Child and Youth Protection Policy

Contents

Purpose
Terms & Definitions
Privacy Notice
Screening Volunteers and Employees
General Procedures
Code of Conduct
Reporting
Off-Site Trips and Events
Outside Groups

Appendix

Appendix A – Indications of Abuse
Appendix B - Forms

First Presbyterian Church
Greensboro, N.C.

CHILDREN AND YOUTH PROTECTION POLICY

A Vision for Children and the Church
Adopted by the 205th General Assembly, 1993

Because we affirm that all children are a gift of God, created
by God and created good;
all children are a gift to the whole of the human community:
all children have a real faith, and gifts for ministry;
all children have the right to be children;
and all children are not just tomorrow, they are today.

Because we believe that all children depend upon adults for safety and security in a world that does not always value children;
all children are affected first and most deeply by those things that work against health and wholeness;
where there is disease, children sicken and die;
where there is homelessness, children sleep on the streets and in other dangerous places;
where there is war, children are frightened and without a safe place;
where there air and water are polluted, children feel the effect in their bodies and in their futures;
where there is shame, children’s spirits are wounded.

Therefore we hope for a world where all children can find a safe place;
where all ages, races, genders, creeds, and abilities are recognized, valued, and celebrated;
where all adults hear the voices of children and speak with as well as for them;
where all children have “first call” on the world’s resources and first place in the minds and hearts of the world’s adults.

Because Jesus welcomed children and encouraged us to welcome them in his name; 
Jesus lifted up a child as an example of what the realm of God is like;

Therefore we hope for a church where we take seriously our baptismal vow to nurture all children committed to our care;
where we bring good news to all those places where children are in need;
where adults and children alike share in ministry.

We covenant to act so that this vision may be made real for all children, now and in times to come.
                                                                                                                                                           

First Presbyterian Church
Greensboro, N.C.

CHILDREN AND YOUTH PROTECTION POLICY

Revised September 2011
Approved by Session, September 19, 2011

 

“Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 
~ Mark 10:13-16 

Policy Purpose

First Presbyterian Church (“FPC”) is committed to providing a church environment that is a safe place for children and youth and that will protect them from any abuse when they are involved in church-related activities.  FPC adopts these policies and procedures not only to maximize safety and prevent child abuse from occurring within its church community, but also to guide and protect volunteers and employees from unwarranted allegations of child abuse. 

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Terms and Definitions 

Child abuse - An act committed by a parent, caregiver, or person in a position of trust (even though he or she may not care for the child on a daily basis) which is not accidental and which harms or threatens harm to a child’s physical or mental health or welfare.  Types of abuse may include physical abuse, including physical injury or threat of injury; physical neglect, such as failure to provide necessary care to a child; sexual abuse; mental abuse or neglect; emotional abuse; and spiritual abuse. Child abuse includes, but is not limited to:

Neglect of Basic Needs - A form of abuse. Denial of food, water, cleanliness, clothing, and sleep are not appropriate means of discipline.
Physical Abuse - Any physical force applied by an adult or older youth in a position of care or authority to a child, youth, or vulnerable adult. Physical force (hitting, spanking, shaking, shoving, etc.) is not to be used by leaders in our programs.
Sexual Abuse – Any sexual contact or sexual interaction between a child (under the age of eighteen years) and an adult; any use of a child for the sexual simulation of an adult, a third person, or the child; any risqué jokes, innuendo, unacceptable visual contact, unwelcome casual touch, unwelcome and inappropriate hugs and kisses, and sexually suggestive pictures between an adult and a child, as deemed inappropriate by any reasonable adult. Even if a child, youth, or vulnerable adult, out of ignorance, innocence, or fear does not resist, it is still abuse.
Emotional Abuse - Inappropriately belittling, hateful, or angry words and/or actions directed toward a child, youth, or vulnerable adult. Discipline by humiliation is also emotional abuse.
Spiritual Abuse- Using religious references to shame or by guilt to motivate a child into a particular action or behavior.

