STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND PROCEDURE SAFEGUARDING
THE WELL BEING OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH
The members of Second Baptist Church believe that we are called by God to create a safe haven for all of the children and youth in our care, protecting those who are powerless and empowering them through faith and trust. During each baby dedication and baptism of a child or youth, the members of this church pledge to uphold that person in Jesus Christ and to teach, strengthen, and support the individual's relationship with the household of God.
The members of Second Baptist Church are committed to the safety, welfare and protection of all children and youth participating in the activities and programs of this church. This policy addresses the preventable risk of any form of abuse or harassment, whether physical,
verbal, mental, or sexual, by any of the employees, teachers, or volunteers of this church while on church property or while engaged in church activities or programs. In addition, we are called to stand not in judgment, but with compassion for each other.
In establishing policies and procedures that provide safeguards against child abuse in our
church, four critical areas must be addressed:
♦ Screening and selection of paid and volunteer children's workers
♦ Training and Procedure
♦ Reporting allegations
♦ Responding to allegations
I. SCREENING AND SELECTION OF PAID AND VOLUNTEER CHILDREN'S WORKERS
As a result of our love for our children and our solemn duty to nurture them spiritually, Mentally, and physically, Second Baptist must ensure that every person who works with our children is qualified to do so. Each person that works with our children must be approved
through the Screening and Selection of Volunteers policy. Though some may find the Screening policy intrusive, it is in place only for the benefit of our children.
A. Regular volunteers and employees:
1. Must be a regular attender of the church for a minimum of six months. (Except for visiting speakers/leaders.) This six-month provision may be modified only with consent of two of the Ministerial Staff.
2. Must fill out a confidential Child/Youth Protection Information Form. This allows for a criminal history record check. The criminal history check will be completed prior to service with minors. This information is to be kept in a confidential file available only to Pastoral staff with two pastors required to review and approve each file.
The confidential file will include:
3. May be requested to complete a personal interview.
4. Youth under the age of 18 who help in the children's programs must always be supervised by an adult volunteer or employee.
B. Emergency Volunteer Workers:
1. Must never be left unsupervised. Emergency volunteers are workers who are needed when there are not enough available workers who are qualified according to this policy.
C. Staff Responsibilities
1. The Pastoral staff will distribute and collect the Child/Youth Protection Information Forms and conduct interviews as needed.
2. The Pastoral staff will perform and review a yearly criminal history record check on each employee or volunteer in his/her area. This will be documented, recorded and maintained.
3. Access to the records is limited to the Pastoral staff.
II. TRAINING AND PROCEDURE
A. Worker Training
In addition to the requirements applicable to Screening and Selection of Paid and Volunteer Children's' Workers, all regular volunteers and employees who work with minors will fulfill the following:
1. Complete training bi-annually concerning proper behavior and procedure when working with children generally and concerning the procedure, guidelines and rules contained in the Policy specifically;
2. Receive Texas' legal definition of child abuse and a copy of this Policy (see Article III, Section C);
3. Receive written information describing Texas' laws regarding the reporting of suspected child abuse (see Article III);
4. Sign a document stating he or she has received and read this document; and
5. Complete the child protection policy training and test bi-annually.
All Second Baptist activities and programs, regardless of location, involving minors will be subject to the following policy:
1. No person will be recommended to the Church as a teacher or volunteer leader until such person has been a regular attender of the church for six months and a Child/Youth Protection Information Form, criminal history check, and all training has been fulfilled.
2. Two adult workers ( either volunteer and/or paid) will be present during any activity involving minor children. The supervising Church staff person should be informed immediately whenever this condition is not met.
3. Written parental permission shall be obtained for involvement in off-campus church sponsored programs or activities.
4. Workers will live by the understanding that, as persons in authority, it is his/her responsibility to avoid prohibited acts as defined in Section C below with minors in his/her care, even if such minors attempt to initiate the contact.
5. Workers will build self-esteem through affirmation and praise and refrain from verbal abuse, including put-downs, in appropriate jokes, sarcasm and racial slurs. Workers will respect each child, youth and adult, acting in an appropriate and Christian manner with each person.
6. Workers will not subject a minor to punishment of a physical nature, including shaking, striking, spanking, thumping, pinching, biting, hair pulling, yanking, slamming and excessive exercise or any cruel treatment that may cause pain.
7. Physical affection should be appropriate to the minor's age and should be intended for the child's affirmation only.
8. Individuals who have committed either emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, whether or not convicted or reported, should not volunteer to serve or seek employment in any church sponsored activity or program for preschoolers, children or youth.
9. No minor will be left alone with only one adult on church premises or in any church-sponsored activity unless it occurs in a counseling situation with a staff member.
C. Prohibited Acts
The following acts are categorically prohibited by this Policy and will not be tolerated or accepted during any Second Baptist activity or program. Any observations or personal knowledge of such violations must be immediately reported to the appropriate Pastoral staff
member after the safety of the child or youth involved has been assured.
