Keeping Our Kids Safe
The YMCA of Southwestern Indiana serves more than 9,000 youth annually, aged from two months through 18 years. The youth participate in a wide variety of programs, including child care, camping, sports, aquatics, enrichment¬†and more. The YMCA of Southwestern Indiana’s programs follow the principles of youth development, which includes the belief that children need to be physically and emotionally safe.
These programs take place at our different branches, as well as numerous program sites and schools located throughout Posey, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties. It’s the immense value we place on this young population, as well as the trust parents place in our organization, that drives us to provide the most child safe environment possible.
SAFETY STEPS AT THE Y¬†¬Ľ
The YMCA of Southwestern Indiana has over 500¬†staff members and volunteers working with youth in the many programs we offer. We want all children and youth to be safe.
The Y takes these steps to keep your child safe:
- We thoroughly screen staff and volunteers, including completing criminal background checks.
- We train staff and volunteers in abuse prevention.
- We carefully supervise and monitor our programs.
- We ensure that staff understand their responsibility to report abuse.
- We have policies to limit circumstances in which staff and volunteers are alone with a child or teen where others cannot observe them.
- We have policies that limit staff contact with children and teens outside of YMCA programs.
Child abuse can take many different forms:
- Emotional abuse is the use of threats or words to harm a child’s feelings and self-esteem and the withholding of love and support. Examples include ridiculing, rejecting, blaming or communicating unrealistic expectations.
- Physical abuse is the deliberate injury of a child by any person, including by another child.
- Sexual abuse is any sexual activity between an adult and a minor¬†or between two minors when one exerts power over the other. It includes genital touching, inappropriate hugging or kissing, playing sexually-oriented games and sexual intercourse. It also includes non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism, taking nude photos and communicating in a sexual manner by phone or internet.
- Child neglect is a form of abuse that occurs when a person responsible for the care of a child fails to provide necessary food, clothing, medical care, education, affection, shelter or supervision.
Watch for these warning signs of abuse:
- Abrupt changes in behavior, anxiety, clinging, aggressiveness or withdrawal.
- Discomfort with physical contact.
- Fearfulness or depression.
- Abuse or bullying of other children.
- Avoidance of a particular person or place, or refusing to go to a friend’s or relative’s home for no apparent reason.
- Sexual language or behavior that is not age appropriate.
- Unexplained bruises, welts, or burns.
- Unkempt or malnourished appearance.
- Disturbed sleeping or eating patterns.
- Sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
Why are children afraid to tell?
- The abuser tells the child that his or her parents will be angry.
- The abuser confuses the child about what is right and wrong.
- The abuser tells the child that they will hurt a family member if they tell.
- The abuser tells the child that it is a game or a secret.
- Children think that it is their fault, or ¬†that they should have done something to prevent it.
- The abuser may encourage the child to break rules set by their parents, causing the child to fear punishment if they tell.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT CHILD ABUSE?¬†¬Ľ
- Educate your child about self-protection, including information about strangers and good and bad touches.
- Ask them often if anyone has said anything or done anything that has made them uncomfortable or feel bad.
- Learn to control the stress level of yourself and family members.
- Recognize the fact that most abuse happens by people that children know and trust.
- Become aware of your community resources.
- Know where your children are and who their children’s friends are.
- Learn to recognize warning signs of child abuse.
- Teach your children its not okay to keep secrets from you; that they can always tell you the truth.
The internet can place a child in danger. Set up rules before letting your child go online.
- Talk about who your child can communicate with and what sites they are allowed to visit.
- Do not allow your child to download anything without permission.
- Tell your child to never share personal information such as their name, address, phone number, parent’s work address or phone number, or the name or location of their school without a parent’s permission.
- Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult is they receive any message or come across anything that makes they feel uncomfortable, scared, or confused.
- Tell your child they must never meet in person with anyone they meet online.
WHAT IF MY CHILD DISCLOSES ABUSE?¬†¬Ľ
Your reaction has a powerful influence on how your child responds. Here’s a good way to respond:
- Stay calm – Staying calm at a time like this will be very difficult for you. Avoid overreacting or expressing shock or outrage. Try not to cry.
- Listen – Listen carefully to what your child tells you. Your child will be scared and may not give you many details. Ask questions like: “Can you tell me more about it?” “What did the person do?” “When did this happen?” or “How many times did this happen?”
- Comfort your child – Let your child know that you love them very much and that they have done nothing wrong. A big hug can work wonders. Tell your child that you believe them. Praise your child’s courage for telling you. Don’t ask your child why they didn’t tell you sooner – that will just make them feel guilty.
- Don’t threaten or criticize the person who committed the abuse – Although this is a natural response, avoid criticizing the person your child has identified as the abuser. Chances are, your child knows the person well and may even care very much for the person.
- Take action – Trust your instincts and keep your child away from the person involved.¬†If you think your child is physically injured, seek appropriate medical attention.
- Report the proper authorities¬†–¬†Contact the organization where the person is involved. They will want to protect other children. Contact Child Protective Services (CPS) or the police to report abuse.
You can contact the following abuse resources for more information:
- National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453
- Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-800-800-5556
- Holly’s House (Evansville): 812-437-7233
WHO DO I CONTACT AT THE YMCA?¬†¬Ľ
If you have questions or concerns about abuse or the Y’s abuse policy, contact the YMCA of Southwestern Indiana. If you prefer to talk to a male or female, just ask.¬†You can talk privately with any staff member directly or contact one of our senior staff members below:
Brandi Kuhlenschmidt –¬†Child Care Branch Director
Derrick Stewart – CEO