All our Blossom students, served by Lokuttara Leadership Academy, have a right to safety. Everyone on our team, including our staff, volunteers, guest teachers, parents and supporters, will be trained in our Youth Protection Policy, which outlines our expectations of all adults collaborating with us. The students themselves will also receive training, which includes anti-bullying training among youth.
Our 5-Point Youth Protection Policy is posted on our social media sites, on the walls of our buildings and printed in pamphlets, translated into Malayalam.
I. Youth Protection Mission Statement
True youth protection can be achieved only through the focused commitment of everyone at Lokuttara Leadership Academy. It is the mission of the team within Lokuttara Leadership Academy to maintain a culture of Youth Protection awareness and safety at our hostels, in our classes and workshops at all of our community programs. Lokuttara Leadership Academy places the greatest importance on creating the most secure environment possible for our youth members. To maintain such an environment, Lokuttara has developed numerous procedural and leadership selection policies and provides parents and leaders with resources for all of our programs.
II. Leadership Selection
Lokuttara Leadership Academy takes great pride in the quality of our adult leadership. Being a leader in the Academy is a privilege, not a right. The quality of the program and the safety of our students call for high-quality adult leaders. We work closely with local organizations to help recruit the best possible leaders and volunteers. All adults who work with youth in our programs undergo reference checks and are required to submit local recommendations. We learn all we can about an applicant for a leadership position, such as their experience working with youth and what discipline techniques they would use. No physical discipline or psychological or emotional harassment of any kind is ever allowed at Lokuttara.
III. The "Three R's" of Youth Protection
The "three R's" of Youth Protection convey a simple message for the personal awareness of our youth members:
Recognize any violations occurring on Lokuttara Leadership Academy premises.
Respond when someone is doing something that goes against your gut or against the safety guidelines.
Report attempted or actual abuse, harassment or any activity that you think is wrong to a member of the Lokuttara staff.
IV. Youth Protection Reporting Procedures for Adult Volunteers
If you think any of Lokuttara Leadership Academy's Youth Protection policies have been violated, including those described within Lokuttara Leadership Academy BOUNDARIES, you must notify your local Lokuttara Leadership Academy Staff Member so appropriate action can be taken for the safety of our students.
Lokuttara Leadership Academy has adopted the following policies for the safety and well-being of its members. These policies primarily protect students; however, they also serve to protect adult leaders. Parents and youth using these safeguards outside the Academy further increase the safety of their youth.
a. One-on-one contact between adults and students is prohibited. In situations requiring a personal conference with a student, the meeting is to be conducted with the knowledge and in view of other adults and/or students.
b. No one-on-one contact between adults and students includes digital communication. Leaders may not have one-on-one private online communications or engage one-on-one in other digital activities (games, social media, etc.) with students. Leaders should copy a parent and another leader in digital and online communication, ensuring no one-on-one contact exists in text, social media, or other forms of online or digital communication.
c. The buddy system should be used at all times. The buddy system is a safety measure for all Academy activities. When necessary, a buddy team may consist of three students. No youth should be forced into or made to feel uncomfortable by a buddy assignment.
d. Privacy of students is respected. Adult leaders and youth must respect each other’s privacy, especially in situations such as changing clothes and taking showers. Adults may enter youth changing or showering areas only to the extent that health and safety requires. Adults must protect their own privacy in similar situations.
e. Inappropriate use of smart phones, cameras, imaging, or digital devices is prohibited. Although most students and leaders use cameras and other imaging devices responsibly, it is easy to unintentionally or inadvertently invade the privacy of other individuals with such devices. The use of any device capable of recording or transmitting visual images in or near shower houses, restrooms, or other areas where privacy is expected is never allowed.
f. Youth leadership is monitored by Lokuttara staff. Adult leaders must monitor and guide the leadership techniques used by youth leaders and ensure Academy policies are followed.
g. Discipline must be constructive. Discipline used at Lokuttara Leadership Academy must be constructive and reflect Lokuttara’s Vision and Mission. Corporal punishment is never permitted. Disciplinary activities involving isolation, humiliation, or ridicule are prohibited. Examples of positive discipline include verbal praise and high fives.
h. Appropriate attire is required for all activities. Proper clothing for activities is required.
i. No hazing (also known as “ragging”). Hazing/ragging and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any Academy activity.
j. No bullying. Verbal, physical, and cyberbullying are prohibited.
k. All have responsibility. Everyone is responsible for acting in accordance with the Lokuttara Leadership Academy Code of Conduct. Physical violence, sexual activity, emotional abuse, hazing/ragging, discrimination, harassment, initiation rites, bullying, cyber-bullying, theft, verbal insults, drugs, alcohol, and pornography have no place at Lokuttara will result in dismissal.
l. Everyone is responsible to enforce Lokuttara’s Youth Protection policies. Adult leaders in all Lokuttara Leadership Academy classes, workshops and programs are responsible for monitoring the behavior of students and other leaders and interceding when necessary. If youth members misbehave, their parents will be informed and asked for assistance.
m. Incidents requiring an immediate report to the Lokuttara Staff.
The following must be reported to the Lokuttara Staff for action immediately:
Any act of physical violence
Any negative behavior associated with race, color, caste, religion, sexual orientation, or disability
Any other types of bullying or harassment
Any mention or threats of suicide