New mobile reporting app will help to identify areas at risk.
In the Western Territory, Protecting the Mission (PTM) has received a digital upgrade for online training and mobile reporting.
The abuse prevention program implemented across The Salvation Army works to ensure children, elders and vulnerable adults are safe in Army settings, and requires training of employees and volunteers who work with these populations. As the policy states: “Keeping minors or vulnerable adults safe is distinctly a higher priority than offering rewarding ministry or volunteer opportunities for adults.”
In coordination with Praesidium, a contracted sexual abuse prevention expert agency, a new “Know Your Policies” self-directed online course is now available, along with a new “Social Media Safety” course with training for online interaction with minors and a “Meet Sam” course for recognizing potential abusers.
“These courses are specific to The Salvation Army and delve in depth into our Protecting the Mission policies,” said Melissa Jones, territorial PTM director “With new curriculum specific to one’s position each year, this training helps us to prevent and recognize abuse at camps and shelters, keeping kids and elders safe in the hands of The Salvation Army.”
In 2015, over 4,500 people completed a similar prevention course online that referenced Salvation Army policies. When an employee or volunteer is issued a link to enroll in the applicable course for his or her role, supervisors can now track and access course completion records.
“Education is the best tool that our organization has to keep people safe,” said Danielle Maldonado, the volunteer and PTM coordinator in the Alaska Division. “Trainings accomplish greater awareness in an ever-changing society. From online abuse to peer-to-peer abuse, these trainings give everyone the knowledge and language to remove and prevent abuse in our programs.”
Just like it takes a community to raise a child, Maldonado said it similarly takes a community to keep Salvation Army programs safe. “The more people who are Protecting the Mission trained, the better our programs become,” she said.
In addition, a new mobile application for reporting is now in testing by four locations in every division as part of the territory’s Information Technology suite of mobile apps, combining the paper Notice of Concern and Suspected Abuse forms into one location for recording PTM violations or suspected internal or external abuse. In May, all employees, officers and cadets will be able to report via the app.
“These concerns are not always abuse, but also include anything that is concerning between adults and children or peer to peer,” Jones said. “The app makes reporting easier, and will help us generate reports for risk management.”
Once filed, a Notice of Concern alerts the territorial legal department, which forwards the report as appropriate to Jones and the risk management and personnel departments. Jones said on average the territory receives up to five reports per day during the year, and up to 30 a day during summer.
The database connected to the mobile app allows for a more robust back end for better tracking, follow up and risk assessment that is searchable by keyword.
“With this data, we can see what areas are most at risk—for example, during free time by the bathroom at a specific camp—and then can provide additional training or ask for additional supervision there,” Jones said.
In an effort to bolster abuse prevention, each of the seven Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centers across the West is working toward an accreditation through Praesidium as a safety seal of approval that the Army is doing everything it can to keep children safe.
Following a self-assessment completed in June 2015, the Kroc Centers have worked to raise deficiencies as needed and will now be assessed by Praesidium representatives before the territory rolls out a similar assessment and training to other community centers this fall.