At Rock Solid Teen Center we pride ourselves in creating a safe and secure place for youths to hang out after school. Just as important is creating a facility that contributes toward managing their behavior. We have learned from experience that there are several key features of a well-designed youth center that, collectively, can make a very significant impact on maintaining a controlled environment.
Central to a well-designed facility is a security system, combined with a facility layout where there are no blind areas. Prior to our installing the system at our North Manchester, Indiana location, costly vandalism occurred, and we had no evidence of the guilty party(s). We learned the hard way that the security system needs to include a hard drive and be set to record 24/7. It should be located in a room that remains locked and secured.
On numerous occasions, we have caught bad behavior on camera. Sometimes such behavior reaches the level of breaking the law. On more than one we’ve had to contact the police and make them a copy of relevant footage. On another occasion, one of our teens accused a volunteer of inappropriate and illegal behavior. The video footage provided conclusive evidence that the charges were false and helped to avoid painful and embarrassing legal action.
Next, there needs to be one central entrance, so we can monitor who is coming and going. We placed door alarms on all secondary exterior doors and put up emergency exit signs to prevent kids from sneaking out unobserved. Not surprisingly, they would test the system ever so often, to see if it possibly was not functional. Security and alarm systems are surprisingly affordable. Their value far exceeds their cost.
Rock Solid Teen Center requires that students be registered. This provides us with important information, such as emergency contact information, confirmation that they are aware of our rules, parent transportation release, and a parent media release form. For parents who wish to volunteer, there is a section that they can fill out, which includes information needed for a required background check.
There have been numerous occasions when we needed to look up a parent/guardian’s phone number to report bad behavior or a minor injury. Having signed media release forms frees us up to take photos of activities that are taking place, without concern regarding violating a parent’s wishes. And requiring youth to agree that they are aware of the rules allows us to hold them responsible.
Rock Solid recommends using a computer-based fingerprint scanner. Fingerprint records are contained exclusively on the computer and are NOT copied to online storage. A fingerprint scanner, when set up properly, allows for fast and reliable check-in and check-out. Some centers prefer to create a student card for check-in and check-out, but they can be easily forgotten or misplaced. Your fingerprint will follow you wherever you go.
We strongly recommend locking all interior doors, including storage and equipment rooms, the custodial closet, and even the restrooms. All items that youths might be inclined to steal should be located behind a locked door. When we opened in North Manchester, it was not uncommon to see the kids raid the refrigerator and candy. Now, with a secure storage area, the problem is solved.
For obvious reasons, the only two rooms where we do not have a security camera located are the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms. Realizing this, we experienced repeated messes and, sometimes, vandalism. By installing locks on the restroom doors, we can monitor who is using the facilities. If an incident occurs, we know who was the last person(s) to use the facility. Realizing this, kids are less likely to cause trouble. If biological boys are wanting access to the girls’ restroom, and vice versa, we limit the number of kids in the restroom to one person at a time.
Rock Solid Teen Center utilizes a large-screen TV for a variety of purposes, including the posting of rules and consequences for violating them. Combined with all of the above-mentioned steps, it cannot be overstated the differences these measures have made in promoting good behavior on the part of the youth.
In service to Christ,