Protecting Preschoolers From Abuse

Last Wednesday, Caleb Gaston was arrested on accusations that he sexually assaulted a 3-year-old girl at the YMCA where he worked.

Caleb has also been charged with raping a 4-year-old girl at the same YMCA in Wichita, Kansas.

Gaston was an employee at the Downtown and East YMCA's, where he worked in the Kid Zones - an area where parents can leave their children while they exercise or take classes.  The area is for children ages 6 weeks to 7-years-old.

Gaston also worked at the Plymouth Learning Center, which is a church preschool.  His employment there was “terminated on 10/9/17 due to a complaint of inappropriate touching,” according to a statement by Plymouth Congregational Church.

This heartbreaking news is a reminder of how critical it is to have safety and security measures in place to protect children from abuse.  The YMCA where this took place, says it has safety and security measures in place, but somewhere there was a breakdown in the system.

The fact that the defendant had a previously documented accusation of inappropriate touching, should have been a huge red flag.  A reference call to his previous place of employment should have caught this.  

You cannot be too safe when it comes to protecting the children in your care.  No one precaution by itself is enough.  It takes a plethora of steps to build a solid wall of protection.  The more steps you have in place, the safer children will be.  Here are the key steps you must have in place.
  • Background check
  • Orientation - go over safety and security measures and have each person sign a form that says they agree and will abide by these
  • Windows in all areas - you should be able to clearly see what is going on inside each area at all times
  • Rule of 2 - no one is ever alone with a child - never - no exceptions 
  • Cameras - have video cameras in every area and let everyone know everything they do is being taped
Please, please, please make sure kids are safe in your ministry.  We recently hosted a webinar that helps churches make their ministry a safe place for kids and families.  If you were unable to attend, it was recorded and is available on demand at this link. 
Let's diligently walk guard around the precious children God has placed in our care and say "Not on my watch!"