CNN Features Stop It Now!

Stop It Now! Program Director Yvonne Cournoyer was interviewed on CNN Headline News Channel's Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell on May 23, 2011 in reference to a case where an 11-year-old girl with special needs was raped by a 17-year-old YMCA camp counselor.

Excerpts from the interview

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yvonne Cournoyer, you are program director for StopItNow.org. We know predators go to places where there are kids. So, what can these organizations do to weed out individuals who are going to be predators?

YVONNE COURNOYER, STOPITNOW.ORG: Well, it's really important for organizations to be pro-active. They need to have policies and practices that reduce the risk that children will be sexually abused. And some of those policies and practices include things like prohibiting one-on-one interactions between staff or volunteers and children. Sometimes it makes sense in a mentoring sort of situation but a lot of times those are the situations that increase the risk. And so we want organizations to be knowledgeable about that and to have policies that reduce those chances.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me jump in, Yvonne Cournoyer, you`re with Stop It Now. I remember when I was a teenager I was a counselor and picked kids up after school in the bus and took them somewhere. I mean nobody ever questioned me and I was just a high school student and I guess it was a simpler time. It was an innocent time, but so many people do counseling work and after-school work and baby-sitting. What are the signs to look for? This is a 17-year-old guy. It doesn`t fit the stereotype necessarily of a predator.

COURNOYER: Right. Well, I think organizations and parents really want to screen people that they are going to let be around their children. And in every case I think you'll want to ask for references. You want non-family references. If the youth has worked with other children, you want to talk to families of those youth and find out, you know, how did it go? Did you see anything that concerned you? Stop It Now! on our Web site has a lot of information on warning signs. What do you look out for when adults are with children or when young people are with children? And so it's helpful to be educated about those.

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