Risk Management |
“Do not treat abuse, or abuse incidents, as if they are natural disasters, impossible to prevent,” advised J. Ross Mitchell, JD, an account manager at Praesidium, in his session, “Mitigating the Risk of Abuse in Boarding, Camp and Auxiliary Programs,” during the 2021 NBOA Annual Meeting. “With the right tools, risks can be managed and abuse prevented.”
The key risks for abuse inherent in any school program are adult-to-student and student-to-student abuse, and due to the proximity to students, adults may be subjected to false allegations as well, Mitchell pointed out.
Mitchell noted that 17,000 reported incidents of student-to-student abuse occurred between 2011 and spring 2015. For each incident involving an adult, seven incidents of abuse by one student on another occur.
“It is troubling to know that peer-to-peer abuse is on the rise, and we know the majority of incidents involve students that are 10 years or older, squarely in the demographic for boarding and auxiliary programs,” Mitchell said. “But, we also know these things happen with youth as young as four years old, so student-to-student abuse is certainly a risk to be cognizant of, and protect against, in your programs.”
Regardless of the type of offender, Mitchell says they all require access through regular unsupervised contact; privacy in electronic and in-person interactions; and control. He notes control is important because it is one way an offender transitions from grooming to offending and includes testing physical boundaries, psychologically manipulating youth and grooming the school community.
False allegations make up a small percentage of all allegations and most false allegations happen after a boundary-crossing behavior, says Mitchell. He suggests preventing false accusations by:
Whether it is a boarding, camp or auxiliary program, Mitchell says the same risk-reducing framework should be taken: first, analyze the risk; second, strategize how to work around it; and third, implement the process and prevent abuse of access, privacy and control.
Analyze risks by considering the following:
After determining risks are manageable, strategize solutions to the items identified in the risk analysis and:
After strategizing and formalizing expectations, begin the implementation process by:
Mitchell wrapped up the session by suggesting attendees contemplate the follow questions in regard to their own school:
Holding the Line: Sexual Misconduct Prevention (May/Jun 2020)
Setting the Bar: Boundary Training and Abuse Prevention (Jan 2020, web-only)
Sexual Abuse Prevention Is HR’s Role — and Everyone Else’s Too (Jan/Feb 2018)
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