Policies, Procedures, And Training: The Core Elements Of A Child-Safe Environment

Police arrested the co-founder of a New Jersey robotics school for allegedly sexually assaulting three students at the school.

According to the prosecutor, an investigation revealed that the 59-year-old man inappropriately touched the three victims over their clothing while he was teaching them on multiple occasions between September 2016 through December 2018. The children were between the ages of 12 and 15 years old at the time of the abuse.

The co-founder is charged with two counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child under the age of 13; three counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child; and three counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact with a child. 

The 10-year-old school, the largest robotics school in the state, referred to the accused as an "ex-partner" and said that he had not worked with the school in two years. The school said that it has reinvented the program, made strict policies and procedures, and instituted numerous safety measures". Anthony G. Attrino "Co-founder of N.J. robotics school charged with sexually assaulting 3 students" nj.com (Nov. 19, 2020).

 

Commentary

Policies, procedures, and training make the core of every successful child safe environment.

Every organization that works with children has an obligation to have child protection policies in place and enforced as to everyone in the organization, including founders, owners, other leaders, teachers, administrative staff, volunteers, and parents.

Make sure everyone knows how to report suspected child sexual abuse to law enforcement or to the local child protection agency. Cooperate with law enforcement when they investigate allegations of abuse. 

Regular child sexual abuse prevention training, which can include proper behaviors and improper ones to avoid, can help every safe adult understand how to spot inappropriate and potentially predatory behavior and how to interrupt it.

A good starting point beyond policies, procedures, and training is to make the physical environment safe for children. For example, require all adults to meet with children in rooms with the door open or to have another adult present. Train volunteers and employees to look in doors and windows to make sure children are safe. Review your physical plant for rooms that are isolated, and lock, or do not use, those rooms.

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