You’ve been asked to chaperone….• Important question to consider: “Do you have clarity of the expectations for chaperoning youth from your congregation?• As adults chaperoning youth we must be aware of and to practice appropriate boundaries
What are “appropriate boundaries?”• Appropriate boundaries with youth involve:• Maintaining awareness• Having a clear sense of accountability (personal and institutional)• Keeping a balance of responsibility and protection. “Balancing Compassion and Protection,” Debra Haffner, http://www.uua.org/safe/handbook/reand/165937.shtml
The bigger picture…• Chaperones are our first line in promoting and protecting the health, safety, and well- being of the youth.• It is every chaperones duty to be a reliable, positive, role model whom youth can turn to…
“Why is safety so important?”• Youth in Unitarian Universalist congregations need a safe environment in which they can share themselves in a genuine way and develop as leaders.• Rev. Sarah Gibb, “Creating Policies in Youth Groups”,http:www.uua.org/safe/handbook/reand/165938. shtml
As a Chaperone, “Practice the “Balance”• Seek a balance of maintaining good boundaries and being youth empowering.• Be explicit and transparent about your responsibilities around confidentiality.• When you have a “red flag,” or a sense of uncertainity arises about a particular situation, use a team approach with other chaperones!
Practicing the Balance• Share early and often with youth that you use a “team approach,” and that any information shared that the youth is at risk of being a danger to themselves or others will be shared.• Keep conversation friendly, but not of a personal matter…• “Balancing Acts,” http://www.uua.org/safe/children/index.shtml
Good Policies Serve the Health and Well-Being ofour youth Does your congregation have a written policy on chaperoning youth? If so, have you agreed to this policy? What policies apply to transporting youth? Chaperones should be in pairs, whether traveling, or at a fixed site.
Good Communication Before the event or trip, chaperones should take part in an orientation session At the session, review your congregation’s Code of Ethics for persons working with youth Anticipate and discuss unexpected issues – youth departing without permission; illness or emergencies, and severe weather responses
Be mindful… Strive to always work in pairs with another chaperone Never publicly discipline a youth before speaking with them one on one Even upon invitation, “step back” from direct physical activities with youth
Be Mindful, cont…. Keep copies of emergency medical forms with you at all times Have emergency contact numbers, more than one, for each youth Ask that youth also keep a copy of their emergency forms and contact information with them, just in case…
Good Boundaries and Safety GuidelinesWhen we set up clear limitations, expectations, responsibilities and accountability, then we…model the expectation that adults working with youth will be, “faith-keepers, trust builders and care-givers.”**(“Upholding Trust in the Religious Education Community.”)
When there isn’t explicit clarity of next steps… There will always be those situations where clear next steps are not evident. Respond by first trusting your instincts. “If it feels uncomfortable, move towards gathering more information, not taking immediate action”. Marie Fortune, http://www.uua.org/safe/handbook/justice/165972.shtml
When next steps are clearly indicated…. Review with other chaperones the shared expectations of when next steps must be taken. Action is required when issues of safety, abuse, drug or alcohol use are indicated. Chaperones should act and report on issues that indicate that the youth is a danger to themselves or others .
Remember…. “Our responsibility to spiritually and emotionally nurture our children and youth is everpresent and siginificant… We can significantly “reduce the risk” by creating and following preventative policies For, when we create explicit guidelines for appropriate behavior we define the values that are important to us.” http://www.uua.org/safe/handbook/reand/165827.shtml
Why and When Youth Test Limits… WBoredom There are no limits or clear guidelines T Activities lack group participation T Lack of understanding from leader T Want a role in planning - empower T Fear of failure – discouragement* http://orange.ifas.ufl.edu/4h/pdffiles/Clubs/Orange%20County%20Chaperone%20Training.pdf
Keep in mind to: Enjoy, accept, and encourage youth. Model the behavior you want youth to emulate. Clarify expectations (strive for consistency). Don’t expect youth to do everything the way you would. Display tolerance and flexibility.
Keep in mind, cont… Assist youth in making decisions Do not direct or manipulate, but be available as a coach and mentor. Show by behavior that youth input is valued. Give away ownership and power Communicate clearly and often.
Chaperoning Resources Rev. Sarah Gibb, “Creating Policies in Youth Groups”,http:www.uua.org/safe/handbook/reand/165938.shtml Safe Congregations Handbook: http://www.uua.org/safe/handbook/reand/165827.shtml “Chaperoning” http://4h.missouri.edu/resources/materials/docs/chaperons.pdf “Balancing Acts,” http://www.uua.org/safe/children/index.shtml Church Mutual, Safety resources: http://www.churchmutual.com/index.php/choice/risk/page/intro/id/21