While we are not safety and security experts, or ministry and programming professionals, we know how important it is to keep people of all ages safe and secure while they’re in your church building. And when it comes to children and youth, there are some church safety considerations to make. Here are some important security guidelines for children and youth ministries in—and beyond—your church building.
Have and Use Proven Policies for Children and Youth Ministry
First and foremost, it’s critical to have current and proven children and youth security policies in place and to use them. Those policies should include elements like background checks for all staff and volunteers who work with children and youth, as well as zero tolerance for inappropriate touching and other issues, social media guidelines for communicating with youth or posting and identifying photos of children, and so forth. Fortunately, many insurance companies and denominational bodies have model policy templates that church leaders can use to craft wise policies for their own children and youth ministries.
Maintain Appropriate Adult Presence at All Times
Many of the important security protocols for children and youth ministry involve the presence of adults. Children and youth should never be left alone in your church building—or anywhere on your property. There should be a minimum of two approved adults always present at every event involving youth or children. Remember that visits by children to other areas of your church building, such as the restrooms, should also be carefully monitored.
Also, whenever a group leaves your church building for an approved or official church event, make sure an appropriate number (two or more) of chaperones are in attendance. It’s important to note that half of all church security and safety incidents involving youth and children take place off church property, and only a quarter take place within the church building itself. This is one reason why approved chaperones are so important to keep your youngest attendees safe.
Concentrate on Visibility and Awareness in Your Church Building
Another way to keep youth and children safe is by having the right mindset. Visibility is important, whether it’s volunteers who are sitting at the children’s ministry check-in desk, or roaming security team members who remind everyone to be on their best and safest behavior. For the same reason, unannounced drop-ins to youth and children’s events are another way to make certain that all is well and security procedures are being followed appropriately.
Also, train all staff and volunteers to recognize signs of abuse and tell them to keep an eye out for anything that doesn’t look right. (Remember that it’s not your job to investigate any suspicions, but rather to report them to authorities so that they can be investigated by professionals.)
There’s much that goes on in your church building that needs your careful attention. Whether for safety and security or the latest trends in church design, to learn more about what we recommend in terms of your church building needs, sign up for our next free i3 webinar today.