The YMCA of Central Florida’s commitment to providing a safe environment for every individual who engages with us—especially children—is essential to our mission, reputation, and our viability as an organization. The reality of the society in which we operate highlights the need for enhanced safety and security measures.
The Y engages 22 million people each year, 9 million of whom are youth. One in 10 children in the U.S. will be sexually abused by the time he or she turns 18. In the majority of these cases, the perpetrator is a family member, friend, teacher, coach, or another child. To meet the promise of our mission and cause, and to continue the Y’s leadership on these important social issues, we must do everything in our power to ensure the safety of everyone who enters our facilities and/or participates in our programs.
Screening and Training Procedures
With our commitment to providing a healthy atmosphere for the growth and development of children in mind, the Y has developed standards, guidelines, and training to aid in the detection and prevention of child abuse:
- All Y staff members undergo thorough background screens, criminal history checks, and drug testing as well as reference checks during the interviewing process.
- All Y staff members who have contact with children must complete a Level 2 background screening through the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Education. They will also go through training on recognizing, reporting, and preventing child abuse.
- All Y staff members are recognized as mandated reporters of suspected child abuse under the State of Florida statutes and are therefore required to report any suspicion of abuse against those who participate in programs at the Y. This has been standard practice at the YMCA of Central Florida for decades.
- The YMCA of Central Florida has adopted a similar background screening policy for all volunteers, mandating background and criminal record checks in addition to required child abuse prevention training.
- We also screen all members, guests and program participants against a national sex offender registry to allow us to continue to provide a safe, welcoming environment for every person at the YMCA of Central Florida.
- In further support of our effort, the Y requires all staff members to sign our Child Abuse Prevention Code of Conduct in commitment to keeping kids safe.
5 Days of Action
The YMCA of Central Florida marks Child Abuse Prevention Month with 5 Days of Action each spring. Leading up to Healthy Kids Day®—a nationwide YMCA initiative to improve the health and well-being of kids—5 Days of Action is a national campaign designed to raise awareness and inspire adults to take action to protect children from sexual abuse. This campaign is led by the YMCA Guardians for Child Protection with support from the YMCA of the USA, Darkness to Light, the Redwoods Group Foundation, and Praesidium. We encourage adults and organizations in the community to play a vital role in keeping Central Florida a safe place for children. Together, we can bring awareness to the issue of child sexual abuse in our communities and have important conversations around how we can all work together to prevent it from happening.
Witnessing and Reporting Child Abuse
Child Sexual Abuse Statistics
- One in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
- Roughly 90% of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser.
- Approximately 30% of children who are sexually abused are abused by family members.
- At least 60% of children who are sexually abused will never report it.
- False reports are rare. Research shows that only 4–8% of child sexual abuse reports are fabricated.
Provided by Darkness To Light
What to Do if You Believe a Child is Being Abused
- You don’t need to have proof that abuse is occurring to make a report, only reasonable suspicion.
- Reasonable suspicion means that you have witnessed maltreatment or boundary violations, either in the child and/or adult, or you have received a disclosure from a child about abuse, neglect, or boundary violations towards them.
- Child sexual abuse reports should be made to the police and/or state child protective services.
- Contact the Darkness to Light Helpline by calling 866-FOR-LIGHT, or texting LIGHT to 741741. Questions will be answered by trained counselors at no charge.
Provided by Darkness To Light
Materials © 2019 YMCA of the USA Know. See. Respond.