The Associated Press recently released an article chronicling the mishandling of peer-to-peer abuse in schools across the country. The following excerpt from “Hidden Horror of School Sex Assaults” explains how pervasive this risk is:
Contrary to public perception, data showed that student sexual assaults by peers were far more common than those by teachers. For every adult-on-child sexual attack reported on school property, there were seven assaults by students, AP’s analysis of the federal crime data showed.
Fortunately, peer-to-peer abuse is preventable through monitoring and supervision.
Here are some tips to prevent peer-to-peer abuse in your organization:
- Train staff on the risks of peer-to-peer sexual activity. If our staff doesn’t know that peer-to-peer sexual activity can happen, we can’t expect them to know how to prevent it. Train staff on what peer-to-peer abuse is, how it occurs, and how to report incidents or allegations.
- Create monitoring plans for high-risk activities. Certain activities – such as transition times, free times, bathroom activities, transportation, etc. – increase the risk of peer-to-peer sexual activity. Create risk-specific monitoring plans where staff are assigned specific duties during these high-risk activities.
- Create plans for monitoring facilities. Peer-to-peer abuse typically occurs when youths find privacy. This privacy can be found in stairwells, out-of- the- way locations, blind spots around corners, under tables, in closed rooms, in rooms without windows, etc. Identify these high-risk locations and create facility specific monitoring plans where staff are assigned specific locations to monitor.
- Monitor staff compliance with supervision policies. Staff get tired, they get busy, and they get comfortable with the program participants. Supervisors need to make sure that staff follow your organization’s monitoring procedures. Create checklists for supervisors to complete at each program location to ensure compliance.
Responding to Peer-to-Peer Abuse
It is also important to recognize and respond to peer-to-peer abuse.
- Ensure your organization has a policy outlining the appropriate staff response to allegations or incidents of peer-to-peer sexual activity.
- Ensure your organization has a policy outlining the appropriate supervisor response to reports of allegations or incidents of peer-to-peer sexual activity.
- Ensure your organization has a policy outlining the appropriate administrator response to reports of allegations or incidents of peer-to-peer sexual activity.
- Ensure the policies each address mandatory reporting requirements.
Contact us today to request a consultation for policy creation.