Feb 18, 2013

Best Practices for Protecting Kids at Church

The Church Law and Tax Group recently reported on the best practices for protecting kids at church.  Protecting the children God has placed in our care must be a top priority.  Here are some of the key points from the report.  It is vital that churches follow these. 
  • Consider the policies of other organizations that work with children.  This includes public schools.  By aligning their policies with these organizations, churches can more readily establish reasonable care.
  • Communicate protection policies and procedures to the church at large through meetings, the church website, and other means.   Policies that are widely known are more likely to be consistently enforced.
  • All new staff and volunteers should be trained with protection policies and procedures.  Then periodically hold training to review and provide updates on any changes.
  • Background checks are a central component of protecting children.  Everyone should have a background check done and approved before they begin serving.  Background checks should also be re-ran every 5 years on current volunteers.  Church leaders should also periodically review the effectiveness of their background check procedures.
  • Churches should make sure that all keys, keypad cards, and other means of accessing church property are returned when employees or volunteers resign or are terminated.
  • Make sure that access to children's areas is secure and restricted.
  • Require and provide abuse awareness and mandatory reporter training for all staff.
  • If your church is multi-site, enforce policies and procedures at all campuses.
  • No one should ever be alone with a child under any circumstance.  At least two authorized adults must always be present. 
  • Provide adequate supervision by following proper adult-to-child ratios.
  • Staff and volunteers should never strike, hit, or administer corporal punishment.
  • Staff and volunteers should never have electronic communication with a child without the child's parent being included in the communication.
  • If an allegation of inappropriate conduct is made, the accused should discontinue any further participation in programs and activities until the matter has been satisfactorily resolved.
  • Medicine cannot be administered to a child without written consent from the child's parents.
  • Authorized adults must disclose any criminal charges with which they are charged.   Failure to do so can result in termination.


Very, very good! This is all stuff we do and talk about often! One thing that my security team and I have been talking through recently is this: what to do if/when a sex offender comes to your church. Does your church have policies about that? Is there a line (leading to the children's ministry area) that the person can't cross? Do they have a "buddy" or person who stays with them? Do you disclose the information with parents of kids? Are they allowed to serve in other areas of the church, besides children's ministry? We are talking through all of these issues. Our church did have a sex offender on staff (not in the children's staff) a few years ago (before I was here), and when it was found out, it put our church into a state of turmoil, leading to the pastor's resignation and a church split... all good things to think about before something like that happens!

Lynne, those are great questions that churches have to decide. I would always err on the side of caution. The safety of the kids is the top priority.

Such stringent rules will definitely assure parents about there kids safety at church.This will also build trust amongst the parents for the church.

How about some guidelines for a visit from Santa? I think it preposterous that PGC needs completed by a Santa ...who will be in a public setting ... with family members on hand ... within a Knights of Columbus sponsored event ... with cameras on the activity ... and with a Santa who is a church member. This was something that was directed at us by our DRE at the last moment ... and I cannot believe the demand.

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