It’s never too late to talk with your camp or summer program director about child sexual abuse prevention. Here are the three must-ask questions:
1. Beyond background checks, what is the screening process for new hires?
Look for camps & programs that have a three-part staff interview process: Background checks, personal interviews, and reference checks. Background checks alone are not enough because most people who sexually abuse children are never legally identified and won’t come up on a background check. Interviews should include questions about counselors’ boundaries with children and a discussion of the camp’s zero tolerance of sexual abuse. The reference check might include a question about how the candidate upholds boundaries with children.
2. What kind of child sexual abuse prevention training do you offer staff and volunteers?
Camps typically provide orientation for staff. Find out if and how the orientation includes training about child sexual abuse prevention. The training should dispel common myths about sexual abuse, introduce body-safety policies, cover how sexual abusers groom children, and identify warning signs that someone is abusing or being abused.
3. What specific policies are in place to minimize the risk of child sexual abuse at your camp?
Make sure there is a rule for adults spending time alone with children (two adults to one child); appropriate and inappropriate touch of children by adults – and by other children. If your child is going to a sleep-away camp, also ask about showering policies and sleeping arrangements.
Up to 50 percent of child sexual abuse is committed by youth, so it’s important to discuss policies for older kids spending time with younger kids. Just as a counselor should never be alone with a child, an older camper should not be spending time one-on-one with a younger camper either.
If you’re not sure how to start a safety conversation and invite someone onto your prevention team, check out the Parenting Safe Children Conversation-Starter Cards!