Questions About Protecting Children, Youth and Adults from Abuse
How can my congregation develop a sexual misconduct policy?
Resources to help you develop your congregation's policy:
||A written policy statement is an important first step toward preventing sexual misconduct or harassment. Make sure all persons concerned are aware of the policy and understand the content. When misconduct occurs, the entire congregation suffers emotionally, spiritually and financially.
- Have a written policy regarding sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.
- Instruct all adults who work with children and youth in what is, and is not, appropriate behavior.
- Make it clear to the staff, volunteers, and members that following the guidelines you have established are to protect the children and youth of your congregation.
Resources are available to you on the Internet to assist you in developing screening and other risk management policies to best suit the needs of your congregation. It is always important to seek legal advice when drafting policies relating to employment and misconduct issues. Here are links to some resources.
Safe Sanctuaries: Reducing the Risk of Child Abuse in the Church, by Joy Thornburg Melton
This 80-page book provides guidance to help develop policies and procedures for reducing the risk of child abuse in the church. The book defines the scope of child abuse, outlines the different types of abuse, notes the indicators of abuse, discusses the legal requirements for reporting abuse, and provides guidelines for screening and hiring workers and volunteers. The book also outlines basic procedures of safe ministry with children and youth and outlines a congregational plan for responding to allegations of abuse. Sample forms included for screening workers, requiring background checks, doing reference checks and reporting suspected abuse. A suggested training session plan for people who work with children and youth is outlined, and a bibliography of suggested resources is included. This may be ordered online from the Upper Room Bookstore.
Also available from the Upper Room Bookstore:
Safe Sanctuaries for Children and Youth DVD
Safe Sanctuaries for Ministers
Where can I find resources that provide information on child abuse reporting and clergy reporting laws relating to child abuse in my state?
For general information see: The Child Welfare Information Gateway and Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect : Full-Text Excerpts of State Laws
Please be aware that any Internet site may not be complete or current on all state requirements. It is always important to consult with an experienced attorney who works with the child abuse reporting laws of you state when questions and concerns arise.
For more information on how members of ELCA congregations are asked to report abuse and harassment see ELCA Safe Place.
Also, when seeking to understand child abuse reporting it is important to have read ELCA Constitutional provision 7.45. Questions regarding this constitutional provision should be reviewed with your synod office or other knowledgeable ELCA advisor.