Vetting procedures for youth leaders

| 11/05/2017

What types of background checks are carried out on persons wishing to work as a youth leader? I have a concern that a certain youth leader was involved with some explicit text messages with some of the female youth in a particular church back in 2007 and wonder how come this individual has been allowed to be in that position again?

Auntie’s answer: While I cannot address your specific concern about any individual, I have been given a wealth of information about how to protect our children who may be in similar situations. I asked the advice of Carolina Ferreira, who works at the Cayman Islands Red Cross as its deputy director as well as the child protection and sexuality education programmes manager. I realise that is a cumbersome title, but it is deserving of mention because of the important work that entails.

First of all, Ms Ferreira points out that Cayman has no national standards for organisations that serve youth here, adding, “While requirements in education, and most recently in sporting organisations, have taken the first steps to close that gap, other youth-serving organisations that fall outside those two areas do not have any form of external vetting or training requirement they must meet, and thus no mandatory steps to take to ensure the safeguarding of children outside of their own internal ‘rules and regulations’.”

What that means, she explained, is that unless an organisation “requires a background check or has its own stringent screening and hiring practices, there is nothing that requires them to do it”.

On the legal side, Section 32 of the Children Law (2012 Revision) mandates that any person who works for or volunteers in an organisation dealing with youths must make a report to the Department of Children and Family Services if he or she is concerned about the safety of a child.

“It is important to remember that a report is not an accusation; it is a request for a service to be provided,” Ms Ferreira said. “The reason for this is to ensure that the child’s safety is always at the forefront.”

For organisations seeking advice on how to deal with the issue of child sexual abuse, here are some programmes that could help:

The “Protection Starts Here” project, run by the Red Cross and its partners, offers a free, two-day workshop to help organisations develop the necessary policies, practices and procedures to build a safe environment. Here is a flyer from last year outlining the course. The most recent workshop was held last month, and organisers are working on dates for the next one.

Darkness to Light “Stewards of Children” provides free child sexual abuse prevention training. This evidence-based course is becoming a requirement for certain organisations that provide youth services, Ms Ferreira explained. The upcoming training dates are 20 May, 6 June and 17 June.

The Red Cross also offers, with its “Protection Starts Here” partners, a one-hour “lunch and learn” session that discusses the issue of child abuse in general, and child sexual abuse specifically, in Cayman and the resources and training available to the community. “This is a good starting point for organisations that want to learn more about any of the above as well, or just get others on board with safeguarding,” Ms Ferreira said.

For parents, the important thing is to stay informed, she said. “At the very least parents should be asking questions of their youth-service providers and following up on the information.”

The Red Cross has produced a flyer, which sets out six questions to help parents get the necessary information. You can read the flyer here.

In addition, Ms Ferreira said, parents should learn about the “Seal of Protection” grassroots effort to push for national standards by having parents as consumers press for those changes within the organisations that provide services for their young people.

She explained that once organisations meet the requirements, they are provided with the seal to display on their property and advertising, making it easy to identify those that are complying with basic minimum standards for child protection.  You can read the flyer here.

“The idea is that, if given the option between organisations that offer similar services, parents will choose the one with the seal because of their safeguarding structure,” Ms Ferreira said.

And lastly, below is a list of agencies to contact if anyone has any questions on child safety and protection:

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub: 814-6000
Family Support Unit (RCIPS): 946-9185
Department of Children and Family Services: 949-0290
Cayman Island Red Cross: 949-6785 ext 4/916-1742

The law mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library

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Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Because this guy gets away with everything….as long as his government is in power. Don’t vote PPM on Brac for this reason.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The opportunity should also be changed if they had knowledge of such an event and did not report it 10 years ago.

    • Anonymous says:

      The original poster should also be changed if they had knowledge of such an event and did not report it 10 years ago.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If it happened 10 years ago why is it only coming to light now? It would appear that for something to remain unreported until now it must be election related.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wonder why it took 10 years to speak up? If I know of something like that I would speak up immediately. Cayman is always full of allegations and short on truth. Corruption is rampant in Cayman and nothing should be surprising. There are so many narcissistic people who feel they are entitled and above the law. So many who make a sport of seeing how much they can bring through customs without paying duty. Others smuggle cigarettes and sell undercover to avoid duty. There are others who abuse their government scholarships, the list goes on and on. Thankfully every once in a while justice does catch up with someone who deserves it.

  5. Sharkey says:

    I think that it is strange that the question is asked before getting the job , I would send that quest and all other information to the CI FBI department.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sharkey read again. It questions why a certain youth leader in a similar position again.