Safer environments can help reduce the risk for abuse.
More than 80% of sexual abuse cases occur in isolated, one-on-one situations. If you eliminate or reduce isolated, one-on-one situations between children and adults, as well as children and other youth, you’ll dramatically reduce the risk of sexual abuse.
How to reduce risk?
- Think carefully about the safety of any isolated, one-on-one settings. Make sure interactions with children can be observed and interrupted. Choose group situations when possible.
- Think carefully about the safety of situations in which older youth have access to younger children. Make sure that multiple adults are present who can supervise.
- Set an example by personally avoiding isolated, one-on-one situations with children other than your own.
- Understand that abusers often become friendly with potential victims and their families, enjoying family activities, earning trust, and gaining time alone with children.
- Monitor children’s Internet use. Offenders use the Internet to lure children into physical contact.
Create and lobby for policies that reduce or eliminate isolated, one-on-one situations in all youth serving organizations:
- These policies should ensure that all activities can be interrupted and observed.
- Talk with program administrators about the supervision of older youth who have responsibility for the care of children.
- Insist on screenings that include criminal background checks, personal interviews, and professional recommendations for all adults who serve children. Avoid programs that do not use all of these methods.
- Insist that youth serving organizations train their staff and volunteers to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
- Ensure that youth serving organizations have policies for dealing with suspicious situations and reports of abuse.
One-on-one time with trusted adults is healthy and valuable for a child.
It builds self-esteem and deepens relationships. To protect children while nurturing these relationships:
- Drop in unexpectedly when the child is alone with an adult or another youth, even if it a trusted family member.
- Make sure outings are observable – if not by you, then by others.
- Ask adults about the specifics of planned activities before the child leaves your care. Notice their ability to be specific.
- Talk with the child following the activity. Notice the child’s mood and whether he or she can tell you with confidence how the time was spent.
- Find a way to tell adults who care for children that you and the child are educated about child sexual abuse. Be that direct.