You don’t have to look very far to recognize that the days of assuming everyone means well when it comes to boys and girls is over (if it really ever existed). Keeping kids safe at church has become less and less an assumption and more and more a priority. Here are a couple questions that might help you in your plan to keep kids safe.
How do we insure that children are safe at church? Setting up standards and guidelines are essential. If you haven’t addressed this issue then do! Start with the simple “Rule of 62.” This policy simply means that a person must be an active member of your church for at least six months before being considered for leadership roles with minor children (anyone under the age of 18). Predators won’t usually stick around as long as six months. This rule also states that there will always be at least two adults in any room with minors. This simple rule (policy) is a most effective way to create a safe environment for kids.
Once you have established the “Rule of 62” begin work on more extensive policies and procedures. Involve a team of concerned volunteers to help organize and implement these policies. Whenever possible, include an attorney on your team. Local and state laws are important considerations as you determine what should and should not be included.
How do I get my church to recognize the need for security policies? Getting your church members to understand the importance of protection and establishing protection policies is often the hardest part of the whole process. It’s not uncommon for people to deny the possibility that something might happen at “their” church. It’s much easier to believe that abuse and neglect are issues that others face. Unfortunately, the potential for abuse and neglect of minor children has no barriers and can happen anywhere.
Education is the key. If you educate your congregation on why one might need to be careful, whom you need to be concerned about, and what specific actions might be considered red flags, you will increase awareness and decrease the chances of children being hurt in your church. Educate your church by sharing statistics and documented cases. Help them to see the value of prevention rather than reaction.
Reiterate the mission of your church. If that mission includes reaching those not yet affiliated with your congregation, then you know that those prospects will desire, and often demand, a sense of security before they enter the life of your church. You are asking parents to entrust you with their most cherished treasures. You should expect that they would want confirmation that their kids are safe. Good, healthy policies and procedures that protect children and give parents a sense of safety equates to good, healthy evangelism.
What does all this mean to me? Policies and procedures are essential to keeping a standard of safety. Don’t think it’s something you don’t need to deal with. It is! Work diligently to protect the reputation of your ministry, your church, and the leaders who serve in your ministry. More importantly, work diligently to protect the kids God has entrusted to your care.
For more information on keeping kids safe at your church see, “Kids Ministry 101: Practical Answers to Questions About Kids Ministry.” Check out www.ministrysafe.com for excellent helps and guidance.