Child Safety Is Job No. 1

Child Safety Is Job No. 1

Ensuring child safety is fundamental to the mission of Boys & Girls Clubs

Safety is Our Number One Priority

At Boys & Girls Clubs of America, there is nothing more important than the safety of our youth members. We work every day to create a safe, fun environment, so kids can have every opportunity to be successful in life.

We do not tolerate inappropriate behavior of any kind, including child sexual abuse or misconduct. From strict adherence to policies and guidelines within Club facilities and staffing structure, to equipping young people with the critical thinking and social-emotional skills to make healthy, safe choices, ensuring Club members are safe is the first step to their success.

For the nearly half a million young people who enter the doors of a Boys & Girls Club each day, Clubs offer safe, inclusive spaces and experiences that empower members’ learning and growth. Our data shows our approach works:

Club teens are more likely to abstain from health-risk behaviors like alcohol and smoking than their peers nationally.*

 

Clubs provide safety, mentorship and a sense of community during the critical out-of-school hours. 54% of Club alumni said the Club “saved my life.”**

Clubs help build a sense of civic responsibility and leadership. In fact, 83% of Club members believe they can make a difference in their communities and 89% stand up for what they think is right.*

“The National Children’s Advocacy Center was the first Child Advocacy Center in the world, and there is nothing more important to us than the safety of youth. In this capacity, I have proudly served on Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Child & Club Safety Task Force since 2012 and seen firsthand the organization’s investment in safety and commitment to strong youth protection policies, immediate reporting and long-term strategy, as well as their dedication each day to creating a safe and supportive home-away-from-home for kids.”

- Chris Newlin, MS LPC, Executive Director, National Children’s Advocacy Center


Boys & Girls Clubs of America continually updates and innovates robust safety policies, programs and training for local Club staff and volunteers that are designed to protect young people from threats that are present in our society. Through our national Child & Club Safety Department we implement layers of safety policies and guidelines to keep our kids safe including:

  • Mandatory criminal background checks.
  • Local Boys & Girls Clubs are required to immediately report any incident regardless of severity to the appropriate authorities and then to Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
  • Each Club has a Board led Safety Committee elevating safety to the highest level of governance.
  • Clubs are required to complete a mandatory annual safety assessments.
  • BGCA and local Clubs engage leading 3rd party safety experts on training, policies and resources.
  • Any employee looking to move to another Club, MUST have a reference from the previous Club.
  • Continual updates to Clubs’ sexual abuse prevention polices, practices, and trainings that align with best practices of healthcare and school-based settings.
  • Impactful training and resources for Club youth and families focused on mental health and social-emotional development.

In summer of 2020, local Boys & Girls Clubs voted to adopt additional safety measures, to improve safety within our Clubs. Many of these practices were already in place, however Boys & Girls Clubs determined these practices should be mandatory for all Clubs:

  • Strengthening the reference check requirement to clarify that all Clubs obtain rehire eligibility information for all prospective staff or volunteers that previously worked at another Club before being allowed to be employed or volunteer at another Club;
  • Enhancing our existing requirements around “barrier crimes” that prohibit job candidates from working or volunteering at a Club;
  • Requiring Clubs to report failures in licensing inspection within 24-hours to the national organization;
  • Standardizing of all Clubs’ Safety Committees to ensure that each and every one is being held accountable to the same metrics and responsibilities;
  • Formalizing the requirement that each Club prominently display key safety resources; information, including the Child Safety Helpline and Crisis Text Line; and
  • Requiring that Clubs inform parents and guardians of safety policies when they receive a youth membership application.

And much more. Learn more about our safety policies and actions, and recent enhancements to strengthen safety at Clubs, as well as a timeline of safety advancements.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America advocated for the passage of the U.S. PROTECT ACT, which improved background screening systems and access, and is proud to partner with the following organizations to develop safety practices that benefit ALL youth-serving organizations.

*2018 National Youth Outcomes Report
**2015 Harris Interactive survey of Club alumni