Our campuses are incredibly busy places, with so much going on at any one time. As college and university employees, volunteers and students, we have a responsibility to do what we can to make sure campus programs are safe.
This is especially true when we sponsor or work with campus programs that involve children. Children participate in so many camps on our campuses. Over the summer months we see children on campus attending athletic or academic camps, but children are attending camps at almost any time of the year.
Research shows that:
- Almost 700,000 incidents of child maltreatment were reported in the U.S.
- Three-quarters of victims were neglected.
- Approximately 17 percent were physically abused.
- More than eight percent were sexually abused.
Therefore, it is important that organizations provide training to camp staff and volunteers regarding strategies for recognizing, preventing and reporting child abuse.
Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse
Child abuse is an act or omission that endangers a child’s physical, mental, or emotional health. It can come in many different forms, such as neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and/or sexual abuse.
Essentially, there is no single profile of a person who might be involved in predatory behavior. But there are signs to watch for. These signs are often referred to as boundary invasions and can usually be seen during a process called grooming.
Persons who are involved in sexual misconduct with children may be:
- Male or female.
- Popular with children or viewed as strict.
- Coaches, camp counselors, support staff, or other camp or activity participants.
Grooming generally involves a series of boundary invasions. This may involve an adult:
- Taking an undue interest in a child or having a special relationship with a specific child.
- Giving money or gifts to a specific child for no legitimate reason connected to the program or camp.
- Behaving like a peer to a child.
- Touching a child in an inappropriate way.
- Making sexually provocative comments or telling dirty jokes.
If you see signs of grooming and boundary invasions, report your concerns! Your report may be the key to stopping the abuse and getting a child the help needed.
5 Critical Guidelines to Implement on Your Campus
Each college and university has a singular goal on this topic: keep children safe. The most important question, then, is how do we do this? The answer has many pieces.
Here are five critical guidelines our Camps on Campus: Keeping Minors Safe course:
- Conduct background checks on all employees and volunteers who work with children.
- Implement a screening process for everyone who works with children, with no exceptions.
- Provide a written document setting out behavior expectations, to be signed by employees and volunteers.
- Design programs to limit one-on-one interactions and minimize problematic interactions.
- Prohibit communication between children and staff outside of the program.
Protecting children who take part in your camps and programs is one of the single most important obligations of a college community. Every person has responsibilities to make sure you do everything you can to prevent harm to children and to report suspicions to the proper authorities if you think something might be wrong.
Keep Minors Safe
SafeColleges Training has a newly developed courses to help better protect minors on their campus. Training users will learn how to recognize, prevent, and report child abuse.