“Dear Ignacio, before COVID, I was working at an outdoor education camp for children around ages 7-13. On multiple occasions, I ran into my boss making inappropriate comments about some of the older girls who had reached puberty. I also caught him staring at young girls in a creepy way. I have no evidence of wrongdoing beyond this, but when I talked with other staff, there were some people in agreement. As a survivor of CSA myself, I know I am hypersensitive around this kind of behavior. I also keep doubting myself whether I am making a big deal out of this and wonder if I should stay quiet until he does something. Do you know of a better way to handle this?”
Thank you for trusting your gut. I’m glad your doubt didn’t deter you from asking other staff about this situation and reaching out for advice here. I know, as a CSA #survivor, situations like this can be #triggering.
You mentioned that you have no evidence of harm doing beyond your boss’s inappropriate comments and creepy gaze. I believe you have adequate evidence of harm. You don’t have to wait until he does something, because he already did.
He has been entrusted to educate and care for young children and he is making inappropriate comments about them. He has exhibited this behavior in the presence of others, indicating that he does not see the behavior as inappropriate enough for his position. This is evidence that he is abusing his position of power.
What do you think is holding you back from taking action? Do you fear losing your job? Are you uncomfortable “accusing” him because your concerns may not be seen as serious enough? Does the possibility of him losing his job or position concern you? These are all valid considerations.
I suggest you take a second to breathe past the fear and discomfort and remember why you were propelled to reach out. Perhaps, your concern for the safety of the campers, especially the young girls, took over.
Here are some suggestions to move forward:
1 - Try getting support from your coworkers, especially the ones who were in agreement with you. Together, you can look into any existing protocol around staff behavior to reduce harm. If your place of work has a Human Resources department, you can request more information there.
2 - If you are concerned about singling out your boss, consider raising the issue in a staff meeting without naming names. Describe the behavior, tell your boss the collective concern, demand educational and prevention resources for staff as a show of his commitment to this important issue.
Alternatively, you can have your coworkers join you for addressing your boss directly. Tell him that you have all witnessed his unacceptable behavior, that you want to hold him accountable.
If he is receptive to your concerns, decide what action steps you need him to take. This could be requesting for him to attend counseling and training, ceasing to make any inappropriate comments, and avoiding spaces where he could be alone with children. Be sure to inform him of a consequence, if he fails to follow through.
3 - If he seems disinterested or raising the issue with him feels like a mute point, filing a complaint with the HR department may be necessary.
4 - I also suggest that you reach out to camp administrators to request having speakers come in for training on CSA and sexual assault prevention for all staff. Please also request information on prevention being sent to campers and their teachers and parents as part of attending camp.
5 - If a camper discloses information on harm doing, you may be positioned to follow mandatory reporting laws. You can check child abuse mandatory reporting laws by state: https://dvmedtraining.csw.fsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Child-Abuse-Laws.pdf
In this scenario you have two choices: call the authorities, or suggest a Transformative Justice process.
At The HEAL Project, we believe there are other often better solutions than calling the police to address CSA. Before involving law enforcement, we strongly recommend considering the potential consequences for all parties involved. Please read more about Transformative Justice as an alternative or complementary approach here: https://batjc.wordpress.com/ipv-intervention-resources/
#heal2end #abuseofpower #csasurvivors #workplacemetoo #mandatoryreporting #trasformativejustice @_batjc @thefirecrackerfoundation