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SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN IN BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS SOUTHERN LAKE MICHIGAN REGION

Sadly, all youth serving organizations, including sports, schools, recreation, and mentoring programs, face the reality that the children served may be hurt by the adults who are supposed to protect them. Each Big Brothers Big Sisters agency has put in place important policies, procedures, and training designed to help keep children safer while participating in a local program.

Child sexual abuse is a tragic and complex societal issue. Although leading experts report that annual rates of substantiated child sexual abuse in the U.S. have declined significantly over the past two decades, we recognize that childhood victimization remains much too prevalent. Experts believe that in the U.S., 1 out of 4 girls, and 1 out of 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18.

REQUIREMENTS FOR REPORTING AND RESPONDING TO SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ child abuse response protocols were developed in consultation with federal law enforcement and require that local agencies train professional staff to recognize, respond, and immediately report any suspicions or allegations of child abuse or exploitation to child protection or law enforcement professionals. Agencies are also required by national standard to report any allegation or suspicion of child abuse or exploitation involving an adult associated with Big Brothers Big Sisters to BBBSA’s youth protection team and to law enforcement within 24 hours.

The rate of reports made to Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies involving child sexual abuse or exploitation occurring between individuals associated with the organization amounts to a very small fraction of a percentage point per year based on children served annually. Included in those reports are incidents that may have occurred years or even decades before the report was submitted. We are profoundly saddened by accounts of any child being abused, harmed, or exploited and work tirelessly to prevent harm.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact your local agency through www.bbbs.org/get-involved or Big Brothers Big Sister of America at ChildSafety@bbbsa.org.