A child and youth protection policy in a faith community helps to ensure safety for children and youth. A written policy needs to be adopted as well as implemented and made accessible. Having a clearly defined plan for responding to any concern that arises enables people to act responsibly and appropriately during confusing and emotional situations. Dove's Nest recommends that every faith community develop and implement a policy suited to its context.
A child protection policy should address the following questions:
- What is child abuse and neglect?
- How can we make our facilities safer?
- What personnel practices will reduce risks?
- What are best practices for programs involving children and youth?
- What training will be offered to those working with children?
- How will we respond to allegations of abuse?
- What if we have concerns about an individual's behavior or if a known offender is attending our church?
- How can we promote the safety of children and youth in the wider community?
Answering these questions in times of crisis is very difficult, so it is best to be proactive and develop a robust policy before it is needed. Provided below are checklists on what to include in a policy and some sample policies. Other resources are also available for writing a child and protection policy.
Child and Youth Protection Policy Checklists: Churches Schools
Listed below are examples from some Mennonite Church USA congregations (separated by conference) and other denominations that have child protection policies along with links to those policy. If you wish to borrow substantial portions of a church's policy, please request an electronic file directly from that congregation. Contact information is available from the directory on the Mennonite Church USA website. If you wish to add your church's child protection policy to this list, please e-mail it to Info [at] DovesNest.net.
MENNONITE CHURCH USA
Atlantic Coast Conference
First Mennonite Church, Urbana-Champaign, IL (Illinois Mennonite conference as well)
Central Plains Mennonite Conference
Franconia Mennonite Conference
Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference
Mountain States Mennonite Conference
Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference
Western District Conference
BRETHREN IN CHRIST CHURCH
Car seats and prevention policies [pdf] by Marlene Bogard
Young children and bathroom use [pdf] by Marlene Bogard
Parks and playground safety [pdf] from St. Andrew's Parks and Playground, South Carolina
Responding to disruptions during worship [pdf] from Faith Mennonite Church, Minneapolis