safety S.t.a.r.s.

Jump to Section:

Become a Gold Star School or Youth Organization!

Strengthen your policies and practices to prevent child sexual abuse.

Safety S.T.A.R.S. is an Enough Abuse Campaign program that supports schools and youth organizations seeking to strengthen their policies and practices to prevent child sexual abuse through: 

  • high quality in-person and online trainings;
  • cutting-edge assessment and prevention tools; and
  • expert technical assistance on prevention policies.
Earn Your Safety S.T.A.R.S. by…   
Screening prospective employees to keep out unsafe individuals;
Training staff and volunteers about how to prevent child sexual abuse;  
Assessing your organization’s child sexual abuse prevention policies; 
Responding to staff boundary violations with specific tested protocols; and
Securing physical spaces to reduce opportunities for abuse to occur.

Safety S.T.A.R.S. resources can help you improve safety for the children you serve and reduce the civil and criminal liabilities that can result when sexual abuse occurs. Here are some of the S.T.A.R.S. resources your school or youth organization can access as you begin or continue your efforts to prevent child sexual abuse. 


S

Screening prospective employees to keep out unsafe individuals

Model Sexual Misconduct/Abuse Disclosure Release Form 

While criminal and fingerprint background checks are a necessary part of the due diligence schools and youth organizations must conduct before hiring prospective employees, they are insufficient to screen away those who may pose a sexual risk to our children. National risk assessment experts indicate that more than 80% of those charged with sexually abusing children in schools had no prior criminal records.  States are now moving to a standardized screening tool to strengthen their interview and hiring practices to require applicants to provide information about any past or pending investigations or findings of sexual misconduct.  This Model Disclosure Release Form can be included in your interview process with new applicants and provide you with information about whether professional licensure was revoked or surrendered in response to an investigation. 

Screening Video and Script 

This 5-minute video was developed at the Klingberg Family Centers in Connecticut as an information and screening tool for all prospective employees. It serves as a model for how schools and youth organizations can communicate their mission to applicants and also make clear the organization’s commitment to protecting children from sexual misconduct or abuse by any employee.  The video is shown during the interview process with the interviewer present to observe any reaction of the applicant to the content. A script is also available as a template for those seeking to film their own video to include in the interview process. 

“How to Screen for Sexual Abuse Risk in the Employee Interview”

This 20-minute video produced by the Enough Abuse Campaign features a mock interview by Sue Todd, former CEO from Pathways for Children, to serve as a guide for employers on how to screen for sexual abuse risk when conducting an interview of prospective employees or volunteers.

“Screening for Sexual Risk when Conducting an Interview of Prospective Employees”

This tool lists several questions that employers can ask prospective employees as part of the interview process. Note that state laws vary regarding what is legally permissible to ask in an interview. Consult your legal counsel to find out if any limitations apply in your state.

Fact Sheet on Screening for Safety

This is one of six brief Fact Sheets developed by Joan Tabachnick and the Enough Abuse Campaign to be a companion to the booklet “A Practical Guide to Make Your Organization Safer.”


T

Training staff and volunteers about how to prevent child sexual abuse

Online Trainings
“Enough! Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in My School”

A nationally available, evidence-based online learning course developed exclusively to address the specific needs of schools and the challenges they face in preventing child sexual abuse – a problem the U.S. Department of Education reports is affecting as many as 1 in 10 students from Kindergarten to 12th Grade.  

A study conducted by researchers at Simmons University School of Social Work of teachers in 3 states confirms, at the highest level of statistical 

significance, gains in: knowledge about child sexual abuse, ability to identify boundary-violating behaviors, and willingness to report suspected or disclosed cases. Over 98% of teachers said they would recommend the course to their colleagues.

In this one-hour, interactive course, public and private school employees from teachers, administrators, counselors and coaches, to office personnel, transportation providers, food service workers, security guards, and custodians will learn about the nature and scope of sexual abuse and how they can take actions to prevent it from ever occurring.  Parents, school volunteers, and members of Parent Teacher Organizations and local School Committees will also benefit from this course. 

The course includes knowledge checks, a short pre- and post-test to measure knowledge gains, and a brief evaluation survey to document self-reported anticipated changes in responding and reporting behaviors. A resource bank is provided with over a dozen downloadable prevention resources that teachers and administrators can use to support post-viewing discussions and policy actions. A certificate of completion is available for download. The course also provides Closed Captions. The course is available for free preview for administrators of schools and school districts, state department of education, and schools of education by contacting info@masskids.org. Learn more at: https://elearning.enoughabuse.org/

“Enough! Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in My Youth Organization”

“Enough!” is a comprehensive training course developed exclusively to meet the specific needs of youth organizations, and to address the challenges they face in preventing sexual misconduct and abuse. The one-hour, online course with available closed captions provides learners with an engaging and interactive experience, while increasing their knowledge about child sexual abuse, their ability to identify boundary violating behaviors before they can escalate to legally reportable sexual offenses, and their confidence in reporting sexual misconduct and suspected cases of child sexual abuse. 

