Most churches are searching for church child protection strategies to help protect kids attending Sunday school and weekly church activities on church campus. Unfortunately, many churches do not take a pro-active approach to child protection in church until a preventable church child abuse tragedy has occurred.
What steps can a church take to increase church child protection that is practical and affordable? The first step is to honestly assess where your church stands right now. It is important to recognize there are external threats and internal threats.
The most obvious external threat is a child abduction attempt. This happens rarely. Many churches have adopted strict policies regarding check in and check out procedures, and numerous software programs have been introduced into the market to help church staff keep track of children entering into their ministry area. These are often expensive software programs that require hardware purchases as well.
The unfortunate truth is most incidents of violence against children in church are committed by people internally.
Church child abuse usually involves a trusted adult, who tenaciously works to groom and develop relationships with children under their care. A church can easily implement several steps to dramatically increase the safety and security of children at church.
First, churches should write comprehensive policies and procedures covering access points to the child ministry area, releasing of children to responsible adults, who is allowed to teach, and the requirements for anyone given this responsibility.
It is important to train your staff and volunteers in the policies and procedures. The weakest point in any policy is when someone doesn’t follow a policy. It leaves children vulnerable and having a weak link in the process exposes children to unnecessary risk. Training staff and volunteers should include expectations of each volunteer, explicit directions for carrying out the policy, and a review of the policy every year.
Secondly, a comprehensive church child protection strategy should include training all staff and volunteers in recognizing child predators, signs of abuse, and the important reporting steps they should take if they believe a child is being abused. This is an area that should not be ignored due to the liability churches may face if a child is abused. Churches often have good intentions of providing training to their staff and volunteers, but this is one area that falls through the cracks due to the turnover rate and influx of new people into the children’s ministry. It is difficult to keep accurate records and track who has taken the training and who has not.
Thirdly, churches should consider instituting a church background check program for all staff and volunteers who have access to children or children’s ministry areas. A background check program for churches may be enough to dissuade child predators from becoming involved in the children’s ministry, and may provide information on any applicant that may disqualify him from teaching.
The biggest obstacle for most churches is admitting a child left in their care could be hurt on church property by one of their own members. The next obstacle may be where to begin with the large task of implementing a church child safety policy. Protect My Ministry, the nation’s leading background check company, offers churches guidance on the best course of action to reduce church child abuse. They offer a complete risk management solution that saves time, helps churches organize the church background check process, and offers an opportunity for easily trackable child safety training through its Ministry Mobilizer solution.
Church leaders can now easily implement a child safety program that tracks all activity, helps conduct background checks easily, alerts when background checks needs to be completed, provides release forms, and provides internet based software that allows both ministry leaders and volunteers to securely input personal information. Protect My Ministry also provides a complete online child safety course that allows volunteers to watch videos when convenient for them and notifies ministry leaders when this has been accomplished.
If you are researching church child protection policies, church background checks or child safety training for your staff and volunteers, you are invited to contact Protect My Ministry at 800-319-5581. They also provide free videos for anyone seeking more information about how to implement church background checks. Click here to sign up for the church child protection videos.