Army seeks to keep youth safe
NEW TRAINING PROGRAM
BY JAMES BOYD –
Representatives from each command in the Western Territory gathered in Torrance, Calif. recently for an important training conference on the Safe From Harm program, which is designed to safeguard children and vulnerable adults from physical or sexual abuse.
These trainers will return to their commands to make preparations to roll out Safe From Harm to all units with programs for children and vulnerable adults. The Salvation Army intends for Safe From Harm to strengthen efforts in running quality programs, providing a safe environment for all participants.
Safe From Harm has been in development for over four years. It is a culmination of years of training, expertise, and policies designed to guide safety concerns. The program combines into one binder an organized approach for quality improvement throughout all types of programs. Implementing this program will further attempts to train and upgrade staff. This program was developed in cooperation with Nexus Solutions and with leadership of the Central Territory.
One area of focus is safeguarding children from physical or sexual abuse. In her opening comments addressing the trainees Major Carol Seiler, assistant chief secretary for strategic planning and current issues secretary, stated, “There is no good reason to be OK about the potential abuse of kids. Protecting kids and vulnerable adults in our programs is a primary goal for the Army. Headlines in the recent news have shown the problem of abuse exists across many faith-based organizations, in our school system, and in our government.”
During the training Bill Stout, one of the authors of the program, stated, “These are tough issues we’re dealing with, but it is better to deal with them now than after a crisis.” By strengthening our training and guidelines the Army strives to be more intentional about child safety.
Over the next few months people will notice changes in programs. There will be tougher standards in who is accepted for employment or as volunteers working with kids and vulnerable adults. Changes will include an emphasis on careful planning, more adults involved in programs, increased training, and increased communication with the families of our program participants.
These changes may be challenging at first, especially for corps or centers with tight staffing–but how much is a child worth? And how much is her soul valued by God?
The Safe From Harm Program will help The Salvation Army demonstrate that we value the children and others in our care, and see infinite worth in each soul entrusted to us. The extra effort involved in keeping everyone safe from harm is a small price to pay.