Protecting the Children Within Your Ministry

Ministry Collision 

A collision is the point where two forces make a direct impact.  

Ministry and compliance collide often, and consideration for both colliding factors is imperative. Child abuse is a high-risk ministry collision causing pain and potential liability for every organization and the kids it serves. As abuse scandals are on the rise, legislators in many states are turning to the law to enforce new standards of care for minors. It is time for the Church to be proactive! 

Most states have some sort of mandated reporting or child abuse and neglect reporting requirements, although some are more defined than others. For example, in Colorado, mandated reporters are specific professionals, like clergy, who are obligated to report known or suspected incidents of child abuse and neglect (C.R.S 19-3-304). Wyoming State law (statutes 14-3-205 and 35-20-103) states that any person who suspects child or vulnerable adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation is required to report it. In North Dakota, clergy aren’t required to report suspected abuse or neglect if they learn about it during time spent as a spiritual advisor to the parent or child; however, if they learn about the abuse in any other role, they must report it. And in South Dakota, clergy are not generally mandated reporters, as opposed to Nebraska, where anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect must make a report. 

Even if you are not required by law to report, the Church has a higher mandate to care for those who can’t protect themselves. So how can the church take steps to identify child abuse and neglect and report it accordingly? Here are three simple ways: 

  1. Create and use a child protection plan that covers everything from check-in procedures to restroom policies to child/adult ratios. We at Church HR Network have teamed up with the Evangelical Council on Abuse Prevention to develop national standards for ministries. 

  1. Train your employees and volunteers in child abuse identification and reporting so they know what to look for and how to handle it.  

  1. Screen your employees and volunteers well by requiring a Live Scan fingerprint background check. Utilize a volunteer application and interview each person. 

Shockingly, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Child abuse affects every socio-economic group and religion. As more and more ministries have long histories of child abuse revealed, we need to be change-makers! Protect your children and your ministry. Prepare now, establish prevention protocols, train your employees and volunteers, and identify reporting methods.  

Church HR Network offers several solutions to help you when ministry and compliance collide. Check us out at churchHRnetwork.com and email us at support@churchHRnetwork.com

 

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