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Summer Helpline Analysis

Since 2013, Praesidium has offered the Praesidium Helpline to assist organizations when responding to various questions related to abuse prevention. The Praesidium Helpline supports organizations in handling inappropriate or problematic youth-to-youth interactions, employee policy violations, incidents of sexual abuse, and more. Over the past ten years, Praesidium has consulted on over 1,500 calls. Every year, we analyze all incident data collected through the helpline to inform organizations on how they can prevent abuse and minimize inappropriate interactions between employees and consumers.

Year over year, the summer months (May through August) bring the highest volume of calls into the helpline and are often the busiest months and highest risk times for many organizations operating various summer programs. In this article, we share an overview of our analysis and the most surprising information gleaned from the helpline calls received during the summer of 2023.

Incident Type Highlights

Over the last few years, Praesidium has seen an increase in adults engaging in physical abuse and inappropriate discipline with youth. This trend suggests that additional training and education on appropriately managing youth behaviors is necessary. Additionally, youth problematic sexual behavior incidents continue to rise and make up between 50-60% of Praesidium’s helpline calls each year.

Top Locations 

When conducting helpline calls, Praesidium closely tracks and analyzes where incidents occur most often. Here is an overview of the top three locations for adult and youth-to-youth incidents.

Classrooms and other program areas are consistently a top location for all incidents Praesidium supports on the helpline. This data is an important reminder of how vital strong monitoring and supervision procedures are, even in areas not necessarily considered high-risk. Active monitoring and supervision is the most effective way to prevent youth from engaging in problematic sexual behavior. Additionally, when employees know there is constant supervision of their interactions with youth, this minimizes the risk of adults engaging in inappropriate behaviors.

Overview of the Demographics of Individuals Involved 

Praesidium gathers information about the individuals involved in the incidents coming through the helpline whenever possible. When we understand the ages, genders, position types, etc., this can help us better understand who is the most vulnerable within organizations and where strengthened abuse prevention efforts are necessary. Here is an overview of some of these demographics.

What Proactive Steps Can You Take in Your Organization to Prepare for a Safe Summer?

  1. Evaluate Policies and Procedures 

Before summer begins, take the time to review your organization’s policies for managing the risk of sexual abuse. Policies are crucial for establishing the bandwidth of acceptable behavior and setting the tone for how employees interact with their peers and youth. Additionally, strong responding and reporting procedures are imperative for taking the appropriate steps if or when any incidents occur.

  1. Prepare and Strengthen Abuse Prevention Training 

As discussed, summer programming and activities are often inherently higher risk than other programs and activities throughout the year. Many organizations are also frequently hiring seasonal employees who are unfamiliar with the organization’s policies and expectations. Ensure the abuse prevention training program for summer is as comprehensive as possible. Here are some recommendations on what to ensure your training includes:

  • An overview of the organization’s policies and procedures.
  • How offenders operate, and how to recognize red flags/grooming behaviors.
  • Best practices for preventing youth-to-youth problematic sexual behavior.
  • Monitoring and supervision expectations for the specific high-risk activities in your programs.
  • Responding procedures and each employee’s responsibilities are dependent on their roles.
  1. Review Incidents and Learn from Them

Use this time before summer to review and analyze any incidents your organization has faced this past year(s). Conducting root cause analyses on past incidents is the best way to learn and understand where your organization can strengthen policies, training, supervision procedures, etc., to ensure a similar incident does not happen again. Like the information we can glean from Praesidium helpline calls, your own organization’s incident data is just as powerful for ensuring a culture of safety.

Praesidium offers a variety of resources that can help you implement these best practices. Contact us today for further information.

Visit these links for more resources and best practices to help your organization prepare for summer!


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