Written by Jill Goyette
Throughout the month of April, we’ve addressed the importance of understanding the Y’s abuse prevention policies, recognizing red flags and boundary violations, and how to talk with your children about abuse. Now it’s time to discuss what to do as parents or caregivers when children tell you about boundary violations, warning signs or abuse.
At the Y, we are mandated reporters which means we have procedures in place for reporting and responding to suspected abuse. As someone who may not be a trained mandated reporter, it’s critical you still know what to do in the event you’re ever in a situation of suspected abuse.
Below are five steps to follow:
1. Keep your eyes & ears open – you never know when you’ll observe or overhear something.
2. Talk with your child – the difficult conversations about what’s normal and expected are an investment in your child’s future.
3. Ask your child about any concerns you have – open communication is a pillar of child abuse prevention.
4. Call Child Protective Services or the police if what you heard sounds like abuse – whether it’s something you’ve observed personally or just overheard, immediate action is necessary.
5. Share your concerns – call attention to potential boundary violations, suspicious or inappropriate behavior, or a policy violation to an authority (whether within the organization or outside of it). If you’re unable to contact or find someone in the moment, contact the organization directly by making a call, sending an email or submitting an online form.
April might be the official month of child abuse prevention, but we hope you’ll carry what you’ve learned with you this month all year long.
If you have specific questions about abuse prevention within our own programs, please contact your local Y for details.
It’s our collective responsibility to report any suspicions of child abuse or neglect; it’s not our job to investigate claims, however. Take this time to add the 24-hour statewide Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline phone number to your contacts. Their number is 1 800 522 3511.
Jill Goyette is the Executive Director of Youth Development at YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.