Child and Youth Protection Policy

 

Introduction

The General Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1996 adopted a resolution aimed at reducing the risk of child abuse in the church. The adopted resolution, continued in 2000, includes the following statement:

Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes a child…welcomes me” (Matthew 18:5). Children are our present and our future, our hope, our teachers, our inspiration. They are full participants in the life of the church and in the realm of God. Jesus also said, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones…it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around you neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). Our Christian faith calls us to offer both hospitality and protection to the little ones, the children. The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church state that “children must be protected from economic, physical, and sexual exploitation, and abuse.”

Tragically, churches have not always been safe places for children. Child sexual abuse, exploitation, and ritual abuse (ritual abuse refers to abusive acts committed as part of ceremonies or rites; ritual abusers are often related to cults) occur in churches, both large and small, urban and rural. The problem cuts across all economic, cultural, and racial lines. It is real, and appears to be increasing. Most annual conferences can cite specific incidents of child sexual abuse and exploitation in their churches. Virtually every congregation has among its members adult survivors of early sexual trauma.

Such incidents are devastating to all who are involved: the child, the family, the local church and its leaders. Increasingly, churches are torn apart by the legal, emotional and monetary consequences of litigation following allegations of abuse.

God calls us to make our churches safe places, protecting children and other vulnerable persons from sexual and ritual abuse. God calls us to create communities of faith where children and adults grow safe and strong. (From the Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church – 2000, pp 180-181).

 

 

Purpose

Our congregation’s purpose for establishing this Child and Youth Protection Policy and accompanying procedures is to demonstrate our absolute and unwavering commitment to the physical safety and spiritual growth of all of our children and to protect our staff and volunteers from potential allegations of abuse.

 

 

Statement of Covenant

Therefore, be it resolved as a Christian community of faith and a United Methodist congregation, we pledge to conduct the ministry of the gospel in ways that assure the safety and spiritual growth of all our children and youth, as well as the safety and spiritual growth of those persons who work with them.

We will follow reasonable safety measures in the selection and recruitment of workers.

We will implement prudent operational procedures in all programs and events.

We will educate our workers with children and youth regarding the use of all appropriate policies and methods, including first aid and methods of discipline.

We will have clearly defined procedures for reporting a suspected incident of abuse that conform to  state law which requires us to report any suspected incident of child abuse/neglect immediately to the local police authorities.

We will be prepared to respond to media inquiries if an incident occurs.

We will inform parents of our policies, and provide training for our teachers regarding our policies.

 

 

Conclusion

In all of our ministries with children, this congregation is committed to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ so that each child will be “surrounded by steadfast love, established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.” (Baptismal Covenant II, United Methodist Hymnal).

 

 

Participation Covenant Statement for Woodridge United Methodist Church

The congregation of Woodridge United Methodist Church is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all children, youth and volunteers who participate in ministries and activities sponsored by the church. The following policy statements reflect our congregation’s commitment to preserving this church as a holy place of safety and protection for all who would enter and as a place in which all people can experience the love of God through relationship with others.

  1. The recruitment of Sunday School teachers, Youth mission trip leaders, Kids Klub volunteers, and all other volunteers who work with the children of WUMC will be coordinated through the Education committee and/or Youth Council.
  2. The Education Chairperson (s) and Youth Council Chairperson (s) will be responsible for collecting this Covenant Statement. Each person will be given three weeks to complete the form and return it to one of these chairpersons.
  3. No adult who has been convicted of child abuse (either sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect) should volunteer to work with children or youth in any church-sponsored activity.
  4. Adult survivors of child abuse need the love and support of our congregation. Any adult survivor who desires to volunteer in some capacity to work with children or youth is encouraged to discuss his/her willingness with one of our church’s ministers before accepting an assignment.
  5. All adult volunteers involved with children or youth must have been a member or an active participant for at least 6 months before beginning a volunteer assignment.
  6. Volunteers and Leaders will complete an application form.
  7. Volunteers and Leaders at WUMC shall observe the “two leader” rule, which requires that no matter the size of the group, there will be two leaders present; one leader must be an adult (defined as anyone over the age of 18) and the other must be at least 5 years older than the age of the class. In some circumstances (including Sunday School) the second leader will be the adult roamer.
  8. Adult volunteers with children and youth shall attend regular training and educational events provided by the church to keep volunteers informed of church policies and state laws regarding child abuse.
  9. Adult volunteers and staff upon witnessing an act of abuse will intervene to protect the child and immediately call 911. The individual will then call the Illinois State Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-2873 to report the incident.
  10. Adult volunteers shall immediately report to the Response Team any behavior that seems abusive or inappropriate. The Response Team consists of the senior pastor, legal counsel, and a representative from each of the following committees: Education Committee, the Youth Council, and the Staff/Parish Committee.  This Team shall meet on an as-needed basis to decide what action should be taken to address the issue, if any.

 

Please contact the church office for the a copy of our policies and for a Volunteer and Leader Application.

Policy updated January 2013