Creating a Child Safe Environment

For Happy, Healthy & Safe Kids

At the B.R. Ryall YMCA, we stand committed to providing a safe environment for everyone who enters our doors or participates in our programs. Most important is the safety and well-being of children entrusted to our care. We have a series of measures in place to keep kids safe. Learn more about how the Y keeps your children safeguarded against abuse through staff training, protocols, and ongoing knowledge of awareness and prevention below. 

The Y works closely with Praesidium, the national leader in organizational abuse risk management.

What the B.R. Ryall YMCA Does to Protect Children

The B.R. Ryall YMCA works in partnership with parents and guardians of children in Y programs to protect children from abuse. To keep children in our programs safe, we require the following steps in our intensive screening of employees and volunteers:

  • Detailed application forms
  • Comprehensive interview process
  • Personal and professional references
  • Criminal record checks
  • Child abuse prevention training
  • Mandated reporting of suspected child abuse
  • Staff are not allowed to babysit children they meet through the YMCA.
  • Extensive Child Abuse Prevention Policy and Procedures Manual

The Facts about Child Sexual Abuse

  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18. 
  • 90% of offenders are known by their victim or their victim’s family.
  • 1 in 10 public school children, accounting for 4.5 million students, have experienced sexual misconduct by an educator.
  • There are more than 60 million survivors of child sexual abuse in America; 80% never reported their abuse.
  • Child abuse costs the United States approximately $103 billion per year.

Sources: Praesidium

Know. See. Respond.

Together, let’s commit to protecting the youth in our YMCA and our communities by practicing the three habits of child abuse protection each day.

Because when we know and understand how abuse happens, see the warning signs and are prepared to respond quickly to prevent it, we create a culture of child abuse prevention that results in even safer environments for kids to reach their full potential.

KNOW how to recognize boundary violations and how offenders operate. It’s up to us as adults to do all we can to prevent child sexual abuse and create safe environments for children. Teaching children about their bodies, recognizing warning signs, and responding to any concerns are important first steps. Even very young children can learn some skills to help keep themselves safe from sexual abuse, but it’s up to parents to help them learn what they need to know. Here are some important things you can teach that will help you help your child stay safe.

Teach Your Child Rules About Touching Their Body

Preschoolers understand the idea of rules, such as rules about playing nicely with others and rules about being safe, like wearing seat belts. So as you teach these rules, just add rules about touching their bodies.

First, talk to your child about body parts, including private parts. This will give your child words to use when he/she needs to tell you anything about his/her body, like an injury or rash or other problem in that area.

Then add rules about private parts, like “Never let other people touch your private parts unless Mommy or Daddy knows about it.” Children also need to know what to do when someone breaks the rules about touching. Teach them:

    • What to say to someone who breaks the rules about touching
    • To move away from someone who is breaking the rules about touching
    • To tell you or another adult if someone breaks the rules about touching
    • Phrases so he/she can tell others to stop and practice saying them with your child
    • Teach your child to say this anyone who invades their privacy (other children as well as to adults)
    • To move away from anyone who is breaking the rules about touching
    • Tell your child that it’s ok to get out of someone’s lap or pull away from a hug, even if an adult asks them not to
    • To tell you or another adult, like a teacher or caregiver, if someone breaks the rules about touching them

SEE. Keep your eyes and ears open for signs of abuse and talk with your child, asking them about your concerns. If something is wrong, you may see a sudden change in your child’s behavior, or you may hear unusual comments. If you see or hear these things, follow up. Find a relaxed time to talk with them.

