by Megan Olson
This winter the “Reflectors of Holiness” (2021-2023) session of cadets served as the inaugural class to receive advanced training in child and vulnerable adult protection. The training is a new nationwide standard birthed out of the Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult Safety Committee established in 2020 by National Headquarters.
First year cadets gain depth of knowledge, best practices, and practical abuse prevention techniques pertaining to screening and selection of personnel, peer-on-peer abuse, behavior management, monitoring and supervision of participants and personnel, and use of internal feedback systems.
Further empowerment in the understanding and use of trauma-informed approaches and de-escalation complements an emphasis on forming developmental relationships with youth as an evidence-based way to reduce their participation in risky behaviors and make them less vulnerable to abuse. The training concludes with the importance of self-care when serving the vulnerable, especially through the management of a serious incident and the complicated aftermath.
“I have taken Safe from Harm before several times, so I had a pretty strong understanding of child and vulnerable adult protection going into to this; however, this [new training] really addressed the situation on the officer’s end which I think was so helpful,” said first-year Cadet Paige Heyboer.
During their second year of training, cadets learn how to conduct a safety assessment of property, program and personnel with completion of an on-site practice assessment. The Reflectors of Holiness will be the first to complete the two-part training in full while subsequent sessions follow in their path.
Cadet Paige concluded, “I love how we are taking the step to make church a safe environment, that is so important, as someone who has [personally] benefited from a church’s security and safety.”
Empowering future officers with more comprehensive abuse prevention training addresses an area integral to the Salvation Army’s mission—meeting the human need of safety.