Importance of training to prevent abuse

stop child abuse

(The following article is provided courtesy of Praesidium)

There are thousands of youth-serving organizations across the United States offering a wide range of services to children and adolescents. Unfortunately, many children in these organizations fall victim to abuse. However, at Praesidium, we believe that abuse is preventable. One way to prevent abuse is through effective abuse prevention training. Continue below to identify the importance of training to prevent abuse and the 4W’s of good training.

Why is training so important?

"Training, on its own, does not prevent abuse," says Katie Polachek, JD, a Praesidium Account Manager. But there are key components to consider when developing abuse prevention training to make it more effective:
  • Does it convey your organization’s commitment to safety?
  • Does it encourage commitment to organizational abuse prevention policies?
  • Does it teach staff at all levels about their role in risk management?

"Training should be designed to create a culture of safety at your organization," she adds. "Not any one of us on our own can completely eradicate the issue of abuse. It takes many different people in many different roles."

What makes good training?

Training that makes a difference incorporates preventable, skills-based content. "Ideally, this is content that changes staff behavior," says Polachek.

Good training also uses the right delivery system:

  • It's impactful.
  • It's transferable.
  • It's accountable.

In addition, it's delivered at the right time and with frequency.

The four W’s of good training

You should think about the "four W's" when creating training programs:

WHO should you train?

You should train everyone in your organization. This includes managers, operational staff, direct care staff, and directors. Training everyone will help staff identify high-risk areas, recognize boundary and policy violations, and report concerns. "Include people outside your organization, too," says Polachek. This includes parents.

WHAT should you include in your training?

Teach people in your organization about how offenders operate, how to prevent peer-to-peer abuse, how to recognize signs of abuse, and more.

"What you teach will be dependent on someone's role," adds Polachek. "But there is training that you want everyone to have. It's called foundational knowledge."

When it comes to leaders, focus on the scope and nature of problems in your organization. In addition, teach system-wide strategies for abuse prevention and familiarize leaders with the appropriate response mechanisms.

WHEN should training occur and how often?

This will depend on the scope of your organization. Ideally, the more training people receive, the better. Training staff before they work with consumers can be particularly beneficial. This kind of training can minimize false allegations and equip staff members with the skills they need for their role. Then, periodic training helps to supplement the foundational knowledge so that these skills remain top-of-mind.

WHERE should training occur?

Combine in-person and online training for the most powerful results. "We want to be mindful of the fact that different people learn in different ways," says Polachek. "It's good to integrate both of these options when you are training staff."

Training in your organization is a crucial piece in preventing abuse, the right training will provide your staff with the skills and knowledge they need to minimize the risk of abuse. Follow the tips above when creating training programs in your organization.


  • Praesidium Safety Bulletin, January 30, 2019

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