It's been a really difficult month blogging for me. I think I've started at least three different posts, and then I had to stop. The more I read and research security policies, the more I see how much work there is to do--how much more I have to learn.
It never ends. To stay within safety ratios and maintain the "two-person" rule, you have to keep recruiting volunteers. It's important to watch your facility to make certain it is remaining within code. It's important to keep up with any recalls of the toys and equipment in your nursery. We should be keeping up with the changing legal landscape. And when I begin to think through all of the worst-case scenarios, it's simply overwhelming.
All of this weighs heavy, because protecting children is of first importance. Jesus said, "If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Matthew 18:6). Deepak Reju reminds us, "In addition to teaching children, Christians also have a fundamental responsibility to protect them. We learn this... from God, who throughout the Bible has a special burden for the young, weak, and oppressed in society." For church leaders (particularly those who have direct responsibility for children's and youth ministry), protecting kids must take pride of place in our list of priorities.
It would be easy to agree with all I've typed here but be paralyzed by fear. I don't want to grow weary in doing good, but how in the world can I keep up with all of that? It seems like too much.
I'm so thankful God goes with us into our daily work in children's ministry. I need the Holy Spirit's presence. In need him to strengthen me to keep working on these things. It's common to hear people say, "We never arrive." I've said it at times just to sound more humble than I actually am in the moment. But, with this stuff, it's just reality. We must keep learning. That's why I'm also thankful for the many people God has given to his church who think about things I would never think about on my own. They are a grace to me.
Here is a list of solid books and resources I’ve found while doing some research on children’s ministry safety. These resources are super helpful for us as we train servants and leaders, and I hope they are helpful for you as well:
- On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church by Deepak Reju. I've already mentioned Deepak's book several times. The appendices at the back are worth the price of the book. Deepak provides great instruction on how to write a child protection policy, the signs of child-on-child sexual abuse, how to talk to your kids about abuse, a sample screening application, and training resources for staff and volunteers.
- Better Safe Than Sued: Keeping Your Students and Ministry Alive by Jack Crabtree. This is the most helpful resource I've seen for developing policies for your student ministry. The book includes a CD with sample forms and policies for vehicle usage, approved drivers, accident/injury reports, health information, parent information / medical release, code of conduct, and photography / video release. It also includes safety information sheets for all kinds of youth activities (swimming, canoeing, boating, water skiing, skiing, etc.).
- Protecting Children from Abuse in the Church by Basyle Tchividjian. Boz walks through the essentials for protecting kids from abuse at church. Read this first then pick up Deepak's book and work through it.
From the National Child Protection Safety Center:
- Suffer the Children: Developing Effective Church Policies on Child Maltreatment by Victor I. Vieth
- Understanding and Preventing Child Sexual Abuse by Victor I Vieth and Alison Feigh
From The Inclusive Church:
- Leading a Special Needs Ministry: A Practical Guide to Including Children and Loving Families by Amy Fenton Lee. Amy's book is an invaluable resource when considering how to structure a ministry to children with special needs that is both welcoming and considers safety and security.
- Safety in Children’s Ministry
- More on Safety in Children’s Ministry–Part 1
- More on Safety in Children’s Ministry–Part 2
- Sunday School Safety and Security
- 5 Ways Christians Can Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect
- Southern Baptist Convention 2007 Resolution on Protecting Children from Abuse
- Read the Statement on Abuse From the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
- Full Resource List from G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment)
- Resources for Children and Youth Safety from GuideOne Insurance.
Are there other resources out there that I've missed? What authors or articles have been a grace to you?