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The National Institute For The Prevention Of Workplace Violence

Safe Harbor Resources

The OLD precautions are:
  • Based on Law Enforcement concepts. "Spot the likely predator and screen him out."
  • Quick and cheap. Purchase of Criminal conviction histories and check sex offender registries.
  • To Rely upon self-reported check-boxes on application forms. ("Are you a criminal? YIN")
  • Applied to "new applicants" only, to save money and to avoid perceived alienation of existing staff.

The old precautions accomplish:

  • Some protection from negligent-selection lawsuits. (A conviction history is "all" that is admissible in court, so it's all that a court can compel a screener to have done.)
  • A potential decrease in child abuse of up to 3% over thirty years' time, because only 3% of predators have criminal histories, and because these checks are only done on new applicants.

The NEW precautions are:

  • Based on an Administrative concept, not a Law Enforcement concept: The organization adapts the precautions in order to qualify for accreditation.
  • In-depth. Checking includes opinions of parents, references given by references, county Children Service referrals and civil dockets, leaders of children's programs previously worked in, driving record, military discharge, offender lists, plea bargains as well as arrests and outcomes thereof.
  • Aimed at deciding whether the role to be offered is high-touch or low-touch, not to screen-out.
  • Applicable to all staff and support adults, not just new applicants.
  • Confidential. Results remain in control of the applicant. Applicant decides whether to serve or not.
  • Not cheap. But consider the cost if just one abuser is successful in fooling the "old precautions." The NEW precautions accomplish:
    • Cautious job assignment (low-touch) to volunteers with complaint potential in their backgrounds.
    • Separating the supply of children from any who might be predators.
    • Avoidance of stigmatizing or shaming anyone, since there is no "detection" of likely offenders.
    • Deterrent of even the most subtle and charming predator, incumbent or not, for an even better reason than fear of detection: certainty of lacking access to the supply line of victims.
    • Eligibility for accreditation, display of the SHR Seal, assurance of parents.

Safe Harbor Resources is an accreditation authority for youth and children's programs. It provides a programmatic approach for organizations that wish to adapt the New Precautions.

What SHR does
It acts as a quality control inspection service for assuring parents that their children will not have close contact with program volunteers whose backgrounds contain any questionable factors. Only programs which use SHR's in-depth background checking, and utilize SHR's policies and procedures, can display the Seal of Safe Selection Practices.

How it does it
Volunteers indicate to SHR where they have ever lived and worked, plus sign notarized applications for records inspections by Children Service agencies, bureaus of Motor Vehicles, and Civil Court systems in all counties and states plus submit fingerprints to state and federal law enforcement authorities. They furnish six references and give those references permission to suggest additional references. SHR checks everything and asks parents how they feel placing their child in the volunteer's care.

SHR processes the information into its proprietary "Instances of Appearance of Potential for Complaint" which becomes the structure for the program leader to privately interview the volunteer. Those whose instances are not well explained are offered roles and duties that do not involve "foreseeable opportunity for unsupervised contact with the children or youth." Thus no persons are screened-out per se. SHR keeps a record of the results, including whether the volunteer accepted the offer or withdrew. All incumbents are checked. A policy of rotation-of-duties is instituted.

Why it works
Volunteers who decline the offer of a no-contact role must withdraw if the program is to receive accreditation. No implication is made as to the reason for withdrawal. The net result is to preserve voluntarism while interrupting the predator's supply-line of victims.

Safe Harbor Resources
6999 Dolan Rd.
Glouster, OH 45732