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 24-28th, our Y will be participating in the Five Days of Action for Child Abuse Prevention. Here are just a few ways you can take action to help protect the children in our community.

Take the pledge

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:

  • Protect the innocence of all children
  • Become informed on preventing and recognizing child sexual abuse
  • Talk to others in my life about protecting children
  • Monitor one-on-one interactions between an adult or older youth and a child
  • Pay attention to children’s cries for help
  • Listen to children and believe them if they talk to me about abuse
  • Support efforts to end child sexual abuse.

5 tips you can use now

Leading child abuse prevention experts offer the following five tips for parents and caregivers to help keep the kids in their life safe:

  • Teach Children Body Boundaries: Teach your children the proper names for their private body parts and that no one is allowed to touch or take pictures of their private parts. (ParentingSafeChildren.com)
  • Teach children that surprises make people happy and secrets can make people upset or unhappy. If someone is asking them to keep a secret, they should tell their parents or an adult. (Darkness to Light, Stewards of Children, d2l.org)
  • Talk to other adults about child sexual abuse. Support and learning can occur when you share with another adult and raise awareness about sexual abuse and ability to influence others’ choices to protect children. (Darkness to Light, Stewards of Children, d2l.org)
  • Teach children Internet Safety Tips. Ask your internet provider about features that allow parents to block their children’s access to adult-oriented sites, “chat rooms” and bulletin boards. Talk to your children about what to do if their internet friends ask to see them in person or wants your child to send a picture of him or herself. (Prevent Child Abuse America, preventchildabuse.org)
  • Recognize the signs of abuse. When we see any signs of distress in a child, sexual abuse has to be something we consider. Rather than label, punish or manage the child, we can reach out with sensitivity and patience and ask about what is bothering them. Signs don’t always mean sexual abuse, but signs can be a reason to take more interest in the child. (Darkness to Light, Stewards of Children, d2l.org)

Become a Steward of Children

Join us on Tuesday, May 9th, 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.

> Register by May 5th to reserve your spot.

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, we have adopted a series of 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 cmahoney@attleboroymca.org or (508) 409-0774.

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.