Note the key terms in the title of Best Practice #4 - "regularly" and "actively." It's not enough to just be aware that sexual abuse happens, it's crucial that we create a process that challenges us to be present and active in the assessment.
 
In Best Practice #4, we are asking your staff, volunteers, parents and children to "engage" in the assessment process. There is great power in understanding our vision if you look at the various definitions of the word engage, paying special attention to the terms influence, power, interlock, pledge, guarantee, battle and come together.
 
Definition of ENGAGE(7)

Transitive verb
1. to offer (as one's word) as security for a debt or cause
2. a: to entangle or entrap in or as if in a snare or bog (obsolete)
b: to attract and hold by influence or power
c: to interlock with : mesh; also : to cause (mechanical parts) to mesh
3. to bind (as oneself) to do something; especially : to bind by a pledge to marry
4. a: to provide occupation for : involve
b: to arrange to obtain the use or services of : hire
5. a: to hold the attention of : engross
b: to induce to participate
6. a: to enter into contest or battle with
b: to bring together or interlock (weapons)
7. to deal with especially at length
 
Intransitive verb
1. a: to pledge oneself : promise
b: to make a guarantee
2. a: to begin and carry on an enterprise or activity —used with in
b: to do or take part in something —used with in
c: to give attention to something : deal
3. to enter into conflict or battle
4. to come together and interlock
 
Create Standard Operating Procedures for Assessing & Communicating Concerns
It's not uncommon for organizations to invest time researching and documenting new policies or procedures just to find that they never really take root in the organization. Yes the policy is officially in place but they often fail to achieve cultural adoption of the policy where it becomes a natural part of the staff's day-to-day thought process and actions. As you can imagine and have probably experienced for yourself, child sexual abuse is a difficult subject for most adults to talk about. So, cultural adoption is not likely to happen unless the organization also puts standard operating procedures in place to provide every possible opportunity for the staff and families to embrace the new policy. Creating an environment where assessing concerning behavior and communicating those concerns is part of the standard operating procedures, includes the following key activities:
  • Ask for feedback from staff, volunteers, parents and children
  • Provide a Standard Assessment & Communication Form which includes a way to share:
    • Specific Boundary Infractions
    • Concerning Behavior (not directly covered by established boundaries)
    • Stop Light Assessment (a simple graphical format for children to provide feedback)
  • Establish a set time when Assessment and Communication Forms are submitted
  • Establish a Child Sexual Abuse Best Practices Communication Team to review the forms
Establish Standardized Board Reporting
Establishing standardized board reporting is a key factor in ensuring cultural adoption of the organization's Child Sexual Abuse Best Practices program. The program needs to have consistent high level visibility, even when things are running smoothly and there are no reports of observed, disclosed or suspected abuse or any boundary infractions.