Five Important Safety Tips for AFS Host Families
Inviting an AFS Participant into your home is an exciting experience that hundreds of host families enjoy every year. It is a time to share your culture, learn about someone else’s, and develop strong bonds along the way. As you begin this challenging adventure, don’t forget that your newest family member probably comes from a very different background, making what you may consider “obvious,” unfamiliar and foreign to them. These “Five Simple Safety Tips” will help you create a happy and safe environment for your hosted participant both in your home and community.
- Make certain that your hosted participant saves (and learns) your address and phone number as soon as possible. Remind your hosted participant that this information should NOT be given out to anyone they don’t know, especially over the internet.
- Take your hosted participant on a walking tour of the neighborhood. Help your hosted participant learn the surrounding streets and main roads by name and landmark. Determine some public places where your hosted participant can go for assistance if they are ever lost or in trouble.
- Once your hosted participant has made new friends at school or in the neighborhood, remind them to check with you FIRST before going out with somebody new. This includes accepting rides or going into other people’s homes.
- Place reasonable limits on your physical interaction. Remember that many AFS Participants come from cultures in which affection is not openly displayed. Respect your hosted participant’s wishes regarding physical contact, including their right to reject any display of affection that makes them uncomfortable. See additional information about the Personal Safety Bubble.
- Do not converse with your student alone in their bedroom and if you must address a topic with your student that they may consider sensitive such as expectations around dating, or personal hygiene, (other topics that could be misunderstood/seen as inappropriate) do so in the presence of another adult family member or with your liaison.
- Reassure your hosted participant that there is a strong network of support in place, including you, the local AFS Liaison, Volunteer Area Team Support Coordinator, and Participant Support Staff.
Adapted from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by Youth for Understanding USA, Inc. used with permission by AFS Intercultural Programs USA