How To Keep Your Organization Safe from Sexual Offenses
Did you know that your organization is tasked with the responsibility to keep the workplace and any company-related activity free of any form of sexual offenses? Your organization has a legal obligation to do so, so you should take this issue seriously.
In most parts of the world, the law that requires organizations to keep their workplaces safe from sexual offenses is the same law that prohibits discrimination based on gender. They are usually tied together, and it would be beneficial for you to take a keen interest in this issue.
The problem becomes more serious when your organization deals with adolescents. Besides the need to obey the law, it makes great sense to take steps to keep your organization free from sexual offenses. Failure to do so will leave you with demotivated employees, very low productivity levels, and a series of lawsuits.
This article gives insight into some of the steps to take, as an organization that works with minors, to be safe from sexual offenses. We provide you with a brief description of these steps, which are drawn from the e-course “Boundaries with Adolescents” compiled by the Indianapolis Counseling Center.
Here are 6 great tips you can implement.
Work as a team
Keeping your organization safe from sexual offenses must begin with working together as a united team. You must all be on the same page with regard to interactions with the minors.
When your organization works with minors, having a united team will ensure there is clear and constant communication between all employees. Hence, you can easily address high-risk situations and red flags that would otherwise be unresolved in a team lacking unity.
No team member should feel like a rogue agent, all alone, trying to navigate through their work. They shouldn’t feel like they can do anything they want, even if it means going against company policy. With a team spirit, everyone feels included and is not afraid to communicate about certain odd situations that may lead to sexual offenses.
Therefore, strive to work together harmoniously as a united team.
Provide policies, rules, and structure
It is important to define what is wrong and what is right in your quest to keep your organization safe from sexual offenses. When working with minors, they tend to have blurred lines between their professional and personal life. In doing so, an adult working with the minor in your organization can also confuse these two. This is why a basic definition of what is okay and what is not okay is needed.
There should be rules on the dress codes of employees. What are they expected to wear, and what is the minor expected to wear? You should have rules on using social media, personal cell phones, and any other technology. Can an employee be friends with a minor on social media? What are the regular hours your employee can contact an adolescent?
This helps to set clear dos and don’ts and will also protect your organization legally if any issue arises.
Have regular contact with staff
All humans go through different problems. The employees in your organization are no different. They also have difficult days and may need a shoulder to lean on or advice from an external party. If they feel alone, they may confide in the minors they are meant to have a professional relationship with, thus shattering the required professionalism.
It is important to have regular staff meetings or one-on-ones with them to check how they handle their assignments. This will prevent the “I am alone” feeling that usually leads to employees making bad decisions with regard to sexual offenses.
Regular meetings can also allow you, the supervisor, to pick on certain red flags that can develop into full-blown sexual offenses. This is very important as it helps you and your employee to prevent an escalation in the future.
Regular contact with staff is also a great way to gain positive insight into how to handle issues. A simple chat with staff can help you realize that your case is not unique and that others have handled such cases before. Hence, an employee can gain great and positive ideas on how to best make decisions.
Provide external boundaries
As an adult working with minors, you have internal boundaries that dictate, “I could never do this or that.” However, for your organization to be safe from sexual offenses, you must incorporate external boundaries.
External boundaries may take visual cues such as signs that read: “Your body is your body,” or, “Don’t let anyone touch you inappropriately.” It can also be in the form of a phone number to call if they feel they have something to say about someone crossing boundaries. It can also be ID tags that the adults are forced to wear whenever they are in contact with the minors reminding them of who they are and what is expected of them.
The external boundaries help to remind both the adult and the minor what their roles and expectations are. They further create another wall-like barrier for the adult to cross if they continue down the wrong path of bad decisions regarding a minor.
Whether the adult and the minors realize it or not, external boundaries stick to their subconscious mind. Thus, they are more likely to stay in their roles and expectations even if they meet outside of the usual meeting place, like off-campus for school-going children. External boundaries like visual cues can also help bystanders to report something awkward that they witness. They can simply call the number on the sign, and your organization will get the information.
Be mindful of self-care
It is very important to take good care of yourself when dealing with minors. Minors, and especially teenagers, are people who enjoy pushing boundaries. They are in a stage of their development where they like to push boundaries and see what can probably happen.
If you do not take care of yourself and show up tired in your interaction with these minors, you might react emotionally rather than professionally to them. So take great care not just of your basic needs like eating and sleeping but also of your emotional needs. Do you feel safe? Are you going through a loss that is making you lose your confidence?
A great example of teenagers and their boundary-pushing habits is when they keep nagging you about something that you already said no to. They keep asking, again and again, imagining that you will be worn down at some point and give in to their whims.
The same is true in keeping safe from sexual offenses. You may be handling minors with behavioral issues. They may keep nagging you to wear you down. You need to be able to create and keep a boundary, and you can only do this in the right state of mind. Thus, self-care is very vital.
These tips are not fail-safe. Despite your effort, the methods and tips are not 100% as they still depend on the employee. Hence, if the employee wants to cross the boundary, they will still do so.
Therefore, it is important to remain prepared by making it as difficult as it can possibly be for the employee to cross the boundaries. You can create physical, mental, and emotional barriers that demotivate them. You can also ensure that from outside your organization and from other people in their environment, the employees know what is expected of them.
In these ways, you can keep your organization safe from sexual offense when working with minors.
Do you want to implement a zero-tolerance approach to sexual misconduct in your organization?
Lead Magent #1
Prevention and Response