Employee – Any person who works for salary or wages at First Presbyterian Church (FPC) (including, FPC Weekday Preschool School and First School employees).

Volunteer – Any person not employed by FPC who, at any time during the year, teaches, supervises, or helps with children and youth activities, or is in the presence of children or youth.  These activities include, but not limited to, Church School and Worship Enrichment, Nursery, Childcare, Presbyterian Youth Connection, Children & Youth Choirs, Summer Camps & Conferences, Children & Youth mission trips, Scouting, Confirmation Mentors, Weekday Preschool, First School.

Leader – An adult designated by FPC or by a sponsoring organization to have responsibility for children and/or youth. The adult must be a minimum of 18 years of age. Leaders of overnight trips must be at least 21 years of age.  It is suggested that leaders be a minimum of four years older than the children or youth they are supervising.

Church Sponsored Activity - Includes any and all gatherings that arise from any worship, educational, childcare, fellowship, administrative, pastoral, mission or recreational event generated or organized by FPC, whether on-campus or off-campus.

Volunteer Ministry – Includes any church sponsored activity engaged in by a volunteer.

Child or Youth – Persons under 18 years old and considered a minor under the law. This term shall also include legally incompetent persons. 

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Privacy Notice

This privacy notice discloses the privacy practices for First Presbyterian Church and/or www.fpcgreensboro.org. This privacy notice applies solely to information collected by First Presbyterian Church and/or its website. It will notify you of the following:

  1. What personally identifiable information is collected from you through First Presbyterian Church and/or its website, how it is used and with whom it may be shared.
  2. What choices are available to you regarding the use of your data.
  3. The security procedures in place to protect the misuse of your information.
  4. How you can correct any inaccuracies in the information.

Information Collection, Use, and Sharing

We are the sole owners of the information collected by First Presbyterian Church and/or its website. We only have access to/collect information that you voluntarily give us via email or other direct contact from you.  We will not sell or rent this information to anyone.

We will use your information to respond to you, regarding the reason you contacted us.  We will not share your information with any third party outside of our organization, other than as necessary to fulfill your request, e.g. process secure, encrypted background checks.

Unless you ask us not to, we may contact you via email in the future to tell you about upcoming ministry events, new volunteer opportunities, or changes to this privacy policy.

Your Access to and Control Over Information

You may opt out of any future contacts from us at any time. You can do the following at any time by contacting Carolyn Yow at 336-478-4768 or via email at cyow@fpcgreensboro.org:

  • See what data we have about you, if any.
  • Change/correct any data we have about you.
  • Have us delete any data we have about you.
  • Express any concern you have about our use of your data.

Security

We take precautions to protect your information.  When you submit sensitive information to First Presbyterian Church either in person or via our website, your information is protected both online and offline.

Wherever we collect sensitive information pertaining to your identity, that information is encrypted and transmitted to us in a secure way.  You can verify this by looking for a closed lock icon at the bottom of your web browser, or looking for "https" at the beginning of the address of the web page.

While we use encryption to protect sensitive information transmitted online, we also protect your information offline. Only employees who need the information to perform a specific job (for example, Human Resources) are granted access to personally identifiable information.  The computers/servers in which we store personally identifiable information are kept in a secure environment.

If you feel that we are not abiding by this privacy policy, you should contact us immediately at 336-478-4768 or cyow@fpcgreensboro.org.

