Policy Regarding One-On-One Situations

Clear guidelines should be established for isolated, one-on-one situations. Many organizations strictly prohibit one-on-one time under any circumstances. However, for organizations that address the needs of children and adolescents, one-on-one mentoring/tutoring/support is often considered important to a child’s development. If this is the case for an organization, very specific guidelines about such one-on-one time should be clearly articulated.

Risk Assessment

High and low risk situations in your organization should be clearly defined. For example, a situation where one teacher is with a group of children in an open classroom where other adults are walking in and out would be considered low risk. A situation where an adult is alone with a child, driving from one activity to another, would be high risk.

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Observable and Interruptible

Essentially, determination of risk has to do with the degree to which situations are observable and interruptible. An adult can mentor a child privately by finding a spot that is away from others, but that is still in an open area that is observable. For example, an adult and child might sit at a picnic bench. Their conversation can be private under this circumstance, but easily observed.

Many organizations carefully design physical space to permit observable and interruptible one-on-one time. For example, windows are installed in all doors, even closets, and policy is established that prohibits them from being covered.

Adult-Child Ratios

Most prudent is a policy that requires two adults to be present at all times when children and adolescents are being supervised. Many organizations require that the two adults not be family members. A helpful addition to this policy is that whenever groups of children are being supervised, an extra adult should be available as a "floater" to stand in if one of the two adults in a classroom or other situation must leave the area.

Special Circumstances

All organizations with child protection policy should carefully consider policy for toileting/diapering, driving with youth, and overnight activities. Each organization is unique; therefore generic policy is difficult to articulate. However, the clearer an organization is about the acceptable way to handle these situations, the less likely an incident in which a child is violated will occur.