Reporting Abuse

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Thank you for publishing the article, “Overcoming Volunteers’ Reluctance to Report Abuse” [November].

To clarify the discussion of our work in the article, the instant child safety notification system that we created is not intended to be the main way that volunteers report their concerns to supervisors. It’s there for volunteers who are uncomfortable making direct reports.

We agree with Jovanna Centre at Friends of Walla Walla about addressing, during pre-service trainings, some volunteers’ shock when they run into economically depressed social situations that they’re unfamiliar with. One of the unintended consequences of our instant child safety notification system is that some volunteers have used it out of this sense of “shock.” Those programs have revised their pre-service trainings to give their volunteers a more thorough understanding of the settings in which they’ll be serving.

It’s also important to note the context in which our instant child safety notification system is used. We don’t just plop it on volunteers’ online reflection logs and progress reports; rather, we provide the organizations we serve with guidance on how to train their volunteers to use this feature before volunteers ever see it. To be fair, we didn’t take these steps until we saw that some volunteers were using the feature out of the “shock” [that Centre described].

I encourage Centre and others who have skeptical thoughts on our service but have never seen or used it to look at and appreciate the service’s outcomes. Organizations we serve have told us on five occasions that our instant notification system has helped children get out of harm’s way. The system has helped children by creating a space where some volunteers feel safe reporting their concerns.

Our type of system is not the only avenue, but is one of many that can and should be made available to all volunteers serving youth and adults.

Gary Kosman, CEO
America Learns
Mission Hills, Calif.