Utilizing S.E.A. to combat abuse
What is S.E.A.? S.E.A. stands for supervision, education, and accountability. Providing appropriate supervision is a key strategy for stopping abuse within an organization. Supervision includes maintaining manageable staff-to-child ratios, actively supervising activities involving club members and staff, and aggressively monitoring areas where abuse might occur such as bathrooms, stairwells, locker rooms, storage rooms, and remote classrooms. Additional controls that support supervision include taking the following actions:
- Limit and control access points at all times.
- Maximize visibility throughout your facility.
- Secure unused spaces and limit access.
- Enforce the policy of avoiding one-on-one situations.
Appropriate supervision cannot be successful without proper education of those responsible for providing supervision. Do staff members know the areas within your facility where abuse is most likely to occur? Education should include identifying areas where the ability to observe may be hindered. In addition to the areas identified, consider blind hallways, corners, and perceived hiding places. These areas may need to be modified to better support supervision efforts. Staff training should reinforce procedures for appropriately handling keys to the club’s facilities and club policies regarding monitoring these areas.
Does your staff know what to look for? When supervising members, it is imperative that staff understand what behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate. Inappropriate conduct can involve a variety of actions. Some that may often be overlooked include jokes, horseplay, gender, racial and sexual comments, kissing, and touching areas other than the upper arm, upper back, and shoulder.
Accountability helps to drive results. Staff members must hold each other accountable for their actions or inactions. Actions to reinforce staff accountability can include:
- Directly supervising members and staff by sight and sound at all times
- Never leaving a younger child with an older child
- Avoiding/preventing situations that allow isolated adult-to-child and child-to-child interactions
- Fostering a positive environment where reporting adverse situations is encouraged and involves no repercussions