A. Deter or Catch the predator before he comes in the door!
- Background Screening (criminal history, fingerprints, etc.) of all applicants and prospective volunteers. THIS IS NOT A GUARANTEE but it may do one of two things:
- Discourage child abusers from even applying or attempting to volunteer;
- Uncover a child abuser with a documented history.
- Conduct internet news search (ie. Google) in locations where the prospective employee/volunteer has lived.
- Request any and all LEO reports on the applicant from any all cities and counties where they have resided. (In most states, these reports are public records!)
- Ask the applicant for references and CALL each one!
B. Develop certain policies and procedures applicable on and off of church property which will minimize the opportunities for a predator to act. (see sample policies and protocols)**
Make sure there is proper training on these policies!!
- Two Adult Requirement – at least two adults present in any activity/ministry involving children. These adults should not be a husband and wife team (history shows that many spouses of perpetrators will often ‘look the other way’ or choose to protect their spouses over the child.)
- Prohibit private interaction between adult and children
- If there is some reason for a private discussion with a child, this should be done in full view of others AND with the knowledge of another adult.
- Except in exigent circumstances, an adult should never be alone in a car with a child that is not his/her own. If an emergency arises, the adult should either take along another person or make sure another adult is aware of the situation.
- Personal emails or IM’s between adults and children should be prohibited.
- Minimize physical contact between the adult and children. Hugs and physical horseplay should be kept at a minimum especially between adults and children of opposite genders
- Respect privacy
- Create a system that minimizes opportunities available for a predator when a child uses the bathroom. (Buddy system or make sure the adult stays outside the bathroom and waits at the door.)
- No adult should be allowed into a position whereby they may observe a child changing or showering. ie. retreats, conferences, etc.
- Appropriate attire
- Require any and all adults to wear modest clothing while in the presence of children..including keeping shirts on, etc. (Each church has to determine the meaning of “modest”.)
- Require the children/youth to dress appropriately at all church events..this can be a challenge!
- Don’t hesitate in getting assistance from professionals in the development of such policies!!
C. Create an Environment where kids feel safe and parents are educated
- Offer personal safety classes for the youth
- This is not a sex education course!
- This program basically teaches younger kids that the parts of their body covered by a bathing suit are not supposed to be touched.
- This is a program that would teach older kids (youth) ways to guard against becoming too “trustworthy” of an adult and guard against being alone with adults.
- The program for the older kids should explain the ways in which predators think!
- This is a program that also teaches all youth the difference between sinning and being a victim of sin! *A 13 year old girl who told my prosecutor friend that she had kept the secret of her abuse for 8 years because the only thing she knew about sex outside marriage was that it “is sinful”.
- This is a program that must teach all youth what to do if they are inappropriately touched.
- Educate parents about sexual abuse and sexual predators
- Teach parents the mind of a predator so that they can be more in tune with the various interactions their kids are having with adults.
- Internet safety (20% of children between 10-17 have been sexually solicited online. Encourage parents to watch ‘Dateline NBC’s “To Catch A Predator”!)
- Provide guidance to parents in teaching their children personal safety issues. *In one Christian church, a three year old victim, who had received personal safety instructions from her mother, subsequently reported being molested by a 12 year old boy who promptly confessed and was prosecuted.
- Train ALL staff/volunteers about the sin of child abuse and the mind of a perpetrator
Since predators seek vulnerable children, church workers must likewise pay special attention to the children at greatest risk. Children and adults who are physically or mentally disabled, children engaging in delinquent behavior or who are having trouble with drugs or alcohol, or simply children of a single parent may be an easy target for predators. – Victor Vieth (GRACE Board Member)
- Encourage your pastor to periodically have a sermon that addresses the sin of child abuse – this will embolden the victim to speak while deterring the predator from staying around.
D. Keep your antennas up!
- Be careful of men who involve themselves in youth activities and who do not have children of their own or children of that age. – Anna Salter
- Does this person have any adult friends or do they constantly like to be around the children?? (regardless of whether or not they have children!)
- Does this adult seem to take a special interest with any one particular child? (Always kidding around with one particular child, always talking to one particular child, giving of gifts to a child)
- Keep an eye on the adult that takes a special interest in “helping” or “mentoring” troubled children.
- Does this adult without children have a home that looks like DisneyWorld? (ie. attractive to kids and/or young people)
- Keeping your antennas up does NOT mean cast judgment!
- We must be careful not to make internal or external judgments on persons simply based upon the the above-listed factors.
- Always have trusted and mature Christian confidant that you can share any concerns you may have with regard to an adult’s behavior and activities with children.
- Be in persistent prayer that God will give you much discernment in wisdom with your concerns!!
For More Information visit: www.NetGRACE.org