CONLEY'S IS A SAFE SANCTUARY
In 1996, the United Methodist Church adopted a resolution calling all churches to implement a "Safe Sanctuaries" policy to welcome children, and to make our churches safe places for children to grow and learn. This resolution was a response to a growing understanding of the widespread problem of abuse--every fifteen seconds a child in our country is abused or neglected. Often, abuse occurs in settings where children should be able to feel especially safe: homes, schools, camps . . . and churches.
When Jesus’ disciples tried to keep children away from him, Jesus responded, “Let the children come to me” (Matthew 19:14). Jesus taught that children were to be included and provided for within the community of faith (see also: Matthew 14:21; 15:38; 18:2-6; 21:15-16; Mark 9:37; 10:13-16; Luke 18:16).
As Christians, we must take seriously our call to be in ministry to children. It is our responsibility to oversee all programs involving children to insure their safety, and to have a plan of response in place should allegations of misconduct arise. While it is not possible to completely eliminate the risk of misconduct in every situation, it is possible to greatly reduce the risk by following a thorough and practical policy of prevention. We fail in our responsibilities if we neglect to take adequate precautions.
Conley's United Methodist Church strictly adheres to a comprehensive Safe Sanctuaries policy. It is our desire that this policy will help to protect all the children that come to us, as well as to protect both our paid and volunteer staff from potential false allegations of abuse. We pray that our church will always be a safe, Spirit-led environment where children and youth may experience the love of God and be nurtured in the Christian faith.
Some of the steps we take to insure safety include:
All staff or volunteers who have direct or indirect contact with children or youth must:
-- Undergo a 50-state background check
-- Be at least 5 years older than those they supervise
-- Have been regularly attending Conley's UMC for at least six months
Annual training in Safe Sanctuaries policy, first aid, and CPR is sponsored by the Staff-Parish Relations Committee of Conley’s UMC for every adult volunteer and staff interacting with children.
No fewer than two qualified, unrelated adults must be present at all times during church sponsored children or youth events.
Every classroom must have a window in the door, and convex mirrors as to insure full visibility at all times.
Annual review of all church facilities accommodating children and youth activities will be made by the Trustees of Conley's UMC to insure safety.
The responsible adults will check to make sure a restroom is unoccupied, and stand outside the restroom door while a child is using the restroom.
A child's parent or guardian will be paged to come to the nursery when a child needs a diaper change or assistance with toileting needs.
No counseling of children or youth ever takes place without the knowledge and consent of the parent or guardian.
The pastor and at least one member of the congregation attend a Peninsula-Delaware Conference sponsored Safe Sanctuaries training event at least every four years.
The Trustees of Conley's annually consult with the church insurer regarding adequacy of coverage, and document completion of any recommendations made by the insurer to enhance safety of youth and children.
What qualifies as "misconduct"?
Misconduct may be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, ritual, or neglect. The Delaware Division of Family Services defines it as anything that causes or inflicts the following:
-- Sexual abuse
-- Physical injury through unjustified force
-- Emotional abuse
"Neglect" is defined as:
Failing to provide necessary care with regard to food, clothing, shelter, education, health, medical or other care necessary for emotional, physical, or mental health,or safety and general well-being.
Chronically and severely abusing alcohol or a controlled substance, and not being active in treatment for such abuse when the abuse threatens the child's ability to receive care necessary for their safety or general well-being.
Failing to provide necessary supervision appropriate for a child when the child is unable to care for their own basic needs or safety after considering such factors as the child's age, mental ability, physical condition, the length of the caretaker's absence, and the context of the child's environment.
Notify the pastor and/or chair of the Nominations and Parish Relations Committee (NPRC) of Conley’s UMC. Contact information is available through the church office, or Report Forms are available at the Safe Sanctuaries stand in Conley’s fellowship hall. If the pastor or chair of the NPRC is the subject of the complaint, notify the Dover District Superintendent at: 302-526-2473 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When reporting misconduct, have the following information available:
-- Your name and relationship within the local church or annual conference.
-- A description of the situation (behaviors, experiences, statements, etc.) which you believe is misconduct.
-- A chronology of dates and locations misconduct has taken place.
-- The best way to contact you.
The pastor and chair of the NPRC will immediately be in contact with the parent(s) or guardian(s)--provided they are not subject to the allegation--and/or the Sussex County Department of Social Services.
Delaware state law requires that once abuse of minors has been confirmed, it must be reported to civil authorities. When reporting misconduct, please be prepared to cooperate fully with the civil authorities' investigation. Information the state requires to make a report includes:
-- A chronology of dates and locations.
-- A description of the abuse or neglect, or why the minor is at risk of abuse or neglect.
-- Known information about the alleged victim's physical health, mental health, educational issues, and parents or siblings.
-- Is the alleged victim in need of immediate medical attention?
-- Known information that could put the child's or worker's safety in peril such as the presence of alcohol, drugs, weapons, dangerous animal, or criminal behavior.
NOTE: This is a summary of Conley's Safe Sanctuaries Policy.
A full copy is available in the church office or the Safe Sanctuaries stand in the fellowship hall.