Protecting our youth

Michelle Study-Campbell | Aug 07, 2019

Youth Protection Week will be September 9-13.

Earlier this year, I joined the Kiwanis International staff as director of Youth Protection, a new role for the organization. With that new role came lots of questions: What is youth protection? Why are we doing this? What will you do exactly? 

Let’s begin with the why. Why do we care about youth protection at Kiwanis International? That’s an easy one. For more than 100 years, Kiwanis has been “serving the children of the world.” And through Kiwanis Youth Programs, we reach more than 300,000 youth. That’s quite an impact. And it’s a lot of young people to mentor, lift up and protect.

According to data compiled from multiple studies — including research by the World Health Organization — we know that 25% of all youth globally will experience some form of child abuse or maltreatment, including sexual abuse. Furthermore, we know that 90% of all abuse comes at the hands of known acquaintances — not strangers. This is our why.

We provide leadership training and volunteer opportunities to those hundreds of thousands of youth, all the while working with countless other youth each year as we build playgrounds, serve lunches, lead youth groups and more. While we are serving the children of the world, we will now be informed and trained to help protect those same children.  

Kiwanis has had in place for a few years now its Youth Protection Guidelines and district youth protection manager positions. These pieces were the organization’s first steps in building out a world-class youth protection initiative. Today we are working hard to bring new training and fresh policies and procedures to advance the foundational work that has already been accomplished. In the coming months and through the year, you will see new resources for districts, clubs and individual Kiwanis members, including training for our adult and youth volunteers and training for parents too. You will see greater clarity in our guidelines and policies and ongoing support.   

Youth Protection Week 2019 is September 9-13. We will roll out new training opportunities, information on the prevalence of child abuse and maltreatment and how we as Kiwanis members can be part of the solution in ending violence against children.  

This is youth protection. And this is what we are doing. Because kids need Kiwanis. 

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