Strength Training: Youth camp leaders trained to prevent child abuse

June 19, 2019 - Chris Chapman

More than 30 youth program directors and coordinators recently participated in the Strengthening Safety Training program hosted by MSU’s Prevention, Outreach and Education and Youth Programs departments.

“We’re seeing an increase in youth camps reaching out to [POE] for training about relationship violence and sexual misconduct,” said Mariah Sloat, MSU prevention specialist in the POE department. “In order to reach as many people as we possibly can, we decided to pilot a train-the-trainer approach.”

This training concept enables youth program leaders to effectively prepare program staff and volunteers to appropriately respond, report and provide support when it is disclosed or suspected that a child has suffered from maltreatment, violence, sexual abuse or discrimination.

“Considerations, trends, and best practices related to safety in youth programs are continuously evolving,” said Dave Chupak, director of MSU Youth Programs. “I believe that this partnership with POE will help to promote consistency both in training for youth program staff and volunteers, and in support for youth program participants.”

Materials for the training were customized to include Michigan child abuse laws, grooming behaviors and youth-specific scenarios that the youth program staff may experience. It also touched on basic information centered on relationship violence and sexual misconduct—including victim blaming education and myths surrounding sexual assault.

“I think that this training goes beyond just ensuring that people are compliant with their reporting duties,” Sloat said. “In this training we are talking to people about how they can be supportive if a youth does disclose to them, which is critical.”

In 2018, the MSU Youth Programs: Registration, Safety Assurance, and Education Program expanded the Youth Protection Workshop to an annual, full-day session involving presentations from campus experts. The program has worked with campus and community partners to offer continuous training and development programs on topics related to youth safety, such as surviving active violence incidents, understanding implicit bias, and youth mental health first aid as a part of efforts to provide ongoing consultation and support for youth program directors and advance a safe learning environment.

As one of many of these efforts on campus to train youth program personnel and educate participants, Sloat says the departments will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the training and hope to offer it again in the fall.

POE also provides mandatory training for all MSU students, faculty, staff, and auxiliary groups centered around RVSM issues, such as: Sexual Assault & Relationship Violence Prevention Program, the Bystander Network, Online Education Workshop, Greeks Take the Lead Program, and Spartans Against Violence, a student athletes prevention program.

For more information on POE or MSU Youth Programs please visit their websites:
Prevention, Outreach and Education Department
MSU Youth Programs