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Student Protection

The protection of our students is a top priority.  This section provides information on topics that describe key aspects of our protection program plus descriptive information of the many aspects of the program. You can also access Student Protection documents.  Click on the following topic areas or scroll through the information below.

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.

Adopted by RI Board of Directors, November 2003

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 an Ohio-Erie Rotary Youth Exchange Student Protection Officer (SPO).
  • Ensuring access to confidential information is restricted.
  • Reviewing the policy’s effectiveness periodically.

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Cultural Differences

It is very important to recognize and accept that there are many different cultures in our world. There are no right or wrong ways of doing something, there are different ways. As we travel through this life as part of the international program we:

Need to think Internationally — Not just USA or your native country.

Be aware of cultural differences — refer to:

  • US Department of State country descriptions.
  • ProQuest CultureGrams.

Touching/Hugging is perceived by different cultures in different ways.

Body language means different things in different cultures/countries.

Be aware of your and your student’s culture and make sure others are sensitive to potential pitfalls.

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Student protection code

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.

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Definitions

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.
Neglect
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.
Taunting.
Over-protection.
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.

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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 keep enough money with you to make a phone call.
  • 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.

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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 SPO 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, s/he 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.

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Student Protection Officer

The responsibilities of the Student Protection Officer for Ohio-Erie Rotary Youth Exchange include:

  • Provide training to Inbound & Outbound students & families, Host Families and YE volunteers.
  • When an allegation of abuse is reported, the SPO 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.

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Background Checks & Applications

One of our major responsibilities is to comply with all Rotary International and US Department of State rules which seek to protect the exchange student. We do this in a number of ways including:  in-home interviews with every host family as well as criminal and abuse background checks of every Rotary volunteer and host family member over 18 years of age who will have contact with the student. Rotary YE Volunteer and Host Family Applications plus Annual Renewal Applications can be downloaded from the Downloadable Materials section by clicking the Downloadable Materials button on the left sidebar – scroll to the section entitled Student Protection.

Information (links also provided below). Just click on the appropriate application, fill it in, print and sign it and give it to your local club YE representative or officer.

The host family in-home interview will be scheduled by the local Rotary Club. It will include:

  • Discussion of the expectations the host family would have of the student and of the Rotary Club, and what the Rotary Club expects of the host family. It is important for the host siblings to be there as well, since the hosting situation won’t work if the siblings are against it.

During the home interview, we will take pictures of the exterior and interior of the home and address hosting requirements with these expectations:

  • The exchange student can share a bedroom with a same-sex sibling, but there should be no more than three years age difference between them.
  • The exchange student must have his/her own bed (no cots or air mattresses).
  • Access to night-time bathroom facilities must not be via an adult’s bedroom.
  • Access to a bedroom or other room used by adults or people of the opposite sex must not be via the exchange student’s bedroom.
  • Privacy for washing, dressing and undressing must be provided.

Criminal Background and Abuse Checks will be performed by an independent security agency. Individuals will complete an Application/Affidavit providing personal information to the District 6690 YE Compliance Officer who will process the documentation through the security agency. Individuals will give permission to investigate, verify and obtain information given in the application including searches of law enforcement and published records (including driving records and criminal background checks), contact with former employers and reference interviews. Information will also be checked against local and national abuse data bases. Such checks will be repeated as necessary, with host family checks repeated annually.  Instances of abuse and/or felony charges/convictions will be cause for automatic rejection.

Individuals will be given the right to review the criminal history report in the event of negative findings and given the opportunity to provide clarifications.

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