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Screening

Staff:  Background Requirements

Applicants for full-time or part-time paid employment at FPC will be required to provide, complete or undergo the following:

  • An Employment and Volunteer Ministry Application which will include information regarding past employment and prior convictions for crimes;
  • A specific statement that the individual has no prior conviction for child abuse or sexual misconduct; and
  • A reference check covering, where possible, the two immediate past employers, or personal references unrelated to the applicant if no information can be obtained from past employers.
  • Prior to hiring an applicant, FPC will obtain a criminal record report for that individual.  Every three years, FPC will perform national criminal database searches and national sex offender registry searches on existing employees, and each employee shall be required to execute any documents that FPC might request for such purpose.  Any individual who has lived outside North Carolina in the last five years may be subject to additional county or state court search.
  • Upon being hired, each new employee will be required to sign an acknowledgement that he or she has received a copy of the FPC Child & Youth Protection Policy, understands it and will comply with its terms.
  • Each new employee will be provided orientation and training on child abuse, including its recognition and prevention, as well as on the terms and conditions of this policy.

Any candidate for employment who has a past conviction of or pending proceeding addressing an allegation of child abuse or neglect cannot be employed by FPC. Conviction for any of the following will automatically disqualify an individual from employment: drug-related, pedophilic behavior, incest, rape, assaults, indecent exposure, pornography, sodomy or abuse of a minor.

Volunteers:  Background Requirements

Volunteers working with youth or children of the church in any volunteer ministry, will be required to provide, complete or undergo the following:

  • An Employment and Volunteer Ministry Application which will include information regarding past employment and prior convictions for crimes;
  • A specific statement that the individual has no prior conviction for child abuse or sexual misconduct; and
  • Prior to becoming a volunteer, FPC will obtain a background check for that individual.  Every three years, FPC will perform national criminal database searches and national sex offender registry searches on existing volunteers and each volunteer shall be required to execute any documents that FPC might request for such purpose. Any individual who has lived outside North Carolina in the last five years may be subject to additional county or state court search.                                                                                        
  •  Each new volunteer, prior to beginning any volunteer role, will be required to sign an acknowledgement that he or she has received a copy of the FPC Child & Youth Protection Policy, understands it, and will comply with its terms.
  • Each new volunteer will be provided orientation and training on child abuse, including its recognition and prevention, as well as on the terms and conditions of this policy.

Any candidate for volunteer service who has a past conviction of or pending proceeding related to an allegation of child abuse or neglect MAY NOT work with children and youth at First Presbyterian Church. Refusal to complete the Volunteer Application process or a conviction for any of the following will automatically disqualify an individual from volunteer service with children and youth: drug-related activity, pedophilic behavior, incest, rape, assaults, indecent exposure, pornography, sodomy, or abuse of a minor. 
Leaders of other groups of children or youth (e.g., Girl Scout and Boy Scout leaders) who use FPC’s facilities will also be required to read the Policy and sign the Volunteer Acknowledgement Statement.

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General Procedures

Supervision: Two-Leader/Open-Door Policy

Whenever possible, any adult who is present in a church sponsored activity for children or youth should be accompanied by another adult.  FPC employees and volunteers should not, during an FPC program, be alone with a single child where they cannot be observed by others.

In order to avoid situations where an individual is alone in a room with children, all children’s and youth activities should be supervised by at least two adult leaders. Whenever possible, these adults should be unrelated.  The presence of two leaders is to protect children and youth against situations in which abuse might occur, and to protect leaders against false allegations of abuse or neglect.

Classrooms, childcare rooms, and any area in which programs for children or youth are taking place may be visited without prior notice by church staff, parents, or other volunteer church workers.  No windows may ever be totally blocked so as to prevent visual observation into the classroom.

In the event that two leaders cannot be present in the room, such that one leader is alone in a room with one or more children or youth, a door or half-door from the room must be left open.  The leader should not position himself or herself in the room such that other adults passing in the hallway cannot see him or her.

Furthermore, at any counseling session with children or youth, the door or half-door of the room used must remain open for the entire session.  The session should be conducted at a time when others are nearby, even if they are not within listening distance.

Each classroom for children and youth should ideally have a door with an observation window or a half- door, such that the upper half may be kept open.  If it does not, and two leaders are not present in the room, then the door must remain open at all times.

