Simple Steps to Safety
Eight ways to develop a more secure environment
Protecting children must be a high priority for the Church. Jesus welcomed little children to His side (Mark 10:14) and had harsh words for anyone who would cause a child to stumble (Matthew 18:6).
Developing policies helps ensure the safety of your congregation’s children and youth, shield volunteers and staff from false accusations, and protect the reputation of your church.
Here are eight simple steps that every church needs to consider:
1. Provide child abuse training for staff and volunteers who work with children and youth. Most communities have professionals who can assist with training. Health institutions, universities, and insurance companies often provide this training as well.
2. Conduct background checks on staff and volunteers who have direct contact with children or youth. Reputable companies that conduct background checks include:
3. Educate workers and volunteers about state law requirements regarding abuse and the mandated responsibility for reporting incidents. It is important to refer to local and state reporting laws. Some states will prosecute church workers if they fail to report child abuse.
4. Use a two-adult rule, requiring a minimum of two workers with children at all times. This rule protects children and also protects adults against false accusations that a person could bring against a worker who is alone with children.
5. Implement an identification system so the adult(s) who drops off a child is the same person who picks up the child. This safeguard prohibits possible abduction.
6. Have church leaders and supervisors make random, unannounced visits to children/youth services and classes.
7. Set a minimum time a person must attend the church before serving as a volunteer with children or youth.
8. Do not allow teens (13 to 17 years old) to supervise children in the absence of an adult.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2018 edition of Influence magazine.