Sexual Abuse, Molestation and Harassment Prevention Policy
The following Sexual Abuse, Molestation and Harassment Prevention Policy was read and approved by the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey board of directors in March 2016. It was also read and approved by the members of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey in convention assembled during the 40th state convention in November 2016.
The National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey does not permit or allow sexual abuse, molestation or harassment to occur at any activity sponsored by or related to it. This includes supervision or care of minors in conjunction with such activities. In order to make this “zero-tolerance” policy clear to all members and volunteers, we have adopted mandatory procedures that members – including those who hold elected office, volunteers, family members, individuals and victims must follow when they learn of or witness sexual abuse, molestation or harassment. Sexual abuse includes sexual assault, exploitation, molestation or injury for the gratification of the actor. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
Reporting and Investigation
We take allegations of sexual abuse seriously. All members or volunteers who learn of sexual abuse, molestation or harassment being committed must immediately report it to the President of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey, or to the member of its Board of Directors designated by the President, who will then relay the information to the President. Additionally, in the case of sexual abuse or molestation, or if the victim is a minor, the President must notify law enforcement and any appropriate protective service agencies so that they may investigate the matter. All members, volunteers or individuals working on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey, or any of its chapters or divisions shall cooperate fully with law enforcement or investigating protective service agencies. Reports of sexual harassment of an adult may be promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated by the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey through an internal team or through an independent third party hired by the organization. We reserve the right to place the subject of the investigation on an involuntary leave of absence or to reassign that person to responsibilities that do not involve personal contact with other individuals during the investigation. To the fullest extent possible, but consistent with our legal obligation to report suspected abuse to appropriate authorities, we will endeavor to keep the identities of the alleged victims and subject of the investigation confidential. Intentionally false or malicious accusations of sexual abuse are prohibited.
Any member or volunteer who is found to have violated this policy shall be subject to disciplinary penalties determined by the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey, up to and including termination of his or her relationship with the organization. If law enforcement has become involved in the matter, he or she is also subject to punishment under all applicable federal, state and local laws.
Prohibition of Retaliation
We prohibit any retaliation against anyone, including a member, volunteer, board member, student or individual, who reports sexual abuse, alleges that it is being committed or participates in the investigation. Anyone who improperly retaliates against someone who has made an allegation of sexual abuse, or intentionally provides false information to that effect, shall be subject to the same disciplinary action as anyone who is found to have committed sexual abuse, molestation or harassment, as stated above.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
There are a number of “red flags” that suggest someone is being sexually abused. They take the form of physical or behavioral evidence.
Physical evidence of sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to:
- Sexually transmitted diseases;
- Difficulty walking or ambulating normally;
- Stained, bloody or torn undergarments;
- Genital pain or itching; and
- Physical injuries involving the external genitalia.
Behavioral signals suggestive of sexual abuse include, but are not limited to:
- Fear or reluctance about being left in the presence, supervision or care of a particular person;
- Recoiling from being touched;
- Bundling oneself in excessive clothing, especially night clothes;
- Discomfort or apprehension when sex is referred to or discussed; and
- Nightmares or fear of night and/or darkness.
Implementation of Policy
This Sexual Abuse, Molestation and Harassment Prevention policy shall become effective immediately upon approval by the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey. All chapters and divisions under the charter of this organization shall also be bound by this policy upon its implementation.