(See Crisis Management Guidelines at the bottom, and on its own page under the Our District menu tab)
Rotary has a long history of providing service to youth. Each year, more than 300,000 young people participate in Rotary programs like Interact, Rotary Youth Exchange, and Seminar for Tomorrow’s Leaders (SFTL). Many club and district mentoring programs, immunization efforts, job training programs, literacy projects, and other initiatives also help young people or other vulnerable populations.
Unfortunately, no organization or program is invulnerable to abuse or crises. They can and do occur in even the most seemingly positive settings. Predators often seek teaching, coaching, or other positions that give them access to children and teenagers. Others who are committed to working with youth sometimes find it hard to believe that some adults will abuse the trust placed in them, so they may not notice the signs. Rotary takes youth protection very seriously, and it relies on Rotarians to foster safe environments that prevent abuse and to respond appropriately when it occurs.
Statement of Conduct for Working with Youth: Rotary International strives to create and maintain a safe environment for all youth who participate in Rotary activities. To the best of their ability, Rotarians, Rotarians’ spouses and partners, & other volunteers must safeguard the children & young people they come into contact with and protect them from physical, sexual, & emotional abuse.
Each Rotarian, their spouse or partner, and all other volunteers are responsible to safeguard, to the best of their ability, the welfare of every person with whom they come into contact during activities sponsored by Rotary. Conduct that threatens, intimidates, or coerces another Rotarian, Rotarian’s spouse or partner, volunteers, or program participants will not be tolerated. This responsibility shall include the prevention of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and all forms of harassment or neglect to those who may be vulnerable. Special attention shall be given to the protection of young people. Fulfilling this duty not only ensures their protection, but also safeguards the interests of Rotary Clubs and Rotarians by minimizing their risk of liability, including legal liability, should any participant in a Rotary activity become a victim of abuse.
This policy applies to all Rotarians and volunteers involved in serving youth. More specifically, this policy applies to Rotarians and other volunteers who stay overnight with youth, bring students into their homes, make one-on-one contacts with youth, provide extended transportation or other support services to youth, and participate in other activities in which an adult could abuse or harass a youth.
Rotarians who engage in or knowingly allow or tolerate sexual abuse or harassment are in violation of this policy and are subject to be dismissed from Rotary International and possible legal proceedings.
Crisis Management Guidelines
In the event of a crisis situation, we need to be able to respond effectively, keep involved parties and Rotary International informed, and use the media, if engaged, as a liaison to disseminate key messages. The organization’s response to a crisis often has more impact on reputation than the event that precipitated the crisis.
Should you experience a crisis situation, take the following actions in the order listed. This list will help you handle the situation in an organized way that will mitigate risk:
- Give priority attention to the care of the injured. Not all crisis situations will have an injury.
- Secure needed assistance…doctor, ambulance, fire, law enforcement.
- Ensure the safety of persons and property.
- Contact District Governor Mike Walker at 704-589-2754 (cell). In the event you are unable to reach the District Governor and it is urgent that you speak to a District Representative, District Governor Elect Nico Iannelli will be a back-up contact and may be reached at 704-516-5205 (cell). PLEASE ADD THESE NUMBERS TO YOUR CONTACT LIST IN YORU CELL PHONE.
- If the situation involves youth, you should also contact the District Youth Protection Officer Cristina Capello at 225-505-8303 (cell). Please add this number to your contact list in your cell phone as well.
- Gather facts before you speak to the District Governor or Youth Protection Officer. Your fact-based report should include who, where, what happened, the current state of the crisis, and is media involved. Ensure the Governor is fully briefed before referring the media.
- The official statement you should make to the public is: “We are in the process of gathering facts related to this matter and I am not in a position to answer questions at this time. We appreciate your concern, and will provide a statement at the appropriate time. [If it is known at the time: Our designated spokesperson with respect to this matter will be , who can be reached at .”]
- Keep the following in mind:
- Do not bury your head in the sand. Pretending the problem does not exist will not make it go away. Be prepared to react quickly.
- Do not panic. Stay calm and clearly define what has occurred. Avoid blame games or debates. Spend your initial time focused on establishing the nature and extent of the crisis, who it will affect, and what you need to do to manage the situation.
- Get your facts straight-it is important to be able to demonstrate command of the situation and not be confused, unclear, or unaware of the facts.
- In conjunction with the district, help manage the communication-there should only be one spokesperson with respect to any statements made on the crisis situation. If you are selected to be the point of contact, be prepared to communicate clearly, honestly, and as often as needed. Without clear communication, people will fill the void with rumors and speculation.
- Be honest in everything you say and do, (remember the Four Way Test).
- Do not play favorites with the media or others. At the appropriate time, communications should be made clearly and concisely to all shareholders.
- Helpful reference material to use in a crisis situation:
- Rotary Clubs should follow the Rotary International Liability Policy:
- Active US Rotary clubs and districts are provided with general liability. Your user name and password will be provided to your club through an annual mailing. Insurance Portal’s web address is: locktonportal.com/sites/rotary/resources (authentication required). The Rotary Code of Policies can be found at www.rotary.org/en/document/622 .
When the District Governor receives your call, he will work with you to determine the severity of the crisis, contact Rotary International and add district Rotarians to the crisis team, if needed. A designated spokesperson will be named to handle future inquiries from Rotary International, the public, or media. At the conclusion of the crisis situation, a written report will be completed and approved by the District Governor for the district’s records.