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Based on extensive research, recommended best practices, and practitioner experience, SAFE offers practical, tested tools to screen out potential child predators and prevent child molestation.


The first publication of its kind, this work appears in the Mentor Screening and Youth Protection chapter for the 2nd edition of the Handbook of Youth Mentoring.

“From a practitioner’s perspective, SAFE is the most comprehensive book on screening for child predators that I’ve read . . . I highly recommend this book to all who work with volunteers and mentoring programs.” 


Mentors, Inc., Washington, D.C.

© Becky Cooper, SAFE Founder

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The primary duty of youth service providers is to care for the well-being, healthy development, and growth of children.  The field of mentoring seeks to fulfill this duty by connecting children with adults to help them see that their life matters, to provide them with a model for a healthy relationship, to show them that they have valuable gifts to share with others, to illustrate through action that someone cares deeply about their well-being and to open up their minds and hearts to the opportunities available in the world.

At the core of the mentoring movement is the fundamental belief that human relationships have the power to change, heal, and nurture.  Unfortunately, the corollary is also true:  human relationships have the power to impede growth and even to damage.  One type of relationship which has been shown to have powerfully negative effects on the growth and development of children is that of sexual abuse.

Our goal in writing this book is to provide youth service providers with the knowledge necessary to prevent this form of abuse within their organizations.  Mentoring programs are inherently vulnerable to this threat, as they bring adult mentors into contact with vulnerable children and encourage them to establish trust, break down natural barriers of “stranger” caution, and create an opportunity for abuse.  It is in this type of relationship that child sexual abuse thrives. It is vital that we are informed and educated on the inherent risks in the relationships we create.

The book covers 3 critical learning areas:

PART I – Child Molestation Literature Review, including

              Prevalence, Victims, Perpetrators, and Dynamics                                                                                          

PART II – Child Molestation Prevention, including

             Screening/Monitoring Mentors and Using Informed Intuition                


PART III – Child Molestation Prevention, including

              Tools, Resources, and Background Checks 



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Becky began her quest to identify and screen out child predators when she began her mentoring career in 1979.  Her years of research and practice culminated with the publication of SAFE (Screening Applicants for Effectiveness):  Guidelines to Prevent Child Molestation in Mentoring and Youth-Serving Organizations along with her Friends for Youth colleagues in 2006.  Becky is also co-author of the Mentor Screening and Youth Protection chapter from the 2nd edition of the Handbook on Youth Mentoring. 

Becky Cooper, M.A.


Elsy Arévalo has an M.A. in Pastoral Theology/Spiritual Direction and a B.A. in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University.  Elsy spent several years at Friends for Youth, primarily as Director of their Mentoring Institute, which disseminated mentoring’s best practices to mentoring leaders and service providers throughout the country.  Elsy is currently the Assistant Director of Program Development and Community Outreach at Loyola Marymount University.

Elsy Arévalo, M.A.


Dr. Daniel Chavira graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine in 2003.  Dan has over 15 years of diverse experience as a Critical Care/Emergency Medicine specialist in Santa Monica, California, and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital and UCLA Medical Center & Orthopedic Hospital.

Daniel Chavira, M.D.


Michelle Smith has an M.P.A. specializing in organizational change from Cal State University East Bay and a B.A. in English from Santa Clara University.  Michelle directed the Mentoring Services program at Friends for Youth, Inc. for several years, implementing best practices, designing new projects to benefit and insure the safety of youth, and developing a program evaluation protocol.  Michelle has written and edited numerous publications.  She is currently a Corporate and Foundation Relations Office at San Jose State University. 

Michelle Smith, M.P.A.

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