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RGC. Rio Grande Conference of the United Methodist Church. Safe Sanctuaries Volunteer Training “The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”. Courtesy of

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slide1

RGC

Rio Grande Conference

of the United Methodist Church

Safe Sanctuaries Volunteer Training“The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Courtesy of

The North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church

Safe Sanctuaries Task Force

January 2009

the united methodist baptismal covenant
The United Methodist Baptismal Covenant

With God’s help we will soorder our lives after the example of Christ, that our children and youth, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established

in the faith,

and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.

the point is this
The point is this…
  • Our camps and churches should be places where youth and children feel safe enough to leave the security of their parents and explore their faith independently with groups of their peers.
  • Parents should feel that their children are growing in faith and surrounded by people who can be trusted with their happiness and welfare.
how big is the problem
How big is the problem?
  • 4 children die every day as a result of child abuse and three out of four of these victims are under the age of 4.
  • A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.
  • Of the reported rapes of children under 12 years old, 90% of the victims knew the perpetrator.
  • An estimated 906,000 children are victims of abuse & neglect every year.
can it happen to us forms and indicators of abuse
Can “it” happen to us?Forms and Indicators of Abuse
  • Physical Abuse
    • Aggressive or destructive behavior, fearfulness of parents, inappropriate fractures or bruises, burns, or other injuries
  • Emotional Abuse
    • Depression or withdrawal, lack of self-esteem, threatens or attempts suicide, speech or eating disorders, extreme passive/aggressive behavior patterns
  • Neglect
    • Inappropriate dress for climate, begging for or stealing food, chronic hunger, depression, untreated medical conditions, poor hygiene
can it happen to us forms and indicators of abuse1
Can “it” happen to us?Forms and Indicators of Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
    • Advanced sexual knowledge or behavior, depression, running away or refusing to return home, difficulty walking or sitting, bruising or bleeding around genitals, sexually transmitted diseases, nervousness or anxiety about particular situations, nightmares, hostility.
  • Ritual Abuse
    • Disruptions of memory or consciousness, mistrust and mood swings, flashbacks, eating disorders, fear of the dark, fear of people who wear robes, nightmares, also sexual abuse symptoms.
who are sex offenders
Who are sex offenders?
  • There are two types of sex predators.
  • Persuasive Predators groom their victims, families and communities so that they assume to be safe. This produces two effects. First, it gives the predator access to victims. Second, people are less apt to believe accusations since the accused is a respected member of the community.
  • Power Predators overpower their victims. This is incidents of kidnapping, assault, etc.
who is most at risk for abuse
Who is most at risk for abuse?
  • Any vulnerable individuals, including children, youth, and adults.
what to look for
What to look for…
  • Vulnerable individuals suffering from any type of abuse often will not tell anyone.
  • False allegations most often occur during divorce or custody battles, when children and youth are often looking for help.
  • Elementary children do not understand that false allegations have financial implications, so accusations from children of this age should be taken VERY seriously. Young children often freeze emotionally because many persuasive predators will threaten the child’s family.
  • Youth will sometimes make accusations of abuse in an attempt to reunite parents who are separated or going through a divorce. The youth’s hope is that parents will unite in support of them and in this case the accused are the victims.
what to look for1
What to look for…
  • Areas of Isolation. Try to avoid opportunities of isolation between children, youth and individuals.
  • Eliminate the opportunity of adult leaders to demand secrecy.
  • Eliminate the use of manipulation. Some adult leaders trying to shield themselves from reprimand by children or youth. “I’m a victim” or “Are gonna take their side?”
what to do if you suspect abuse
What to do if you suspect abuse
  • To report abuse, contact either the pastor or the staff person with whom you feel the most comfortable. HOWEVER, it is important to check to see that your suspicions were investigated in an appropriate manner.
  • The Pastor in charge of the church or conference event will always be informed of any suspected abuse.
  • Mandatory Reporting Statute- in Texas, clergy are required to report suspicions of abuse.
look over sample policies
Look over sample policies
  • Take a Break
  • Story #5
what are our policies and procedures for safe sanctuaries at conference events
What are our policies and procedures for “Safe Sanctuaries” at conference events?
  • Background checks
  • CPR & First Aid Training
  • Two Adult Rule
  • 5-Year Rule
  • Must be over 18 years of age
  • Windows and ½ doors
  • Open Door Counseling
  • Advance notice for events and full communication of all details
what are our policies and procedures for safe sanctuaries at conference events1
What are our policies and procedures for “Safe Sanctuaries” at conference events?
  • Background checksEach person over the age of 18 must submit a consent to background check, before being able to volunteer.
  • CPR & First Aid TrainingThis training should be offered, at minimum, once a year to all who work with children and youth, both paid and unpaid.
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Two Adult RuleThere should be two adults, preferably unmarried and of the opposite sex present in classrooms and ministry settings.
  • 5-Year Rule

