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Legal Alerts Homeschool

How to Avoid Pitfalls in Your Childrens Ministry

By Web Admin on May 01, 2012 in Legal Alerts Reports of abuse and neglect among children have dominated the news cycle in the last few years. The number of allegations and reports are rising to epidemic proportions. Child predators often target churches because of the access they are afforded. Dont let that happen in your church. You can make the difference. The Christian Law Association highly recommends that churches adopt an aggressive approach to protecting the children God has entrusted to them. There are three areas that need to be addressed by each church: 1. You must screen workers, 2. You must have a formal written policy regarding your childrens ministry, and 3. You must properly respond to abuse allegations. First, every church should have a screening process in place. At a minimum, the church leadership should interview every staff member or volunteer that will work in your childrens ministry. However, we highly recommend you conduct a background check for each staff member or volunteer that will work with minors. While some members may be reluctant to establish these new procedures, these policies and procedures are for the protection of the children and the workers, and will also reduce the liability and exposure of the church. Second, every church should have a formal written policy regarding its childrens ministry. Most insurance polices require a formal written statement regarding the rules and procedures for individuals working with minors. This child abuse prevention policy will include things such as volunteer and employee screening procedures, supervision procedures, standards and disqualifications for working with minors, and procedures for dealing with abuse allegations. Most importantly, this policy must be consistently enforced. Third, every church must properly respond to abuse allegations. If abuse allegations are made, the pastor should immediately contact the churchs attorney to ensure proper handling of the situation. The church should then conduct an internal investigation of the allegations. You should inform the worker of the allegations and discuss the situation with the worker. You must also immediately remove the accused from their position while the investigation is conducted. This protects the worker and the ministry. You should also contact your insurance carrier and put them on notice. After discussing the findings with your attorney, you would then decide whether this situation requires reporting to the authorities. Whether you are a new church plant or have been serving our Lord for many years, the Christian Law Association is here to help you every step of the way. If you have policies in place but need assistance updating and enforcing them, or if you have never addressed the need for screening and policies, our attorneys would be honored to assist your church. Please contact our ministry at 727.399.8300.

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