1. Any display of demonstration of sexual activity, abuse, insinuation of abuse, or evidence of abusive conduct towards a minor;
2. Sexual advances or sexual activity of any kind between any adult and a minor;
3. Sexual advances or sexual activity of any kind between a minor and another minor (sexual advances or sexual activity includes and verbal or nonverbal graphic representations of sex or sexual activity, verbal, nonverbal or oral requests for sexual activity, and/or any physical sexual acts);
4. Infliction or physically abuse behavior or bodily injury to a minor;
5. Physical neglect of a minor including failure to provide adequate supervision in relation to the activities of Second Baptist;
6. Causing mental or emotional injury to a minor;
7. Possessing obscene or pornographic materials at any function of Second Baptist with the exception of sex education materials;
8. Possessing or being under the influence of any illegal drugs;
9. Consuming, possessing or being under the influence of alcohol while leading or participating in a function for minors'
10. Possessing any gun, firearm, or other explosive device while leading or participating in a function for minors.
III. REPORTING ALLEGATIONS
A. Violations of the Policy
In order to maintain an environment free of destructive acts toward all, the staff, employees, teachers, parents and volunteers of Second Baptist must be aware of their individual responsibility to report any questionable circumstance, observation, act, omission, or situation thought to be in violation of this Policy. All questions or concerns of any suspected abusive behavior or harassment shall be directed to the appropriate Pastoral staff member.
In the event a child or youth reports abusive conduct while engaged in a church sponsored activity, on campus or off, the person initially contacted by the child should contact the appropriate Pastoral staff member and complete an Incident Report. The person contacted should record verbatim in the Incident Report the specific words first spoken by the child or youth and the conduct and demeanor observed concerning the incident.
B. State Law Requirement for Reporting Child Abuse
In addition to the duty to report violations of the Child/Youth Protection Policy, Texas state law requires reporting of child abuse. The legal requirements for reporting child abuse in Texas are as follows:
Any person having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect shall report the person's belief in accordance with this procedure. (Texas Family code, Section 261.101.) Reports should be made to one of the following agencies:
1. Any local or state law enforcement agency;
2. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services ("TD FPS") if the alleged or suspected abuse involves a person responsible for the care, custody or welfare of the child (TDFPS, 1-800-252-5400 or www.dfps.state.tx.us (24-Hour Reporting).
3. The state agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers the facility in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred; or
4. The agency designated by the court to be responsible for the protection of children. (TDFPS, 1-800-252-5400 (24-Hour Reporting).
All reports must contain the name and address of the child, the name and address of the person responsible for the care of the child, if available, and any other pertinent information.
This procedure is not only required as a condition of your job, but is also required by law. (Texas Family Code, Section 261.101.) Failure to report suspected child abuse is a misdemeanor. (Texas Family Code, Section 261.109.)
C. Definition of Child Abuse
Child abuse is defined by Texas law as harm or threatened harm to a minor's health or welfare by a person responsible for the minor (a minor is defined as a child or youth under 18 years of age.) This law is not limited to parents only but to any person responsible for the care of the child, including volunteers and employees of Second Baptist church.
♦ Physical abuse is a non-accidental physical injury to a minor.
♦ Sexual abuse is any sexual conduct with or exploitation between an adult or care
giver and a minor even if the victim gives consent.
♦ Mental injury is an injury to a minor's psychological growth and development.
It is caused by a chronic pattern of behaviors, such as belittling, humiliating and
ridiculing a child.
♦ Threatened harm means a substantial risk of harm to the minor. It may include
acts or expressions of intent to inflict actual harm presently or in the future.
♦ Neglect is deprivation of living conditions sufficient to provide the physical and
emotional needs essential for safety and health.
IV. RESPONDING TO ALLEGATIONS
In order to protect the rights of the accused and quickly and fairly investigate and resolve any allegations of violations of the Policy or of State Law, the following procedures will be followed:
1. The allegation( s) shall be promptly investigated and documented. The investigation of any alleged incident shall be conducted by the appropriate ministerial staff member(s) together with other individuals, as required.
2. Insofar as possible, the investigation shall be conducted in strict confidence in order to protect the privacy of the minor(s) involved, as well as that of the accused. However, nothing herein should be construed as prohibiting otherwise appropriate action (e.g., securing the safety of the minor(s) involved or notifying the pertinent civil authority.)
3. When appropriate, the incident will re reported to civil authorities.
4. In accordance with policy requirements, the incident will be reported to the Church's insurance company.
5. The accused will be temporarily relieved of his/her duties until the investigation is completed.
6. Upon completion of the investigation, a report will be made to the Senior Pastor. Subsequent to review of the report by the Pastor disclosure of the report shall also be made to the remaining ministerial staff. Dependent upon the results of the investigation, a determination will be made relative to whether or not the accused will be allowed to return to his/her duties.
7. A review of the investigation will be conducted and approved by the Church/Staff Relations Committee.
8. If necessary, a spokesperson will be designated to convey information to the congregation and to respond to inquiries from the press. Consideration will be made for individual rights of privacy and other legal implications.