Child Protection

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					Child Protection
D. GUIDELINES FOR THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN, YOUTH,
AND VULNERABLE ADULTS

Introduction
The South Indiana Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church is a spiritual
community which takes seriously its responsibility to provide a safe and nurturing
environment for children, youth, and vulnerable adults who participate in our ministries.
All volunteers and paid staff who are in leadership roles in these ministries are living out
the vows we take in baptism to nurture each other in the Christian faith. Every church
worker plays a key role in fostering the spiritual development of individuals and families
in our church community.

I. Conference responsibilities
In an effort to help our local churches protect our most vulnerable members from harm
and their leaders from possible misunderstanding, the South Indiana Conference urges
every local church to adopt a child protection policy. The essential elements of a local
church child protection policy are:

   1. defining what and who are covered by the policy;
   2. a method of screening for all who work with children, youth, and vulnerable
      adults;
   3. regularly renewed training in the area of child protection and in each local
      church’s guidelines;
   4. guidelines for the proper conduct of ministry with children, youth, and vulnerable
      adults;
   5. procedures for responding to an allegation of abuse.
   6. Pastors shall report to the Annual Charge Conference each Church’s actions
      regarding the Conference Policy Guidelines for the protection of children, youth,
      and vulnerable adults during the current calendar year. This shall be part of each
      Charge Conference beginning in 2000 and each Charge Conference thereafter.
   7. Copies of the report shall be included in the Conference Coordinated Mailing.

To further assist our local churches in formulating and implementing their respective
child protection policies, the Annual Conference offers these guidelines as minimum
standards for such policies. Churches are free to adapt and extend their guidelines to
cover situations not addressed here; however, no local church should enact a policy with
less stringent guidelines than these, and in any case where action is governed by more
than one set of rules (e.g., State law, The Book of Discipline, local church policy, BSA or
GSUSA rules, etc.) the stricter requirements shall take precedence.
Conference agencies which regularly conduct ministry with children, youth, and
vulnerable adults (Board of Discipleship, Board of Youth Ministry, Division of Outdoor
Ministries, Committee on CYSA/Scouting Ministries) will maintain appropriate policies
incorporating these guidelines for their programs. Conference and District COMs will
maintain appropriate policies incorporating these guidelines for other Conference and
District agencies and programs that conduct programs involving children, youth, and
vulnerable adults.

The Conference Council on Ministries will also offer the following assistance to local
churches.

   1. Consultation services by CCOM staff, including examples of well-written local
      church policies from churches of different sizes and with different sorts of
      ministries.
   2. Training resources and certification: CCOM will produce and/or approve training
      resources to be used by local churches. Training will be offered regularly by
      BOD, CBYM, DOM, and Conf. Comm. on CYSA/Scouting Ministries. Districts
      are encouraged to offer training regularly; in addition, local churches may obtain
      training resources from the Conference media library. Upon completion of
      training and filing of a Training Attendance Report Form with the CCOM,
      CCOM will issue cards indicating the date of completion of training.
   3. CCOM receives a periodically updated offender database from the Indiana State
      Police; in addition, the CCOM will maintain a database of those who have been
      dismissed for cause from any child, youth. or vulnerable adult ministry position
      by any local church or Conference agency which will communicate the same to
      the CCOM on a confidential form to be provided by CCOM. Local churches
      which desire to make use of these resources as part of their screening process may
      send lists of potential workers to CCOM, and CCOM will reply in a timely
      manner, indicating whether any of the names submitted appear on either of our
      databases.

II. Definitions
Sexual Abuse is any sexual contact or interaction (i.e., indecent exposure or liberties,
communication for immoral purposes, fondling, rape, etc.) between an adult or
significantly older youth and a child, youth, or vulnerable adult. Force, threats, bribery,
dissemination of pornography, misrepresenting right and wrong are some of the ways this
crime is perpetrated. Even if a child, youth, or vulnerable adult, out of ignorance,
innocence, or fear does not resist, it is still abuse.

Physical Abuse is any physical force applied by an adult or older youth in a position of
care of authority to a child, youth, or vulnerable adult. Physical force (hitting, spanking,
shaking, shoving, etc.) is not to be used by leaders in our programs.

Emotional Abuse is belittling, hateful, or angry words and/or actions directed toward a
child, youth, or vulnerable adult. Discipline by humiliation is also emotional abuse.
Neglect of Basic Needs is a form of abuse. Denial of food, water, cleanliness, clothing,
and sleep are not appropriate means of discipline.

III. Guidelines

   1. All ministries to children, youth, and vulnerable adults conducted or sponsored by
      a local church are subject to these guidelines. Leaders of events and ongoing
      programs in ministry to children, youth, and vulnerable adults should be formally
      associated (e.g., paid staff, members, or constituents) with the local church
      sponsoring the event or program.

       1a. Groups renting facilities or granted use of facilities on a case-by-case basis
       (e.g., a community youth rally, a series of Chrysalis team formations, a Service
       Unit or Round-table meeting under its own leadership, or a group given overnight
       shelter on a cross-country trip) are not the responsibility of the local church,
       unless the local church is significantly involved in the planning or supervision of
       their program; however, groups associated with and/or advertised by the church
       should be considered part of the local church’s ministry, and need to be in
       compliance with these standards (e.g., a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop, a day care
       operating at the church, a summer recreation program).

       1b. Local church policy needs to address whether and how to cover leaders of
       local church ministries who are not themselves formally associated with the local
       church sponsoring the program (e.g., a member of another religious organization
       who is also a Cub Pack Committee member, a Girl Scout Troop Leader, a 4-H
       club leader, or volunteer day care staff person).

