Ensuring the Safety of God’s Children
Policies and Procedures
In keeping with the mission of St. Paul Lutheran Church to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God, we will share God’s love, with God’s help, by ensuring the safety of all God’s children.
Statement of Purpose and Scope
We believe it is necessary to preserve the privilege of appropriate and affirming touch in the ministry of God’s name. At the same time, we believe it is necessary to protect staff, volunteers, children, and members from inappropriate or manipulative behavior. This policy has been framed to help clarify appropriate boundaries for our ministries. We want St. Paul Lutheran Church to continue to be a caring church family which is not afraid to hug, to cry on another’s shoulder, or to offer a congratulatory pat on the back. These guidelines are meant to prevent anyone from either mistakenly or intentionally injuring another person, as well as to guard our members from being misunderstood in their interactions with others.
The following policies are designed to help safeguard infants, children, and youth (“minors”) from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, and at the same time, protect St. Paul Lutheran Church from charges of negligent hiring or negligent supervision of those who work with minors.
1. Those Eligible to Work with Minors
1.1 All paid employees of St. Paul Lutheran Church, regardless of position, and all volunteers who will work with or supervise the activities of minors, regardless of the applicant’s age, seniority, marital status, or position, will complete the “Application to Work with Minors at St. Paul Lutheran Church.”
1.2 All persons desiring to work with minors, in either a paid or volunteer position, will conform with the following:
1.2.1 Consent for St. Paul Lutheran Church to contact references noted on the applicant’s application
1.2.2 Consent for a criminal background check to be conducted.
1.2.3 Regularly attend St. Paul Lutheran Church for a minimum of six months before working in contact with minors. Formal membership is not required; however, the applicant must be known to church staff and show a consistent presence at St. Paul before being allowed to work with minors on behalf of the church.
1.2.4 Attest that he/she has never been guilty or been found guilty of sexually, physically, or emotionally abusing a minor
1.2.5 Annually review and update the “Application to Work with Minors at St. Paul Lutheran Church” and initial and date the “Applicant’s Statement” annually in order to continue to work with minors after the initial calendar year.
Any person considered a possible threat to minors (based on application responses, reference feedback, or other information) will be prohibited from working with minors.
2. Two-Person Team Concept
2.1 All ministries involving minors are to be conducted on a team basis. A minimum of two adults is required at every function where minors are present.
2.2 Although youth under the age of 18 may volunteer in leadership roles in ministries involving children, two adult workers (18 years of age or older) must also always be present.
2.3 An adult will be responsible for monitoring classrooms, hallways, and other areas of the building during all functions where youth are present.
3.1 All workers, paid or volunteer, and anyone providing ongoing care or supervising children/youth ministries or activities, will attend a training class on issues of child sexual abuse.
3.2 Training will include, but will not be limited to:
• a video presentation
• a discussion of the symptoms of abuse
• a review of St. Paul’s policies and procedures
• a review and discussion of appropriate and inappropriate behaviors
4. Appropriate Behaviors
4.1 All those who work with minors are expected to exhibit appropriate behaviors at all times while in contact with minors.
4.2 The following are considered appropriate behaviors for adults to use in relating to minors:
• Listen carefully to children and show interest in what they have to say
• Pray that our children may grow in faith in God and respect for each other and for creation
• Be fair and consistent
• Have a sense of humor, be flexible and giving, enjoy children, smile often
• Focus on positive behaviors and praise the child for that behavior
• Set clear limits that can be managed by adults and understood by children
• Use appropriate, positive steps when discipline is needed and focus on the behavior, not the child
5. Prohibited Behaviors
5.1 The following behaviors are considered inappropriate and are prohibited.
• Corporal punishment – the use of physical force to discipline
• Physical abuse – any physical injury inflicted by an adult on a child by other than accidental means
• Sexual abuse – employing, persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing any minor to engage in any sexual act as defined by the law of the State of Illinois
• Sexual exploitation – allowing, permitting, encouraging, or requiring a child to engage in prostitution or child pornography
• Inappropriate touching – any touch or fondling of a sexual nature
• Verbal/emotional abuse – language which demeans or embarrasses a child, including name calling, humiliation, swearing, and threatening words
6. Procedures Following an Accusation
6.1 Treat all complaints as serious and with strict confidentiality.
6.2 If the alleged incident occurs at a St. Paul activity, the observer or victim should speak to the Senior Pastor if possible. If the Senior Pastor is not immediately available, the observer or victim should speak to the appropriate adult leader supervising the activity who will then notify the Senior Pastor.
6.3 The Senior Pastor will promptly call the church’s attorney.
6.4 As a mandated reporter, the Senior Pastor will make detailed notes and promptly report any reportable incident to the Department of Children and Family Services.
6.5 The Senior Pastor will promptly report all alleged violations (regardless whether the accused is clergy or laity) to the Metropolitan Chicago Synod office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
6.6 The Senior Pastor will promptly contact the church’s insurance company, Brotherhood Mutual.
6.7 Pastoral care will be provided as appropriate.
6.8 All appropriate actions as stated by the church’s attorney will be implemented; this could include removal of the person from working with youth. If the accused holds a paid position at the church and the employee is suspended, suspension will be with pay pending completion of the investigation.
6.9 All media inquiries will be referred to the designated spokesperson of St. Paul Lutheran Church in consultation with the attorney.
6.10 In the case that the Senior Pastor is accused of wrongdoing, the responsibilities outlined above fall to the President of the Church Council.