Preventing Child Abuse in Day Camps

Sometimes parents feel like they need a vacation when they’re on vacation. It’s true. The packed itineraries, disrupted routines, and lack of alone time can be exhausting. Which is why over 18 percent of U.S. hotels and resorts now offer classes, camps, and activities just for kids. It’s great.

But these new offerings also introduce new risk. Whether it’s a golf program, day camp, or babysitting, hotel owners and managers need to be aware that they may be exposed to allegations of negligence, criminal assault, or sexual abuse. Allegations that can be tragic for the child, costly for the hotel or resort, and damaging to the brand.

So even though hotels and resorts are not primarily childcare providers, they are responsible for providing a safe and healthy environment for the children in their care. And doing that is all about having effective hiring practices, employee-youth interaction guidelines, and allegation reporting and response policies.

Towards that end, here are a few tips to help with preventing child abuse within your organization:

  • Hiring practices
    • Inform applicants about your stringent child abuse prevention policies. You will likely deter high-risk offenders from applying.
    • Use background checks and search child abuse registries. Make sure to conduct a thorough search, because these records are not always linked or comprehensive.
  • Employee-youth interaction guidelines
    • All employees should be given training, information, and skills to help them prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.
    • Set an employee-to-youth ratio to ensure safety. Children should be visible at all times by a minimum of two employed adults.
  • Responding to allegations
    • If evidence of child abuse surfaces, a formal report must be made to an outside agency. Be sure your reporting policies are consistent with current state law.
    • Keep internal records. Although your organization should not investigate allegations or suspicions of child abuse in lieu of reporting them to the authorities, it should develop a system to track allegations and suspicions of child abuse cases.

For more tips on protecting children and your organization, please review our Managing Risk Bulletin on preventing child abuse .