The Need for Written and Communicated Children and Youth Policies
Children and youth are valued in nearly every culture on the planet. But because they often cannot protect themselves, it is the duty and responsibility of parents, community and tribal leaders to protect them in any and every way possible.
Churches can be potential targets for abusers because they are relatively trusting of volunteers, generally have poor screening policies for volunteers, and provide opportunities for close contact and relationships with children. Because of these factors, we must know what child abuse is, be able to recognize it, put plans in place to prevent it, screen our volunteers appropriately, and have a solid response system.
We’ve compiled some sample and real-world policies generously shared by various churches, ministries, and youth organizations. Feel free to use these policies to get you started. You can copy, paste, change if you need to. Each ministry or organization has to approve their own policies and be responsible to enforce them.
Sample PoliciesNorth Lakeport Wesleyan Child Protection Guidelines 2008 North Lakeport Wesleyan Ministry Covenant Form North Lakeport Wesleyan Nursery and Toddler Care Policies CrossWay Community Church Sexual Physical Abuse 2011 Eastbrook Church Child Protection Policy 2012 First Christian Church Sandpoint ID Volunteer Handbook hwcYouth Volunteer Handbook 12-13 hwcYouth Criminal Background Check Authorization
The Need for Conducting Background Checks
Running a comprehensive background check on anyone serving with youth under the age of 18 is a necessary component to protecting minors in any ministry or organized setting. It shouldn’t be your only tool to screen volunteers or employees (i.e. checking references and personal interviews should be used as well), but it catches those who have prior convictions that are in the system.
It’s awkward to do these background checks because for most churches it may seem like it’s unnecessary or invasive. I mean, people doing ministry with you are most likely your friends or people you know fairly well. But think of this more as a protective and standard measure. Imagine if you didn’t check someone’s background and they did have a prior conviction regarding abuse of a child and something happened. Doing backgrounds checks as a standard and protective measure communicates that you do this with everyone who serves, not just one person.
We’ve compiled some organizations below that perform various kinds background checks. We’ll leave it to your ministry or organization to pick a company that meets your needs.