A child and youth protection policy in a faith community helps to ensure safety for children and youth. Dove's Nest recommends that every faith community develop and implement a policy suited to its context.
Responding 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
- Church Protection Policy Checklist – 2019
- Iglesias - En Español
- School Protection Policy Checklist
- Escuelas - En Español
MODEL POLICY #1: Long Version
This child protection policy, entitled “Franconia Mennonite Conference Child Protection Plan,” is outstanding and thorough. (Franconia Mennonite Conference is a member of Mennonite Church USA.) The plan was originally approved in 2007, but it was updated and approved by conference leadership in 2015. According to the introduction, “Franconia Mennonite Conference commits to a collaborative, strategic approach to child protection, which includes identifying and addressing the threats and opportunities the Conference faces. This collaborative effort culminated in the creation of the following Child Protection Plan.”
The plan is seventy-four pages long and includes many helpful forms, as well as materials on understanding physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Also, as an area conference with most of its churches in Pennsylvania, this plan includes the latest requirements for background screenings based on Pennsylvania law (see page 10–11).
It is important to note that not all church’s need to implement a policy as comprehensive as this one. Dove’s Nest recommends that a church or conference carefully adapt this policy to their unique context and make it their own.
MODEL POLICY #2: Short Version (2020 update)
For smaller churches, or churches just beginning their journeys into child abuse prevention work, this is our favorite shorter sample child protection and abuse response policy. This sample policy is based off of appendix 4 (page 181–185) of Let the Children Come: Preparing Faith Communities to End Child Abuse and Neglect by Jeanette Harder (2010).
It includes these important components, which are also outlined in this checklist:
- An introduction
- Abuse definitions
- Prevention within church: trainings, facility safety, supervision of children, personnel issues
- How to deal with offenders and allegations of abuse
- Abuse prevention within other communities
We highly recommend using the rest of Let the Children Come as a resource for the committee working with abuse prevention and the protection policy.
PROTECTION & INCLUSION/ OFFENDERS
Known Offenders: Five Things to Know. GRACE. 2019.
Healthy Touch & Boundaries:
Appropriate Touch Guidelines. 2016.
Guidelines for Healthy Relationships. 2019.
Guidelines for Interactions Between Adults and Children. 2019.
Rules for Touch. The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide, 2017.
7 Tips on Electronic Communication for Churches.
Mentoring the Safe Way. 2017.
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.
Young Children and Bathroom Use [pdf] by Marlene Bogard.
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. Dove's Nest offers these policies as examples only and does not necessarily endorse them.
Atlantic Coast Conference
First Mennonite Church, Urbana-Champaign, IL (Illinois Mennonite conference as well)
Central Plains Mennonite Conference
Franconia Mennonite Conference
Gulf States Mennonite Conference
Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference
Mountain States Mennonite Conference
Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference
Virginia Mennonite Conference
Western District Conference
First Mennonite Church, Newton, KS: Policy for the Care of Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Mennonite Church USA AREA CONFERENCE
BRETHREN IN CHRIST CHURCH