Assess the Level of Risk for Child Sexual Abuse by A Volunteer

Public Management, January 2001 | Go to article overview

Assess the Level of Risk for Child Sexual Abuse by A Volunteer


Use the matrix on page 33 to judge how much opportunity a volunteer in your organization would have during regular activities to commit child sexual abuse. This matrix includes situations common to many youth-serving organizations but may not identify situations unique to your local government.

Items listed in each row are examples of the range of risk that organizations should consider for that particular row (the rows are not arranged in any special order). The risk should be evaluated based on how frequently the organization's volunteer activities attain that level of risk. For example, there is a significant difference in risk exposure for a program centered around volunteer-led wilderness treks lasting several weeks than for programs that have an occasional weekend camp-out supervised by volunteers.

Risks of child sexual abuse may be lowered through the use of mitigation measures--risk management strategies. For instance, when local governments cannot structure their programs to preclude one-to-one contact between children and adults, they can lower, or mitigate, the risk of child sexual abuse by establishing frequent communication between the child and an individual assigned to monitor the relationship.

They may further mitigate this risk by delivering educational programs that help children to recognize situations that place them at risk of sexual abuse and that tell them how to respond when they feel threatened. To reduce the amount of physical contact required between volunteers and children, youth sport organizations can train coaches to use instructional techniques that minimize the amount of physical contact with the athlete, thereby lowering the risk for child abuse.

When an organization can check several items in the "Higher" column without having in place mitigation measures, the opportunity for sexual abuse will be relatively greater for that organization than for ones with most activities in the "Medium" or "Lower" risk columns.

               Matrix for Risk Exposure to Child Sexual Abuse
                      National Collaboration forYouth
Lower                         Medium
Activities held in facilities Activities held in private homes.
with public access.
                              Mitigated
Parents actively involved in  Some parental involvement in program.
program with their child.
                              Mitigated
Two or more adults            One adult supervising a group of children.
supervising group activity.
                              Mitigated
No regular interaction        Periodic interaction for short periods of time
between volunteer and any     between volunteers and specific children,
specific children.
                              Mitigated
No changing of clothing as    Changing of clothes; showering, such as for
part of activity.             sport activities.
                              Mitigated
Training required for         Training concerning child sexual abuse
volunteers concerning         offered to volunteers but not required.
sexual abuse.
                              Mitigated
Education about child         Education about child sexual abuse offered
sexual abuse required for     to children but not required.
youth participants.
                              Mitigated
Organization regularly        Organization providing informal oversight
monitoring and evaluating     of the volunteer's activities,
a volunteer's activity.
                              Mitigated
No physical activity with     Volunteer and child engaged in activities
children involved for         involving some physical contact.
volunteer.
                              Mitigated
Organization with very little Organization with some staff turnover,
staff turnover, including for including for volunteers,
volunteers.
                              Mitigated
Services offered to children  Services offered to children younger than
older than 12 years of age. … 

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