Thanks to David Brooks for stepping up and accepting the responsibility of Dawnbreakers Youth Protection Officer! Last Wednesday, Brooks updated the club on this role and the importance of Rotary International’s efforts to maintain a safe environment for the youth who participate in Rotary activities.
As Youth Protection Officer, Brooks can guide members through identifying and reporting any potential abusive situation with a youth. Per Brooks, “If you ever question it, report it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.”
As we continue to serve those in our community, here are a few key points from Brooks to keep in mind:
Types of abuse:
Emotional/Verbal Abuse: This type is sometimes harder to notice because it may be embarrassing for the child to tell. They may be threatened by abusers to make sure they don’t tell. Sometimes the parents/adults were raised with the same abuse, and that’s why they pass it onto their children.
Physical: You can identify this one with instances such as constant bruising or broken bones from “falling down the stairs” or “bike accidents”. If they’re wearing hoodies and sweatpants in July, that’s a red flag. Again, if you feel something isn’t right, report it.
Sexual: Unfortunately, this is more common even at the Elementary age.
Signs to help recognize the abuse:
- Children can be so well adjusted, it’s sometimes hard to pick up on it.
- They may confide in a friend, who will sometimes tell an adult.
- If you have a respectful relationship, they may confide in you and tell you.
- Eating changes
- Getting in trouble at school or with the law
What do you do?
- Guarantee them privacy if they tell you but let them know you will not allow this to keep happening so you will be reporting it to get them out of the situation.
- Listen to them and do not be judgmental. Try not to be shocked or angry by their situation.
- Document it – The date, time, place, situation, name of the youth, name of the abuser, and description of abuse.
- Report it.
- If you’re a Dawnbreaker, you would report it to the President who would then report it to Law Enforcement.
- Follow through and make sure it has been taken care of
- Don’t gossip about it or share with others. Respect their privacy.
- If you can’t report it right away, don’t send them back without proper authorities intervening.
How to interact with youth:
- Always be the adult – if they cross the line, let them know. EX: Use of foul language
- Be a role model
- Never be alone with them
- If traveling with them, make sure you have a signed letter of consent with permission to take them
- Stay away on Social Media
- If texting, always include a parent
- Be careful with your comments. EX: “Your hair looks great today!” vs “Did you get a haircut recently?” Youth take comments differently than adults.
“I think it’s great we have a community that puts such much time and energy into our youth. Please be cautious and careful, and report any suspicious behavior you see.” – David Brooks