It is an old saying that a poor workman blames their tools, but it is also true that doing a job well requires the right tools.
Currently, the tool imposed on most youth-serving organizations to protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse is a set of four controls designed twenty years ago to prevent sexual abuse and misconduct (SAM).
The immediate problem is that compliance rules are not enough, on their own, to prevent sexual abuse. On the contrary, sexual abuse is rising. Adult-on-child sexual abuse has doubled in the last ten years. Child-on-child sexual abuse has increased five times.
The more fundamental problem is that compliance is the wrong tool to prevent sexual abuse. Research consistently shows that organizations using risk management best practices have fewer and less costly adverse events than organizations using traditional risk management. They also achieve their objectives more often and are more trusted and highly valued. Unfortunately, compliance is a step below even traditional risk management – so far below, in fact, no one has thought to compare the performance of compliance with risk management best practices.
If you ask any room full of people how well they think children should be protected from sexual abuse, they will all agree they should be as well protected as possible. You must use best practices to do anything as well as possible.
If you ask a room full of people who own or run youth-serving organizations how well they think their organizations should be protected from the consequences of failing to prevent SAM, they will also say, “as well as possible.” Compliance is concerned with protecting children and vulnerable adults, not organizations. They also need risk management best practices to deal with the growing scale and scope of SAM risk.
That SAM Risk Managers must have the right tools to protect children, vulnerable adults, and their organizations from sexual abuse is a BOKRIM core principle.