Mentor Safety Policy and Procedure
Overview of the Advance Camp Safety System
Because we mentor young men and desire to protect them, Advance Camp requires all volunteers and mentors to complete SAFETY STEPS before volunteer work begins.
STEP ONE: Sexual Abuse and Maltreatment Prevention Training
Advance Camp policies and procedures require that volunteers and staff members avoid abusive behavior of any kind. Volunteers and mentors are required to report any policy violations to supervisor and/or director.
Volunteers and mentors should have a basic understanding of the characteristics of sexual abusers and their behaviors in ‘grooming’ a child for sexual abuse. Grooming is the process used by an abuser to select a child, win the child’s trust (and the trust of the child’s parent or ‘gatekeeper’), manipulate the child into sexual activity and keep the child from disclosing the abuse.
To equip Advance Camp volunteers and mentors with information necessary to protect a child from sexual abuse or maltreatment, Advance Camp requires all volunteers and staff members to complete the Sexual Abuse Awareness Training provided live or online through Abuse Prevention Systems (www.AbusePreventionSystems.com) or MinistrySafe (www.MinistrySafe.com).
Sexual Abuse Awareness Training is required for all volunteers and mentors and must be renewed every 2 years.
STEP TWO: Screening Process
Volunteers and mentors are required to complete the Advance Camp screening process which includes:
-complete personal face to face interview with director
-complete references sheet
STEP THREE: Policies & Procedures
Volunteers and mentors are required to review the policies contained in this manual and sign the last page indicating he or she has read and understood the material, and agrees to comply with policy requirements.
STEP FOUR: Criminal Background Check
Advance Camp requires that all volunteers and mentors undergo a federal criminal background check.
Child Safety Policy
Advance Camp has a zero tolerance for abuse in all activities. It is the responsibility of every volunteer and mentor of Advance Camp to act in the best interest of each young man in every situation.
In the event that a volunteer or mentor observes any inappropriate behaviors (i.e. policy violations, neglectful supervision, poor role-modeling, etc.) or suspected abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual) it is their responsibility to immediately report the observations to a supervisor or Director.
REPORTING SUSPICIOUS OR INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIORS
Advance Camp is committed to providing a safe, secure environment for children. To this end, any report of inappropriate behaviors or suspicions of abuse will be taken seriously and will be reported, in accordance with this policy and state law, to the Advance Camp Executive Director and the Police Department, Child Protective Services, or other appropriate agency.
An element of the safe environment referenced above includes the fostering of a culture of reporting relevant information to an Advance Camp supervisor or Director.
Because sexual abusers ‘groom’ children for abuse, it is possible a staff member or volunteer may witness behavior intended to ‘groom’ a child for sexual abuse. Staff members and mentors are asked to report ‘grooming’ behavior, policy violations, or any suspicious behaviors to an Advance Camp supervisor or Director.
ENFORCEMENT OF POLICIES
Advance Camp volunteers who supervise other staff members or volunteers are charged with the diligent enforcement of all Advance Camp policies. Violations of these policies are grounds for immediate dismissal, disciplinary action, or reassignment for both volunteers and mentors. Final decisions related to policy violations will be the responsibility of the Executive Director.
Reporting Abuse or Suspicions of Abuse
REPORTING VIOLATION OF POLICY
In order to maintain a safe environment for the young men, Advance Camp volunteers and mentors must be aware of their individual responsibility to report any questionable circumstance, observation, act, omission, or situation that is a violation of these policies. All questions or concerns related to abuse of a child should be directed to an immediate supervisor and the Advance Camp Director.
CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLATION
Any person accused of committing a prohibited or harmful act or any act considered to be harmful to a child will be immediately suspended from all young men and Advance Camp activities. This suspension will continue during any investigation by law enforcement or child protective agency.
Any person found to have committed a prohibited act should be prohibited from future participation as a mentor or volunteer in all activities and programs that involves children or vulnerable populations at Advance Camp. If the person is a staff member, such conduct will also result in termination of employment from Advance Camp.
Failure to report a prohibited act to the designated person is a violation of this policy and grounds for termination of employment of a staff member, volunteer, or mentor.
REPORTING SUSPICIONS OF ABUSE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
Mentors and volunteers at Advance Camp are required to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect, or any inappropriate behavior of a colleague or co-worker, to an immediate supervisor and the Advance Camp Executive Director.