Ratios

The recommended adult/volunteer-to-child/youth ratio, based on best practices, is 1:6, gender balance is recommended.  For overnight trips, the ratio is 1:4, although 1:6 is permissible.  Teacher/caregiver-to-child ratios in our schools are mandated by state childcare laws.

Parental/Guardian Consent
Children and youth must obtain parental or guardian permission for involvement in church or school sponsored activities or programs that involve travel away from the church’s or schools’ physical facilities.

“Six Month” Rule for Volunteers
A volunteer must be a member of FPC, or have regularly attended FPC, for six months before working with youth or children.  This requirement does not apply to paid staff or volunteers involved in activities in which their own children are present.  The Christian Education Committee or the Director of Christian Education shall have the authority to waive this six-month rule upon request, where appropriate.

Policy Review
The provisions of this Policy shall be reviewed annually by the Christian Education Committee.  Any proposed changes to the Policy will be brought to the attention of the Human Resources Committee for its input, if any, prior to any such changes by the Christian Education Committee becoming final.  The Christian Education Committee shall report periodically to the Session and recommend any changes deemed appropriate.

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Code of Conduct

  1. Staff and volunteers are required to adhere to the FPC Child Protection Policy guidelines in all their interactions with children and youth.
  2. Staff and volunteers will respect children’s rights not to be touched in ways that make them feel uncomfortable or that disregard their right to say no.
  3. Staff and volunteers may not discipline children by use of physical punishment or by failing to provide the necessities of care.
  4. Physical restraint is used only in situations necessary to protect the child, other children, or staff from harm.
  5. While supervising children and youth participating in FPC programs, staff and volunteers should know where participants are at all times.
  6. Restroom supervision:  Whenever possible, volunteers will make sure any restroom used is not occupied by any suspicious or unknown individual before allowing children and youth to use the facilities.  Always send children in pairs with a volunteer.  The staff or volunteer, will stand in the doorway while children are using the restroom.  This policy allows privacy for the children and protection for the staff or volunteer (not being alone with a child).   Staff and volunteers shall strongly encourage parents to take children to the restroom whenever possible.
  7. Diapering and potty training should be done primarily by staff members/paid caregivers.  Volunteers may be asked to help in certain situations and should follow posted nursery guidelines when performing diapering.
  8. Staff and volunteers should be alert to the physical and emotional state of children.  Any signs of injury or possible child abuse must be reported according to the FPC Child Protection Policy.
  9. Staff and volunteers are discouraged from being alone with children or youth without parental permission.
  10. Under no circumstances should volunteers release children to anyone other than the authorized parent, guardian, or other individual authorized by the parent or guardian.                                     
  11. Consuming, using, possessing, or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while working or volunteering with children or youth is prohibited. 
  12. Being impaired by legally prescribed drugs while working or volunteering with children or youth is prohibited.
  13. Possessing or using concealed weapons or firearms while working or volunteering with children or youth is prohibited.
  14. Smoking or use of tobacco in the presence of children, youth, or parents while working or volunteering is prohibited.
  15. Staff and volunteers should not release children to any adult or family member, including older siblings, other than the child’s parent/guardian unless prior verbal permission has been obtained from the parent. 
  16. Profanity, inappropriate jokes and media, sharing intimate details of one’s personal life, and any kind of harassment in the presence of children, youth, or parents are prohibited. 
  17. Staff and volunteers will be mindful of the content on any portable electronic device, social networking pages, or other electronic media that might be accessible to any children and youth.
  18. Staff and volunteer adult and youth leaders shall wear appropriate dress when volunteering with children and/or youth.
  19. Movies used in all church settings shall meet the voluntary movie rating system guidelines established by the Motion Picture Association of America for age-appropriate content.
  20. Staff and volunteers may not date or be romantically involved with program participants or church members who are younger than 18 years of age.
  21. Staff and volunteers are required to read, sign, and adhere to all policies related to identifying, documenting, and reporting child abuse and will attend training sessions on the subject.
  22. Staff and volunteers are required to report any concerns or suspicions regarding their observations of any individual’s interaction with a child. Except for concerns related to alleged or potential abuse, which require specific immediate reports, these concerns may be reported to the individual.  If the concerns are not alleviated by a change in the individual’s behavior, a second report must be made to the Directors of Youth or Children’s Ministry.
  23. If it is necessary for an adult to take a child or youth home after an event, all staff and volunteers shall abide by safe driving laws when transporting children or youth.  Driving record history shall be obtained on all youth leaders and volunteers.  An effort should be made to contact the family and inform them of the situation before transporting the child or youth.  It is always advisable for leaders to give parents advance notice and full information regarding the event in which their child or youth will be participating.
  24. In the event that a one-on-one child/youth to adult scenario arises, i.e., unexpected transportation needs, confirmation mentoring, or otherwise, parent permission should be granted in writing or by phone when possible.  It is preferred to have mentors and confirmands meet in pairs or to meet in public places.

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Reporting

Reporting Incidents
Any individual who observes or becomes aware of any alleged or potential incident of child abuse must, as soon as possible, report the matter to the staff member in charge of the program, the Director of Christian Education, or the Executive Pastor. Because of the importance of proper reporting, pastors, employees, Session members, and persons highly visible to church members and visitors should understand the terms of the policy and be ready to help direct any such reports or allegations to the appropriate persons. 

Investigation
Upon receipt of a report or allegation of child abuse at FPC, the Director of Finance and Operations or the Director of Christian Education shall ensure that an appropriate investigation is commenced and appropriate procedures are followed as required by North Carolina law.  The process will include documenting all steps undertaken in handling the investigation, and a Report of Suspected Child Abuse form (Appendix B) shall be completed.

Confidentiality
All investigations shall be conducted in as confidential a manner as is compatible with a thorough investigation of the report or allegation.

Parental Notification
If an incident has occurred on church property or during a church-sponsored event, the parents of any minor involved in any allegation of abuse shall be immediately notified.

Potential Responses
Upon any report of potential or alleged child abuse by an employee or volunteer of FPC, any individual accused of such conduct may be temporarily relieved of any duties involving youth or children pending an appropriate investigation. 

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Off-Site Trips & Events

Permission Forms
Parent/Guardian Permission Forms and Medical Consent Forms must be completed prior to all trips. The two-adult rule must be followed throughout the trip with any foreseeable exceptions clearly stated and approved in advance by the parent or guardian. The total number of adults on each trip will be adjusted according to the requirements of the planned activities. Under no circumstances may one adult alone take or accompany minors on an overnight outing.

Ratios
The required adult to child/youth ratio for chaperones for any ministry with children or youth shall be 1:6. Gender balance is preferred.  For overnight trips, an adult to child/youth ratio for chaperones of 1:4 is preferred, although 1:6 is permissible.  Gender balance is required.

Rooming Arrangements

  • Rooming arrangements should provide for children and youth of the same sex to room together and adults of the same sex to room together.
  • When possible, adults’ rooms shall be next to youth rooms and youth may be checked on during the night.
  • Ordinarily, adults should not share rooms with children. An individual minor may share a room with an individual adult if the two are related (parent/child), or if written permission has been granted prior to the event by a parent or guardian (in such cases as Intergenerational Mission Trips).
  • In situations where one large sleeping area is provided, two adults of the same sex shall accompany children or youth of the same sex.

Medical

  • Each child, youth, adult volunteer, and staff must submit a completed medical/insurance form.  Each minor’s forms must have a parent or guardian’s signature.
  • Whenever possible, all activities with children and youth shall have a staff or volunteer adult leader with current-certification first aid/CPR training.
  • Group leaders should have a copy of all medical forms for overnight or off-site events.  These forms will be kept on the event site for the duration of the event.                                       
  • First Aid supplies will be available on the event site.  All workers will be informed of the location of First Aid supplies/equipment and shall have access to information concerning specific medical conditions and concerns of participants.
  • A written report will be completed in the case of any accident, medical emergency or injury.

Driving Rules/Travel

  • As recommended by our church insurance company, it is suggested that all drivers of children and youth be over 21 and under 65.  In situations where this is not possible, parent permission shall be obtained before the trip and vehicles shall travel together. 
  • When one vehicle is used for an event, the two-leader rule still applies unless parental permission is obtained prior to the trip.  When several vehicles are taken for an event and two leaders are not available for every vehicle, keeping the other vehicle in sight at regular intervals is an acceptable substitution for the two-leader rule.
  • Travel arrangements for off-campus events will be coordinated through the church.
  • All adult drivers of children and youth will be screened through a driving history search.  A valid driver’s license will be required.
  • All vehicles should remain parked throughout the duration of the activity except for transporting children and obtaining supplies.
  • Seat belts will be provided for all passengers.

Outside Groups

All leaders of non-FPC sponsored groups and events that use FPC facilities and supervise children and youth are expected to adhere to these policies. Upon receipt of the policy from FPC, the leaders must review the Child and Youth Protection Policy and sign the Outside Group Leaders Release Form to acknowledge their review of it and to confirm their agreement to follow the policy.  This includes, but not limited to, groups such as: Boy/Girl Scouts, Fit & Fun, as well as outreach groups, such as Reach Out First, groups renting church space, and visiting youth groups. Given the nature of the outside groups that use FPC facilities, FPC will not perform background checks, seek personal and professional references, review employment records, or obtain civil and criminal records for such groups.  Leaders of outside groups will be invited to attend FPC’s frequently scheduled training classes and are expected to conduct their own due diligence in this regard.

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Appendix A, Indications of Abuse

FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
CHILD and YOUTH
PROTECTION POLICY 
INDICATIONS OF SEXUAL ABUSE

What is an “abused, neglected, or dependent child”?

The definition of an abused, neglected, or dependent child is very broad.  It includes any child under eighteen whose parents or other person responsible for his care:

  • Inflicts or allows to be inflicted, or creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury not by accident;
  • Creates or allows to be created serious emotional damage;
  • Uses or allows to be used cruel or grossly inappropriate procedures or devices to modify behavior;
  • Neglects or refuses to provide care, supervision, or discipline necessary for his health;
  • Abandons such child or allows such child to live in an environment injurious to the child’s welfare; 
  • Is unable to provide for care or supervision and lacks an appropriate child care alternative; or
  • Commits or allows to be committed any act of sexual exploitation or any sexual act upon a child in violation of the law.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-101.

How can children be at risk in a “safe” place like church?

There may be several reasons children can be at risk even in “safe” places like a church.  The following factors may contribute to the risk in a church setting:

  • Ready access to children
  • Institutional surprise: “We’re good people”
  • Many churches have historically failed to prosecute
  • Fewer external barriers than other youth-serving organizations
  • Challenges coordinating child protection strategies

Potential indicators of sexual abuse

combination or pattern of indicators may indicate the possibility of sexual abuse.  Potential indicators include:

  • Child does not want to go to a certain place or be around a particular person
  • Child shows sexual knowledge or behavior beyond that expected for his or her age
  • Child is overly affectionate and seems seductive with peers and adults
  • Child has recurring genital infections or pain in the genital area
  • Child has difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Child has torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
  • Child shows reluctance to change clothes
  • Child is withdrawn, chronically depressed, or displays infantile behavior
  • Child has exceptionally poor peer relationships
  • Child is threatened by physical contact
  • Child has unexplained money or “gifts”

For more information, please visit:
Prevent Child Abuse America at www.preventchildabuse.org
Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina at www.preventchildabusenc.org

Appendix B, Forms

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