YMCA of Central Ohio encourages adults and organizations in the community to play a vital role in making central Ohio a safer place for children. I am asking you to join forces with us in making a commitment to protect children: know how abuse happens, see the warning signs, and respond quickly to prevent abuse.
As the leading provider of child care, camp, aquatics, sports and other youth programming, we understand that you are placing your trust in us and we do not take this lightly. The protection of every child is our top priority as we enrich the lives of thousands of children each year throughout our youth development programs, and we enforce a zero tolerance philosophy for child abuse. We participate in many active efforts to prevent abuse, including conducting references and criminal background checks for staff and volunteers, requiring ALL staff to participate in child abuse prevention training, and staying vigilant for events out of the ordinary by conducting formal and informal interviews and evaluations with children and parents. Finally, we take allegations or suspicions of child abuse seriously by reporting to the police and state agencies for investigation.
Child sexual abuse is 100% preventable. When adults know how abuse happens, see the warning signs, and respond quickly to prevent abuse, they foster a culture of child abuse prevention. To make sure your child remains safe outside of Y supervision, we encourage you to follow our “Know. See. Respond.” protocol:
Know. Stay informed about warning signs and unusual behavior and talk to your child about them. Recommended steps include:
- Explaining to your child that he/she has a basic right to privacy and that no one should touch them in any way that makes them feel uncomfortable or compel them to touch someone else inappropriately
- Talking to your child about the importance of telling you if someone does or says something that makes them feel uncomfortable. Emphasize that adults should not ask them to keep secrets from you.
- Do not leave your child at a YMCA facility, school site or playing field without YMCA staff members/volunteers present to supervise your child.
- Do not let YMCA employees or volunteers babysit, host sleepovers or spend time one-on-one with your child outside of YMCA programs.
See. Pay close attention to your children and the people in their lives, watching for signs of abuse.
- Watch for signs of potential abuse from adults, such as spending too much time with a child, choosing favorites or possessiveness.
- Be concerned if your child suddenly becomes withdrawn or balks at attending certain activities or being around a particular person. Seek to gently find out why.
- Stay in touch with your child’s day-to-day experiences. Ask questions like:
- Is anyone scaring or threatening you?
- Is anyone asking you to keep secrets?
- Has anyone said anything to you that made you feel bad?
- Is anyone touching you in a way that you don’t like?
Respond. Report any inappropriate or suspicious actions by YMCA staff or volunteers (or expressions of discomfort from your child) to the Executive Director of your local YMCA branch.
Together, we can bring awareness to the issue of child sexual abuse in our communities and have important conversations around how we can all work together to prevent it from happening. Thank you for your help in protecting children.
-Tony Collins, CEO & President
YMCA of Central Ohio