Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Plot Sickens or Safe Environments

Last week, Hubs and I spent an evening at church participating in the Safe Environment training provided by the Diocese of Oakland. All parish staff, school staff, CYO coaches, volunteers, and ministers are required to be trained. Annually.

Our trainer acknowledged that this came about because of the scandal of sexual abuse by priests. But, he also pointed out, abusers cut across all racial, ethnic, gender, income, religious boundaries. They can be any age.

The best defense is parental vigilance. If an adult is giving you the "creeps" or makes you (the parent) uncomfortable, don't ignore it. Watch. Listen. Make sure you're there. The one trait all abusers have is that they prey on the weakest, the most vulnerable. They seek out those children and cultivate a relationship with them.

Hubs does the Youth Protection training for the Boy Scouts. Each Pack, Troop, or Unit has to have at least one adult on every outing who has been trained. Much of the material presented to us was familiar:

  • Never be alone in a room with a child or teen
  • Always have two adults at every outing or practice. At least one of the adults must be the same sex as the children
  • Don't hug a child; let the child hug you
  • If you suspect child abuse, report it
  • If a child tells you of abuse, listen
  • Know the signs of the four types of abuse (physical, emotional, neglect, and sexual)
I received the same information during staff training for Girl Scout camp.

The message repeated over and over: if you suspect abuse, report it. Let the professionals do the investigative work. Whether or not we're mandated to report it is irrelevant. As Christians we're morally obligated to report suspected abuse.

Apparently Congress doesn't get the same training. In fact, they don't appear to get any type of youth protection/safe environment training, even though they deal with minors all day long.

Frankly, they should. And Congressmen and Congresswomen (Representatives and Senators) should be mandated to report child abuse. They are a government officials, like police officers, probation officers, firefighters. They should be setting the example.

Frankly, I'm not holding my breath.

(H/T: Michelle Malkin (see Ms. Malkin's post for the inspiration for the title of this one); The Anchoress; LaShawn Barber)