Every year, in youth-serving organizations (YSOs) across the U.S. an estimated 35 million adults come into contact with more than 70 million children and teens. Within these organizations our children learn new skills, build self-esteem, and are challenged to explore worlds that might not be available to them at home. Unfortunately, the same factors that create a nurturing environment for children may also increase a child’s vulnerability by providing “cover” and access to children that sexual abusers seek. Without a comprehensive strategy to prevent sexual abuse, those who work in youth-serving organizations and programs are not sufficiently equipped to protect our children from this risk or the organization from financial and legal liabilities. A key prevention strategy is to educate all staff and volunteers about child sexual abuse and how it can be prevented. 

The course, which includes pre- and post-tests, is available for free preview by youth organization directors. Email info@masskids.org for more information or learn more at: https://elearning.enoughabuse.org/yso 

“Educator Sexual Misconduct: How to Spot it and Stop it”

Prevention Summit Keynote 

Robert Shoop, PhD ~ co-founder of the School of Leadership Studies and former Director of
the Cargill Center for Ethical Leadership at Kansas State University. Dr. Shoop is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of leadership and school law, sexual harassment and abuse prevention. He has served as a consultant to school districts, universities and corporations in the area of standards of care around harassment and abuse prevention. He is author of the book, Educator Sexual Misconduct: How to Spot it and Stop It, and has produced nineteen books and over 100 journal articles, monographs, book chapters, and six educational video programs receiving national and international recognition.  

“Doing the Right Thing: How to Best Respond to Adult Disclosures of Past Sexual Abuse in Schools and Youth Organizations”

Prevention Summit Special Session

Disclosures of sexual abuse in schools and youth-serving organizations are increasing as more adult survivors come forward. How can administrators and trustees take this opportunity to promote transparency, accountability and healing? High profile cases involving the Catholic Church, Penn State, the Boy Scouts, Horace Mann School, UConn, etc. make it clear that institutional concerns about reputation, status and money too often trump the protection of children and the support of victims. This discussion explores these dynamics and provides specific guidelines to help administrators and trustees do the right thing, support survivors and prevent the future abuse of children.

Discussants: 

Peter Brooks ~ Member, Horace Mann Action Coalition

Charles Conroy ~ Executive Director, Doctor Franklin Perkins School, Massachusetts 

Carmen Durso ~ Lawyer and legal counsel for child sexual abuse survivors 

Amos Kamil ~ Reporter and author of “Great Is the Truth” and the New York Times Magazine cover story: “Prep School Predators: Horace Mann School’s Secret History of Sexual Abuse” 

Facilitator: Arthur Siegel, MD ~ Director of Internal Medicine, McLean Hospital

In-Person Trainings

The following in-person educational trainings are offered by the Enough Abuse Campaign to parents, youth, professionals, and other concerned adults to prevent adults from victimizing children today and to prevent children from developing abusive behaviors in the future. These training curricula have been independently reviewed by the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center for their accuracy and reflect the latest knowledge in the field. Over 100 references and citations from peer-reviewed articles and studies back up the data and facts presented in these “research-based” tools.  Evaluations from parents, professionals, and youth who participate in community trainings using these curricula routinely rate the tools high on a 5-point scale of excellence. 

“Enough Abuse: Strategies for Your School”

Intended specifically to educate school administrators, teachers, school coaches, parents, and other school employees. Elements includes: 

  • The impact of child sexual abuse on learning and academic achievement
  • Defining the nature and scope of child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation 
  • Preventing sexual abuse and sexual misconduct in schools
  • Legal obligations of school personnel to report child sexual abuse
  • List of physical and psychological boundary-violating behaviors that schools should consider when reviewing or developing their Code of Conduct.
“Enough Abuse: Strategies for Private Schools”

Intended specifically to educate heads of school, trustees, faculty, employees, coaches, and parents of children and youth in private, independent schools and boarding schools. Elements includes: 

  • The impact of child sexual abuse on learning and academic achievement
  • Defining the nature and scope of child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation 
  • The unique challenges of preventing sexual abuse and sexual misconduct in private schools; and in boarding schools which serve in the role of “in loco parentis” 
  • Legal obligations of school personnel to report child sexual abuse
  • List of physical and psychological boundary-violating behaviors that private schools and boarding schools should consider when reviewing or developing their Code of Conduct.
“Enough Abuse: Strategies for Youth Organizations”

Designed to train staff and volunteers in a broad range of organizations and programs serving children and youth. Elements include: 

  • The nature and scope of child sexual abuse and exploitation;
  • Preventing sexual abuse and misconduct in youth-serving organizations; 
  • Specific physical and psychological boundary-violating behaviors that youth organizations should consider when reviewing or developing their Code of Conduct;
  • Handling disclosures and reporting child sexual abuse
“It’s Not Just Jenna”

A 30-minute video co-produced by MassKids and Alvid  (now available in Spanish) to educate middle and high school youth, their parents, and other youth-serving professionals. The accompanying 30-slide “Learning and Discussion Guide” promotes and facilitates post-viewing discussion about the lessons Jenna’s story teaches us about child sexual abuse and how to prevent it. 

