Safety in A.A.

by John R.

When I attended the Safety Workshop Saturday, February 29, there were around 65 people. We had the required coffee as well as fresh fruit, pastries and cookies. The event started promptly at 10:00 with the Serenity Prayer and opening remarks from Lara who was also the emcee at 777 Brotherhood Way in San Francisco. We listened to Riaz A., Steve R. and Liz C. who said what safety in A.A. meant to them. We heard stories of predatory behavior by other members, meeting disruptions, and banishment of some members upon recommendations by meeting committees. Then we took a 10 minute break to re-caffeinate and catch up with friends in the fellowship.

After hearing some information from a Box 459 article and some of the GSO safety guidelines, we broke into groups and had round table discussions covering the following topics:

A.A. Membership, Tradition 10 – outside issues such as religion, gender, rehabs, politics, racism, and homophobia.

Sponsorship: Personal Conduct – being a safe sponsor, instilling appropriate and safe behavior.

Group Safety: Physical/Medical Emergencies – creating a group emergency plan, liaising with meeting hosts, group awareness of emergency resources, group conscience eviction. 

Harassment and Predation – dealing with sexual harassment, sexual predators, non-members, illegal activity, phone lists, group conscience responses. 

Meeting Disruptions – intoxication, mental illness, homeless activity, electronica media, photography, off-topic sharing, crosstalk, group conscience responses. 

Primary Purposes – creating a welcome, safe environment for new and current members with love, tolerance, and kindness. 

Anonymity – social media, phone lists, educating family and the public, anonymity breaks in public.

I attended the Anonymity and Meeting Disruptions discussions. Both tables were full. Our discussions that followed could be easily put into a rough draft for a pamphlet of Safety in A.A.  as one does not currently exist and again, in my opinion, I feel many people that come into A.A. do not feel safe for one reason or another. A pamphlet on Safety in A.A. would give resources and appropriate actions to take for both new and old members. Contact your District Committee Member or Area Delegate for local shared experience. Thanks for letting me be of service.

Helpful Resources for A.A. Members and Groups

  • Box 459 October 2010 edition, articles on “Disruptive Members at A.A. Meetings” and “A.A. and the Law” (available on the newsletters page at www.aa.org).
  • A report from the 62nd General Service Conference Workshop: “Safety in A.A. Our Common Welfare.*
  • Final Report of the “Ad Hoc Committee on Group Safety of the
    General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, U.S. and Canada
    ” (Feb. 2, 2014).*
  • A.A. pamphlet, “Questions & Answers on Sponsorship.”**
  • A.A. pamphlet, “The A.A. Group… Where it All Begins.”**
  • Service Material, “Safety Card for A.A. Groups.”**
  • Contact your District Committee Member or Area Delegate for local shared experience.

*Available upon request by contacting G.S.O.

**Available on aa.org. See https://www.aa.org/assets/en_us/smf-209_en.pdf

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