Keeping children safe is an area of church safety that is always at the top of the list. Here are some best practice guidelines for keeping kids safe while they’re in your church building.
As always when it comes to discussing safety and security, we need to reiterate that we are church design specialists, not church security experts. However, there is common overlapping wisdom among all the information that safety professionals would share. Such common wisdom is what follows.
Do Background Checks and Written Policies
Let’s start with what should be second nature for any church leader. You don’t want anyone, staff or volunteer, working with the kids in your care unless they’ve passed a background check and agreed to your written policies and procedures for working with children. Those policies and procedures should be reviewed on a regular basis to make sure there aren’t any needed updates.
Your policies should include zero tolerance for any kind of abuse or negligence. Social media policies also need to be written and clearly communicated. There should always be a minimum of two adults with individual kids or groups of children. Obviously, no children or youth should ever be left alone while under your care, and that includes chaperones for events that take place away from your church building. This is especially important since 50% of church security incidents happen offsite.
Integrate Safety Elements into Your Church Design
One of the best ways to keep kids safe is with visibility and transparency. This is why we always recommend that church leaders design children’s areas with safety in mind. For example, include windows in doors and one-way glass, which allow supervisors and safety personnel to always keep an eye on what is happening in any children’s classroom, worship center, or other meeting area.
Create a Visible Safety and Security Plan for Your Church Building
One of the most important aspects of keeping children safe is taking preventive measures. One key element in this process is the visibility of security team members. Another is regular training for all staff and volunteers who interact with children or oversee what goes on in your church building. Everyone needs to know how to stay aware and keep an eye out for signs of abuse. When guests and attendees hear that your best practices include periodic training, they will feel more comfortable bringing their children to church.
The information and suggestions above are by no means all-encompassing. There are many more best practices which make sense for keeping kids safe in any church building. Our free i3 webinars always give you the latest information and best practices on a wide variety of church design and construction issues, so register today for our upcoming sessions.