Archive for March, 2010


These past few weeks, a stream of news stories nationally and across Europe have revealed staggering numbers of child sexual abuse cases.  The damage that pedophiles and abusers cause in the lives of girls and boys is deep, lasting, and tremendously harming. What about the policies and practices of the institutions and organizations responsible for the youth?  How damaging can these be?

A current case against the Boy Scouts of America for keeping secret “perversion files” documenting sex abusers is an example of failed policies that have the effect of protecting the organization over the needs of youth.  Sadly, we’ve seen story after story in the Catholic Church and many institutions in which abuse and violations have been kept hidden from the law.  These secrecy policies have not only added to the devastation in the lives of the kids who’ve been abused, but also prevented agencies of effective screening of abusers and prevented or constrained the work of police and authorities to stop abusers from accessing more youth.

The following is a message on our website regarding how to protect youth from abuse: Whatever the setting in which you work, please be sure you know the policies and protections in place for youth and where there are concerns or gaps in these policies, please make a point to address the policies with your co-workers and administrators.

How do you protect youth from potential abuse?

We recommend that every organization, school, or community setting that provides Girls Circle or Boys Council groups follows standard safeguard practices to protect all children and youth from any type of abuse or crime. Protective measures are essential steps to any solid program’s successful implementation.

Agencies should require all adults, staff and volunteer, who work with children and teens to obtain fingerprint clearances, to receive child abuse prevention and response training, including how to recognize signs of possible abuse, responsibilities as mandated reporters, and procedures to report suspicion of child abuse.

In every setting, we recommend that children and youth are never alone and isolated with one adult. Ideally, two adults or young adults co-facilitate the groups, or, when there is not capacity for two facilitators, at least one other responsible adult is on site and available before, during, and after each session. In addition, the on-site adult should have permission to come and go freely, albeit respectfully, from the group room.

If your setting’s policy is unknown to you, or inadequate, contact your state’s child welfare department to request recommended guidelines for staff and volunteers. Children’s and teen’s rights and safety policies should be posted, spoken, distributed, and reviewed with children, parents, and all staff on site. Administrator contact information should be given to all participants and families to report any concerns or problems.

The CDC has a downloadable resource guide for developing prevention policies within youth serving organizations:

Take Care!



March 23, 2010 at 6:30 pm Leave a comment

International Women’s Day – Recommended Reading & Viewing

Yesterday, March 8th was International Women’s Day, just as it has been every year since the early 1900s. It marks a global day of celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women  past, present and future. March is also National Women’s History Month.

We at the Girls Circle Association regularly come across many wonderful organizations, events, books, articles and videos that celebrate the achievements of women and we thought this was a perfect opportunity to share some of our recent discoveries with you.

Eve Ensler wrote the ground-breaking Vagina Monoluges, founded V-day, recently released her newest book, I Am an Emotional Creature, The Secret Lives of Girls Around The World and she also lectures around the globe.  Eve is a feminist hero and she recently gave a beautiful 20 minute talk at the Ted Conference on the “girl cells” in all of us. The lecture was titled, Embrace Your Inner Girl and we highly recommend it!


Maria Shriver, the First Lady of California wrote a wonderful article which can be read on Huffington Post called Celebrating History Can Inspire Us To Make It. The article is about National Women’s History Month which was started in California 32 years ago and about her work in this state and around the country towards women’s equality.  The overall theme of her article is “women, let’s keep on making history!”


New Moon Girls is an online community and print magazine for teen and pre-teen girls. They have a new empowering girls’ project about women in history where girls are encouraged to submit their stories.


Kitty Tyrol, the Girls Circle Association Senior Training Manager sent a book recommendation to the rest of the GCA staff that I’d like to share with you.  The book is called Three Cups of Tea and it was written by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin (2006).  Here is a synopsis from Kitty: “Greg falls off a mountain and lands in a village, Korphe, the people save his life.  He sees that the children have no school building and in particular, there is no schooling for girls.  He promises to return one day and build them a school – and so his life’s journey and purpose is defined.  He builds schools (mostly for girls) throughout the mountain regions in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Here is an excerpt: “Once you educate the boys, they tend to leave the villages and go search for work in the cities,’ Mortensen explains.  ‘but the girls stay home, become leaders in the community, and pass on what they’ve learned.  If you really want to change a culture, to empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality, the answer is to educate girls.”  “if the girls can just get to a fifth-grade level, everything changes.” (p. 209)


Those are some of our new favorite sites, videos, books, etc.  Please comment and share your new and old favorites with us as well.  Happy National Women’s History Month and Belated International Women’s Day.  My wish for us all today is to be bold, fearless and full of joy.

– Moorea Dickason, Training Coordinator for the Girls Circle Association.

March 9, 2010 at 7:26 pm 1 comment

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