Statement in response to recent media coverage
August 15, 2019
Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s number one priority is the protection of the children we serve at Clubs. Any abuse of children is horrific, and we are very sorry and heartbroken that any child was ever harmed. We will do whatever it takes to ensure the safety and protection of the youth we serve and continue to improve our policies that protect young people.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America tracks and is aware of allegations of abuse at local Clubs. We require every allegation to be reported both to law enforcement and to the national organization. We treat all these allegations as criminal matters first, which ensures any harm to a child is investigated and handled by law enforcement with the full cooperation of local Clubs. Within hours of receiving a report from a Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of America provides resources to first support potential victims and their families, and second to work with local Clubs to ensure they are safe.
While there is more that we plan to do, 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 mandatory annual safety assessments.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America 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.
We recognize that more needs to be done and we have always been committed to doing whatever it takes to keep kids safe. We are retaining an outside independent third-party to conduct a top-to-bottom review of our safety processes to help us determine whether reporting protocols in place can be strengthened and how we can better ensure those are being followed. This will ensure the most appropriate actions are taken, and we will make findings of that review public – along with planned improvements as a result of the review – to strengthen safety at Boys & Girls Clubs. There will also be additional third-party reviews of individual Clubs.
While we await recommendations from the independent third-party report, in addition to the many layers of protection already in place, we will implement the following immediately:
- Because of our commitment to protecting children and transparency we will be evaluating what we can do to further inform our members, their families and the local communities Clubs serve after an incident occurs.
- On September 12, Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation will recognize emergency preparedness day by conducting sexual abuse prevention training and drills.
- We’ve had a confidential toll-free Child Safety Helpline at 866-607-7233 for many years, and now we will take action to require that the Helpline number be visibly posted in all rooms of every Club site encouraging Club parent, staff or volunteers to use.
- To further support safety in Clubs, every Boys & Girls Club will have a 3rd party expert complete an onsite assessment annually. Should an organization not be able to obtain an assessor, Boys & Girls Clubs of America will provide.
- Take action to require safety policies and guides are made available to parents during parent orientation, online or at the time of registering a child(ren).
Boys & Girls Clubs were founded 159 years ago with one objective, to provide safe places for kids and provide them with mentorship and opportunities to learn and grow. Boys & Girls Clubs should be safe places for children and teens, and there is no place here for anyone who would do them harm.