KS shares sexual misconduct prevention training with parents

Jul. 13, 2018

Contributed by Kyle Galdeira

After initially providing nearly 30 sessions on preventing sexual misconduct for more than 2,600 staff and faculty members across the state, Kamehameha Schools continued its pledge to increase awareness by sharing the crucial information with parents.

As part of its ongoing commitment to student safety across its vast organization, KS provided its first training session on helping parents protect children from sexual misconduct at KS Kapālama’s Kula Waena (middle school) Hale ‘Āina (dining hall) on June 6. The presentation, which also featured an interactive question-and-answer portion, was facilitated by Dr. Alex Bivens of the Misconduct Prevention Institute, who has worked in school-based behavioral health as a licensed clinical psychologist for the past 18 years.

“My goal in life is to put myself out of business so we never have to do these training sessions again,” said Bivens. “I want akamai people looking at behaviors with eyes wide open, and to make it easier to start a conversation without feeling uncomfortable. Adults make all the difference in shaping the lives of keiki.”Bivens explained that the overarching goal of the sexual abuse awareness training sessions is to help KS employees protect keiki, colleagues, the institution and themselves. Topics covered in the two-hour presentation included:

  • The impact teachers and other school employees have on the lives of children;
  • The ways in which safe, trusting relationships enable children to learn and grow;
  • Two distinct forms of sexual misconduct that can occur in schools, and;
  • How these problems can be prevented through specific concepts, practices and communication techniques. 

The training sessions have reached an array of employees, from those working at Kawaiaha‘o Plaza and across the state, to campus personnel including kumu and administrators as well as dining hall staff, security team members and the vast majority of coaches and athletic department staff.

“We at KS have a kuleana to create a safe and nurturing environment for your children, and that includes protecting them from sexual misconduct as we try to create a strong environment where students can thrive,” said KS Kapālama Po‘o Kula Dr. Taran Chun. “Before they can learn, I want kids to wake up and be excited and inspired to come to school. This training is one way we can build that positive environment.”

Bivens has co-authored numerous articles published in behavioral science journals on topics ranging from personality assessment to depression, substance abuse and therapist behavior. He conducts training sessions across the state, and also serves as an expert witness in child sex assault cases.

Student safety is emphasized throughout KS’ work on its three campuses and in communities across the state, and is a key priority for every employee. More information about the training sessions and other safety-related initiatives is available on the KS Student Safety website.

Tips from Dr. Alex Bivens to identify and prevent sexual misconduct

“The easiest mistake parents make is thinking that a child is not getting as much from you as they actually are; many parents underestimate their position as role models. KS’ policy on reporting abuse is the best I’ve ever seen at a school, it’s pretty incredible,” said Dr. Alex Bivens of the Misconduct Prevention Institute, who has worked in school-based behavioral health as a licensed clinical psychologist for two decades.

Here are some tips from Bivens for parents to keep in mind when addressing sexual misconduct:

See something, say something:  When you see someone important doing something unusual, make a note about it and follow up on the concern, and just because a young person says it hasn’t happened, remain vigilant. Take any report of misconduct seriously, even if it is about someone in a position of authority or great respect.

Suspend familiarity:  Evaluate behavior you observe in the absolute objective. If you see a person you know and trust do something that seems unusual, make note of it and talk about it with something else who has had this awareness training.

Team effort:  As parents, you are the ultimate authority. If you don’t like something that’s going on, or it doesn’t look good, put your foot down and say something. Employees of KS are encouraged to collaborate with parents in this effort.

Be intentional with boundaries:  It is important to draw lines in the sand between appropriate and inappropriate actions, and keiki need to understand the difference between showing aloha through hugging and kissing, and being exploited.

Follow through is key:  Allegations of and suspicions around sexual misconduct are taken very seriously by KS leadership and employees. If anything, we are erring on the side of over-reporting. KS employees are mandatory reporters, and are required to report incidents to the proper authorities before addressing them internally.