Responding to possible bad behavior

January 26, 2015       The NonProfit Times      

Even a hint of abuse of children can be disastrous for a nonprofit, and most organizations have come to adopt comprehensive approaches to dealing with the issue.

During the 2014 Risk Summit, Julie Novak of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA), Susan Woessner of USA Swimming and Susan E. Yoder of the American Camp Association (ACA) pointed out that organizations must respond to such situations.

They gave the following National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for limiting or responding to inappropriate behavior, breaches in policy and allegations or suspicions of abuse:

  • Define the continuum of appropriate, inappropriate and harmful behaviors.
  • Delineate (1) internal response protocols and (2) mandatory response to authorities.
  • Act on infractions of the organization’s child-protection policies, and establish consequences.
  • Report to the authorities: abuse by a volunteer/employee; abuse by another youth within the organization; abuse by someone outside the organization.
  • Ensure that employees and volunteers know whom to report to and how.
  • Report all reasonable suspicions of abuse to authorities.
  • Do not conduct an internal investigation of child abuse.
  • Track reports and record the resolution.
  • Regarding confidentiality, keep reports on a need-to-know basis and assess the need to inform the community in the interest of protecting other children.
  • Determine a strategy to respond to the press.
  • Suspension immediately after reporting to authorities.
  • Outline an appeals process.
  • Develop a policy on how to deal with membership revocation or employment disqualification.
  • Additional considerations: support for the family, coping processes for the organization and community.
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