UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and Preventing Abuse

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child[i] established a great context for creating safe places.  The Convention is founded on the premise that all children are equally entitled to protection from abuse and violence and other forms of maltreatment and that all adults are responsible for keeping them safe. Some key points to pay attention to in this effort include. 

     1.    All organizations that deal with children in any capacity should have written policies and procedures that clearly set out the organization’s commitment to safety – AND THE POLICIES MUST BE APPLIED TO EVERYONE WHO ENGAGE WITH CHILDREN. Work together to create  policies that work for the organization. Look at what others are doing but customize your program to your children, staff, mission, and facilities.

a.    Make sure the policy is available to parents, volunteers, and all staff and write a child friendly version to share with the students.

b.    Cover the material in staff and volunteer meetings to answer questions and identify concerns and have all adults read and sign the policy.

c.    Publicize the policy as much as possible. Let everyone knows what is acceptable and unacceptable in your program or organization and the consequences for failure to operate consistent with these policies.

d.    Include examples of situations that are covered by the policy so that everyone is clear how the policy is applied.

2.    Make sure that those vendors and partners that provide services of any kind to  children either have safety programs in place that mirror yours or know and agree to honor yours.

a.    Work with the nearest law enforcement organization to establish the best possible procedures for dealing with violence of any kind at the organization

b.    State reporting laws clearly identify those who are mandated to report suspected abuse. Create and manage your policies so that they comply with reporting laws and put children first.

c.    In both cases, include parents in the discussions about how to deal with these issues.  

3.    Establish a “feedback” system so that everyone involved with the program or organization can tell you they see that works and does not work.

5.    Set up a procedure for including children in the conversation. Ask them questions and listen carefully to their answers. They will tell you a great deal about what it takes to make them feel safe. 

6.    Identify locations or programs based on an assessment of whether they are high, medium, or low risk situations and tailor procedures to make sure all precautions are in place to promote an environment safe from abuse.  For example, make sure that more than one adult is present at all times and in those rare occasions where one-on-one contact is necessary, provide an environment that invites observation such as rooms with windows or open areas where others could come through. Lock doors and close off areas that are not being used. Regularly check spaces to assure that no one is using them without permission. 

There are many areas of risk in the different  environments that include our children. We can work together to build a safe and nurturing experience for everyone involved if we  listen to each other and to the children.  

As the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child points out, regardless of what we do children may still be the victims of abuse and violence at times. This is a hard reality for us all. However, being part of creating and promoting a proactive plan to create a safe environment that prevents, to the best of our ability, violence and abuse of any kind is our best chance at making sure all our children are safe every day.


[i] https://www.unicef.org/crc/


Keeping Them Safe is always looking for a way to interrupt the cycle of abuse in society. One group that is among those most profoundly impacted by child sexual abuse is women in prisons. Those who work with these women estimate that as many as 90% of them were molested as children and, in our experience, most of those were not the first in their families dealing with these issues. Working with a local organization committed to ending abuse of all kinds, My Kidz International, and with the support of Empower Adults - Protect Children, Keeping Them Safe has developed a presentation for women in prisons that empowers them to develop skills to create safe environments for their children when they get out of prison and to work with the adults that currently have responsibility for their children to create safer environments for them while they are still incarcerated. The program is being piloted in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and will include training staff in the prisons to continue providing the program on an ongoing basis.


Some corporations are beginning to "get it". They see the potential risks of harm to children in their environments and they are inviting us in to educate their staff about the risky behaviors exhibited by adults in the workplace and in the environment. Recently a new business that will employ over 200 and promotes family outings and gatherings brought in Arpeggias to train their upper and middle management on what to watch for in hiring an supervising staff and what to notice in the environment of the facility when it is filled with adults and children having fun. These workshops can make a real difference in shifting the context for managers from looking for creepy people to observing behavior and interrupting any that is even slightly inappropriate. Stop the potential abuse before it gets started. Contact us if you are interested in talking about how this can impact your business.

Shifting Child Sexual Abuse Paradigms - Primary Prevention Symposium

On October 8th & 9th, Empowering Adults - Protecting Children, Inc. hosted the first every Symposium in middle America for shifting the paradigm of child sexual abuse prevention. The Symposium was held on the OU Tulsa Campus in the Schusterman Center Perkins Auditorium. Approximately 150 organizational decision makers and professionals from many areas attended the sessions. The Symposium featured presentations by several excellent presenters who offered a new view of prevention of child sexual abuse that focuses on the education of adults. The presentations laid the ground work by showing a startling and enlightening film about the reality of child sexual abuse for the children and their families filmed in Oklahoma. "In a Town This Size" told the story of a pediatrician in Bartlesville, Oklahoma who preyed on the children of that community for over 25 years and how he was able to continue to abuse children without recompense. The documentary left participants with a view of what it looks like, in reality, for a prominent member of the community to prey on the children entrusted to his care and to cultivate relationships with the parents and siblings of the children to assure that he continued to have access and would never be caught.  

Dr. Robert Block, past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Emeritus Faculty at the OU College of Medicine was Honorary Chair and spoke about the real economic impact of the failure of Oklahoma to effectively address child sexual abuse and protect children.

The Symposium then turned its attention to a new view of child sexual abuse prevention through presentations featuring experts inprimary prevention programs that offer a new paradigm for prevention of child sexual abuse. Sharon W. Doty, of Arpeggias and an international speaker on primary prevention through adult education.  and creator of the adult education program. She spoke about the new paradigm, how it was developed, and how it can be implemented through a new approach to prevention programming, which she demonstrated with a piece of the program she developed, Keeping Them Safe. Pat Neal and Crispin Ketlehut of National Catholic Services, LLC presented a non-Catholic version of their Virtus™ adult prevention program and joined Ms. Doty in discussing what works in adult education implementation strategy.

The Symposium was a great success and the catalyst to a new emphasis on adult education for the prevention of child sexual abuse. The organization is considering sponsoring continuing work in this area every two years. If you are interested in future programs, please let us know and we will put you on the distribution list for other events.