Recently, I sat in a training about Protecting your Children’s Ministry from abuse. Specifically child abuse. I hate these meetings. For two reasons:
I hate these meetings. For two reasons:
Reason #1: I keep thinking of my boys. What would I do? How would I respond if someone did something to my kids? What if the abuser was a member of the congregation?
Reason #2: I get frustrated at the overly trusting, naive Pastor. The one who thinks because it’s a church nothing will happen. The Pastor who does not put protective measures in place for the children’s ministry.
Being naive comes at a significant price.
She disconnected from her husband. Physically and emotionally.
They had been married for years, but the marriage was on the rocks. The wife was abused as a child. The abuse ruined her perspective on intimacy. Intimacy became something ugly, associated with her trauma.
When we met, they were considering divorce. This couple had three children who would be devasted by the divorce. The abuse that happened many years before they were born would impact them forever.
This violation was destroying their home.
The cost of protecting your kids is minimal.
It’s a lot cheaper than a lawsuit.
Less expensive than the harmful exposure to your church.
And much cheaper than the pain a child will face. Not just for the moment.
Pain that will haunt him or her for the rest of their lives.
All because we, the Pastors, did not want to pay the minimal cost to protect our children.
Your Children’s Ministery is Vulnerable
Any form of Child abuse will destroy your Children’s ministry.
So I took some notes from the training, and I figured I’d take a moment and share 3 Risks you can’t afford to take.
Risk #1: Don’t run a background check.
According to Intercity (an insurance company in NYC), a little over 6% of churches run background checks as part of their volunteer onboarding process. What? Are you kidding me? The pressure to recruit more volunteers is never worth the risk of an abusive situation. No way. Every volunteer who is going to work with children or be in an environment where kids are needs to have a background check. And this number goes even lower when you think of youth ministry.
The Volunteers for Children Act signed in 1998 states that you can be sued for negligent hiring if you have an incident with one of your volunteers or employees and you didn’t conduct a national search to look for a previous criminal record. Bottom line run background checks. For more information see http://protectmyministry.com/.
Risk #2: Stranger danger isn’t so dangerous.
Well, at least not in the church. If a stranger came into your church, most staff members would question who he was and assist him in the right direction. But volunteers and staff who are familiar pose a higher risk of abusing a child. I know that’s crazy, but most abuses within the church are performed by someone who is trusted.
To prevent this Institute protective policy and don’t violate them at any costs. An example is a bathroom policy – children who are potty training must use the bathroom by themselves. No youth worker is allowed in a bathroom with a child. These kinds of systems lower the possibility of an incident happening at your church.
Risk #3: Giving kids a ride home.
If you have amazing youth workers, then they most likely will be dropping kids off home. This poses a risk. Especially for the last child in the car. To minimize risk make sure your volunteers are:
- Calling parents. When you call each parent, give an estimate of when the child will be arriving home.
- As best as possible, let it be two adults in a car full of kids.
(BONUS) Risk #4: 2 is not a good number:
When it comes to the count of volunteers you need for a class, 2 is the wrong number. Let’s say that you have five kids and two volunteers. If a child begins to misbehave and a volunteer decides to take the child out of the classroom. That means you have one volunteer, alone with three kids.
That is a risk. Instead never split up two volunteers, or always have at least three volunteers. The key is to make sure that no child ends up alone with a volunteer.
Are you at risk?
Does your children’s ministry have the policies and systems in place to protect your kids?
If they do not pick a policy from above and implement it today. The goal is to prevent any incidents and ultimately preserve the safety of your children’s ministry.
Better to pay the price and be sure that every child is protected.
It’s not worth it.
I only covered four risks you could prevent, what other policies have you put in place to protect your children’s ministry. Leave a comment below.