Big Brothers/Big Sisters

How do those organizations protect the kids from harm and the volunteer adults from unwarranted accusations?
I’m getting ready to volunteer with a comparable program in our county and, unfortunately, that will be one of my first questions if not addressed.

I’m going to bump this once because I think the concern is particularly timely and the cause is particularly worthwhile.

The first thing to do (besides not doing inappropriate things with the kids) is tell the truth.

My sister has worked with CASA, mentoring teens in foster care, and they have very strict rules regarding personal and professional boundaries. For example, they are not allowed to exchange phone numbers or addresses; all contact must be made through the office. IDK if BB/BS is that strict; in some places, it probably is.

Here’s an awkward case I just heard of yesterday:

Background: I fly gliders with a club at a smallish airport near here. Separately, Civil Air Patrol has a program for cadets (teenagers), taking them for “orientation” flights in their glider. It is forbidden (more-or-less) for pedestrians to walk out on the taxiways, so we use golf carts to get out to the flight line by the runway. CAP has their own glider and tow plane, but they use our golf carts.

For some silly reason, cadets had been forbidden to ride in golf carts. They had to walk alongside them. The word as of yesterday, that dumb rule has been rescinded. Now, cadets can ride in the golf carts, but they cannot drive them. An adult must do that.

But now, adults are also not allowed to be alone with a cadet one-on-one. There must always be a chaperone (apparently, that simply means another adult) present. But the golf carts can only accommodate two people: One driver and one passenger. They are not allowed to ride outboard, hanging on the back or sides. (We do that all the time, but those cadets can’t.)

So there’s no way to get cadets out to the flight line within the rules, because you can’t have a cadet and two adults in a golf cart. (The solution I heard them kicking around was they were just going to not worry about that rule.)

OPs concern is pretty much the reason I have never done that kind of volunteer work, at least not since college. At that time I was helping tutor a 6th grader (if memory serves) and actually went to his home one day when he was sick to take him his lessons and have our tutoring session. When I arrived his mother was just leaving, and so we were there alone for a while. Even then (45+ years ago) this made me a little nervous. Today I would have dropped off the books and come back later when a parent was home.

So I don’t have any answer for the OP. I am interested to find out if they have any structural protections both for the children and for the adults.

nearwildheaven, if you are falsely accused by a malicious child, I’m not sure that telling the truth would be enough to save you from having your life ruined.

A child doesn’t even have to be malicious to cause trouble like this. It suffices if they simply give a poor description of something, as children often do, to potentially cause trouble.

I once slapped the back of a neighbor child’s hand because he tried to pull my hair. He started crying. When the neighbor mom came around and inquired, the older sister (about 11) said that I hit him.

Nothing much came of that, but imagine what could have happened. The mother apparently believed my version of the story, but told me not to hit her kid again; only she could do that. I agreed, but laid down the rule that she could never leave her kid alone with me again.

IIRC from my stint as a Big Brother, they screen prospective volunteers with background check and everything. They used to anyway. It seems to me (less sure about this one) from talking to “my” child’s dad, they don’t accept every child. There is or was a screening process and waiting list, for the kids because (at that time) there just weren’t enough Big Brothers/Sisters to go around. keep in mind that this is better than 10 years out of date though.

I’m pretty sure with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, you do things in public places. The kids don’t go to the Big Sibling’s house. That already greatly reduces the chances for anything untoward to happen.

With this program, public places are the first step…eventually visiting the Big Sibs house is allowed as long as there is another person there. Personally I would make sure it is someone other than my significant other for added protection.

Thanks for the input.

This doesn’t address your question, but is a caveat about these programs in general.

A friend got a Little Sister, with whom she hoped to develop a caring relationship, help with school and life in general. Their time together quickly evolved into the girl trying to get my friend to buy her things.
So, just a heads up that these children are not always sweet little angels. Sometimes they are desperate survivors who are very good at manipulation.

I eventually was in the program long enough to be told I could take my little bro to my house, buuut, I just decided to do things at his house instead. Dad was pretty cool, just a single dad with a kid trying to do a good thing for him. I just didn’t feel comfortable taking him to my home.