Safe From Harm Training and Curriculum Updated
By: Brad Rowland
Since 2009, Salvation Army personnel, including officers, employees, and volunteers, have been trained extensively in child and vulnerable adult abuse prevention. This training program, titled Safe From Harm, is designed to help units of The Salvation Army reduce the risk of abuse or injury to infants, children, teens, and vulnerable adults who participate in their programs and services. Each person is carefully screened before working with children and/or vulnerable adults, with the overall goal of implementing proven safety techniques to protect the people in The Salvation Army’s care from all forms of abuse and neglect.
Under the direction of Emma Edelman, territorial child and adult safety coordinator, the Safe From Harm program has undergone a two-phase overhaul over a two-year period, punctuated by changes implemented in 2023.
“The Safe From Harm curriculum hadn’t been updated in many years, which led to a closer look at every aspect of the program,” Edelman said. “With the approval of Lt. Colonel Janice Riefer and the territorial administration, Safe From Harm has been given a complete, and much needed, update which includes new and updated content within the curriculum and supporting documents.”
In April, updated curriculum was released in the form of a digital, interactive manual which includes a comprehensive reference for policy, procedure, guidelines, and training documents. Accompanying materials included a video detailing the launch, a new resource video outlining incident response steps, updated training presentations and materials, new and expanded training levels, and a new rapid-response poster, which displays QR codes to find step-by-step instructions in the event of or in response to an emergency situation or incident.
The centerpiece of the first phase was the implementation of an online incident reporting form, augmenting the existing process previously based on paper files. This new web-based system allows Salvation Army personnel to quickly and efficiently report major incidents and share accurate information in real time, with each report filtered to the appropriate divisional Safe From Harm coordinator for timely follow-up. Because the system is now web-based, access is available remotely at SafeFromHarm.org, and the new form allows for more comprehensive data collection.
Following the April release, part two of the revamp included the October 2023 transition to an online training platform. This announcement was made in conjunction with each of the eight divisional headquarters in the USA Southern Territory. The training platform allows for one training course per level, specifically developed for The Salvation Army’s Safe From Harm program and incorporating Salvation Army mission and policy.
Beyond curriculum changes, individuals are now able to take initial Level 1 and Level 2 trainings online, as well as the Emergency Disaster Services Safe From Harm training. In the previous iteration, trainees were only able to renew online, but this expansion allows for more seamless integration and higher-level classes that will allow for full and immediate compliance across the territory. The Level 4 leadership training can also be renewed online after in-person implementation for the first-time trainee.
These major alterations stemmed from a collaborative effort between Safe From Harm coordinators from across the territory, drawing on established best practices and referencing on-the-ground experience from subject matter experts. In addition to dedicated Safe From Harm personnel, the cooperation extended to additional departments, including risk management, emergency disaster services, legal, communications, social services, youth, and information technology.
“The past two years have been a collaboration with many people and departments,” said Edelman. “The divisional Safe From Harm coordinators have helped guide this process and provided valuable insight from the field, as well as sharing their extensive experience in working with Safe From Harm. There have also been many meetings and consultations with various departments at THQ to ensure that the program meets our minimum standards and cohesively works with all aspects of The Salvation Army’s mission so that we can ultimately continue to keep those we serve safe.”
Additional training classes are planned for execution on the online platform in the coming months, including focuses on vulnerable adults, Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARCs), shelters, and minors as volunteers. In an overarching sense, the new applications and methods used by the Safe From Harm program should streamline The Salvation Army’s efforts, though the overall mission remains resolute.
“Having materials that are current, as well as providing instant access to training online, helps us to ensure we are keeping the purpose of the Safe From Harm program in the forefront and prioritizing the safety of children and vulnerable adults,” Edelman said. “When we are not compliant with our policies and procedures, the outcome can be devastating. However, when we do make safety a priority, the impact can be tremendous as we create safe spaces and relationships for people to thrive and, most importantly, grow in their relationship with Christ.”
For questions regarding the Safe From Harm program or to seek additional information, visit SafeFromHarm.org or contact your divisional Safe From Harm coordinator.