Your children are safe with us
Your children’s safety and wellbeing are first and foremost with you, of course. And I know I speak for all of the churches in our community when I say that your children’s safety and wellbeing are also first and foremost with those of us who care for them when they are in our churches, Sunday Schools, Vacation Bible Schools, children’s ministries, and youth ministries.
I bring this up because I know how concerned we are about this all the time, and I know how concerned we are most recently with news stories from other parts of the country that indicate that children’s safety and wellbeing were not held sacred.
Just recently we here at Prince of Peace have reviewed our policies and procedures on this subject, and I thought it would be appropriate to share some of the things we are doing in this regard.
The following are highlights from our “Safe Conduct Policy.” Let me give credit to the United Methodist Church and their “Safe Sanctuaries Policy,” which served as our most recent guide for updating our own policy. Note that there are three main “policy” statements with supporting statements underneath.
Policy One: All volunteers/paid staff to work with children/youth will undergo a “safety process” before working with the children/youth.
A. All volunteers to work with children/youth will read this “Safe Conduct Policy” and sign the “Verification of Education” which says you understand the policy and agree that you will abide by it.
B. All adult volunteers (18 and older) to work with children/youth will be required to submit to a criminal background check through Georgia Law Enforcement. Paid staff working with children/youth will also be required to submit annually to a national criminal background check.
Policy Two: Basic procedures are set forth to guide the day-to-day children’s and youth ministries at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. These procedures will demonstrate to members and visitors Prince of Peace Lutheran Church’s commitment to being a safe and holy place where children and youth can grow in faith.
A. All paid staff working with children and youth will have basic CPR and first aid knowledge and know how to get help as quickly as possible.
B. It is our goal to have no fewer than two adults present during any church sponsored program, event, or ministry involving children/youth.
C. All volunteers will complete whatever training and instruction are necessary to safely fulfill the task at hand.
D. When teenage youth are supervising children, a designated responsible adult will be on alert to monitor the situation regularly.
G. Boundaries/proper displays of affection:
1. Physical contact with children and youth can be genuine, positive displays of God’s love.
2. Physical contact should be age and developmentally appropriate.
3. The volunteer should be aware of and sensitive to cultural differences, family backgrounds, individual personalities and special needs.
4. Some simple displays of affection can be misconstrued and teachers/volunteers should be very cautious in this matter.
5. The following types of touch should be avoided:
a. Avoid inappropriate kissing of a child/youth or coaxing a child/youth to kiss you.
b. Avoid extended hugging or tickling.
c. Avoid touching a child in any area that would be covered by a bathing suit.
d. Avoid carrying an older child or sitting him/her on your lap.
e. Avoid being alone in a hidden place with a child away from another childcare person or the group.
f. Avoid giving a full contact body-to-body hug.
6. Dress Code: No adult or child/youth should wear clothing that is revealing of any part of the body that may be considered sexual.
H. Discipline of children/youth:
1. Appropriate discipline procedures, which focus on the behavior and not the child, will be our desired procedure.
2. Physical punishment or verbal abuse will never be used at any time
Policy Three: A plan for responding to known incidents of child abuse and allegations of child abuse is in place to properly respond to such a situation.
1. Education regarding how to recognize possible signs of abuse and neglect will be provided.
2. Reporting procedures for allegations not involving the church.
3. Volunteers suspecting child abuse or neglect should notify the appropriate ministry leader and/or the senior pastor.
a. Confidentiality shall be maintained at all times.
b. Church staff shall immediately document suspicions and when necessary report to the proper authorities immediately.
c. Support, pastoral or professional resources may be extended to the child and family.
Again, I repeat: Your children are safe with us! Amen!
Kollmeyer is sr. pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, on Hwy. 314 between Lowe’s and The Pavilion. The “Contemporary Service” at 9:15 features dynamic worship with music led by the Praise Band.This service is less formal. The “Traditional Service” at 11:15 features the pipe organ and choir and the singing of the great hymns of the faith. “Give us a try!” www.princeofpeacefayette.com or 770-461-3403.