Sex Abuse Prevention and Professional Boundaries Training
Sexual abuse of both children and adults is, unfortunately, a too-common occurrence in Alaska, and too many children are abused by the adults who should be caring for them. While only a very small proportion of adults abuse children, the impact of this abuse is far reaching, and can significantly impact the lives of the people involved.
There are many adults in our schools and communities who are in a position to protect children and prevent abuse, but, too often, these adults are either not aware of the potential warning signs or don’t know when or how to respond appropriately.
APEI is working with Don Austin (an attorney specializing in child sex abuse issues), the Association of Alaska Schools Boards, and the Alaska Council of School Administrators to develop some standards and training materials that can help prevent this abuse. This project will include the development of model school board policies that districts may adopt to prevent potentially abusive situations, as well as training materials for school staff to help them identify and report such situations before abuse may occur. It will also include materials that districts can use when they hear of a potentially abusive situation, in order to keep children safe and respond to the situation appropriately.
The focus of this initiative is the concept of boundary invasions – an abuser may “groom” a potential victim over time by repeatedly invading the victim’s sense of boundaries, and systematically breaking down their defenses. While not all boundary invasions are inappropriate, and not all inappropriate boundary invasions are indicative of abuse, having people around who are able to identify and respond appropriately to such boundary invasions can go a long way in preventing abuse.
While the primary target of this project is Alaskan school districts, many of the tools that will be developed will be of value to municipalities as well. Many municipalities run youth programs, or simply have staff that are in the community and observing what is going on.
Over the next few weeks and months APEI will be in touch with our members and brokers about the status of the project, materials that are available for our members’ use, and training opportunities. Feel free to call us if you have any questions about this project.