State law requires that any person having cause to believe a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect must make a report to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
Any mentor or volunteer must report to the appropriate State authorities. After having done so, the mentor or volunteer must notify an immediate supervisor and Director. In no way does any provision in this policy discourage any mentor or volunteer from reporting a suspicion of abuse or neglect to the appropriate Texas authorities.
Mentors and volunteers are required to verbally report an incident to supervisory staff and Director as soon as possible after the incident. After receiving a report from a mentor or volunteer, the Advance Camp Director will speak with the mentor or volunteer to whom the child spoke in order to get detailed information about the entire conversation.
RESPONSE TO REPORT OF ABUSE
The Advance Camp Safety Committee will take appropriate action on behalf of Advance Camp when a report of abuse occurs.
Any report of inappropriate behaviors or suspicions of abuse will be taken seriously and will be reported in accordance with this policy to the Advance Camp Director. If appropriate, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (1-800-252-5400), or Child Protective Services (817-321-8680) will be notified.
WHEN A CHILD HAS BEEN VICTIMIZED
If a mentor or volunteer has knowledge or suspicion that a child is a victim of sexual abuse or other maltreatment, the information will be reported to the Director and the appropriate authorities as outlined above.
In addition to notifying the appropriate authorities, Advance Camp will provide the child or the child’s parent/caregiver/guardian with information to allow the child (or parent, on the child’s behalf) to obtain assistance and intervention, as well as available counseling options.
BATHROOM SUPERVISION AND ASSISTANCE GUIDELINES
School age children may be accompanied to the restroom for supervision and assistance when needed. (However, children should receive the minimum amount of assistance needed based upon their individual capabilities.) Mentors and volunteers should never take a lone child to the restroom.
If a mentor or volunteer must go into the restroom to check on an individual child, he should seek out another worker to accompany him. If another worker is not available to accompany, he should go to the exterior bathroom door, knock, and ask if the child needs assistance. If the child requires assistance, the worker should leave the exterior bathroom door open when entering the bathroom area and try to verbally assist the child in completing their activities, while the child remains behind the door of the bathroom stall.
Any assistance with the straightening or fastening of garments should be done in the presence of another mentor or volunteer.
Parents will offer instruction to mentors or volunteers to change the diapers of special needs individuals.
Medication may be given to a child by a mentor or volunteer with a doctor’s prescription. The medication must be in the original packaging, including over-the-counter medication. The only exceptions to this policy are basic first-aid treatments and insect bite cream after a parent information sheet is signed by a parent or guardian.
Mentors and volunteers are prohibited from providing special gifts to any individual child. Special occasions or accomplishments should receive group acknowledgment and can easily be rewarded with group recognition (i.e., mention during announcements; have the entire group sing Happy Birthday, etc.) Any requests for variance from this policy must be addressed to an Advance Camp Director.
Mentors and volunteers are prohibited from the use, possession, or being under the influence of alcohol or any illegal drugs while in the facility, during an Advance Camp activity, or while working with young men at Advance Camp. Staff members and volunteers are prohibited from providing alcohol or illegal drugs to children.
Advance Camp is a tobacco-free environment. Advance Camp requires mentors and volunteers to refrain from the use or possession of tobacco products while at events or in the presence of children or their parents. Advance Camp mentors and volunteers are prohibited from providing tobacco products to children.
Mentors and volunteers at Advance Camp should never be nude in the presence of children in their care.
The only mentors that can conceal carry guns have to be trained and certified through the local License To Carry certifier or states with reciprocity. There will be ZERO tolerance for open carry.
ONE-TO-ONE INTERACTIONS WITH CHILDREN
Advance Camp recognizes that meeting Advance Camp objectives may occasionally require that mentors and volunteers interact with children on an individual basis. Mentors should observe the following guidelines when interacting with young men:
Mentors and volunteers should conduct one-to-one meetings with an individual young man at a time when others are present and where interactions can be easily observed. There will be no one-to-one meetings between a mentor or a volunteer and a young man behind closed doors. If a circumstance arises where a private one-to-one meeting does occur, the mentor or volunteers will notify the Advance Camp Director immediately before or after the meeting.
Mentors and volunteers may from time to time be in a position to provide transportation for young men. The following guidelines should be strictly observed when mentors are involved in the transportation of young men:
1) Young men should never be transported without parental permission.
