variety of other youth serving organizations to create safer environments for children.
The Y will offer this program at no charge to all adults in our community.
Report any incidents
If you feel that any members or staff are behaving inappropriately at any time, we encourage you to report any issues to our Management Staff. However, the Attleboro Y has also set up a confidential Ethics Point hotline and website for members and staff to report any issues related to child safety, inappropriate conduct, harassment, or anything that seems unethical or makes you uncomfortable while at the Y or taking part in one of our programs. Call 844-809-9456 or go to attleboroymca.ethicspoint.com.