Keeping Our Youth Safe
OUR COMMITMENT TO YOUTH PROTECTION
As an organization that serves thousands of youth every year, the Y’s most important work is creating safe environments for all. Ensuring the safety and well-being of youth is foundational to helping youth learn, grow and thrive.
HOW WE CREATE SAFE SPACES FOR YOUTH
- Screening & Hiring: All new hires go through an interview process, three reference checks, a criminal background check and a sex offender check.
- Training: All staff members complete child abuse prevention training and receive education on creating a youth-safe environment. Youth Focused Staff members renew training every year.
- Volunteers: Volunteers who will have ongoing interactions with youth also complete thorough background checks.
- Policies & Procedures: We maintain rigorous policies and procedures that are enforced at all locations to ensure that youth in programs are supervised at all times and no single staff person is ever alone with a youth.
- Prevention: The Eugene Family YMCA partners with Praesidium, a team of experts in child abuse prevention, to assess all aspects of our programs and implement best practices. Additionally, the Eugene Family YMCA operates under the YUSA Child Protection and Aquatics Safety Membership Qualification Standards.
- Reporting: If any staff member or volunteer suspects or becomes aware of any inappropriate behavior toward a minor, they are to report the incident immediately.
- Eugene Family YMCA Staff are mandatory reports 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.
YMCA ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY
The Eugene Family YMCA has zero tolerance for abuse and will not tolerate the mistreatment or abuse of youth in its programs. Any mistreatment or abuse by personnel will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or volunteer service and cooperation with law enforcement.
The Eugene Family YMCA has zero tolerance for abuse, mistreatment, or sexual activity of youth in its programs. We are committed to providing all youth with a safe environment and will not tolerate the mistreatment or abuse of one youth by another youth. Conduct by youth that rises to the level of abuse, mistreatment, or sexual activity will result in intervention or disciplinary action, up to and including, dismissal from the program.
In addition, the Eugene Family YMCA will not tolerate any behavior that is classified under the definition of bullying, and to the extent that such actions are disruptive, we will take the necessary steps to eliminate such behavior.
If you have a safety concern about something at the YMCA, please share it below.
KNOW. SEE. RESPOND.
When these are put into practice, they help us create safer environments for youth to grow and learn.
Knowing about child sexual abuse can help us better understand what to look for and how to keep it from happening in the first place. For example, did you know that 1 in 10 children in the U.S will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday?
When we know the signs of abuse, we can intervene on behalf of youth.
If you suspect abuse, call the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline at 1-855-503-7233 to report abuse or neglect of a child or adult in Oregon.
If someone is being hurt or is in danger right now, call 911.
IDENTIFYING CHILD ABUSE
Child abuse can take many different forms:
- Emotional abuse is the use of threats or words to harm a youth’s feelings and self-esteem and the withholding of love and support. Examples include ridiculing, rejecting, blaming or communicating unrealistic expectations.
- Physical abuse is the deliberate injury of a youth by any person, including by another youth.
- Sexual abuse is any sexual activity between an adult and a minor or between two minors when one exerts power over the other. It includes genital touching, inappropriate hugging or kissing, playing sexually-oriented games and sexual intercourse. It also includes non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism, taking nude photos and communicating in a sexual manner by phone or internet.
- Child neglect is a form of abuse that occurs when a person responsible for the care of a youth fails to provide necessary food, clothing, medical care, education, affection, shelter or supervision.
Watch for these warning signs of abuse:
- Abrupt changes in behavior, anxiety, clinging, aggressiveness or withdrawal.
- Discomfort with physical contact.
- Fearfulness or depression.
- Abuse or bullying of other youth.
- Avoidance of a particular person or place, or refusing to go to a friend’s or relative’s home for no apparent reason.
- Sexual language or behavior that is not age appropriate.
- Unexplained bruises, welts, or burns.
- Unkempt or malnourished appearance.
- Disturbed sleeping or eating patterns.
- Sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
Why are youth afraid to tell?
- The abuser tells the youth that his or her parents will be angry.
- The abuser confuses the youth about what is right and wrong.
- The abuser tells the youth that they will hurt a family member if they tell.
- The abuser tells the youth that it is a game or a secret.
- Children think that it is their fault, or that they should have done something to prevent it.
- The abuser may encourage the youth to break rules set by their parents, causing the youth to fear punishment if they tell.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT CHILD ABUSE
- Educate your youth about self-protection, including information about strangers and good and bad touches.
- Ask them often if anyone has said anything or done anything that has made them uncomfortable or feel bad.
- Learn to control the stress level of yourself and family members.
- Recognize the fact that most abuse happens by people that youth know and trust.
- Become aware of your community resources.
- Know where your youth are and who their friends are.
- Learn to recognize warning signs of child abuse.
- Teach your youth its not okay to keep secrets from you; that they can always tell you the truth.
- The internet can place a youth in danger. Set up rules before letting your youth go online.
- Talk about who your youth can communicate with and what sites they are allowed to visit.
- Do not allow your youth to download anything without permission.
- Tell your youth to never share personal information such as their name, address, phone number, parent’s work address or phone number, or the name or location of their school without a parent’s permission.
- Encourage your youth to tell a trusted adult is they receive any message or come across anything that makes they feel uncomfortable, scared, or confused.
- Tell your youth they must never meet in person with anyone they meet online.
WHAT IF MY YOUTH DISCLOSES ABUSE
Your reaction has a powerful influence on how your youth responds. Here’s a good way to respond:
Stay calm : Staying calm at a time like this will be very difficult for you. Avoid overreacting or expressing shock or outrage. Try not to cry.
Listen: Listen carefully to what your youth tells you. Your youth will be scared and may not give you many details. Ask questions like: “Can you tell me more about it?” “What did the person do?” “When did this happen?” or “How many times did this happen?”
Comfort your youth : Let your youth know that you love them very much and that they have done nothing wrong. A big hug can work wonders. Tell your youth that you believe them. Praise your youth’s courage for telling you. Don’t ask your youth why they didn’t tell you sooner—that will just make them feel guilty.
Don’t threaten or criticize the person who committed the abuse : Although this is a natural response, avoid criticizing the person your youth has identified as the abuser. Chances are, your youth knows the person well and may even care very much for the person.
Take action : Trust your instincts and keep your youth away from the person involved. If you think your youth is physically injured, seek appropriate medical attention.
Report the proper authorities : Contact the organization where the person is involved. They will want to protect other youth. If you suspect abuse call the Oregon Chid Abuse Hotline at1-855-503-7233 to report abuse or neglect of a child or adult in Oregon. If someone is being hurt or is in danger right now, call 911.
Click on the links below to learn more about youth protection.
- Creating a Family Code of Conduct
- Internet Safety
- 5 Steps to Protecting Our Youth
- Body Safety and Boundaries
- Checklist for Safer Sleepovers
- Being the Trusted Adult
Educational videos for families, guardians and/or caregivers: