The Plan to Protect
Children, Youth and their Leaders
Courtenay Fellowship Baptist Church
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Understanding the Need …. page 3
Chapter 2 - Understanding Child Abuse and its Effects …. page 4
- Symptoms of Abuse
- Proper Display of Affection
Chapter 3 - Child Protection Policies and Procedures …. page 7
- Our Church’s Commitment
- Recruitment Procedures
- Policies and Procedures
o Volunteer and Staff Conduct
o Child Security
o Health and Safety
o Physical Discipline
o Washroom Guidelines
Chapter 4 - Incident Reporting Procedures …. page 15
- When Witnessing Inappropriate Behavior
- When A Child makes known an Act of Abuse, Displays
Significant Evidence of Abuse or Abuse is witnessed.
- Protection from Liability
Chapter 5 – Guidelines for Ministry Coordinators …. page 18
- Guidelines for checking references
- Guidelines for interviews
Appendix …. page 20
- How to Obtain a Criminal Record Check
- Courtenay Fellowship Baptist Church Ministry Responsibilities
- Statement of Faith for Courtenay Fellowship Baptist
Adapted with permission from Evangel Tabernacle, Kelowna BC
Understanding the Need
Reducing the Risk of Child Abuse
Courtenay Fellowship Baptist Church has a rich history of ministry to individuals, families, adults, youth and children. The disturbing and traumatic rise of physical and sexual abuse of children has claimed the attention of our nation and society. Unfortunately, churches that have children’s programs are not insulated from this
alarming trend. In fact, churches often have unique features that can make them susceptible to incidents of child molestation. Child molesters are attracted to an institution in which they have immediate access to potential victims in an atmosphere of complete trust. Furthermore, many churches struggle to get adequate help for children and youth programs and are often too quick to receive volunteers.
In response to this trend, it is our commitment to provide reasonable protective care to all preschoolers, children and youth attending any programs sponsored by our church.
We have a spiritual, moral and legal obligation to provide a secure environment for children participating in church programs that are under the auspices and authority of the church. Child abuse is a criminal act as well as a violation of human conscience and dignity.
According to scripture, we must be diligent to avoid evil and to protect children
Avoid every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)
We believe that childhood innocence is a gift given by God. Children are naturally trusting and readily place their faith in adults who care for them. It is our responsibility as a church to safeguard that trust.
Legally, churches are not considered “guarantors” of the safety and well being of children. They are not absolutely liable for every injury that occurs on their premises or in the course of their activities. However, they are responsible for those injuries that result from their negligence. Proper screening, training and vigilance in monitoring activities involving children will greatly reduce the risk.
The emotional, physical and spiritual trauma to victims, the destructive consequences for abusers and the devastating effects on the credibility of the church ministry and the name of Christ make it essential that the church take all appropriate steps to prevent abusive incidences from occurring.
Understanding Child Abuse and its Effects
“Child abuse” can be physical, emotional or sexual.
Physical Abuse is using physical force or action that results, or could result, in injury to a child or youth. It is more than reasonable discipline. Sometimes injury is caused by over-discipline. Injuring a child or youth is not acceptable, regardless of differing cultural standards on discipline.
Emotional Abuse is a pattern of hurting a child’s feelings to the point of damaging their self-respect. It includes verbal attacks on the child, insults, humiliation or rejection. A child or youth who is emotionally harmed may demonstrate severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, and self-destructive or aggressive behavior.
Sexual Abuse occurs when a child or youth is used by somebody else for sexual
stimulation or gratification. Sexual activity between children or youth may also be sexual abuse if older or more powerful children or youth take sexual advantage of those who are younger or less powerful.
Any sexual activity between an adult and a child under the age of 14 is considered sexual abuse. A child under 14 is incapable in law of consenting to sexual activity (s. 150.1 of the Criminal Code). Furthermore any sexual activity between an adult in a position of trust or authority towards a child between the ages of 14 and 18 years is also considered sexual abuse.
Child sexual abuse includes behavior that involves touching and non-touching aspects.
Types of abuse that involve touching include:
;;;Oral, genital and anal penetration
Types of sexual abuse that do not involve touching include:
;;;Obscene phone calls
;;;Allowing children to witness sexual activity
Requests that the child expose their body for sexual purposes
Symptoms of Abuse and Molestation
Child sexual abuse robs children of their childhood and can potentially scar its young victims for life. Too often in the past, the effects of abuse were minimized or dismissed. Children were viewed as being resilient. Recent research has shown that children can suffer significant pain from even a single abusive incident. Church members must be aware of the pain and long term suffering that can accompany such abuse. Abused children can display a wide range of negative symptoms in the aftermath of abuse. Abuse can result in abnormal fears, post traumatic stress disorder, aggressive behavior, sexual “acting out”, depression, diffused sexual identity, and poor self-esteem. When church
leaders, pastors, and respected congregational workers perpetrate the abuse, lifelong religious confusion and deep feelings of enmity toward God and the church can occur.
Church workers and staff should be alert to the physical signs of abuse and molestation, as well as to behavioral and verbal signs that a victim may exhibit.
One instance of unusual behavior would not necessarily constitute a potential abuse case; sudden unexplained changes, however, would warrant investigation.
Some of the more common signs are summarized below:
Verbal signs may include the following statements:
- I don’t like (a particular church worker)
- (A church worker) does things to me when we’re alone
- I don’t like to be alone with (a church worker)
- (A church worker) fooled around with me
Physical signs may include:
- presence of several injuries (3+) that are in various stages of healing
- repeated injuries over a period of time
- lacerations and bruises
- irritation, pain or injury to the genital area
- difficulty with urination
- discomfort when sitting
- lack of proper hygiene
Behavioral signs may include:
- anxiety when approaching church or nursery area
- nervous or hostile behavior toward adults
- sexual self-consciousness
- “acting out” sexual behavior (sexual play with toys, self, others)
- withdrawal from church activities and friends
Proper Display of Affection
Touch is an essential responsibility in nurturing lives. Volunteers need to be aware of, and sensitive to, differences in sexual development, cultural differences, family backgrounds, individual personalities, and special needs. Physical contact with children should be age and developmentally appropriate. The following guidelines are recommended as pure, genuine and positive displays of God’s love:
A. Love and caring can be expressed in the following appropriate ways, by:
- Holding a baby or preschool child who is crying
- Bending down to the child’s eye level and speaking kindly; listening to him or
- Putting an arm around the shoulder of a child who needs quieting or
- Taking both of the child’s hands as you say, “You did such a good job!” (or
“I’m so glad to see you. We’ve missed you!” etc.)
- Patting a child on the head, hand, and shoulder or back to affirm him or her.
- Holding a child by the shoulders or hand to keep his or her attention while you
redirect the child’s behavior.
- Gently holding a child’s chin to help him or her focus on what you are saying.
(important for children with attention deficit disorder)
B. The following are inappropriate and must be avoided:
- Kissing a child, coaxing a child to kiss you,
- Extended hugging, massaging and tickling.
- Touching a child in any area that would be covered by a bathing suit (except
when assisting a child with toileting as outlined below).
- Carrying older children or having them sit on your lap.
- Being alone with a child.
Child Protection Policies and Procedures
Courtenay Fellowship Baptist Church is committed to the following:
(The following items apply to all workers, paid or volunteer, who work with preschoolers, children or youth).
1. We will screen all paid employees and volunteers. No one will be permitted to
work with preschoolers, children or youth, without first completing the required
application form, having a reference check, having a criminal record check and
being interviewed by a pastor or ministry coordinator.
2. We will check references and do criminal record checks. Anyone with criminal
abuse violations will not be allowed to work with children or youth.
3. We will train all of our staff both paid and volunteer, to understand the nature of
child sexual abuse, how to carry out our policies to prevent sexual abuse including
reporting procedures for suspected incidents.
4. We take seriously, our policies to prevent sexual abuse and will see that they are
5. All workers will sign the Ministry Covenant, agreeing to comply with church
policies and guidelines.
6. We have adopted a basic “Two-Adult” rule. Such a rule says that two adults
should be present during any children’s activity.
These safeguards are not only to protect our children,
but also our workers
Recruitment of Paid Staff and Volunteers
Children / Youth Ministry Volunteer Application Form
All those desiring to be involved in ministry with children and youth must complete
Children / Youth Ministry Volunteer Information & Application Form and submit it to the appropriate ministry coordinator or to one of the pastors. It is included in the back of this book.
For those who have attended Courtenay Fellowship Baptist for less than two years, will be required to supply three personal references.
Acceptable references include
- Former pastor
- Parents (for minors) - qualifies as one reference
- Teacher (for minors)
- Personal friend (who has sufficient strength of relationship to comment on the
individual’s personal habits and character).
At least two of these references will be contacted by the ministry coordinator or pastor and will be asked to affirm your suitability for ministry.
For those, who have attended CFBC for more than 2 years, a pastor or deacon will be asked to affirm the suitability of the applicant for ministry with children or youth.
Ministry Coordinators or Pastors will conduct the reference checks and will keep a record of the contact. These records will be confidential
A ministry coordinator, pastor or deacon will interview all potential children’s workers.
Information exchanged will be confidential. The interview will be used to clarify material on the application form and will provide opportunity for applicants to learn more about the ministry and the child protection policy and procedures.
Criminal Record Check
A Criminal Record Check (CRC) will be made for any approved volunteers or paid staff over age 16, who accept a ministry position working with children or youth. Any individual who will not submit to this procedure will be ineligible to be involved with children or youth.
All records will be placed in the Personnel File set up for that purpose in the Administration Department and will be considered confidential, accessible only by the pastoral staff.
The cost for any CRCs requested by Courtenay Fellowship Baptist Church will be borne by the church. Receipts may be submitted to the ministry coordinator.
New workers may begin working for the church provided they can give evidence of having applied for a Criminal Record Check.
The CRCs are to be sent to the church to the attention of the pastors. If there is no criminal record of any sort, a pastor will advise the ministry coordinator as such.
If there is a record or information that raises some concern, a pastor will meet with the individual to discuss the concern. If the offense is other than child or sexual abuse, the volunteer may proceed with ministry in the church provided both the ministry coordinator and pastor agree.
The following are criteria to consider when evaluating the information:
- the number and type of convictions
- the age and circumstances of the offender at the time of the offense
- the length of time between past criminal activity and the present
- the conduct and circumstances of the individual since the offense
- the likelihood of the individual repeating the offense
If the offense is related to abuse of children or of a sexual nature, the volunteer may not be involved in ministry with children on behalf of Courtenay Fellowship Baptist Church.
Once approved to work with children and youth for one church ministry, individuals may serve in other ministries without an additional reference check or criminal record check. Individuals will only be required to interview with the additional ministry coordinators, who will also review that person’s application form and reference reports.
Child Care Policies and Procedures
Conduct of Ministry Volunteers and Staff
Workers should always conduct themselves in a Godly manner, being an example of obedience, respect and honesty to those in their care.
Workers must adhere to the guidelines on proper and improper physical contact with respect to displays of affection and methods of discipline as outlined above and below.
Workers should never be alone with children or youth in a room unless the door is open or the room has an unobstructed door window and there is adequate supervision. (see below)
Workers must never verbally abuse a child or youth. This includes degrading language, name calling and uncontrolled displays of anger.
1. All ministry leaders working with children must wear a name tag or approved
clothing that identifies them as a ministry volunteer. (eg. An Awana uniform)
2. Ministry Volunteers must be familiar with the fire safety plan and be
knowledgeable as to the location of first aid kits, alarm pull stations, fire
extinguishers and emergency exits.
3. Nursery workers must be familiar with the nursery policies and procedures
Health and Safety Guidelines
A. Receiving of Sick Children
A child who is ill should not be received into the nursery. Some signs of illness are unusual fatigue or irritability, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and eyes, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, inflamed mouth and throat.
Any child with a known communicable disease should not be received into the nursery or a classroom. Specifics should be discussed with a pastor.