2) Young men should be transported directly to their destination. No unauthorized stops should be made.
3) Mentors and volunteers should avoid physical contact with the young men while in vehicles.
4) No cell phones may be used by the driver while providing transportation for a young man.
5) The young men should not use a vehicle belonging to a mentor or volunteer.
Parents who leave their young men in the care of Advance Camp mentors and volunteers for camp will be contacted if their child becomes ill, injured, or has a severe disciplinary problem while participating in Advance Camp activities.
A young man accompanied by a parent to any Advance Camp activity is responsible for their child’s safety.
Advance Camp is committed to protecting the young men in our care. Advance Camp has implemented a physical contact policy that will promote a positive, nurturing environment while protecting children. Physical contact in any form should not give even the appearance of wrongdoing. The personal behavior of Advance Camp mentors or volunteers must foster trust at all times – personal conduct must be above reproach.
The following guidelines are to be carefully followed by anyone working with Advance Camp:
1. Hugging, pats on the back and other forms of appropriate physical affection between mentors or volunteers and young men are important for a child’s development, and are generally suitable in the Advance Camp setting.
2. Physical affection should be appropriate to the young man’s age. Inappropriate touching and inappropriate displays of affection are forbidden. Any inappropriate touching and inappropriate displays of affection should be immediately reported to the Advance Camp Director.
3. Physical contact and affection should only be given when in the presence of other young men or Advance Camp mentors and volunteers. It is much less likely that touches will be inappropriate or misinterpreted as such when more than two individuals are present and the touch is open to observation.
4. Do not force any physical contact, touch, or affection upon a reluctant young man. A young man’s preference not to be touched must be respected.
RELEASE OF CHILDREN
At the end of the camp or activity, Advance Camp mentors and volunteers are responsible for releasing children in their care only to parents, legal guardians, or other persons designated in writing by parents or legal guardians.
In the event that a mentor or volunteer is uncertain of the propriety of releasing a young man, he should immediately locate or contact the Advance Camp Director before releasing the child.
SEXUALLY ORIENTED CONVERSATIONS
Mentors and volunteers are prohibited from engaging in any sexually oriented conversations with the young men. Mentors and volunteers are not permitted to discuss any inappropriate or explicit information about their own personal relationships, dating, or sexual activities with any child in the program. This provision includes the use of cellular phones, text messages, e-mail, instant messaging and online chat rooms.
POSSESSION OF SEXUALLY ORIENTED MATERIALS
Advance Camp mentors and volunteers are prohibited from possessing any sexually oriented materials (magazines, cards, videos, films, etc.) at camp or in the presence of children.
No computer at or related to Advance Camp is to be used by mentors, volunteers, or young men to engage in computer chat room discussions or visit pornographic or sexually inappropriate websites. Violation of this policy will lead to discipline from the Advance Camp Executive Director. Any questions about inappropriate use of computers or the suitability of a particular website should be discussed with the Advance Camp Executive Director.
Verbal interactions between mentors or volunteers and young men should be positive and uplifting. Advance Camp mentors and volunteers should strive to keep verbal interactions encouraging, constructive, and mindful of their mission to provide nurturing care to young men. Mentors and volunteers are expected to refrain from swearing in the presence of young men.
Safety Policies and Procedures Statement of Acknowledgment and Agreement
I have received and read a copy of Advance Camp’s Safety Policies and Procedures Manual and understand the importance of the matters set forth within the manual. I agree to follow and abide by these guidelines during my time at Advance Camp.
Further, I understand that the manual may be modified at any time, and that any guideline may be amended, revised, or eliminated at any time by Advance Camp.
I acknowledge that I have reviewed and agree to fulfill the duties listed in my position description. While, ideally, I will serve in this position for the full term specified in the position description, I understand that it is my choice to participate in Advance Camp and that I may choose to end this service at any time.
I further acknowledge and understand that the materials and guidelines contained in this policy statement in no way express or imply a contractual employment relationship between Advance Camp and me. As a mentor or volunteer, I acknowledge and agree that I will receive no compensation for the hours I work.
Finally, I understand that it is my responsibility to review new guidelines which are created and distributed, as well as manual guidelines that are changed or deleted.
I hereby acknowledge receipt of this policies and procedures manual.