We take the safety and protection of our students in the Rotary Youth Exchange program very seriously. In 2002, Rotary International adopted the Statement of Conduct for Working with Youth, as shown here.
In addition, District 6220 and other Rotary Clubs and Districts have to undergo a rigorous certification process every few years, which include demonstrating an active policy for student protection. You can read our District 6220 policy here: Student Protection Policy.
As part of our District Orientations, students will be instructed on how to understand basic safety rules and expectations, and we’ll help them understand the variety of cultural values that they will encounter while abroad.
This section provides information on topics that describe key aspects of our protection program.
Student Protection Policy & Mission Statement
Rotary International is committed to creating and maintaining the safest possible environment for all participants in Rotary activities.
It is the duty of all Rotarians, Rotarians’ spouses, partners, and other volunteers to safeguard, to the best of their ability the welfare of, and to prevent the physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of children and young people with whom they come in contact.
We do this by:
- Recognizing your right to freedom from harassment & abuse.
- Ensuring staff and volunteers are carefully selected, trained and accept responsibility.
- Responding swiftly and appropriately to all suspicions or allegations.
- Appointing a District 6220 Student Protection Officer.
- Ensuring access to confidential information is restricted.
It is very important to recognize and accept that there are many different cultures in our world, and there are no right or wrong ways of doing something, but rather there are different ways. As we travel through this life as part of the international program we:
Need to think Internationally — Not just from a USA viewpoint. For instance:
- Personal space is viewed differently in different countries.
- Touching and hugging is perceived by different cultures in different ways.
- Body language means different things in different cultures and countries.
Basic Student Rights (regardless of culture):
When feeling threatened, you have the right to:
- Trust your instincts or feelings.
- Expect privacy.
- Say no to unwanted touching or affection.
- Say no to an adult’s inappropriate demands or requests.
- Withhold information that could jeopardize your safety.
- Refuse gifts.
- Be rude or unhelpful if the situation warrants.
- Run, scream, and make a scene.
- Physically fight off unwanted advances.
- Ask for help.
Report any situation in which you feel threatened to your Host Club Counselor immediately.
Definitions of Various Forms of Abuse:
- Sexual Abuse
- Intercourse, masturbation, oral sex, fondling.
- Viewing pornographic materials.
- Taking part in making pornographic materials.
- Physical Abuse
- Hitting, shaking, squeezing, biting or burning.
- Excessive training.
- Failure to meet basic physical needs.
- Constantly left alone or unsupervised.
- Failure or refusal to give affection or attention.
- Left in an unsafe “at risk” environment.
- Emotional Abuse
- Persistent lack of love and affection.
- Frequent shouting.
- Constant criticism, bullying or unrealistic pressure to perform to higher expectations.
- Financial Abuse
- Misappropriation of student’s funds.
- Overt illegal use of funds by someone other than the student.
What you can do to avoid problems
- If you have a problem or are worried about something discuss it with someone you trust, such as your host parent, host club counselor or host club chairperson. Don’t suffer in silence!
- Always pack your own suitcase and never carry items abroad for others.
- When you go out, plan what you would do and where you would go if you got lost or had a problem — a shop, restaurant, police station or library.
- Before you leave your home country, make sure that you have your Important Information form supplied to you by your Host Club Chairperson.
- Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be home. Be sure to call your host parents if your plans change while you are away from home.
- If you are out at night in a city, stay in places with streetlights. Wherever you are, make sure that you don’t get separated from your friends.
- If you need to use a public toilet, go with a friend.
- If you do get lost or separated, follow your plan — or go to a shop or place where you will be seen by lots of people to ask directions.
- If someone you don’t know talks to you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, walk away.
- Keep your host family’s address and telephone number with you at all times.
- Always arrange for someone to pick you up; don’t go home alone.
- Make sure you know who is coming to pick you up. Never get into a car with someone you don’t know.
- If you are on a bus or train, and someone makes you feel uncomfortable, move to a seat near the driver.
- Dress and behave sensibly and responsibly.
- Be sensitive to local codes and customs.
- Think things through carefully before you act and do not take unnecessary risks.
What we will do when an incident is reported
If you tell us of a Harassment and/or Abuse allegation:
- We will listen attentively & assure you it was right to tell us.
- Assure you that you are not to blame.
- Remain calm and make sure you feel safe.
- Encourage you to share with us what happened and who was involved.
- Make detailed notes including date & time.
- Explain the necessity of informing the Protection Officer and assure you of confidentiality.
- Your Country Contact will:
- Assure all facets of your exchange are completed.
- Confirm that you have a copy of the District Student Protection materials.
- Assure that you receive abuse & harassment training.
- Maintain monthly contact with you.
- Be your advocate, counselor and listener.
- In the case of an allegation, s/he will:
- make sure you are safe and cared for.
- Work with the Student Protection Officer and authorities as your advocate.
Every club must have a “Safe Haven” alternate host family identified who can accept you in the event of an allegation involving the host family. This family must be vetted. They must remove the perpetrator from further contact with you. If a Rotarian, he or she must be suspended from the club pending the results of the investigation.
If a Rotarian, and found guilty, Rotary International will bar any further membership in Rotary in any district or club worldwide.
Student Protection Officer
The responsibilities of the Student Protection Officer include:
- Provide training to Inbound & Outbound students & families, Host Families and YE volunteers.
- When an allegation of abuse is reported, the Student Protection Officer must:
- Gather facts regarding the allegation.
- Contact appropriate authorities.
- Contact YE Chairperson immediately.
- Serve as the point of contact for all agencies involved.
- Advocate for the victim to assure help is provided.
- Act as a link to professional care agencies.
- Document all details.