« Back
A PLAN TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN AND MINISTRY SERVERS
by FBC WELLAND
BASIC PURPOSE In our church, both leaders and volunteers are eager to be involved in ministry that helps our congregation grow both spiritually and numerically. Ephesians 4:16 tells us that if we live by truth and love with Christ as our head and with every individual working as equipped for ministry, we will grow.

Sometimes, enthusiasm causes people to overlook procedures that can protect the safety of both leaders (paid staff and volunteers) and members of our congregation. Implementing the following policies and procedures is important in any Christian church. While some flexibility is necessary, these policies help First Baptist Church to be professional in our oversight of volunteers as well as paid staff.

A. RECRUITMENT PROCEDURES When pastoral staff or volunteers recruit volunteers, all names of potential volunteers will be brought to the appropriate department and pastor before those individuals are approached about a ministry assignment. If the pastor or Deacons’ Board know of reasons why an individual would not be suitable for a volunteer position, further investigation will take place and a final approval, or denial, of the name will be made. The appropriate Pastor will establish a file for the documents relative to that application. In cases where children, youth or developmentally disabled adults are to be supervised by volunteers, a confidential application, Volunteer/Staff Application Form, will be submitted by the volunteer before final approval is considered. This form is vital in protecting our church from legal action if a case of suspected abuse occurs. To be protected from liability in abuse cases, our church must show evidence that reasonable action has been taken in checking out volunteers working with our congregation. The courts will look for a process by which our church screens volunteers before engaging them in service. By having every volunteer complete a Volunteer/Staff Application Form and keeping the forms on file, we greatly reduce our liability in abuse cases.

B. KEY COMPONENTS OF OUR PROTECTION PLAN TO WHICH OUR CHURCH IS COMMITTED:
1. We will screen all paid employees, including ministerial staff, and volunteers who work with children, youth or developmentally disabled adults, for more than thirty days.
2. We will check references. A record will be kept of the person making the contact, the dates of the contacts, and a summary of the comments by the references. Criminal records checks will be done for all applicants. Results of all criminal record checks will be returned to applicants immediately.
3. Annual training sessions will be held for all volunteers and paid staff.
4. Ideally, approved volunteers will become apprentices with experienced volunteers or paid staff for a period of six months. This policy provides additional opportunity for evaluation of applicants, and will help repel persons seeking immediate access to vulnerable individuals. (This provision may be waived when the person is a mature Christian who has been interviewed personally by the senior pastor or two deacons or transferring from another church and has a letter of recommendation signed by the pastor of that church.)

C. PERSONAL SAFETY PROCEDURES TO PROTECT THE VULNERABLE AS WELL AS OUR WORKERS First Baptist Church is concerned for the safety of individuals and families we serve. At the same time, we are concerned about the safety and reputation of the adults and teens who volunteer to make this ministry possible. These procedures are designed to protect everyone in our congregation.
1. THE TWO-ADULT PRINCIPLE Ideally there should be a minimum of two adults in any room with children, except in the event of an emergency situation. This reduces the risk of false accusations. When only one adult teacher is in a room with children, the door of that room will remain slightly open or there will be a window door that allows others to look in occasionally without interrupting the teaching process.
2. RECORD KEEPING Lists of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of parents and children shall be carefully maintained by the group leaders. A registration procedure will be maintained for each Nursery, Sunday School, Kids club child and Youth Group member, recording the participant’s name, parent’s name and other relevant data including any special needs of each child. The name of each volunteer shall be recorded each session on the sign-in list provided.
3. DIAPER CHANGING Diaper changing should always take place using the open door policy.
4. RESTROOMS When accompanying a child or children to a restroom, a second adult needs to be within visual contact, unless the lone adult stands in the open doorway only. A pre-school or primary age child should not be sent to the restroom alone. A worker should escort a child or children as above, or, in the case of older children, another child could accompany the child or children.
5. SICK CHILDREN A child who is not feeling well should not be accepted into the classroom. This exposes other children and workers to illness. Children with symptoms such as unusual fatigue or irritability, coughing, sneezing, runny nose or eyes, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, inflamed mouth and throat should be returned to their parents.
6. WORKER BEHAVIOUR While on duty, volunteers working with pre-school, primary and elementary school ages must wear an authorized name tag. Workers should always conduct themselves in a godly manner, being examples of obedience, respect and honesty to all believers. Behaviours such as extended hugging, kissing, inappropriate touching, tickling, or being alone with a child are not permitted.
7. MEDICATION Workers are not to give or apply any medication. If a child needs medication, the parent must administer it. No medication will be left in the classroom with a worker or a child.
8. PARTIES and FIELD TRIPS The following precautions need to be taken with activities in the homes of volunteers, social activities, field trips and service projects. (a) Always have another adult (not a relative) present at the activity. (b) Always obtain a signed parent consent document parents. (c) Invite one parent to come as an activities assistant for pre-teen activities. Parents helping with individual activities do not need to complete a Volunteer Application Form. (d) Leadership Board of has ensured that our church insurance policy has liability coverage including off-premise activities provided the event has been registered in the church office and published in a Sunday bulletin. (e) When transporting an individual child, always have another adult in the vehicle.
9. BUILDING REQUIREMENTS There should be windows in all classroom and office doors so that activities can be visible when doors need to be closed for safety or confidentiality reasons. All rooms must have an emergency exit plan, both in direction and instructions.