Volunteers should be at least 5 years older than the youth they are working with. For example, a 19 year old volunteer should not work with youth or children over the age of 18.

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Must be over 18 years of age

In most situations, a legal adult is defined as someone 18 years or older.

  • Windows and ½ doors

All doors should have windows in them, or a window into the classroom or office, to allow for visibility. When possible, half doors allow for greater visibility and reduce the risk of injury with doors opening and closing.

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Open Door Counseling

Where windows are unavailable, leave doors ajar and sit in an area where you can be seen from the open door, if you are the only adult in a counseling situation.

  • Advance notice for events and full communication of all details

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Make sure that parents and guardians are fully aware of event and trip plans, both on and off site. This builds trust and also minimizes room for questions and speculations.

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Any Questions?

  • Time to fill out our forms...
    • Application
    • Pastoral & Personal Reference Check
    • Signed Covenant agreeing to Conference policies
    • Background check consent form

Coming up…

Where to get started in your local church

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Alicia Almanza-Leyva

  • Administrative Assistant to Abel Vega, Jr.
  • Director of Connectional Ministries, Congregational Development, & Communications
  • Rio Grande Conference
  • UNITED METHODIST CENTER
  • 16400 Huebner Road
  • San Antonio , TX 78248
  • Office: 210.408.4513
  • Fax: 210.408.4515
a good place to start

A good place to start…

Resources

Safe Sanctuaries by Joy Thornburg Melton

North Texas Conference Journal, pages 208-210

Evaluating your current church policies

Are you aware of conference and church policies regarding clergy sexual misconduct? (see 2008 Journal, pages 272-280)

Do you have liability insurance that covers sexual abuse?

Do you have a screening policy for volunteers and employees who working with youth and/or children?

Do you have safety procedures in place?

one quick reminder

One quick reminder!

Safe Sanctuaries policies will vary greatly between congregation. Do not be too concerned about whether your neighbor’s church is doing a better or worse job than your church.

The most important thing in developing a Safe Sanctuaries policy is that you do your best to protect all vulnerable persons and volunteers or employees from abuse and from false allegations.

There is no 100% guarantee… So just do your best to take it one step at a time. Trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know what steps your church is ready for next.

writing your local church policy year one by november 2008 first do no harm

Writing your local church policyYear one, by November 2008: “First, do no harm…”

Now that you have evaluated where your church currently is in the Safe Sanctuaries process, it is time to plan your next steps.

Be familiar with annual conference and other church policies regarding clergy sexual misconduct,

Carry liability insurance that includes sexual abuse coverage,

Adopt a screening procedure (use of application forms, interviews, reference checks, background clearance, and the like) for workers (paid and unpaid) directly or indirectly involved in the care of children and youth, and,

Develop and implement safety procedures for church activities; for example, where feasible:

Having two or more nonrelated adults present in a classroom or activity,

Leaving doors open and installing half-doors or windows in doors or halls,

Providing hall monitors,

Installing sign-in and sign-out procedures for children ages ten and younger,

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Let’s spend some time in peer groups to sketch out sample church policies and next steps for your congregation!
writing your local church policy year two by november 2009 second do good

Writing your local church policyYear two, by November 2009: “Second, do good…”

Writing your local church policyYear three, by November 2010: “Third, attend upon the ordinances of God…”

5. Develop and implement an ongoing education plan for the congregation and its leaders on the reality of child abuse, risk factors leading to child abuse, and strategies for prevention,

  • 6. Assist the development of awareness and self-protection skills for children and youth through special curriculum and activities, and,
  • 7. Advise children and young persons of an agency or a person outside as well as within the local church whom they can contact for advice and help if they have suffered abuse.