In my ongoing quest to find effective anti-bullying programs to recommend to my clients, I ran across two recent literature reviews. Both continued the depressing trend of finding no significant impact from the programs.
Many of my smaller clients have asked about hiring short-term and part-time staff as independent contractors rather than employees. My law partner, Glianny Fagundo, outlines some of the risks of that practice:
As your program starts planning for the new school year, here are some topics that you need to consider including. Some are more important that others — mandated reporting for example, may fulfill a legal requirement in your state, while dealing with media inquiries may be a remote possibility. As always, your training program should fit the needs of your program.
Minnesota Public Radio recently had an excellent report on the problems of homeless youth. One aspect that struck me was the unintentional consequences of mandated reporter policies:
This story from Los Angeles illustrates that even the best child protection policies do not work if staff and supervisors do not follow through. In this analysis, I’m relying on the reporter’s facts, most of which come from later police reports and depositions in a civil suit against the LA school system. According to the reporter, in November 2014 a parent of a female water polo player at Kennedy High School told the head coach, Eric Pierce, that a 21-year-old coach, Joshua Owens, was dating their 15-year-old girl. Pierce told the investigating officer that he “didn’t take it seriously,” and did not follow up beyond asking Owens about the allegations. Owens, of course, denied any inappropriate conduct.
Anti-bullying programs get a lot of attention these days, because everyone wants to spare children the trauma of true bullying. Yet in spite of our best efforts, the problem is not getting better, and some experts worry that we are creating new problems for our kids.
One common question that I get is which parents have authority over the children in a program. As with all legal questions, it depends.
Youth-serving organizations that are conscientious about background checks often overlook another important resource for screening staff, namely state child abuse registries. Most states have some sort of registry that compiles substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect. While the registries often are not open to the public, organizations that serve minors usually have some sort of access to them.
An interesting study from the Yale Child Study Center that works with parents instead of their children is being hailed as “an innovative way to address an epidemic of anxiety disorders” in children. While the findings certainly challenge conventional wisdom, they are not all that new. My grandmother and her mother before her would have recognized the principles.
The Americans with Disabilities Act and Sec. 504 prohibit discrimination against a child with a physical or mental impairment that “limits one or more major life activities.” In general, a facility must make “reasonable modifications” to its programs to accommodate a child’s disability. There are three important exceptions, namely that a program (1) can exclude children who pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others, (2) need not make accommodations that would fundamentally alter the program, and (3) need not take steps that place an undue burden on the program.
- Staff Training
- Child Protection Policies
- Protection Policies
- Speaking Engagement
- Risk Avoidance
- Child Abuse
- Criminal Law
- Mental Health Research
- Public Policy
- Employment Issues
- Zero Tolerance
- Child Witness
- Expert Witness
- Litigation (Discovery)
- Mandated Reporter
- Day Care
- Personal Injury
- Youth Camps