D. CHILD ABUSE: PREVENTION and PROCEDURES WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS 1 Thessalonians 5:22 “Avoid every kind of evil.” Ephesians 5:3 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality...because these are improper for God’s holy people.” Matthew 18:6 “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:15 - 17 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won the person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If that person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. If the church decides you are right, but the other person won’t accept it, treat the person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.”

NECESSARY DEFINITIONS: Parents, guardians, volunteers and staff of FBC need to understand some definitions and be aware of some information about abuse.
1. A child is a person under the age of 16 years.
2. Child abuse is any action, physical or verbal, which is exploitative, potentially harmful or damaging to the child’s physical, emotional or psychological health. It may take the form of physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect.
3. Physical abuse is any physical force or action which results in, or may potentially result in, non-accidental injury to a child, and which exceeds that which could be considered reasonable discipline.
4. Sexual abuse is any sexual exploitation of a child whether consensual or not. It includes touching of a sexual nature and sexual intercourse, and may include any behaviour of a sexual nature toward a child. This does not include normal affectionate behaviour towards children and normal health or hygiene care. Sexual activity between children may constitute sexual abuse if the difference in age or power between the children is so significant that the older or more powerful child is clearly taking sexual advantage of the younger or less powerful child.
5. Emotional abuse includes acts or omissions of those responsible for the care of a child which are likely to produce long-term and serious emotional disorder. This might include effects such as non-organic failure to thrive, developmental retardation, serious anxiety, depression or withdrawal, or serious behaviour disturbance.
6. Neglect is the failure of those responsible for the care of the child to meet the physical, emotional or medical needs of a child to the extent that the child’s health, development or safety is endangered. SYMPTOMS of ABUSE and MOLESTATION If a worker notices any of the following clusters of signs of abuse and molestation, he/she must report the suspicion. A single event might not indicate a potential abuse case, but sudden, unexplained changes in behaviour of a child might warrant investigation. Physical signs may include: · lacerations and bruises, · nightmares, · irritation, pain or injury to the genital area, · difficulty with urination, · discomfort when sitting, · torn or bloody underclothing. Behavioural signs may include: · anxiety when approaching church or nursery area, · nervous or hostile behaviour toward adults, · sexual self-consciousness, · “acting out” sexual behaviour, · withdrawal from church activities and friends. Verbal signs may include the following statements: ·

“(Particular person) does things to me when we’re alone.” · “I don’t like to be alone with (particular person).” · “(Particular person) fooled around with me.”

