YPP Module VII

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Module VII -

Leader Responsibility for Youth Protection

The objective is to clarify roles and empower adult leaders to take action when abuse is observed or suspected.
  • Assessing Behaviors
  • Predators
  • Warning Signs in Adults
  • Behavioral Clues in Youth
  • Responding to Situations
  • Handling Disclosures
  • When to Report

Assessing Behaviors

  • Appropriate Behavior is desirable and fitting the situation.
  • Inappropriate Behavior is unsuitable or improper, though not usually harmful. If something is not obviously harmful, give the person the benefit of the doubt and suggest being more mindful in the future.
  • Harmful Behavior puts someone at risk for adverse emotional or physical outcomes. Action should be taken any time harmful behaviors are observed.
Strong policies not only protect girls, but also protect leaders by setting precedent, establishing expectation, and creating appropriate boundaries that are understood by everyone.

Types of Perpetrators

  • Pedophiles
  • Situational or Circumstantial
  • Sadistic or Indiscriminant

Although the term "pedophile" specially refers to the sexual preference for pre-pubescent children, ti is commonly used by the general public to refer to any sexual interest in minors below the age of consent.

Situational offenders are impaired (either temporarily or permanently) by illness, drugs/alcohol, or other circumstances that affect their judgement.

Sadistic predators prey on the most vulnerable, such as Adam Walsh.
There are many kinds of offenders, with a variety of legal and psychological definitions. However, these three broad categories summarize those of which we should be most aware. Sexual abuse may not be due to pedophilia, but may result from other conditions or circumstances. Most maltreatment will be perpetrated by individuals in the first two categories. Abusers are known to their victims 93% of the time.

Boundary Violations

  • Physical Boundary Violations test limits and desensitize a youth to increasingly invasive touch.
  • Emotional Boundary Violations start with engaging behavior and then begin to distance a youth from trusted adults.
  • Behavioral Boundary Violations isolate youth from trusted adults, encouraging the youth to break rules or engage in inappropriate activities that may make the youth feel special or "cool."

Predators skillfully start relationships appropriately and escalate to entrap their victims. What appears to start out innocently grows into something well beyond what a youth can handle.

Any of these violations may ultimately lead to threats that the youth will get into trouble if she tells, or that the youth or a loved one may be harmed if she tells.

Warning Signs in Adults

PHYSICAL/BEHAVIORAL: "Accidental" touches; tickles, roughhouses; frequent, lingering or full body contact hugs. Separates youth from group; allows harmful activities, e.g. alcohol, cigarettes, adult movies or porn.

EMOTIONAL: Acts possessive; keeps secrets; spends too much time with the youth; over-identifies with the youth, frequently calling or texting/emailing; excessive compliments or attention.

Molesters are skillful in avoiding being caught. They establish trusting relationships with families or leaders where youth gather, e.g. churches or groups. They use successively inappropriate comments and behaviors so deliberately manipulative that abuse may be well underway before the victim realizes it. They may offer inducements to encourage compliance, and then resort to threats and blame to ensure secrecy. These practices are often referred to as "Child Grooming."
Look for patterns of behaviors rather than a single incident. However, if any one incident raises significant suspicion or concern, it should not be ignored.

Behavioral Clues of Maltreatment in Youth

SEXUAL ABUSE: Running away; passivity; aggression; falling grades; substance abuse; seductive behaviors; legal troubles.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Anxiety/irrational fear; defiance; antisocial behavior; eating disorders; sleeping disorders; apathy; reckless/destructive behaviors.

This is merely a representative list of possible behavioral clues. Look for patterns of behavior or significant behavioral changes, rather than an occasional or isolated incident.

How to Handle

  • Responding and not over-reacting: Handling disclosures takes clear thinking. Emotional reactions ramp up the drama and create confusion for everyone.
  • When to act?: In sexual abuse cases within organizations, people often saw things that made them uncomfortable but they weren't sure why. Pay attention to signs!
  • Reporting: Reference IORG policy and jurisdictional guidelines.

When Warning Signs are Observed in Adults

  • Talk with the person in question
  • Explain why the behavior is inappropriate (see suggested prompts)
  • Tell the person in charge of the event
  • Remove the youth from the situation

Suggested prompts:
  • We don't do/say things like that here
  • We don't let our girls...
  • We discourage this kind of behavior/talk
  • I noticed... and thought I should let you know our guidelines consider that inappropriate.
It is best to be forthright with your observations. Approach it as a teaching moment, especially with new volunteers. Remain friendly and helpful; acknowledge that they may not yet know expectations. Be discrete, respect privacy and maintain confidentiality.

When Behavioral Cues Are Observed in Youth

  • Speak with the youth. Listening is key!
  • Express concern; let them know you care.
  • Express your concerns to another Rainbow leader.
  • Be sure all youth have information available about local resources, suicide hotlines, and other crisis helplines.

Suggested prompts:
  • You don't seem yourself lately; everything ok?
  • Is there anything you'd like to talk about?
  • Looks like you have something on your mind; I'll be glad to listen if you want to talk.
*It's important for girls to have a support system of trusted adults with whom they can discuss issues.

Inappropriate actions can often be handled with discrete conversation regarding proper behaviors or the perception of impropriety.

Be Prepared

Be prepared and observant. Take opportunities to learn and to plan. Verify particulars of policy and practice with your Supreme Inspector or Deputy in advance of needing to know. Always report concerns to Rainbow Leadership. Never hesitate to act when you observe any danger to anyone in your group.

  • Be familiar with policy
  • Have resource numbers in your phone
  • Call 911 if there is ever danger
  • Follow IORG reporting guidelines
  • Anticipate and plan what to do in advance

  • Remain observant
  • Consistently follow policy
  • Assess/Manage Risks
  • Be safety-minded
  • Research safety issues for youth
You will probably never see abuse occur, so its' doubly important to be aware of signs or red flags, and any attempts to avert policy and procedures or the Code of Conduct.

CONFIDENTIALITY: Remember to keep personal information about girls confidential. It's one thing to report concerns to the person in authority over you. It's something else to discuss the matter with other volunteers or girls.

Karen Askew, IORG Supreme Assembly
315 East Carl Albert Parkway
(918) 423-1328