We live in a world where cases of child abuse, abduction, and molestation are all too frequently headlines in the news. The unfortunate truth is that churches have unique features that make them susceptible to incidents of child abuse. Those who would harm our children are attracted to an institution in which they have immediate access to potential victims in an atmosphere of trust.
While we realize that no set of policies and procedures can guarantee the protection of our children, we have attempted to find a middle ground between naïve denial and hyper-vigilance. For the parents of infants through preschoolers, we have implemented a secure drop-off process. Our Hall Patrol volunteers ensure that all children through elementary school age travel the halls safely while going to and from the restroom during the Sunday morning children’s programs. Finally, our Child-Abuse Prevention policies provide guidelines for the recruitment, screening, and training of those whom you are entrusting your children.
Secured Drop-off Areas
When you drop off your infant through preschool-age children, you will stop at the drop-off area in their classroom and sign them in on a registration sheet. If your child has any allergies or special needs, please indicate this on the registration form. Once you have signed in, you will be given a lanyard with a tag on it. For children in the nursery, a staff person will write your child’s name on a matching sticker and place it on your child’s back. Children in preschool will have matching tags clipped to the back of their shirts. To ensure that we are releasing your child to an authorized individual, whoever picks up your child must present a lanyard with a tag that matches your child’s sticker or tag.
Note: Children should be dropped off and picked up by an adult or teenage-or-older sibling. In order to sign in your child on the class registration sheet and to receive your lanyard, please accompany your child to the drop-off area for his or her classroom.
In any classroom full of young children, it’s inevitable…. The raised hand. The tug on the sleeve. “Teacher, I gotta go potty.” When such times arise, we want to handle them quickly, for the comfort of the child and to reduce the risk of embarrassing accidents. For safety’s sake, we don’t want the child to walk to the bathroom without adult supervision. Yet, at the same time, we don’t want to disrupt the flow of the class by pulling a teacher or helper out of the room to accompany the child.
This is where our Hall Patrol volunteers come in. On Sunday mornings, during the second (9:30am) and third (11:00am) hours, the Hall Patrol volunteers are stationed in the hallway outside the children’s classrooms to walk with any child needing to visit the restroom. If necessary, the volunteers—all of whom have Level 1 clearance—will assist younger children with cleaning and washing up before they return to class. (Level 1 volunteers have been approved through an offical background-check process.)
The Five Forks Brethren in Christ Church Board has approved a set of policy guidelines to help protect the children of our church and community against child abuse. We recognize that no set of policies can ever guarantee the protection of our children. We thank God for His grace in the past, present and future protection of our children; for as in all areas, we are ultimately dependent upon His grace and not our own abilities.
Every person who wishes to work with children from nursery through youth, first of all, needs to have attended Five Forks Church regularly for 6 months. Then, they fill out two forms asking for personal information, areas of interest, and background information. They then are interviewed by a pastoral staff member before they can fill a position of working with children or youth. Two state clearances are done on all volunteers who are in leadership positions, those who go on overnight outings with children or youth, all paid staff persons, and those who patrol the physical building and parking lots during services.
Each year, the church provides training to all volunteers in the area of Child Abuse: how to detect, how to report, how to avoid. Files on all volunteers who serve at Five Forks are updated each year. Feel free to contact the church office if you have any questions regarding this policy.