Reminder: Sexual predation happens in FIRST, and it's on all of us to stop it

fixed my own post


I don’t think anyone would argue that these priorities do not overlap. But where you center the discussion matters. The steps that we take should be to prevent predators from having the access they need and defending the students from them. That should be the focus, first and foremost. Then along with that comes the defenses against false accusations as those without the ability to breach trust cannot breach trust.

Just like defensive driving, defensive mentoring defends yourself. Making sure all mentors practice defensive mentoring defends everyone. But the reason we do it is foremost to protect the students, not ourselves.


The reason we do it is to protect the students. But I know I would never harm a student. So I need a better reason to subject myself to extra burdens.
The reason I do it is to protect myself.

[anybody can insert their own self for I… ]
These policies only work when we properly adhere to them. Any motivation we can use to get everyone on board is fine with me.

Cool guineapig facts: it’s way easier for CD to just repeat the same lines about 2 mentors to 1 student et cetera rather than talk about how FIRST’s culture promotes silence on abusers, and while I emphasize and understand why that is, we don’t need another 30 posts discussing it, especially after Corsetto’s own post. We need to have that other conversation too, whether we like it or not.


FWIW I read your comment on my reply as you intended.

I’ve definitely been in multiple spaces where even mentioning a former mentor banned for YPP (who ran a small supplier) was prohibited because it reflected poorly on the team that they were previously involved with


Not sure why you’re replying with a meme, his post is stating that while some restrictions on communications and meetings might seem like a burden or inconvenience, they are mechanisms to shield both students and mentors from bad situations. In the views of many adults, they don’t see themselves as threats, and psychologically it can be hard to accept an inconvenience because of that. In his mind he knows that restrictions on meeting and communicating with a student 1:1 are there for both of them though. He isn’t saying that protection of the child from the adult is any less important.

Please don’t reply to issues in this thread with memes. It is a bit insulting to the topic.


Yeah it was a bad decision on my part, the post in question is now deleted. Thanks for bringing it up to my attention, I will do better next time.


I don’t really understand this line of thinking. Is making your students more comfortable not enough of an impetus to have the slight burden of not being alone with a student?


These are not cool guinea pig facts.

Cool guinea pig facts would be good ways we help build programs that don’t place burdens on victims. Mfd facts would be good ways we can align believing accusers with the concept of innocent until proven guilty in a way that doesn’t start with the victim is lying as the base assumption. But these are hard problems and idk that we have a solution. :confused:

And just so folks don’t feel bummed out - guinea pigs have 4 toes on their front feet and only 3 on their back ones.


I is in italics because hypothetically it is any one of us.
That isn’t my position. But if it’s enough to convince anyone else to abide by the policies, even being selfish is good enough reason for me.

The flip side of this - if you or anyone else find individuals violating the policies, we need to address it immediately. The policies only work when every abides by them. Not doing so enables abuse.

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Fair points, but I do think it’s valuable to understand how these things happen so we know how to address them better, and to see where the current approaches break down.


I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in a situation in which a mentor has to say, “no” to a student when a student asks for a ride to an event or home after a meeting. I have, and I have had to say no because I don’t want to put myself in that situation.

It doesn’t always matter if the student feels safe with an adult. Sometimes the smarter thing is to just not be put into a situation that could ever get misunderstood, no matter how much you believe nothing wrong is going to happen in the situation. In this instance, I acted selfishly by saying no eventhough the student felt safe enough to ask me to drive them home.


It’s Randian ethical egoism: social good is maximized when individuals act in their own self-interest.


While the original comment is perhaps consistent with that ethical outlook, I don’t know if it is fair to assume that this is the actual motivation. I read it as more of a psychological trick one plays on oneself to motivate behaviour consistent with perceived social optimality. (In other words, it doesn’t require adopting a broad greed-is-good ethos.)


Agreed. After meetings in the shop, we make sure that EVERY student is either on the way home, or is picked up by a parent. It’s never “mentor drive student” unless the mentor is the student’s parent.

And when we’re waiting, it’s usually outside in view of security cameras.

By the way, I usually prefer 2x2 as a minimum (2 students and 2 adults). That way if something goes sideways there’s even more people to bear witness as necessary.

Team policy for us is that the ONLY mentors who are allowed to be solo mentors regardless of number of students are already teachers (and thus permitted to be solo with a bunch of students under school rules). We also need to get the training every year or two (assuming the district schedules it, and we’ve been vocal that they need to not schedule the only volunteer training during the workday).

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I think this is the action item that is yet unexplored. How can our programs shield themselves, and by extension the students who are just as much stakeholders in the program, from the potential repercussions of reporting abuse?

My first thought was establishing a formal whistle-blower protection agreement with the school or sponsor in any space sharing situation. Is this realistic? Would these partners even be open to accepting that risk?

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In the spirit of motivating people to adhere to them, let me offer a different narrative:

I do it because it demonstrates to the students on my team that I take their safety seriously.

I do it because it demonstrates to other mentors that I take the safety of our students seriously.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but were I a student thinking about reporting inappropriate behavior, I would think twice about speaking to a mentor whose expressed motivation for adhering to certain rules is, ultimately, about covering their own patoot.

As @dydx mentions – centering the discussion in the proper way makes a difference.


Fundamentally it’s a societal issue.

We’ve seen eye popping numbers regarding the number of unreported sexual assaults that happen. Why are they unreported? Because people feel there’s no point because they can’t prove it. And even if they can they will be dragged through the mud and forced to relive a traumatic event.

I don’t know how to fix that. The me too movement started some progress but there’s still a large chunk of the population that believes most accusations are made up for attention or as a weapon against political opponents. Go into the comments on any of the recent articles about AOC recounting her experience in the recent events at the capitol if you want to see this sort of thing yourself.

This then means that victims often blame themselves and feel guilty. All I’m going to say about that is it’s not your fault, don’t feel guilty.

This all combined with the societal mockery of mental healthcare and the attitude to just let it go contributes to some seriously screwed up things.

If you need help seek help. Please. Organizations like Planned Parenthood have resources for situations like this and even if they don’t they will do their best to find folks who do.


Those are all terrific motivations. I sincerely hope those resonate with everyone and we all take them to heart.
Whatever motivation gets people to take this seriously is a good enough motivation for me.
(Thinking about the Dr. Suess Book, Marvin K Mooney… with the big pointing finger “I don’t care how”)