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GSDSW Sexual Abuse & Child Molestation

Policy & Procedures

(Please read, acknowledge, and click to continue Online Registration) 


PURPOSE:

To stress Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest (GSDSW) has a zero tolerance for sexual abuse & child molestation.

Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2010 defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:

“Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, under Chapter 261 of the Texas Family Code.

“According to Chapter 261 of the Family Code (recodified in 1995), child abuse is an act or omission that endangers or impairs a child’s physical, mental or emotional health and development. Child abuse may take the form of physical or emotional injury sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, physical neglect, medical neglect, or inadequate supervision.”

Section 32A-4-3 of the New Mexico Children’s Code:

“New Mexico law broadly defines “abused child” and “neglected child” so that every action in which a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected is potentially covered. If there is a question whether a child is an “abused child” or “neglected child” as defined by the law, always err on the side of the child’s safety and report the incident.”

Policy:

GSDSW supports, requires and maintains environments that are free of child abuse and neglect as defined by the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services under Chapter 261 of the Texas Family Code “physical or emotional injury sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, physical neglect, medical neglect, or inadequate supervision.” and Section 32A-4-3 of the New Mexico Children’s Code.

A child is defined as being under the age of 18, or the age specified by the child protection law of the state in question.

Sexual abuse is defined by CAPTA as “the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a vision depiction of such conduct; or the rape, and in cases of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form or sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children.”

 

Child abuse, molestation, and neglect are unlawful acts. It is strictly against GSDSW’s policy for any employee or volunteer, male or female, to physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally or verbally abuse or neglect any girl member.

 

Resources:  Acknowledgment Receipt and Understanding of Sexual Abuse Policy (see end of policy)

 

Procedure:

GSDSW emphasizes our responsibility as a youth-serving organization by providing employees with the Child Abuse & Molestation policy, as well as the section on Sexual Abuse & Child Molestation in the Personnel Policies. These policies are reviewed and updated annually. GSDSW employees are required to sign an acknowledgment receipt and understanding of Policy statement. These statements are maintained indefinitely in the employee’s file. New employees are also required to read and sign GSDSW’s “Open Door” and “Anti-Retaliation” policies and participate in the New Employee Orientation.

 

Volunteers and employees who will be interacting with children are subjected to background screening before being allowed to work. Volunteers and employees are not allowed to be alone with the girls. Volunteers and employees who will be interacting with girls are subject to training; the topic of sexual abuse is covered in detail, and are instructed to be observant and aware of physical injuries, suspicious behavior, evidence or signs that someone is possibly being sexually abused include, but are not limited to:

Physical evidence of abuse:

  • Difficulty in walking
  • Torn, stained or bloody underwear
  • Pain or itching in genital area
  • Bruises or bleeding of the external genitalia
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

 

Behavior signs of sexual abuse:

  • Reluctance to be left alone with a particular person
  • Wearing lots of clothing especially in bed
  • Fear of touch
  • Nightmares or fear of night
  • Apprehension when sex is brought up

Volunteers are provided with the “Volunteer Policy Manual” and  “Volunteer Essentials” which include sections that deal with required number of volunteers per group (i.e. having at least two unrelated adults present at all times with youth) or to follow the “Three Person” rule. “One-to-one interactions” are limited to emergency care situations. The “Volunteer Policy Manual” and “Volunteer Essentials” are reviewed and updated annually. GSDSW volunteers are required to sign an acknowledgment receipt and understanding of Policy statement. These statements are maintained indefinitely in the volunteer’s file.

Internal Reporting and Documentation:

If you are aware of or suspect sexual abuse taking place, employees and volunteers must immediately report it to the

  • CEO
  • Human Resources Department

All reports of abuse must be received by the council within 72 hours after the initial report to the state, in accordance with the respective law.

 

Federal and Texas/New Mexico Report

Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, under Chapter 261 of the Texas Family Code.

“Anyone having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect" must report the case immediately to a law enforcement agency or to the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, under Chapter 261 of the Texas Family Code. Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is a class B misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $2000.”


Section 32A-4-3 of the New Mexico Children’s Code:

 “Anyone who has knowledge or a reasonable suspicion that a child is an abused or neglected child must report it immediately. The report may be made to (1) a law enforcement agency; (2) the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department; or (3) a tribal law enforcement or social services agency for any child residing in Indian Country. Merely reporting the incident to a supervisor or manager is insufficient.”

GSDSW requires all volunteers and employees to immediately report suspected cases of sexual abuse & child molestation to the local law enforcement agency in which the child resides within 24 hours of receipt of the information.

 A person who suspects child abuse will be held criminally liable in the state of New Mexico and the state of Texas if he or she fails to report such information to the local authorities. Neither Texas nor New Mexico requires the report to be submitted to the state in writing. The following contact telephone numbers will suffice:

 

The Texas Department of

Protective and Regulatory Services Hotline is:

(800) 252-5400

Or call

911

 

The New Mexico Children Family and Youth Department

Hotline is:

1-855-333-SAFE [7233] or #SAFE from a cell phone

(800) 797-3260

Or call

911

Investigation, Follow-up, and Confidentiality

GSDSW will take all allegations of sexual abuse seriously and will promptly and thoroughly investigate it.  While the investigation is in process, the suspected volunteer/employee will be prohibited from duties involving girl interaction. GSDSW will use an outside third party to conduct an investigation or use a trained internal investigation team and will cooperate fully with any investigation conducted by law enforcement or regulatory agencies.

 

If the results of the investigation confirm allegations:

  • GSDSW will release the volunteer/employee from acting in an official Girl Scout capacity and will cooperate with prosecution by law enforcement or regulatory agency.
  • GSDSW reminds employees and volunteers to refrain from discussing council business with outsiders or with anyone else except as mandated by law. Dealing with sensitive issues when responding to the press or public is directed to the CEO.

 

Anti-retaliation

GSDSW prohibits retaliation made against any employee, girl member, volunteer, board member or vendor who reports a good faith complaint of sexual abuse or who participates in any related investigation.  Making false accusations of sexual abuse and child molestation in bad faith can have serious consequences for those who are wrongly accused.  GSDSW prohibits making false and/or malicious sexual abuse allegations, as well as deliberately providing false information during an investigation.  Anyone who violates this rule is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

 Acknowledgment Receipt and Understanding of Sexual Abuse & Child Molestation Policy

 I acknowledge that I have received and read the Sexual Abuse & Child Molestation policies and procedures and/or have had it explained to me.  I understand that GSDSW has a zero tolerance for any employee, volunteer, board member or third party who commits sexual abuse & child molestation.  Disciplinary actions will be taken against those who are found to have committed sexual abuse & child molestation.

I understand that it is my responsibility to abide by all rules contained in the policy.  I also understand how to report incidents of sexual abuse & child molestation as set forth in the abuse policy, including retaliating against any employee/volunteer exercising his or her rights under the policy.


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