 The learning goals of this video and discussion are to educate participants about: 

  • Behavior signs to be aware of in adults that might indicate they pose a risk to children and teens; 
  • Ways sexual abusers “groom” or establish trust with potential victims and their families; 
  • Behavior signs to look for in children or teens that may indicate they are being or have been sexually abused; 
  • Reasons that make it difficult for victims or child sexual abuse to tell; 
  • How to respond if we see behavior signs in an adult that indicate they might pose a risk to children and teens; and 
  • How to respond if we see behavior signs in a child or teen that raises concerns they may have been or are being sexually abused. 

The training is rated highly by students. See evaluation comments here: 

“Understanding & Responding to Sexual Behaviors of Children”

An interactive training curriculum designed to prevent child-on-child sexual abuse which researchers indicate may represent 70% or more of substantiated cases reported to authorities. It is intended for schools, parents, early education and care professionals, and others who have direct contact with children and/or their families. 

Elements include how to:

  • Identify “developmentally expected” sexual behaviors of children and youth; 
  • Distinguish developmentally expected behaviors from those that might be inappropriate, coercive, abusive, or illegal;
  • Respond to all sexual behaviors in ways that promote healthy development of children and that support bystanders who may be affected; 
  • Identify “yellow light” behaviors of children and teens that require correction and monitoring and “red light” behaviors that require referral or reporting to local child protection agencies.
“Straight Talk: A Prevention Guide for Parents”

A resource that gives parents of your students the information and skills they need to strengthen safety within their families, and to reduce the risks of sexual abuse in their communities. The tool is intended to support parents who have not spoken to their children about body boundaries because they feel they don’t know enough, don’t know what to say, or how to approach the subject.  Armed with this booklet, parents can gain knowledge, skills and confidence to help protect their child from sexual abuse and its devastating consequences.

This downloadable Guide is free for individuals. Hard copies can be purchased in bulk and can be localized with you school o youth organization logo. A Spanish version is available. 

“Straight Talk: A Prevention Guide for Parents of Children with Disabilities”

This version of the Straight Talk prevention guide gives parents and caregivers of children with disabilities specific knowledge and skills to keep their children safe. The 28-page guide can be downloaded online for free. It is also available for bulk purchase and can be localized for your school or youth organization.

“Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Programs for Children and Teens”

This Resource Guide for schools and youth organizations provides a summary of 16 programs/curricula developed to educate children and teens about body safety and sexual abuse prevention. Included are: age group served, program description, format/length, evaluation, and cost.  Recommended key elements for consideration when selecting a curriculum for children are also highlighted from the Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Child Safety Posters

This 18”x 24” size poster was developed to encourage children who feel unsafe to tell a trusted adult, e.g. parent, teacher, school resource officer, school nurse, or call the Massachusetts Child-at-Risk line for help. 

The school poster is endorsed by the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents and the Massachusetts School Nurses Organization.  A poster for YSOs is also available.


A

Assessing your organization’s child sexual abuse prevention policies

“Assessment Tools for Schools and for Youth-Serving Organizations” 

These two tools can  guide schools and small to mid-sized youth organizations as they explore and consider various questions and strategies needed to create a safer space for children and adolescents.  The goal is to increase organizational strengths while decreasing the risks inherent within any organization that serves children and youth.  These 12-page Assessments includes over 60 questions in 7 categories that members of the organization’s leadership team fill out individually or as a guided group process to identify strengths and also gaps to be addressed to improve child safety.

“Are You Crossing the Line with a Student? A Self-Assessment for Public School Teachers and Employees” 

This 3-page self-administered assessment tool helps adults identify thoughts and behaviors that might pose a potential threat to the children they serve and to their own role as a teacher, school employee, coach, or youth organization staff. Also, in the series: 

 “Are You Crossing the Line with a Student? A Self-Assessment for Private School Staff”

“Are You Crossing the Line with a Youth? A Self-Assessment for YSO Staff”

“Are You Crossing the Line with a Student Athlete? A Self-Assessment for Coaches”

“Sexual Abuse Safe Child Standards”

A 22-page report that identifies six safe-child Standards schools and youth organizations should consider implementing. It includes: action steps to help support implementation of each Standard which include: assessing risk of harm and strengthening identified gaps; educating staff, volunteers, children, and their parents about child sexual abuse and its prevention; developing codes of conduct detailing specific adult boundary violating behaviors; screening of prospective employees and volunteers; assessing and modifying physical spaces to reduce opportunities for sexual abuse; and reporting and responding appropriately to sexual misconduct and suspected abuse. 

