Why Get Involved III
Why Get Involved III; Minimizing Opportunity
By Laura Fogarty
One of the easiest ways to “get involved” is to prevent abuse from happening in the first place. How can we do that? Simple- minimize opportunity. How can we minimize opportunity? Easy- don’t put your children in situations where they are one on one with an adult or an older child. We know that over 80% of all child sexual abuse incidents happen in isolated, one on one situations. How can we stop that? Pretty simple, really- eliminate that particular risk by minimizing or even better, eliminating one on one, isolated circumstances.
Does this mean no one can talk to a child alone? No more private conversations? No and no. When we need to have a private discussion with a child, we can easily accomplish this by staying in full view of others. Sit in the bleachers during or after practice so that a parent or parents are able to see your discussion. Keep your office door open so the child has the privacy he or she needs while maintaining a clear opportunity for others to view the interaction. When private music lessons or dance lessons, or things of this nature are issue, make sure there is an observational window for parents, and that you have the ability to interrupt if need be.
Minimizing opportunity is also a way of setting a precedent for the children in your charge. When we won’t take a child to the bathroom one on one, or we won’t give talk to a child in an isolated setting, then we help set the boundary for that child to use in the future. When we don’t follow the rules because we know we would never harm a child, we set a precedent that one on one situations are okay. We don’t want to confuse children so the best bet for safety is to show the children in our charge the correct way to instill boundaries and minimize opportunities for abuse.
For older children, check their phones and computer history. Just as we want to know where your children are going and whom they will be with, so should we also know where they are going online, and whom they are hanging out with and what those interactions are like.
Some of the ways we minimize opportunity are to fill the gaps that allow offenders to have access to children. These gaps may be physical or situational, but wherever we see gaps we need to correct and fill those gaps. Sometimes getting involved means being creative, and thinking on our feet. Maybe if we are the last one at soccer practice with one child left, we call the parent and keep him or her on the phone until the child is picked up. This protects us from false accusations, and more to the point, it sets a precedent of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
See? Getting involved is as easy or as difficult as we make it – and for me, I’ll choose easy : )