By now, you are tired of the headlines surrounding the Penn State debacle…and debauchery.
Are there any lessons for the church?
Here are ten guidelines, in no particular order, that every church should follow:
1. Don’t sweep anything under the rug to protect the institution. What matters is not the supposed “reputation” of the church, but the protection of children. So any evidence, or signs, of child sexual abuse must be reported to the police at once. No exceptions.
2. Do a background check on everyone, staff and volunteers, who works with children. Everyone. (*At Meck, when we instituted this, I was the first to submit to this process).
3. Anyone with a history of sexual crimes against children should not be allowed to work with children. Period.
4. No volunteer is ever to be alone with a child. Always have at least two volunteers per room. Or keep the door open, or have staff make frequent visits to the room if the door must remain closed for any period of time.
5. Put two-way windows (people can see in, kids can’t see out) in every nursery and preschool room.
6. When a child is taken to the bathroom, the door must be kept cracked open at all times.
7. Institute security measures for entrance to your children’s ministry areas, and certainly for classrooms.
8. Don’t forget to screen those who work with middle school and high school students with as much diligence and depth as you do for birth-fifth grade volunteers.
9. Middle school and high school retreats must be carefully thought out in terms of “opportunity” for abuse. No worker should be alone with a student. Off for a private conversation, fine; alone behind closed doors, never.
10. Create an environment, structure, guidelines, oversight and security system where it is virtually impossible for sexual abuse to occur on church property during church events.
James Emery White
If you would like to view the pages of our MecKidz orientation booklet that speaks to security guidelines for MecKidz, click here.
For background checks, MecKidz uses a service provided by LexisNexis.
To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.
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About Dr. James Emery White
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; President of Serious Times, a ministry which explores the intersection of faith and culture (www.serioustimes.org); and ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture on the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. White holds the B.S., M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees, along with additional work at Vanderbilt University and Oxford University. He is the author of over a dozen books.
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