Help is on the Way
Heart racing and hands shaking, you pick up the phone just as your employees are leaving for the day. They smile and call out, “have a good night,” but you know your day is far from over. It happened, even though you implemented policies to protect the consumers in your care.
Unfortunately, this is a scenario that organizations face all too often. The US Department of Health and Human Services reported almost 60,000 children were victims of sexual abuse in the year 2016 alone. Whether someone calls to report a violation of an organizational policy or a more serious allegation of abuse, it is important to respond appropriately. Praesidium has simplified this process by initiating our Helpline service for subscribing clients to call and ask questions specific to abuse or situations where they are not quite sure how to respond.
Creating a Culture of Safety
Most organizations want to create a culture of safety for their consumers, staff and volunteers, but many struggle to define practical steps to create and sustain that culture. Through research, Praesidium has found that in order for an organization to maintain a culture of safety, every employee should understand they have a clearly defined role to play in preventing abuse—employee engagement should be high, and everyone should report their concerns. One of Praesidium’s simple yet effective abuse prevention standards is for employee and volunteers to report all red-flag behaviors. However, individuals often face barriers to internally reporting low-level or red-flag behaviors and concerns. One solution to help eliminate barriers for internal reporting is to provide an anonymous reporting method.
No one wants to be the one to accuse a co-worker of being an offender. That’s why we have found it most helpful for organizations to focus on the behavior rather than the person. There is no need to characterize a fellow employee as “good” or “bad” and no need to determine the person’s intent; if the focus is on identifying and responding to inappropriate behaviors, the goal of prevention is better served. Most people fear making a false allegation against a fellow employee; therefore, individuals may often minimize or wait to report suspicious or inappropriate behaviors until it is too late, and an incident has already occurred.
Here are a few comments that Praesidium has received during Helpline calls about employee or volunteer behavior:
- “We all joked about him spending so much time in the shower. When he was arrested, we realized he was hanging around the shower because that’s where the campers were.”
- “He acted more like a kid than a supervisor. But I was afraid if I complained, he would take it out on my kid.”
- “People thought it was odd, the football players coming to her classroom. Her giving them nicknames and asking them to smell her perfume. But I never actually saw her doing anything illegal.”
Praesidium’s Helpline can provide employees, volunteers, parents, and participants an anonymous* way to report suspicious or inappropriate behaviors and policy violations. If a parent or employee has a concern, the sooner organizational leadership hears about it, the sooner the organization can respond to the situation and potentially prevent further harm. With one phone call to our toll-free number, a Praesidium expert will promptly gather information, provide consultation on how best to respond, and facilitate next steps of alerting the organization per specific client protocols.
What Types of Organizations Would Benefit from Having a Helpline?
All organizations serving vulnerable populations could benefit from having access to our Helpline service. Praesidium receives hundreds of calls a year from subscribing clients since first establishing the Praesidium Helpline in 2013. These clients have ranged from very small local churches to very large national organizations. The bottom line is that having defined reporting mechanisms is essential for all organizations, regardless of size. Large organizations benefit from a helpline because it streamlines reporting into one central location. On the contrary, small organizations find that access to the Praesidium Helpline can remove some of the workload from employees who already face challenges juggling multiple roles within the organization. Access to the Helpline can also help eliminate potential conflicts of interest or barriers to reporting by directing people to report to an outside entity.
For our subscribing clients, the Praesidium Helpline has become a regular part of their internal reporting protocols—some federated organizations even require their participating members to report to the Praesidium Helpline as part of their membership requirements. Access to Praesidium’s consultative services can quiet some of the chaos and allow your leadership team to lean on experts during what is often a very difficult time.
Contact us today to learn more about using Praesidium’s Anonymous Reporting Helpline and building your crisis management response plan within your organization.
*While the Praesidium Helpline facilitates a way for consumers and staff to share a concern or report to Praesidium, please note that Praesidium’s Helpline is not a substitute for external reporting to local authorities and all mandated reporting requirements must still apply.