Are the Kids OK? 11 Ways to Keep Children and Youth Safe While They’re at Home

Children and youth need protection now more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to school closures, economic stress, and unmet childcare needs, leaving many parents in a lurch. It’s not surprising that child abuse, neglect, and domestic violence are predicted to increase.

As faith communities, we may be grieving the loss of our in-person practices like worship, small groups, and Sunday school. When we are struggling to keep up with virtual worship and meetings, the challenge of how to meet the needs of vulnerable families can feel insurmountable.

Still, as protectors of children and youth, we know you care deeply about families' needs during this crisis. How can we support the families who are most vulnerable? How can we share God’s love during this unprecedented time?  

Our hope is that this list will inspire pastors and lay leaders to get creative in finding ways to support families and keep kids safe while they’re homebound during this pandemic. We also invite additions and suggestions!

  1. Assign a group of volunteers to schedule regular check-ins with families and vulnerable adults through phone, text, and video calls.
  2. Schedule grocery drop-offs, similar to meal drives when there’s a new baby.
  3. If several church members live in the same neighborhood, host activities like a scavenger hunt or teddy bear stroll where children can walk around and count the teddy bears they spot on porches.
  4. Set up volunteers to drop off care packages, crafts, books, or toys (that can be sanitized), especially recognizing graduations, birthdays, and other milestones.
  5. Offer and share virtual children’s times, children’s music, or even Sunday school classes. Here are some creative examples, from singalongs with Brian Moyer Suderman at SmallTall Ministries to puppet times with John Garland from San Antonio Mennonite Church.
  6. The Shine curriculum has your Sunday school needs covered with free resources for families and teachers to use during church closures.
  7. Find ways to safety support mentor–mentee relationships. Do crafts, science experiments, or other activities together virtually, perhaps in groups of several children and adults using free apps like FaceTime, Zoom, or House Party. Or offer virtual tutoring for students who need help with homework.
  8. Share local information about concrete services for families, like food assistance. Food insecurity will be a growing problem for vulnerable families. Also, being aware of mental health needs and local resources to address them is important.
  9. Just like we encourage parents to be open about body safety and questions about sexuality, now is the time to put those communication skills in place when talking about Covid-19 with children in your life.
    Here are some excellent resources about how to have these conversations:
    CDC Talking with Children
    Messy Motherhood Blog: Kid’s Home From School
    National Geographic
    In Our Sleeves
  10. Share resources on positive parentings, setting boundaries with work and kids, and stress management. Parents who are working from home while simultaneously parenting from home are under an incredible amount of stress. A wonderful website is Aha Parenting!, which has many timely blogs on kids and COVID-19. Darkness to Light is also offering a free Protecting Children During a Crisis training.
  11. Encourage parents to talk about pornography use and internet safety. Children will be less supervised online more than ever, so setting up parental controls and having conversations about pornography’s harm to one’s self and others is crucial.
    Internet safety: 
    https://www.stopitnow.org/ohc-content/preparing-for-internet-safety
    https://www.stopitnow.org/ohc-content/warning-signs-a-young-person-may-be-a-target-of-online-sexual-abuse
    Talking about pornography’s harm: https://www.breakthecycle.org/talking-your-child-about-pornography-0
  12. Prayer! Using the Lord’s Prayer or other prayer books can keep us centered and allow us to take one day at a time as we take care of ourselves, our children, and the children in our communities.

Have other ideas to add to this list? Email Kathy [at] DovesNest.net and let us know how you are supporting children and youth and their families!

 Written by Dove's Nest Staff