It seems that media reports about sexual harassment and assaults continue on an almost daily basis. While this horrific news is mainly about adults, we know that children are extremely vulnerable to abuse and assaults. This is even more common among children who are living in at-risk situations, such as homelessness, because offenders target children who seem more defenseless and are less likely to tell.
At School on Wheels, we do everything we can to protect our students – the most vulnerable children in our society. We also want to safeguard our volunteers from potential accusations. We have several mandatory policies to help ensure the safety of our students, as well as our volunteers:
- Tutoring has to take place in a public area and has to be scheduled so that two or more tutors will be present at the same time and place. For smaller locations, libraries or other public locations with only one tutor, the tutor must work with their student within sight and earshot of another adult (shelter staff/ residents, library staff or parents).
- Tutors must refrain from initiating physical contact with students and must report immediately to their coordinator or School on Wheels staff if they feel uncomfortable in a situation.
- Tutors are required to wear their School on Wheels badges to identify they are tutors and so that our students become comfortable with our name and logo. Please let your coordinator know if you need a new badge.
Field Trip Safety Policy
Tutors who wish to take students on field trips must consult and follow the SOW field trip policy. Tutors cannot provide transportation outside of this policy. If tutoring takes place outside a shelter, the parent/guardian is responsible for the student’s attendance and transportation. All parents/guardians must stay at the location for the duration of the off-site session.
Volunteers are required to log all tutoring hours via the School on Wheels database. Logging is a critical and a mandatory part of being a volunteer in our program. This policy is first and foremost for the safety and security of our students, but also to protect our tutors. With accurate logging, we can identify exactly who, where and when tutoring takes place.
The vast majority of our volunteers are complying with our safety policies – thank you so much. However, it seems that not all volunteers understand the importance of these policies or we have not explained them enough. The news coming from the media has refocused my attention on our safety policies. So I am asking each of you make sure that you are complying with these policies. The safety of our students is a sacred trust. We cannot compromise that. I know you agree.
Thank you so much for being a wonderful volunteer and ensuring the safety of your student. If you have any questions, please contact your coordinator.
Executive Director | School on Wheels, Inc.
“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
– Nelson Mandela