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Circles of Safety For Youth-Serving Organizations

Many youth and family-serving organizations have addressed child sex abuse in ways such as mandated reporter presentations, warning sign trainings and possibly support resource development for any child who has been abused. Circles of Safety trainings are perfect for the next step – how to implement and practice safety policies and behaviors and how to build accountability throughout your professional setting.

Circles of Safety for professional youth-serving communities teach adults how to design, develop and integrate a child sexual safety focus in their environment and in all interactions with children. Adults responsible for the well-being and safety of children will be able to identify specific action steps both within their professional infrastructure, as well as develop their communication and their own teaching skills to both demonstrate primary prevention and respond to any situation with potential warning signs and that may be vulnerable for sexual abuse.

Too often, after a child has been sexually abused, adults will say “I was worried something was going on” or “I thought something just didn’t seem right.”  Circles of Safety provides the employees, volunteers, foster parents and others in youth-serving organizations with the education they need to recognize early warning signs and respond responsibly before a child is harmed. This training equips adults to become active protectors of children.

Stop It Now! research shows that adults are more knowledgeable about the signs in a child who has already been sexually abused than they are with early warning signs or situations that increase the risk a child will be sexually abused. If we wait to act until after a child is harmed, it’s too late. When faced with a situation where they were concerned that an adult was sexually abusing a child, one in three adults surveyed by Stop It Now! did nothing. This research indicates that people lack the knowledge and tools to act when they’re worried about a child.

Additionally, our research shows that adults are particularly confused about whether or not behaviors between older and young children or youth and children would be considered sexual abuse. This confusion often results in lack of action to set boundaries and create safe environments for children. 

Our program is based on a community responsibility model that teaches adults (both men and women) how to intervene safely and effectively when they see early warning signs of an adult or youth behaving inappropriately with a child. By translating violence prevention and bystander theory, research and practice into practical tools addressing child sexual abuse prevention, participants in Circles of Safety trainings come away with the necessary knowledge, increased confidence and expanded comfort so that they can speak up and take actions to keep children safe in their care and supervision, as well as create environments that are less vulnerable for children. 

Participants who complete Circles of Safety:

  • Use the knowledge gained about warning signs and situations to define their own rules about personal space, privacy, and appropriate interactions with children;
  • Proactively communicate their boundaries to adults or older youth interacting with their children or the children in their care;
  • Speak up or intervene when they are concerned about an adult or older youth’s behavior around children; and
  • Gather allies to create a circle of safety around children.

Circles of Safety for Youth-Serving Environments is a training experience over one to three days. Circles of Safety: Awareness for Action is the first training, and is a full day of sexual abuse prevention learning for the entire organization. Organizational leadership is invited for their own Circles of Safety: Leadership Training to begin the process of embedding prevention into their organization policies and practices. A full day of Train the Trainer prepares organizations to bring Circles of Safety workshops to its own community to sustain continuity in the shift to a prevention focus. Review a sample menu of our trainings for further description.

Circles of Safety for Youth-Serving Organizations can be adapted to any type of organization and are typically for large-scale educational, child welfare and/or community service organizations. If your program is seeking sexual abuse prevention training in a condensed workshop for smaller audiences, please visit Circles of Safety: Community Workshops for Prevention.   

For information on how to bring Circles of Safety to your organizaton or host a Circles of Safety Training for your professional network, contact:

Jenny Coleman, Director
Email: jcoleman [at] stopitnow.org or training [at] stopitnow.org
Phone: 413-587-3501

or complete this training interest form