      1c. Some activities that include children, youth, or vulnerable adults are of such
      a general or open character (e.g., public worship, a church picnic) that the leaders
      need not meet screening and training requirements, unless local church policy
      addresses particular situations. Likewise, some activities designed for family
      participation, where children, youth, or vulnerable adults attend as part of family
      groups or parent-child pairings (e.g., a breakfast for men and boys, a
      Mother/Daughter banquet) need not have leaders who meet screening and training
      requirements, unless local church policy so specifies. However, all activities that
      include children, youth, or vulnerable adults need to be properly conducted
      according to local church guidelines.
   2. All leaders of events and ongoing programs should be screened before being used
      as leaders. Checking references should be part of this screening. Persons
      convicted of any form of sexual, physical, or other abuse of children, youth, or
      vulnerable adults, or who have a history of inappropriate behavior with children,
      youth, or vulnerable adults, will not be approved for leadership,

       2a. In introducing a policy, people who are acting as leaders or who have acted as
       leaders before the policy takes effect may be approved for service without further
       screening; this is a onetime only action.
   2b. Some body or person(s) within the congregation needs to be responsible for
   conducting screening and maintaining records of applicants. Records need to be
   handled in a confidential manner.

   2c. Local church policy needs to address the use of onetime helpers, drivers, and
   hosts for activities. These may be exempted from screening procedures as long as
   sufficient approved leadership is present to conduct the activity, and as long as the
   definition of “onetime” is not interpreted in such a manner as to avoid submitting
   to screening requirements.

   2d. Local church policy needs to address the issue of other organizations,
   screening procedures, which may meet or exceed the standards established by the
   local church (e.g., BSA application procedures). Local churches may design
   screening policies that avoid duplication of application procedures, so long as the
   local church does not neglect checking references for itself.

   2e. Local church policy needs to address the issue of the minimum age for
   leadership in a given program or level of program, including baby-sitting in the
   church nursery.
3. All leaders of events and ongoing programs should undergo training as a regular
   part of their service as leaders. This training should include general information in
   spotting and preventing abuse, as well as information on the specific guidelines
   and procedures to be followed.

   3a. Some body or person(s) within the congregation needs to be responsible for
   conducting training and maintaining records of leaders’ training.

   3b. Local church policy needs to address the need to keep training certification
   current. Local church policy also needs to address the use of leaders or assistants
   who have not yet had an opportunity to receive training, and the use of onetime
   drivers, helpers, or hosts of activities who have not received training, under the
   direction of sufficient trained leaders to insure the safety of the participants.

   3c. Local church policy needs to either specify the training modules which will
   qualify leaders under its guidelines, or charge some body or person(s) within the
   congregation with the responsibility of examining and approving training modules
   for leaders (e.g., Conference resources, commercially available resources, CYSA
   resources).
4. All events and ongoing programs in ministry to children, youth, and vulnerable
   adults shall be conducted according to the following guidelines.

   4a. Every event or program must have at least two adults in leadership. When
   there is multiple use of a facility (e.g., many classes meeting at the same time, or
   two groups meeting in different areas of the building), there need not be two
   adults in every room where program with children, youth, or vulnerable adults is
   being conducted. In such cases, rooms should have doors with windows or remain
   open. Adults avoid situations where they are one-on-one with a child, youth, or
   vulnerable adult, away from other persons (this does not apply to parent-child or
   sibling relationships).

   4b. Local church policy should address when specific parental permission is
   required (e.g., off-site meetings, pickup of children by non-parent adults from
   meetings or nursery care, overnight programs). Local church policy should
   address who may drive participants; no one may be transported in a vehicle
   without wearing a seat belt. Specific, parental permission, including medical
   release information, should be required for overnight or extended trips,

   4c. On overnight or extended trips, adults do not share beds with children, youth,
   or vulnerable adults. Adults do not share sleeping facilities (e.g., tents or hotel
   rooms) in a 1:1 ratio with a child, youth, or vulnerable adult; adults may share
   group sleeping facilities (e.g., cabin or bunkhouse) with children, youth, or
   vulnerable adults, but only if two adults are present in the camp site. Parent-child
   and sibling relationships are an exception to this guideline. Coed overnight trips
   require at least one leader of each gender.

   4d. Adequate personnel to supervise each activity will be provided in the
   following ratios of leaders to expected attendance:
   - Children (ages 0-2) 1: 4
   - Children (ages 3-5) 1: 5
   - Children (ages 6-11) 1: 6
   - Youth (ages 12-17) 1:10

   Local church policy should address how to seek additional help when expected
   attendance is significantly exceeded.

   4e. Leaders will not use or tolerate abusive actions (as defined, above) in the
   conduct of activities with children, youth, or vulnerable adults. Youth in
   leadership positions should be properly supervised by the adult leaders so that
   they are not abusive in their leadership of their peers; hazing in any form is
   forbidden.
5. When incidents of abuse are suspected, the local church will follow appropriate
   procedures.

   5a. All adults involved in ministry to children, youth, or vulnerable adults need to
   know their responsibility to report incidents of abuse according to law.

   5b. Some body or person(s) within the local congregation needs to be responsible
   for receiving allegations of improper conduct. Discretion and diligence are both
   necessary for this responsibility. Early documentation of incidents is important.

   5c. Some body or person(s) within the local congregation needs to be responsible
   for cooperating with local authorities, with the Bishop or designee, and handling
   the flow of information to the public. Advice of legal counsel will be followed.
   One sole spokesperson will be appointed.

   5d. Some body or person(s) within the local congregation needs to be responsible
   for investigating allegations of improper conduct, and where necessary,
   recommending removal of persons from leadership. Proper documentation is
   important in all cases.

				
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