THE EFFECTS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: Child sexual abuse robs children of their childhood and can potentially scar young victims for life. In the past, children were viewed as being resilient. Recent research has shown that children can suffer significant pain from even a single abusive incident. We must be aware of the pain and long-term suffering that can accompany abuse. Abuse can result in abnormal fears, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), aggressive behaviour, sexual “acting out”, depression, diffused sexual identity, and poor self-esteem. Studies of victims as adults suggest the following effects: sexual dysfunction, eating disorders, substance abuse, promiscuity, disassociation from emotions, and possible perpetuation of sexual abuse on others. 80 to 85% of female prisoners are victims of child abuse; 85% of runaways have been sexually abused; sexually abused children are 7 times more likely to become alcohol/drug dependent; 98% of multiple personality individuals experienced sexual abuse as children; child sexual abuse greatly increases the likelihood of attempted suicide; 99% of child prostitutes suffered sexual abuse. When church leaders and congregations perpetuate the abuse, lifelong religious confusion and deep feelings of enmity towards God and the church can occur.

WHO IS THE TYPICAL CHILD MOLESTER? No one profile fits the various perpetrators of abuse. We may become preoccupied with screening stereotypes while overlooking real molesters who may be adults or teens in our church. Trusted adults - male or female - can easily mislead children while our focus might be on “stranger danger”. Some information is useful: · Over 80% of the time, the abuser is someone known to the victim. · Most abuse takes place within the context of an ongoing relationship. · The usual offender is between the ages of 20 - 30 years of age. · 20% of sex offenders begin their activity before the age of 18. · Child abusers are often married. · 33% of sex offenders have experienced some form of sexual trauma as children.

E. PROTECTION FROM LIABILITY No person is liable for anything done or omitted in good faith in the exercise or purported exercise of the powers of the Child and Family Services Act of Ontario. This act protects the reporter from liability if the report is not malicious and is based on reasonable grounds. (CFSA s. 72(7)

F. OBLIGATION TO REPORT Any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that a child (or children) is in need of protection is required by the Child and Family Services Act to report the matter directly to the Children’s Aid Society of Niagara region . Failure to report in these circumstances is an offence which could result in court action. Church personnel are required to report immediately to the police (911 if danger is imminent or obvious, 905-546-3858 if information is needed) or the Children’s Aid Society any suspected case of child abuse. Church leaders have a double accountability before God to be aware of the great responsibility relative to offending or protecting one of God’s little ones. We want to follow the principles of submitting to governing authorities (Romans 13:1ff) while at the same time helping parents to exercise Christian child discipline.

1. WHO MUST REPORT Any person who performs professional or official duties with respect to children and has reasonable grounds to believe that any of the following circumstances apply must report: · The child has suffered physical harm, inflicted by the person having charge of the child, or caused by or resulting from that person’s failure to adequately care for, supervise or protect the child, pattern of neglect to do so. · The child is at risk as above. · The child has been sexually molested or sexually exploited by the person having charge of the child or by another person where the person having charge knows or should have known of the possibility. · The child is at risk to be sexually molested or sexually exploited as above. · The child requires medical treatment to cure, prevent or alleviate physical harm or suffering and the child’s parent or the person having charge of the child does not provide or refuses or is unavailable or unable to consent to, the treatment. (i.e The death, absence or disability of a parent deprives the child of necessary care.) · The child has suffered emotional harm, demonstrated by serious, i. anxiety ii. depression iii. withdrawal iv. self-destructive or aggressive behaviour, or v. delayed development, and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the emotional harm results from the actions of, or pattern of neglect by, the child’s parent or the person having charge of the child. · The child has suffered emotional harm and the child’s parent or person having charge refuses or is unavailable or unable to consent to services or treatment to remedy or alleviate the harm. · The child is at risk to suffer emotional harm. · The child has been abandoned, the child’s parent has died or is unavailable to exercise his/her custodial rights over the child and has not made adequate provision for the child’s care. · The child is less than 12 years old and has killed or seriously injured another person or caused serious damage to property, and the child’s parent or person having charge does not provide, or refuses or is unavailable or unable to consent to, necessary services or treatment. · The child is less than 12 years old and demonstrates a pattern of injuring others or property. Abuse or neglect need not have already occurred for a child to be in need of protection. When abuse or neglect can be reasonably anticipated, there are reasonable grounds to believe a child is in need of protection, and the legal obligation to report applies. If a child (or children) is at risk based on an offender’s past behaviour, whether or not it is the same child (or children), especially if the offender is in regular contact with the child (or children), it is particularly vital to report the case. Where the information is obtained from a victim, the victim should be told how to file a complaint with the police irrespective of whether current concerns exist. Solicitor-client privilege (confidentiality) does not apply to physicians, clergy or other professionals when child abuse or neglect happens.

