How to Begin Developing or Updating a Safe Sanctuaries® Policy
Originally published at General Board of Discipleship
The process of developing a Safe Sanctuaries® Policy in your congregation is not complicated. These 10 steps will guide you in reducing the risk of abuse and protecting children and youth in your congregation.
Step 1 – Find out
if your congregation has Safe Sanctuaries® Policies and Guidelines in
Step 2 – Talk with
the senior pastor, congregational leaders, teachers, parents, guardians, grandparents, and others who are concerned about the importance of keeping children and youth safe. As a group, discuss the existing policy or the process for creating Safe Sanctuaries® Policies and Guidelines. Meet as a group with the Church Council. Resources in Steps 3-6 will be helpful in this process.
Who Needs to Be on the Team?
- Member of Staff-Parish Committee
- Member of Board of Trustees
- Lay Leader
- Person(s) responsible for children and youth ministries
- A representative from each group that works with children and youth (may include Sunday school, fellowship groups, choirs, and others)
- A representative from parents of children and youth (have at least two parents from separate families as a minimum recommended number)
Step 3 – Visit
our sample policies page to view examples of current policies provided by XYZ churches.
Step 4 – Use
the Discipleship Ministries Self-Evaluation Tool to assess your congregation’s policy and guideline needs for the prevention of abuse in your congregation’s ministry with children and youth. This tool helps
Step 5 – Gather
current resources necessary for planning and maintaining policies that protect children, youth, and the adults who serve them. Keep these in a place for church leaders and teachers to easily reference.
Safe Sanctuaries®: Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church for Children and Youth and Safe Sanctuaries® for Children and Youth DVD: Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church were developed through Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church. The book includes information on recruiting, screening, and hiring workers with children and youth, guidelines for developing policies and procedures, training models, suggestions for
Step 6 – Recommend
that your pastoral staff read Safe Sanctuaries® for Ministers: Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church to gain a better understanding of the ministerial role in keeping children and youth safe in church and at church activities. This resource is written specifically for those serving as pastors in local church settings.
Step 7 – Write or update
Safe Sanctuaries® Policies and Guidelines for your congregation, making sure to address the unique risks in your congregational setting. Acquaint everyone in the congregation with the policy and guidelines, and its contents. View sample policies and guidelines.
Step 8 – Know
your legal responsibility. In many states, clergy members and those involved in the care of children and youth are considered "mandated reporters," meaning they have a specific obligation to report suspected child abuse. Updated information on these mandates can be found for your particular state.
Step 9 – Contact
your local hospital, police department, social service agency or public health department for names of people in your area qualified to speak with teachers, leaders, parents, and church staff on local resources and procedures for responding to potential abuse.
Step 10 – In all you do
remember that as part of His public ministry, Jesus committed the then-radical act of welcoming children. Our commitment to reducing the risk of abuse in the church for children and youth is one way that we live out Jesus’ act of love.