Child Safety in Youth Serving Organizations

Child Safety in Youth Serving Organizations: Creating Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships and Environments


The Challenge

The prevalence of child sexual abuse (CSA) is staggeringly high, and abuse can lead to a myriad of behavioral and emotional problems and negative physical and mental health outcomes. Despite this, there are limited evidenced-based resources to help protect children and youth from abuse.

In 2007, in an effort to address this, the CDC published a document to guide policies, procedures, and best practices for youth serving organizations (YSOs) entitled, Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations (available below). Since its inception, the document has provided the foundations for the protection of millions of young people in Youth Serving Organizations. However, in the 14 years since it’s original publishing, new risk factors and prevention strategies have been discovered.

Solution and Impact

The CDC Foundation is currently leading a multistep effort to revise this publication to provide the most up-to-date information on policies and procedures that are effective for protecting children and youth from CSA in YSOs. This includes:

  1. Reviewing current prevention policies and practices used by YSOs;
  2. Reviewing recent scientific research and theory on effective prevention methods;
  3. Surveys with YSOs;
  4. A series of virtual focus groups and interviews with YSOs.

With the results of our collaborative efforts, the feedback will be incorporated into updated resources that will function as a guideline in the development of practice tools. These newly updated resources will be available to all YSOs in the effort to support the youth they serve!

Applied Curiosity Research is leading virtual focus groups and interviews with YSO leaders, staff, and stakeholders October, 2020 and June, 2021. The project is taking an inclusive approach to learn from YSOs across the country and create resources to help YSOs create safe, stable, nurturing environments for children in their care and prevent child sexual abuse.

As part of this effort, we’re purposefully seeking feedback from YSOs that serve children in five historically underserved and underrepresented communities: LGBTQ+, persons experiencing homelessness, immigrant/refugee populations, indigenous/tribal, and children with disabilities. We recognize that children in these communities have endured disproportionate and/or historical trauma, have been excluded from research about CSA prevention, and are at disproportionate risk for experiencing abuse. Through this project, we seek to elevate voices, using a culturally responsive lens, so our revised resources can include their perspective and experience.

How you can help!

We’re looking for youth-serving organizations from across the country to share their perspectives and expertise. Please consider supporting this project by:

  1. Signing up for a focus group or interview;
  2. Suggest an organization that we should contact – we’re looking for small organizations and organizations that serve diverse populations;
  3. Recommend a specific person with a unique perspective that we should interview – a former YSO participant, a volunteer from your team, a parent from your program.
  4. Complete an interest survey (no commitment, just sharing preferences):

Email ( or call (404-682-0834) us with any questions or ideas, or leave us a comment/sign up below.

This work is supported by the CDC Foundation. Financial support for this project was provided by the CDC Foundation with grants from the Oak Foundation, Porticus, and World Childhood Foundation USA.

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