2. HOW TO REPORT
(a) If a child reports abuse, assume the child is telling the truth, and listen carefully and calmly without revealing emotion. DO NOT QUESTION THE CHILD. Reassure the child that he/she is not to blame for what happened. State that you must report what has happened and that the child has done the right thing in telling about the situation.
(b) Immediately advise a member of our Pastoral Staff of the situation. While the police and Children’s Aid Society must know the reporter’s name, Pastoral Staff must safeguard the anonymity of the reporter to all others.
(c) In consultation with the Pastoral Staff, arrange for immediate reporting of the incident to the Children’s Aid Society who will then involve the police. Immediately complete a brief written report of the event.
(d) Pastoral Staff must NOT interview the child about the details of the event(s). The Children’s Aid Society worker does the interviewing. The Pastor needs to provide spiritual help and support to the child, and perhaps the suspect, during the process.
(e) The leader should NOT contact the parents at this time if the alleged abuser is a family member. This would likely jeopardize the investigation and may victimize the child. Ask the authorities to whom the report is made as to whether the parents should be advised.
(f) If the suspected abuser is someone outside the family, even if it is another member of the congregation, the parents should be contacted immediately, preferably by the Pastor, and informed about the situation. The report must still be made to the police or Children’s Aid Society at the same time.
(g) If the suspected abuser is a volunteer in our church or a member of our congregation, the same procedures for reporting shall be followed. It is wise to consult an outside source with experience and expertise relating to abuse. The Canadian Baptist of Ontario and Quebec (CBOQ) may be contacted as a resource for finding such a consultant. This consultant could help the Church Family deal with the outraged feelings, guilt and congregational disarray, advising them on what may take place in the future.
(h) If the alleged abuser is a Pastor within our church, the Division of Pastoral Resources of the CBOQ should be contacted IMMEDIATELY. The CBOQ has written policies and procedures to deal with such abuse cases.
(i) Throughout the investigation, the innocence of the accused should be assumed. If the accused, however, is in our congregation, he/she may be relieved of duties at the discretion of The Servant/Leadership Board until a complete investigation and a final decision has been made.
(j) If the alleged abuser is a member of our congregation, it will be difficult for one person to adequately help both the accused and the victim. A Christian counsellor should be identified and made available for both the family of the victim and the accused throughout the process.
(k) An outside consultant may be considered to meet with the congregation.
(l) One of our pastors should provide support and spiritual help as needed, although this should not be primary therapy for the accused who invariably needs a specialized treatment program.
(m) Pastoral care should be considered for the family or families involved, recognizing that the child’s family may be in crisis, suffering from anger, a sense of blame or other varied responses.
(n) Following a child abuse interview, our Missional Team Leader shall make a confidential written report with conclusions, action taken, and recommendations for follow-up action if appropriate. This report shall be kept in a confidential personnel file.

F. CHURCH DISCIPLINE If it is found that child abuse by a member of First Baptist Church Welland has taken place, we will practice discipline according to Matthew 18:15-17 and in accordance with the regulations of the BCOQ. We will protect parents as much as legally possible from undue interference by outside authorities into their family. We will maintain frequent communication and supportive relationships with those suspected or guilty of child abuse as long as these persons exhibit a willingness to listen, change and look to Christ for help.

G. DOCUMENTS RELATIVE TO APPLICATION See the APPENDIX for copies. 1. Report Form Suspected Child Abuse 2. Follow-Up Report Suspected Child Abuse 3. Field Trips and Special Events Waiver and Medical Release Form 4. Overnight Events Waiver and Medical Release Form 5. Letter to Applicant from Board of Deacons 6. Ministry Leadership Volunteer Application Form for Ministries to Children and Youth 7. Reference Check Form (Script for Telephone Screening) 8. Ministry Volunteer Interview Form (Guide for Interviewing Applicant) 9. Initial Clearance Checklist (Guide for Ensuring All Steps and Documentation are in Place) 10. Conflict Management Policy 11. Church Covenant 12. Criminal Records Release