Protecting the JCC Village

January 16, 2017

Protecting the JCC Village

Child Abuse Prevention Training at J Camps and the J

By Drew Fidler, LCSW-C
Policy & Program Development Manager
Baltimore Child Abuse Center

For the last four years, the JCC of Greater Baltimore and its J Camps team have been working with Baltimore Child Abuse Center (BCAC) to bring comprehensive, practical training about child abuse, neglect, and responding to children in crisis to JCC staff. The goal of training is three-fold: protect children, protect staff, and protect the JCC. This partnership provides all staff with a comprehensive understanding on what is child abuse and neglect, its emotional and developmental impact on children, potential signs and symptoms of a child in crisis, how to properly report concerns, and how to work with children in a safe and healthy way.

Today, JCC staff and camp staff are better prepared to identify and support child victims of abuse and crisis, understand what it means to be a mandated reporter, know the laws in Maryland, and identify potential situations they may encounter as staff. Being able to recognize warning signs, properly report, and provide help to children in crisis, can greatly reduce the long-term negative mental, physical, and emotional impacts. This is why it is so important that staff are trained and at the ready to respond. Training has raised the level of awareness across the entire JCC for not just abuse but also all issues of children in crisis, and subsequently made the institution safer for all children.

It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child. However, to quote the movie Spotlight, it unfortunately also takes a village to abuse a child. From the person who perpetrates the abuse, to missed signs and symptoms, to adults who look the other way because it’s not their business, and the belief that this just doesn’t happen here, it all leads to a culture that in turn perpetuates abuse and puts additional children and institutions at risk.

Ultimately child victims pay the ultimate price with a lifetime of mental, physical, and emotional costs. Without intervention, victims of child maltreatment average 47% higher delinquency rates and 59% higher adult arrest rates. They are at an increased risk of mental illness, depression, and suicide, and serious health issues such as obesity, eating disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, and early death.

Abuse is not stranger danger. In fact, ninety percent of abuse is perpetrated by someone a child knows and trusts. If staff are never educated on ways to safely work with children, how can we expect them to properly do their job, maintain appropriate boundaries, and keep kids safe? Through real-life scenarios, JCC staff are better prepared to respond to children and situations that arise without compromising themselves or the institution. Staff are able to hold each other accountable, and seek help and guidance from supervisors and JCC Executives.

Protecting children from child abuse is a duty that all of us share. JCC of Greater Baltimore takes its obligation to protect members and their children very seriously. Abuse is something no child should ever endure, but with proper education and training we can not only respond better and more quickly to child victims, but also begin to prevent future incidents of abuse.

Thank you to the JCC of Greater Baltimore for standing up for Baltimore’s children and their future!

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