What can parents do to help keep their kids safe in summer camps? Parents should ask the right questions, drop in unexpectedly from time to time on the camp to observe things, and talk openly with their children about abuse.
Ask the camp supervisor/director these five questions, taken from doingrightbyourkids.com:
- How do you think about child safety? Listen to their answer: Do they even mention child sexual or physical abuse and their prevention/intervention policies? Do they understand their responsibility to protect children from abuse?
- Does the organization do criminal and Child Protective Services background checks on all employees and volunteers? If not, that's a red flag.
- What is the organization’s employee conduct policy? If they say they don't have one, that's also a red flag. If they have one, ask for a copy. Read it carefully and look for gaps in the policy. For example, does it contain restrictions that prohibit employees from giving gifts to an individual camper? Does the policy tell the employees to avoid private one-on-one interactions between a staff member and camper? Does it require that there be two unrelated adults in charge of kids?
- Is there abuse-prevention training provided for all employees who work with kids, including camp counselors who may be youth themselves? If not, another red flag. You may want to tell them about the training we offer.
- Are activities observable and "interruptible"? Can you come visit, drop in, and observe? Most crucially, can your child call you if s/he has a safety problem? If not, this is a HUGE red flag. You may want to consider not sending your child to this camp.
Just asking these questions can help to keep your child safer. Seriously consider the answers as you choose a camp for your child or as you decide whether to keep your child in a camp.
Last but not least, talk openly with your child about abuse. Download this brochure to learn more: Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse.
You are the best advocate your child has. Be a hero for your child!
Camp leaders: If your organization doesn't have these policies and practices in place, Foothills can provide technical assistance to help you put them in place. Just contact us!