An Eye-opening Church Experience
Several months ago I visited a church while out of town to see family. My husband took my 2-year-old to the nursery and took my 5 and 7-year-old to children’s church. As I walked into the room I was looking for the paperwork I thought I would need to fill out. There was none. In fact, none of the adult leaders even introduced themselves to me.
My husband came up to me and told me that there was no paperwork for my youngest either, not even a name tag. I was starting to be anxious. This did not seem like a safe place to leave my children! But the service was starting and felt pressure to get on with it. Both children’s church and the nursery did have large windows in the doors, so I left church multiple times to peek in on my kids. After church, I quickly gathered up my children including my 2-year-old. Even though I was not the parent who dropped my 2-year-old off, I had no problem picking her up and walking out the door with her.
Think about that for a minute. What if I was an abusive family member who walked in off the streets and had a restraining order against me? There was NOTHING to keep my children safe.
And while I believe that there was no ill-intent on the part of anyone at the church, it doesn’t fill me with confidence and certainly doesn’t protect children. Another horror story I have seen is when a church’s liability insurance tells the church they need a child safety policy, so a pastor finds one online, prints it out and sticks it in a file somewhere. This is NOT loving and caring about children in our church or community.
Does your church have a Child Safeguarding Policy?
How should we keep kids and teens safe? Where do we even start? I highly recommend a book I just finished reading, The Child Safeguarding Policy for Churches and Ministries. Yeah I know, it’s a super dry title, but if you are in any way concerned with child and/or teen safety, you need to get this in your hands.
Conversations about abuse and especially child sexual abuse are HARD, but that means we REALLY need to have those conversations and plans in place. The Child Safeguarding Policy for Church and Ministries is a step by step guide to writing a child safeguarding policy. Over the last few years, I have done quite a bit of reading about child safety policies and this book blew me away with its thoroughness and usefulness.
How the Book Works
This book will teach you the warning signs of abuse, how to write a child protection policy, how to implement the policy, how to respond to allegations of abuse, ways to care for victims of abuse and some insight of the legal responsibilities of churches and ministries.
The book is 15 chapters and each chapter starts out with educational information about how something works. This section often includes some real life examples. Each chapter also has a section about how to apply the information you just learned into a real policy for your organization. My two favorite chapters were chapter 5 “Screening” and chapter 8 “Policy Violations”
Chapter 5 was extremely thorough in approaching interviews. It was filled with great ideas and the reasons behind certain practices. For example, including your child safety policy as part of filling out an application, allows applicants know you are serious about the protection of children.
Chapter 8 starting dealing with the nuts and bolts of applying the policy once you have one. The authors deal with a lot of objections or problems other churches have already dealt with to better allow your organization to learn from others.
Every chapter is well thought, practical and educational.
The Background of this Book
Basyle Tchividjian is a Christian attorney who was the prosecuting attorney for sex crimes in his county for 10 years. He has witnessed so much heartbreak decided he wanted to be involved in the prevention of sexual abuse. He is a founding member of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). You really should check out GRACE’s page, it is full of helpful resources. I am so grateful for GRACE and the work they are doing.
Who Should Read this Book?
Everyone. I will be buying this book for several leaders I know in ministry. If you are in any sort of leadership position in a church or ministry, are a parent, or work with kids, this book is important to help you make the best decisions you can and educate other around you. Although all my children came through our church visit unscathed, I have decided that I simply won’t go along with their lack of a system again. I know that I have the information to ask good questions and make better decisions about the safety of my children.
For more information about The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide, check out their website here.
Disclamer: I received an advance copy of this book from Liftuse in exchange for a review. I was not asked to provide a positive review. Actually, I jumped at the chance to review this book, because it is such an important subject.