Indicators of a Safe Environment

Posted: October 20, 2011 in Monday Morning Message
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You can tell that a program has placed importance on promoting a sense of safety among its participants when you walk into the room, even before the participants arrive, because the environment is clearly a place where all are included and respected:

  • Agreements are printed in multiple languages when appropriate, so all young people and parents can read them.
  • You might also see signs created by young people that reflect the values of the club, like “RESPECT YOURSELF”; “RESPECT OTHERS” and “MISTAKES ARE OK.”
  • If there are displays celebrating young people’s accomplishments, every young person is represented at one time or another.
  • The images on the walls represent the participants’ racial and ethnic diversity and present diverse role models (in terms of race, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, family structure).

After the adults and young people arrive, you can see that staff have worked to promote a sense of safety in the way everyone interacts.

  • As people enter it is clear that they know what to do and where to go and they demonstrate a shared understanding of the behavioral expectations.
  • Young people of different backgrounds, ages and genders as well as adult staff members, interact comfortably with one another.
  • Young people and adults speak respectfully to each other even when disagreeing.
  • All young people make comments, ask questions and share ideas without the fear of ridicule or censure; there are no hurtful “put downs.”
  • Policies and procedures are posted, well known and consistently upheld by children, young people and staff under all circumstances.
  • Activity space, equipment and materials are appropriate, accessible and safe for all ages and ability levels.

These are just some of the indicators of a safe environment, for a more in depth look at safety and its indicators check out “A Guide to Developing Exemplary Practices in Afterschool Programs by Andria J. Fletcher, Sam Piha and Reba Rose.

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