“Code of Conduct: A Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy Guide”

These Prevention Guides support schools and YSOs in assessing their current child safety practices and their adoption of a comprehensive set of policies to support the safe conduct of employees and volunteers. Each 15-page Code of Conduct details appropriate adult/child interactions, as well as a listing of 30 inappropriate or boundary-violating behaviors that, if not interrupted, could be precursors to illegal sexual offenses. The Codes includes: the “Three is NOT a Crowd” Safety Rule; rules for Restrooms, Locker Rooms, Changing Areas;  Outings/Overnight Trips; and Social Media and Electronic Communications. It defines sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment and provides guidance to administrators about policies to address whistleblower protections, monitoring and reporting, and the dissemination of the Code to parents and the community. An Acknowledgement Statement is included for staff to sign to indicate they will abide by the Code and will notify designated supervisors when boundary violations are observed. 

The Codes of Conduct were developed by MassKids with input from school and YSO leaders, prevention advocates and survivors of child sexual abuse by school or YSO staff or volunteers. 

“20 Boundary Violating Behaviors Schools, Students and Parents Should Know About and Avoid”

A set of three separate resources on Boundary Violating Behaviors for 1) youth-serving organizations, 2) public schools, and 3.) private day schools and boarding school. These 3-page hand outs are intended for staff, students, and parents to help them identify and stop inappropriate behaviors of adults that, if left unchecked, could escalate to sexual misconduct and/or legally reportable sexual offenses.

“A Practical Guide to Making Your Organization Safer”

This 12-page primer includes 6 companion “Fact Sheets” on Education, Screening, Code of Conduct, Physical Spaces, Mission Driven Policies, and Reporting. Developed for MassKids by consultant Joan Tabachnick, the primer and fact sheets are an excellent way for small to mid-size organizations to get started in implementing basic prevention strategies.


R

Responding to staff boundary violations with specific tested protocols

“Responding to Reports of Staff Boundary Violations:  A Training for School and Youth Organization Administrators”

While mandated reporter training provides school and youth organization personnel with information about how to report suspected or disclosed cases of child abuse, including child sexual abuse, most administrators receive no training on how to respond to reports of staff boundary violations that do not rise to the level of requiring a formal report to child protective services or law enforcement. To address that gap in training, this Dos and Don’ts resource provides specific practical steps administrators can follow to respond appropriately to reports of boundary violating behaviors by adult employees. 

A suggested listing of data that should be tracked by schools on the handling of all reports of staff boundary violations of the school Code of Conduct is included. This includes a description of the alleged violation or misconduct, who and when reported, data on the alleged violator and child victim, time and physical location of the violation, how the report was handled by school administrators and disciplinary or other action taken. On an annual basis, schools should analyze the data to support improvements in physical spaces, policies and practices.


S

Securing physical spaces to reduce opportunities for abuse to occur.

 “Shifting Boundaries: Lessons on Relationships for Students in Middle Schools”

This 64-page document is a detailed guide on how to implement a program for 6th and 7th grade students on issues such as boundaries, personal space and how to build a culture of school safety. It is one of only two evidence-based sexual violence prevention programs among 140 reviewed by the CDC in a meta-analysis in 2014. It was co-developed by Nan Stein, Ed.D, through a grant from the National Institute of Justice.

A feature of the program that addresses the SAFETY STARS goal of securing physical spaces to reduce opportunities for abuse to occur, includes its “hot spot mapping” by students of safe and unsafe physical spaces in the school. 

The program’s proven efficacy in lowering peer sexual violence victimization and perpetration, as well as its implications for creating a culture that can also identify and prevent adult sexual misconduct/abuse of students makes this program an important model for schools to consider implementing.

“Maryland Guidelines and Best Practices for the Design, Assessment and Modification of Facilities and Spaces to Reduce Opportunities for Child Sexual Abuse”

This 15-page 2020 report was developed jointly by The Interagency Commission on School Construction and The Maryland State Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (pursuant to MD Code Ann., Education, § 6-113.1(e). It supports the position that just as the physical environment can create opportunities for crime to occur, altering physical spaces can reduce incidences of sexual misconduct and abuse.  


Contact Us

Contact us today at info@enoughabuse.org to learn how your school or youth organization can partner with Safety S.T.A.R.S. to access expert technical assistance and high quality, tested prevention resources. 

If you prefer, just fill out this form and we will contact you to schedule a time to speak or meet so your school or youth organization can begin earning your Safety S.T.A.R.S. today.

Name