Child Abuse Warning Signs

  • Frequent or unexplained bruises or injury
  • Unkempt or malnourished appearance
  • Bathing frequently; obsessive cleanliness
  • Disturbed sleeping or eating patterns
  • Inability to stay awake or concentrate for extended periods
  • Abrupt changes in behavior, anxiety, clinging, aggressiveness or withdrawal
  • Sudden, dramatic changes in activities or personality
  • Sexually transmitted diseases and infections
  • Fear of a certain person (this can include other minors) or place
  • Discomfort with physical contact
  • Fearfulness or depression
  • Aggression toward adults or other children
  • Abuse of other children
  • Nervousness around adults
  • Low self esteem
  • Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his/her age

Watch for these things in adults that may signify potential abuse. Remember, offenders seek access, privacy & control.

Emotional Boundary Violations

  • Making them feel important, cared about and understood
  • Spending too much time with them
  • Choosing favorites
  • Giving gifts
  • Acting possessive
  • Sending excessive or inappropriate text messages
  • Pretending to be the child’s friend on social networking sites like Facebook
  • Sharing personal information to make the child feel like they have a special relationship
  • Promising extra coaching time, a college scholarship, a place on a national team or even an Olympic Team spot!

Physical Boundary Violations 

  • Tickling
  • Horseplay
  • Hugging
  • Massaging
  • Wrestling
  • Going overboard with affection

Behavioral Boundary Violations

Offenders manipulate kids into doing things they wouldn’t otherwise do, such as:

  • Sneaking around by saying they will be in one place when actually they are in another
  • Keep secrets with the offender
  • Look at pornography
  • Use drugs or alcohol

RESPOND. If you see warning signs from your child or you hear about something that sounds like abuse, report it immediately.

If your child tells you about sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior, your response plays a big role in how your child understands abuse and how he/she recovers.

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Comfort your child.
  3. Listen carefully.
  4. Ask for examples.
  5. Do not threaten or criticize the person your child is accusing.


Child predators break rules to gain privacy, access, and a relationship with children. People who do not follow child safety rules put all children at risk. 


  • violations of Code of Conduct
  • allowing children to sit on his/her lap
  • tickling, wrestling, or touching that seems odd
  • giving participants gifts
  • being one-to-one with a child where they are not visible and interruptible by others
  • violations of rules/boundaries in general with children
  • neglecting or leaving children unsupervised
  • touching participants in their bathing suit area
  • contacting minors via phone, online or in person outside of the Y
  • accessing/referencing child pornography
  • taking pictures of minors on his/her personal devices
  • making excuses as to why the rule violation is okay

Report Abuse

You do not need proof that abuse if occurring to make a report, only reasonable suspicion. Reporting child sexual abuse is key in preventing and intervening in abuse.

If you believe a child is in immediate danger of harm, call 911 first.

If you have questions or concerns, or would like to report an incident anonymously, please call the YMCA helpline staffed by YUSA’s experts, Praesidium, at 1.855.347.0751.

If you would like to report a suspicion that a child has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed by abuse or neglect, call the DCFS Child Abuse Hotline: 800.25.ABUSE (800.252.2873 or TTY 1.800.358.5117) or

Report YMCA Concerns or Policy Violations

If what you learn from your child, or if what you’ve observed or overheard sounds like abuse, call the Child Abuse Hotline or the police. If what you learn from your child, or if what you’ve observed or overheard sounds like a boundary violation, suspicious or inappropriate behavior, or a policy violation, then:

  1. Share your concerns with the employee, supervisor, or the person in charge. Be sure to follow up with both your child and the adult you’ve talked to.
  2. If you are unable to do this, you can share your concerns using the link below. 

Parent Resources

Together, we can help prevent child sexual abuse. Take a look at some of these helpful resources from other organizations that share the Y’s commitment to the safety of children.

Online Trainings for Parents & Caregivers by U.S. Center for SafeSport 

The U.S. Center for SafeSport produces online abuse awareness and prevention courses.

Click here to access all online training materials. After following the link, click on the “Get Trained Now” button. This will take you to the Learning Management System, where you can create a free account and access the trainings.

Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Online Training by Darkness to Light 

Darkness to Light offers training that specializes in the education and prevention of child sexual abuse, other forms of abuse and mandated reporting. Click here to access all online training materials.