On Your Side: Tips to keep your kids safe at summer camp

On Your Side: Tips to keep your kids safe at summer camp

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Thousands of children in the Lowcountry will head to summer camps in a few weeks when school ends, however parents need to be aware of some important tips.

Child abuse services show the number of reports of abuse increases during the summer months as thousands of children take part in camps.

"[In the past] there was a concern about a sleep over camp and some things that weren't supposed to happen," said Roxann Spandorfer, of Charleston, who has heard of some questionable actions at some camps.

Statistics from Darkness to Light show 40% of children who are sexually abused, are abused by older and more powerful children.

However, this doesn't rule out abuse from possible staff members if a child goes to camp; those statistics were not immediately available.

"I would encourage parents, they're their children's advocate," said Beverly Hutchison, Director of Development & Marketing at the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center. "Making sure the camp has good protection rules in place for campers and staff."

Hutchison said knowledge is power when it comes to parents making decisions for their children.

The center suggests contacting a prospective camp and asking a variety of questions including background checks.

"If they do, do they do both SLED check and checks with DSS?" Hutchison said. "Who checks the background checks? Who follows up? Is there a point person within the agency who reviews these documents? Those are important questions that need to be asked."

" Back then I didn't [ask about background checks], but now I would think that's a great idea to do," Spandorfer said.

"Nowadays I think it's first and foremost, yes," added Laureen Deidert, of Charleston.

Hutchison also recommends finding out what the ratio is of children to staff members.

"That is dependent on the age of your child," she said. "Parents should do their homework. Look at the age of their child, do some research, find out what is the appropriate ratio."

"I just think that everybody who is involved there's going to be somebody there's eyes on at all times," Deidert added.

Even if you have already signed your child up for camp, Hutchison said it's not too late to ask organizers those important questions to keep your child safe.

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