Teachers Therapists Parents Kids Store Program Login Login

Better Boundaries

Article By Brooklyn Raney, Guest Expert and author of the book One Trusted Adult.

5 Minute Read 

In my last blog post, I shared the importance of boundary discussions for the safety of youth and the safety of you. It is appalling that we even have to discuss the ways that spaces set up to serve young people can end up being the places where they are neglected, abused, or exploited, but recent statistics say that 1 in 10 children will experience educator-to-student sexual misconduct. This is tragic, and must be addressed.  


There are three factors legal teams have identified as leading to boundary break in organizations:


  • Absent or ineffective leadership: If the safety of children is not the number-one priority for the leadership of an organization or school, then it is unlikely to be the priority for the team.


  • Environments lacking peer-to-peer (colleague-to-colleague) accountability: Breaking the silence and preventing abuse begins with colleagues seeing something, saying something, holding one another accountable, and keeping one another safe. This requires an investment up front in the development of safety, feedback loops, and trust building among ALL of the adults in a building.


  • Nonexistent or infrequent trainings on personal and professional boundaries: Trainings on boundaries should be as regular as fire drills and CPR certifications. With new technology, a world-stopping pandemic, and constantly shifting regulations and restrictions, the dynamics of relationships and expectations are changing. It is crucial to keep conversations about safety and boundaries at the forefront, and to be consistently running through scenarios before they arise.


Most boundary trainings start and end with a litany of forbidden practices, or with attempts to frighten participants with litigious, career-crumbling, or criminal stories.


As an educator, I left these types of trainings terrified, wanting to build a really tall wall around myself, wear a hazmat suit, and never go near a child again!


But . . . I decided, instead of building a wall around myself or purchasing that hazmat suit, to research how we can safely discuss a shift in our approach from fear-based restraint to trust-based professionalism. 


At One Trusted Adult, we define boundaries as a declaration of expectations and an agreed-upon way to live and work together. In any and all relationships, we can either take control and set our expectations surrounding physical touch, intellectual exchange, emotional vulnerability, material sharing, and time or we can leave these boundaries to be sorted out as we react to situations that arise, which often leads to confusion and disagreement. 


Boundaries are not selfish, they actually allow us to be our most selfless, accessible, and caring selves. 


I want to encourage youth-serving professionals, educators, and parents and guardians to associate boundaries with clarity, comfort, freedom, and trust, because when we agree on the rules of the game, we are free to play. Trust cannot exist without shared and voiced boundaries.


To assist educators and youth-serving professionals in unpacking and upholding healthy and appropriate boundaries, we created a four-part Framework for Sustainable Safeguarding that promotes upfront conversation about expectations specific to context: Brick Wall Boundaries, Chain-Link Boundaries, Baby Gate Boundaries, and Invisible Fence Boundaries. 


In my next four blog posts, we will take a deep dive into each section of these categories for Sustainable Safeguarding in order to establish better boundaries and stronger trust. 


Brooklyn's "One Trusted Adult" Tip:

The greatest predictor of your ability to uphold healthy and appropriate boundaries is your wellness and your willingness! Your wellness (mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical) and your willingness to have open and honest conversations about your wants, needs, okays, and not-okays determine your susceptibility to boundary blur and burnout. Contact me to take our One Trusted Adult Boundary Barometer Quiz to check in on your wellness and willingness, and then discuss your results with a friend, colleague, or co-parent.


Brooklyn is the Founder and Lead Trainer of One Trusted Adult, an organization that provides programming for educators, parents and young people, to ensure that every young person has at least one trusted adult.


50% Complete

Two Step Sign-up

Fill in your info and we'll keep you posted through our monthly newsletter starting this spring. See you in your inbox!