Ask Jack: How Can We Make Private Homes Child Safe Environments?

By Jack McCalmon, The McCalmon Group, Inc.

We have a small youth group and few resources. We'd like to have some youth events hosted at private homes, but I heard that was wrong.  

Nearly all acts of child sexual abuse are committed in private. The child safety challenge private residences present is that they are private spaces.

Private residences have places like bedrooms and bathrooms where there is an expectation of privacy, making it difficult for safe adults to monitor how adults and children are interacting.  

Events held at an organizational facility should have few private spaces and those that exist should be locked and off-limits during events.

If you need to hold an event at a private residence, you should clearly state what part of the residence is used for the event, like a backyard or a game room. Homeowners should designate what bathrooms are available to guests and lock all doors to other rooms, if possible. The homeowner should check these rooms periodically during an event. 

Bottom Line: if you have an organization-approved event at a private home, have enough safe adults present to adequately supervise at all times how minors and adults interact with each other, and establish and maintain boundaries at the home. 

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